By JUDY SHERIDAN
Saying the cities of Aledo and Willow Park were not afforded due process at a preliminary hearing, an Austin district court judge ruled Thursday that a permit issued to Republic Waste Services of Texas to build a municipal solid waste transfer station near Aledo schools be vacated and the case remanded back to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
TCEQ granted the permit in December 2011, following an October 2011 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Richard Wilfong stating that the Brazos Transfer Station had met state licensing requirements.
“TCEQ must start over,” Betsy Elam, an attorney with Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla & Elam, representing the City of Aledo, explained. “The administrative law judge wouldn’t allow Willow Park or Aledo party status, and no one was sworn in. The hearing was conducted in such a slap-dash way that the cities were denied proper due process, so it was unconstitutional for them to be denied party status.”
At a preliminary hearing in March 2010, Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall, on behalf of the city, requested party status for the contested case hearing to oppose Republic’s permit application, but Wilfong denied it.
Former Willow Park Mayor Ken Hawkins was also denied party status.
The ruling kept the cities from participating in the official hearing.
Wilfong did grant party status to Aledo Independent School District, Walsh Ranch and residents located near the proposed waste transfer station.
“I liken it to David and Goliath,” Marshall said. “When David wins, it’s an amazing thing. It’s a miracle, actually. This is a huge win, and it’s wonderful for our community.”
“It’s a good thing for the city,” Willow Park Mayor Richard Neverdousky said later. “That’s the reason we pursued it. There’s a lot of impact on roads, entrances and exits and it’s particularly bad for the school district.