Acadiana Business

Waste Facilities washes its hands of Sunbeam site

by Leslie Turk

The developer says it only wants damages and no longer has any interest in the north Lafayette project. Waste Facilities of Lafayette, which was in the middle of developing a waste transfer station on Sunbeam Lane in north Lafayette when the City-Parish Council revoked its permit and immediately halted construction, says it only wants damages. As far as it's concerned, the Sunbeam Lane deal "is dead."

Though there had long been speculation the developers had washed their hands of the project, court documents now confirm that Waste Facilities has abandoned the site for good. That came to light after nearby property owners attempted to intervene in the federal lawsuit Waste Facilities filed against Lafayette Consolidated Government, fearing that the council, which faces potentially millions of dollars in damages, might cut a deal to allow the waste transfer station to be built.

Waste Facilities had been developing the site for Progressive Waste Solutions of LA Inc. when the council voted unanimously in October, just days before the election, to revoke its permits. Both entities have since filed separate federal suits against LCG.

Though the suits do not ask for a specific sum, earlier this year Waste Facilities and Progressive Waste Solutions told LCG officials in an executive session that claims for both companies' damages total about $17 million.

The suits were filed in federal court because federal courts sometimes hear takings disputes arising from the actions of state and local governments. That's significant because, unlike what happens in state courts (which can't force governments to cough up judgments), it won't be up to LCG on whether it will pay any potential judgment or how it will pay. The feds can even seize local government property to satisfy monetary judgments.

Fearing that negotiations could renew the project, Ogden Guilliot III, Daniel Pierre Guilliot and Star Measurement Sales & Service, represented by attorney Max Jordan, asked the court to allow them to intervene in the Waste Facilities suit. They state in the motion to intervene that they "have been advised that the instant suit might be used to seek non-monetary relief for the purpose of allowing the construction on the property." Star is located next to the proposed waste facility.

Waste Facilities opposed the motion to intervene, stating that the proposed waste transfer facility "is dead. LCG killed it." Waste Facilities stresses it is only seeking monetary compensation.

"The new life Applicants fear is completely unfounded, and nothing in the complaint seeks to resurrect it," Waste Facilities continues. "Applicants contend their property will be devalued if a waste-transfer station is constructed. Again, that issue no longer exists."