In Lee County Circuit Court on Friday, Judge Thomas Gardner approved Alcorn County's motion to dismiss the appeal by a group of residents who live in the community where the new rubbish site would be located.
"The appeal is being dismissed as premature," Gardner said. "Ultimately there is a way to have a court look at this, but not me and not today. I think it is necessary that the administrative provisions be exhausted."
The county's argument, presented by Jackson attorney Virginia Munford, was that the supervisors' decision could not be final until all levels of evaluation and review had been completed by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
MDEQ, Munford said, had been charged by the federal government to carry out its responsibilities for environmental oversight of the project.
"What if the board (of supervisors) is just flat wrong?" Gardner asked. "When do the citizens get their chance to speak?"
The MDEQ review process allows voices of concerned residents to be heard, Munford said. If they remain unconvinced and dissatisfied, they can pursue their concerns in chancery court, she continued.
Representing the community group and standing in for attorney John Brunini of Jackson was Brian Kimball.
Kimball said that in protesting the supervisors' decision, the citizens were relying on Mississippi statute that says appeals of supervisors' decisions must be pursued in circuit court.
The Alcorn County board voted in February, after holding three public hearings, to ask the state for a permit to place a landfill on Forrest School Road property that the county owns,
As many as 50 community residents attended those public hearings to lodge protests. The group also submitted petitions with names of about 700 people who oppose the project.
Among the concerns residents cited: health hazards for nearby residents; water runoff from the rubbish site contaminating streams; poor roads to handle heavy truck traffic; and increased risk of traffic accidents.
More than a decade ago the county acquired the 129-acre property on Forrest School Road as a future site for a rubbish landfill. However, at the time of the acquisition, area residents launched a protest and board members backed off the plan.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or email@example.com.