SWDI finds LaPlace location

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 7, 2006



LAPLACE — Roddie Matherne, general manager for SWDI, just laughed when he was asked whether the airport land purchase fell through for him last week at the St. John Parish Council meeting.

&#8220That deal was over four weeks ago,” he said. &#8220I think we all knew it was done long ago.”

SWDI, the new St. John garbage hauler, has been trying to find land to relocate for over a year, due to complaints from residents near their current work site in Reserve.

And even though discussions continued at the Parish Council meetings through last week, Matherne said his company has been looking elsewhere for some time.

That possibility of SWDI relocating on airport land property was officially ended this week when Matherne confirmed to L’Observateur that SWDI has signed a contract to buy land on Highway 51, near Interstate 10.

&#8220We have a contract to buy,” he said. &#8220And I think this should be a spot that should not be a problem for anyone.”

The property is on the big curve just before the interstate, on the left side of the road as you are heading north on Hwy. 51. The land is in an industrial zoned area, and Matherne said there should be no holdups to moving his business there.

&#8220It’s always been difficult being the local garbage company since no one wants you to locate near them, and we understand that,” he noted. &#8220But this really became a difficult situation since we thought the airport land had been approved and was going to work.”

Nonetheless, Matherne didn’t lose his cool through all the ups-and-downs, and all the controversy generated at the Parish Council meetings. With 23 years working with SWDI, he said he is used to the challenges in his business.

&#8220We’re just glad to have it behind us,” he said. &#8220We have always tried to be good neighbors wherever we have gone, and we were committed to having a site in St. John, so we just had to keep looking.”

The new property is five-and-a-half acres and is being purchased from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The airport land property was six acres, and Matherne said the new land was much more costly.

SWDI was expecting to pay $275,000 for the six acres by the airport, but now has a contract for $400,000 on the new land.

&#8220They were asking $425,000 and took the $400,000 offer, so it certainly is costing us more, and for less land,” he said. &#8220But we are just happy to have some place to move.”

SWDI has been in operation since 1978 when they began in the waste business in Lafourche Parish. Since then, they have grown to be working in 15 parishes, and are rated the 59th largest waste hauler in the United States.

Controversy began for them locally two-and-a-half years ago when they bought out local hauler Trosclair. Even though Matherne said they did not enlarge their facility in Reserve, complaints still began when they took over the business.

&#8220Some people think we greatly increased the trucks there, but we never did. For that matter, we cleaned up the lot and tried to make it as nice as possible,” he added. &#8220But I think some people just saw the change in ownership as a chance to start complaining, so they did.”

Matherne said his company had two other possible locations picked, but the Archdiocese location seemed to be the best.

&#8220It has industrial around it, and is already zoned properly for us,” he said. &#8220And there isn’t that much industrial left in St. John to pick from. We’re just glad to be done with this whole situation and ready to move on to provide service here.”