Judge: Landfill suit can continue

A judge will allow opponents of a proposed landfill in south Rock Hill to move forward with a lawsuit against the city.

Residents near the site on Vernsdale Road have sued the city, hoping to block the project. They say the city failed to notify neighbors properly and violated its own procedures in rezoning the land in 2005.

In June, the city asked Judge Lee Alford to dismiss the suit, saying it was filed past the allowable 60-day time period.

Alford declined the request and said he will allow the case to continue. The decision is essentially procedural, but it marks another chapter in a long-running battle that has ignited feuds between the city and York County.

City officials declined to comment, saying they are still reviewing the ruling. But Mike Griffin, whose company would operate the landfill, called it a "minor" development that he doesn't view as a setback.

"It might be a setback for the taxpayers," he said. "It means the city has to spend more time and money defending what they've done."

The landfill would accept construction debris such as bricks and wood. No hazardous materials would be allowed.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a permit in February, which is why neighbors are appealing through the courts.

They have filed a separate appeal with an administrative law court in Columbia.

Lawyer Christi Cox, who is leading neighbors in the effort to stop the project, declined to comment.

City officials now say they could have done more to inform neighbors about the facility -- by organizing meetings or sending out written information. But they stand behind their decision, in part because they say it will reduce traffic countywide by preventing trucks from driving longer distances to other landfills.

The city's original plan called for the facility to open by spring 2006. Now, its future remains uncertain until the cases are resolved.