A group of Labadie property owners who are trying to block a proposed coal ash landfill adjacent to the Ameren power plant have appealed a Franklin county trial court decision that went against them.
Attorneys for the property owners and the Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) filed the appeal in the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District Friday morning.
LEO and a group of Labadie property owners sued the Franklin County Commission in November 2011 one month after it voted 2-1 to amend its land use regulations to allow for utility landfills, which would enable Ameren to build a coal ash landfill adjacent to its power plant in the Labadie bottoms.
In January, Associate circuit Court Judge Robert Schollmeyer ruled against the property owners.
Schollmeyer's decision came after the commission and the county’s planning and zoning commission held a number of public hearings on the landfill. Most of those hearings were contentious as opponents and supporters of Ameren debated a number of issues related to the landfill, including whether it should be located in a floodplain.
Schollmeyer previously dismissed five of six counts in the lawsuit which was originally filed against the commission. He later allowed Ameren to intervene in the case.
Schollmeyer’s ruling stated that the county’s zoning amendment allowing utility landfills was legal and supported by the evidence in the record. He also ruled that coal ash deposited in a facility meeting the county’s zoning amendment would not create a risk to public health or drinking water sources, and there was no indication of any exposure of any toxic components of coal ash to the environment.
LEO and the Labadie Neighbors feel strongly that the landfill regulations passed by the Franklin County Commission violated the basic zoning regulation requirement to "promote the health, safety, general welfare, and property values of the County," according to a statement issued via e-mail.
LEO President, Patricia Schuba commented, "how could the County Commission allow the endangerment of residents' health and risk reduced local property values in Labadie, St. Albans, Gray Summit, Augusta, Washington and Pacific?" Studies show that living near a coal ash dump site increases one's risk of cancer to 1:50 and property values within a 6 mile radius are reduced. "There is nothing in the new regulations for Franklin County residents; we are sacrificed for some other goal," Schuba said.
In addition, the appeal will again raise the argument that the Commission's public hearings can not be construed to have met statutory requirements if they never allowed the attendees to discuss the Labadie landfill.
See next Wednesday's Missourian for the complete story on the appeal.