Appeals Court rules in favor of Tucumcari Landfill

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has upheld the Environment Department’s permit for the City of Tucumcari to proceed with its plan for a new landfill north of town.

The Pickett Ranch, a neighbor of the landfill, had contested the permit.

A woman who answered the phone at the Pickett Ranch declined on Monday to comment on the court’s decision.

Counsel for the Pickett Ranch could not be reached forcomment.
Because plans for construction of the landfill have been canceled several times, the city will have to review costs and contracts, said Doug Powers, director of the city’s Community Development.

Adam Rankin, communications director for the Environment Department, said the agency was pleased with the court’s decision because Tucumcari’s present landfill was not operating under the best conditions. The new landfill, he said, would have the appropriate liners and other to operate so that the environment would be protected.

The court’s decision was good news, said Pete Kampfer, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp. Getting a new landfill and the completion of the city’s new water treatment plant that has the capacity to handle growth are important to companies that look at Tucumcari to establish or relocate businesses, he said.

The Environment Department’s hearing officer, which met in Tucumcari for two days of hearings in April 2005, recommended approval of the permit to operate the landfill for 20 years.
Secretary of the Environment Ron Curry adopted the report, with an additional condition based on the city’s compliance history.

Curry said there would have to be an interim review of the landfill’s operation about two years after the landfill had begun operation.

The review will look at financial assurance, cleanup, management of litter and contamination and other issues; and if there is an enough interest a non-adjudicatory hearing will be held as part of the review.

“This is an unusual and cautious” requirement, said a Environment Department spokesman.

On July 5, the state Court of Appeals upheld the Environment Department’s decision.