LAFAYETTE — City-Parish Council members say the controversy over a proposed garbage transfer station at the edge of the city highlights the need for the council to receive advance warning of potentially objectionable developments.
The council voted Tuesday to direct City-Parish President Joey Durel to revoke the building permit for a garbage transfer facility on Sunbeam Lane — a site where waste company IESI planned to offload commercial garbage onto tractor-trailers to transport to a landfill.
The developer of the site, Waste Facilities of Lafayette, had begun the permitting process months ago.
But council members have said they knew little about it until after city-parish permitting officials granted the building permit last month, prompting an outcry from area residents and businesses.
“I would think that this type of controversial issue should be brought to the council for at least a discussion of what was coming,” said Councilman Don Bertrand.
Bertrand said he was disappointed that the permitting process for the facility had been ongoing for at least eight months and no city-parish staff involved in the process notified the council of what has become one of the major political controversies of the year.
“If we had known sooner, we could have avoided all this,” said Councilman William Theriot.
He said the council should be made aware of such issues “well in advance before it puts LCG (Lafayette Consolidated Government) in a compromised position.”
City-parish staff have said they believed there was little that could be done to stop the development, because the transfer station is a legal business that had met the requirements for an area of the parish without zoning.
City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley said he does not fault city-parish staff but believes the episode over the waste transfer station offers a lesson in better communication within city-parish government.
Stanley said there has been no formal change in policy, but he has since met with city-parish department heads.
“We need to make sure and ensure that the lines of communication are open,” Stanley said. “There is no substitute for communication and contemporary communication.”
Meanwhile, the threat of litigation lingers over the council’s unanimous vote to support Councilman Brandon Shelvin’s proposal to block the transfer station.
An attorney for Waste Facilities of Lafayette sent a letter to city-parish government last week threatening a lawsuit if the permit was revoked.
City-Parish Attorney Michael Hebert issued an opinion to council members stating the legal liabilities “could extend into the millions of dollars” to compensate the company for the cost of land, money spent so far to develop it, relocation cost and lost profits.
The waste company, through a public relations firm, has declined further comment on the issue at this time.