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AL TURI LANDFILL, INC. v. TOWN OF GOSHEN

February 1, 1982

AL TURI LANDFILL, INC., Plaintiff
v.
TOWN OF GOSHEN and BARBARA REGINO, as Supervisor of the Town Board of the Town of Goshen, and JOHN MATTA, DONALD GRAY, AUGUSTINE DeROSA and FORSTER D. GREENHILL, as Members of the Town Board of the Town of Goshen, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY

This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief brought by plaintiff, Al Turi Landfill, Inc. (Al Turi) against the Town of Goshen (Town) and its Town Board. Al Turi is challenging certain provisions of an ordinance recently passed by defendants, Local Law 3 of 1981 (the Ordinance). In effect, the Ordinance: (1) limits the amount of land within the Town which can ever be used for solid waste disposal to 300 acres (Section 80-9(D)); (2) limits the size of individual solid waste disposal facilities to 50 acres (Section 80-9(B) & (C)); (3) imposes an inspection fee of $.25 per ton of solid waste deposited in a solid waste disposal facility (Sections 80-18); and (4) imposes fees for applications to construct and operate solid waste disposal facilities (Sections 80-16 and 80-17). Al Turi claims that these provisions of the Ordinance violate Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution (the Commerce Clause) and the due process provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

 On August 26, 1981, Al Turi moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining and restraining defendants from enforcing, effectuating or applying in any manner the challenged provisions of the Ordinance. Shortly thereafter, the parties submitted a Joint Statement of Stipulated Facts (Stipulation) and Joint Exhibits. In addition, Al Turi submitted a statement of facts it believed to be in dispute. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(2), the trial on the merits was consolidated with the hearing of the preliminary injunction application. This court now finds that the challenged provisions of the Ordinance are not violative of either the Commerce Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, Al Turi's request for declaratory and injunctive relief is denied in all respects.

 Findings of Fact

 The Parties

 Al Turi is a corporation duly organized under the laws of the State of New York with its principal place of business in Goshen, New York, Stipulation para. 4. Its sole business is the ownership and operation of a 43.6 acre solid waste management facility (the Sanitary Landfill or Landfill) *fn1" in Goshen, New York. Stipulation para. 5. The Sanitary Landfill was constructed for the deposit and disposal of refuse and solid waste. Stipulation para. 4.

 Since 1976, Al Turi has been a party to contracts with various carters for the interstate transportation and disposal of solid waste at the Sanitary Landfill. Additionally, since 1976, it has been a party to contracts with various carters for the intrastate transportation and disposal of solid waste collected from a number of municipalities in the State of New York. Stipulation paras. 6 & 7.

 The Town of Goshen is a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of New York. The Town Board, the legislative body of the Town, consists of the Supervisor of the Town and five Councilmen. Stipulation paras. 11 & 12.

 There are currently two sanitary landfills operating in the Town. The first is the facility belonging to Al Turi. The second is a 244 acre landfill owned and operated by the County of Orange. With one minor exception, unless the Orange County Legislature authorizes the acceptance of solid waste from outside the County, this facility only accepts solid waste which originates in Orange County. It does not accept refuse originating outside of the State of New York. Stipulation para. 13.

 At all times relevant herein, the Town of Goshen Zoning Ordinance has provided that a dump (which would include a sanitary landfill) is a prohibited use in all zoning districts of the Town, with the exception of an official town dump or a dump duly licensed by the Town Board. Stipulation para. 14.

 Al Turi's Existing and Proposed Facilities

 Al Turi's existing Sanitary Landfill is a 43.6 acre parcel of land in the Town of Goshen. Stipulation para. 17. Pursuant to a contract entered into in 1973 by the original owner of the Landfill, Mr. Turi, and the Town, the Town and its residents were entitled to use the Landfill until 1978. The Landfill also accepted, and still accepts, refuse originating outside of the State of New York. *fn2" The Landfill cannot, however, under the terms of its permit, accept hazardous waste or toxic materials. Stipulation para. 8.

 Within a few months, the Landfill will be filled to capacity. Stipulation para. 4. At that time, it is required to be closed in an environmentally sound manner in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Stipulation para. 28.

 Al Turi also owns a 106 acre parcel of land which is contiguous to the Sanitary Landfill (Contiguous Parcel). Stipulation para. 9. Al Turi purchased this parcel for the sole purpose of using it as a sanitary landfill when the existing Landfill is filled to capacity and closed. Stipulation para. 30. The new facility (Proposed Sanitary Landfill) would continue the business presently carried on by Al Turi at its existing facility. This would include the continuation of Al Turi's agreements with carters who transport to the Landfill solid waste from both inside and outside the State of New York. Stipulation para. 37.

 The design of the Proposed Sanitary Landfill is "state of the art," i.e., it utilizes the latest available technology (Joint Exh. F; Tr. 48-49). Defendants have not contradicted plaintiff's lengthy testimony and detailed evidence showing that if built and operated as designed, the Proposed Sanitary Landfill will be environmentally safe.

 Approximately six months of actual construction are necessary before the Proposed Sanitary Landfill would be able to receive its first load of refuse, although construction could be completed more quickly at a greater cost if an accelerated schedule were put into effect (Tr. 51-52). The significance of this time period is that the existing facility is due to be closed within the next several months. Al Turi claims that if it is not allowed to immediately begin construction of the Proposed Sanitary Landfill, it will suffer irreparable harm in ...


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