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Brunswick County Planning Board’s Denial of Landfill Permit is Final

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At the end of March, and after four days of hearings since October, 2011, Brunswick County’s Planning Board denied Operation Services’ application for a Special Exception Permit to construct a landfill near Supply, NC, in the historic African American community of Royal Oak. The County spent $266,000 on legal services in defense of the permit, which, according to County Manager Marty Lawing, was necessary due to opposition to the permit.

ROCCA clients and attorneys in Brunswick County after the March 2012 hearing

The UNC Center for Civil Rights represented the opposition, a community group called the Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association (ROCCA). Members of ROCCA gave moving testimony at the hearing regarding the proposed Construction and Demolition (C & D) landfill’s adverse impact on their health and safety, and many of them also testified that they believe that the County chose to place another landfill in their community because they are African American.

ROCCA Legal Team (L to R): Elizabeth Haddix and Peter Gilbert, Center for Civil Rights; Jack Holtzman, Legal Aid NC Fair Housing Project; Ray Owens, Higgins & Owens PLLC;

Royal Oak already hosts the Waste Transfer Station, the Waste Water Treatment, the animal shelter, and a number of sand mines. Royal Oak hosted the County’s municipal solid waste landfill (now closed and covered by the current C & D landfill) since at least 1983, and has hosted the County’s only C & D landfill since 1997. The current landfill was scheduled to close in 2014. “We are looking forward to an end to the trucks, the dust, the noise and the negative stigma of living next to the landfill,” said ROCCA president Lewis Dozier.

Center attorneys Elizabeth Haddix and Peter Gilbert
with ROCCA President Lewis Dozier

ROCCA and several Royal Oak residents filed a complaint in Brunswick County Superior Court last June alleging that the County’s location of solid waste facilities and other potentially hazardous land uses in their community, as well as the County’s denial of public water and sewer services to Royal Oak residents, has a disparate and adverse impact on their African American community, and is motivated by race discrimination. That case, which includes claims under North Carolina’s Fair Housing Act and the state constitution, is still in the discovery stages. All the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, a part of which would stop the County from expanding or intensifying the use of the landfill in Royal Oak. The named plaintiffs also seek monetary relief for harm and injury caused by the alleged racial discrimination, the denial of water and sewer services, and the disproportionate burdening of their community with the County’s solid waste facilities, animal shelter and sand mines. Read the Complaint

For more information, contact Senior Attorney Elizabeth Haddix.

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Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. May 11, 2012 11:22 AM
Categories: Brunswick County, Community Inclusion, Environmental Justice, Race Discrimination
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