Brundidge files complaint in Pike County court against Coffee County

Published 7:28 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The City of Brundidge is firing back at Coffee County’s attempt to purchase a landfill inside the city’s limits with a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief with the Pike County Circuit Court.

The complaint filed Tuesday by the city and the Brundidge Solid Waste Disposal Authority asks the court to declare that the Coffee County Commission, in partnership with Brundidge Acquisitions, LLC, cannot purchase the landfill. Brundidge also asks for an injunction to prevent the purchase.

The city is also asking for a judicial declaration that the purchase of the landfill by Coffee County would violate the “host government agreement” – a document Brundidge reports is necessary for the landfill to operate and prohibits the sale of the landfill without the approval of the Brundidge Solid Waste Disposal Authority.

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The City of Brundidge released a statement Tuesday night that said, “The City and the Authority regret the necessity of this legal action, but they simply cannot afford to allow operation of the Brundidge landfill, which is essential to the growth and development of the City, to be controlled by an external government that does not answer to the citizens of Brundidge and whose interest is in fact directly contrary to what is good for commercial and industrial entities and citizens of Brundidge and Pike County.”

On Oct. 17, the Coffee County Commission passed resolutions authorizing the use of $6 million to acquire the Brundidge landfill.

Brundidge’s statement notes that provisions set by state law forbid a county from acquiring property within the boundaries of another municipality. The Coffee County Commission claims that Amendment 772 to the Alabama Constitution allows for the acquisition of the landfill regardless of other state laws.

Brundidge’s statement provided by City Manager Britt Thomas said that Brundidge believes that Coffee County would “close the landfill or severely limit the landfill’s operations in order to steer landfill customers to the landfill in Coffee County that the Coffee County Commission operates.”

Coffee County had previously made a $4 million offer on the property owned by Transload America, but the company filed for bankruptcy in New Jersey on June 20.

Now, the property is being sold under the provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to determine ownership.

“It is much more efficient to purchase capacity than it is to create it,” said Coffee County Administrator Rod Morgan in an interview with The Messenger the day before Coffee County voted to authorize the $6 million for possible purchase.

Morgan also said the capacity is key to economic development and there is a company Coffee County is working with that finds abundant landfill capacity attractive.

Coffee County has not declared how the 7,500-ton-per-day facility on 729 acres in Brundidge would be used if their purchase attempt is successful.

The information provided by Brundidge Tuesday night regarding the complaint states that the landfill is an essential part of Brundidge’s long-range plans for waste disposal and industrial recruitment and that Coffee County rejected a request to meet to discuss the matter of the landfill prior to the filing of the complaint.

Brundidge’s statement said, “In the wake of such action and such refusal to negotiate, the filing of the action was an unfortunate necessity.”