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Inc. v. Kay R.I.S.E.

The King And Queen Landfill Dilemma

In 1986, King Land Corporation established a private landfill on a 120-acre site in King and Queen County, Virginia. With no existing county zoning ordinance at that time regarding landfill placement, King Land did not need to obtain county approval. The King Land landfill became an environmental disaster from the beginning as dumping began without the necessary geotechnical tests performed beforehand. Later, tests showed that incinerator ash had been buried in ground water areas and no clay soil was present to prohibit ground water pollution.

An attorney hired by the county board of supervisors to legally challenge the King Land operation advised the board to devise a zoning ordinance. The county soon implemented an ordinance in August of 1986 and then obtained a court injunction preventing King Land from operating its landfill under its state-issued permit. King Land applied for a variance to the ordinance to resume use of the landfill but the county denied its application. Racial composition of the residential area surrounding the King Land landfill was predominantly white.

In 1987, Virginia issued new state regulations for solid waste disposal in landfills. The new regulations posed a significant financial problem for King and Queen County. Three existing county landfills had to be closed for not meeting the new environmental standards at a cost of almost two million dollars. The county could not afford to close the existing landfills and develop a new landfill that would comply with the new state regulations.

In an effort to solve its waste disposal problems, the county began negotiations with the Chesapeake Corporation to develop a shared landfill. As envisioned, Chesapeake would build the landfill, the county would operate it, and both could use it for waste disposal. Chesapeake soon found a 420 acre potential landfill site in what was known as the Piedmont Tract. The company hired an engineering company from Charlotte, North Carolina to conduct soil studies. Tests determined the site was suitable for landfill development.

In the summer of 1988 Chesapeake changed its mind and decided to expand an existing landfill to satisfy its own waste disposal needs. Several months later, in January of 1989, county supervisors met with Chesapeake to once again jointly pursue a property for a landfill site. Chesapeake identified at least two sites for possible landfill development: the Piedmont Tract again and an one other. At a regular county board of supervisors meeting in October of 1989, board members in a public session appointed a citizen's "liaison committee" to explore alternatives for the county's future waste disposal needs. At another public hearing the following month, the county planning commission proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance regarding landfills which were accepted by the board. A few days later, still in November, Supervisor Robert Kay publicly announced the 420-acre Piedmont site was officially under consideration and recommended the county acquire an option to purchase it.

In December of 1989, in another public hearing, the county, with the assistance of its liaison committee, reaffirmed it could not afford to operate its own landfill. As a result, the county board adopted Kay's resolution to execute a purchase option agreement with Chesapeake for the Piedmont site. The agreement was promptly signed. With those decisions made, the board published public notices in local newspapers for public hearings on the landfill issue. Letters and petitions in opposition to the Piedmont landfill option soon began arriving.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Inc. v. Kay R.I.S.E. - Significance, The King And Queen Landfill Dilemma, Community Mobilization, Impact, Further Readings