LAFAYETTE — City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin has proposed a local law to block plans for a controversial garbage transfer station on Sunbeam Lane off Walker Road.
The council is expected to begin discussing the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting and is scheduled to vote on the ban later this month — a potential roadblock for a project taking shape in an unincorporated area of the parish with few restrictions on how land can be used.
The site in question would be a waste transfer station for IESI, which does not have the garbage contract for residential service in Lafayette but performs work in surrounding areas.
The company plans to use the site to offload waste from garbage trucks to 18-wheelers that will haul the garbage to an out-of-town landfill, Shelvin said.
“These types of facilities tend to locate near low-income neighborhoods, and it comes with a lot of issue — the odor, the damage the trucks will do to do the road,” Shelvin said.
Residents in the area said they found out about the planned transfer station only recently and are frustrated that there seems to be no way to challenge it.
“We’ve talked to just about everyone we could talk to,” said Jay LeBlanc, who lives within a block of the proposed transfer site and also has an iron works business directly across the street from it. “All of this was done hidden beneath the covers. How could they do that? You can’t build a trash facility in someone’s neighborhood.”
City-parish government has little standing to block the proposed waste transfer site because it is proposed for an unincorporated area of the parish with no zoning, said Jim Parker, with the city-parish Department of Planning, Zoning and Codes.
He said that city-parish government granted a building permit for the project last month after the company met the basic requirements, including a 150-foot buffer zone plus a 20-foot green belt around the area of the property that will be used to transfer garbage.
The buffering requirements do not apply to administrative offices and areas used to park and repair trucks, Parker said.
He said there is no normal mechanism to deny a building permit for a legal business that does not appear to violate any local laws.
“They had a right to get a permit when they submitted everything correctly,” he said.
Shelvin said he is not certain what power city-parish government might have to block such projects, but he believes a proposed waste transfer station should bring heightened review.
“I would think that when you are dealing with the health, safety and welfare of our citizens, there ought to be something in place,” he said.
Shelvin said his proposed law is targeted at the proposed waste transfer site on Sunbeam Lane but would also ban any new waste transfer stations in the parish.
Still uncertain is whether Shelvin’s proposed law is not coming too late for a waste transfer station that has already been permitted and where site work is already under way.
“My intent is to try and stop this one,” Shelvin said.
Mike Stagg, who is running against City-Parish President Joey Durel in the Oct. 22 election, has latched on to the controversy as a campaign issue.
Stagg alleged at a news conference on Monday that Durel wanted the permitting process to go smoothly because of financial links to one of the companies involved in the project, Waste Facilities of Lafayette.
That company has an officer who is also involved in River Ranch Development, which paid $850,000 to Durel in 2008 to buy property — two acres that Durel owned — along the Vermilion River adjacent to the upscale River Ranch neighborhood, according to records provided by Stagg.
Durel sought and received approval for the land transaction from the state Board of Ethics.
Stagg also noted that River Ranch Development allowed Durel access to his Steiner Road home through River Ranch, which Stagg contends increased the value of Durel’s property.
Durel’s home, which was built before River Ranch, faces the upscale development but can also be accessed on the side by Steiner Road.
Durel on Monday declined comment on Stagg’s allegations.