Civic association reaches agreement with SWDI

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 12, 2007

Civic association agrees to work with council members and SWDI to find alternative location of new facility


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – After an hour-long onslaught of anger fueled debate at the Percy Hebert building Thursday night, members of the Old 51 Civic Association reached an agreement from the Solid Waste Disposal Company (SWDI) to work with council members to search for a more suitable location for the garbage company’s new facility.

The agreement came only four days prior to SWDI’s planned groundbreaking, which has now been held off, and rose out of concerns from LaPlace residents that the company’s new garbage disposal facility would diminish their property values and add unpleasant smells and noise.

The new plant was originally planned to be built off Highway 51 near I-10, only a few hundred feet from several subdivisions. This agreement may not remove the facility from its planned location, but it may afford SWDI representatives and concerned residents time to find another solution.

&#8220I thought it was very productive,” President of the Old 51 Civic Association Mike Madere said regarding meeting. &#8220I think the Parish and SWDI understand our concerns. I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome and everybody looks like they’re working together and that’s a plus.”

Parish representatives plan to meet with SWDI to discuss substitute areas to its planned location, industrially zoned property leased from Land Glo. and purchased from the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

&#8220We will sit down next to these people tomorrow and look for alternatives. It might not be the best alternative but it will be an alternative,” Council Member Steve Lee said.

Council members and the Old 51 Civic Association had been at a standstill for months without a reasonable solution, because they could not legally strip the land of its zoning nor could force SWDI to relocate due to the land purchase being a private transaction.

However, even after admitting that &#8220you could argue all night long and it’s not going to change anything,” SWDI General Manager Roddie Matherne sternly responded to a question asking if the company would be willing to pair with the Parish Council to search for a new location with the answer, &#8220Yes sir, I would.”

The decision was the first glimpse of hope for the Old 51 Civic Association, which had no members who were aware that SWDI planned to build a facility next to their residences until after a deal had been reached.

&#8220That property is in our back yard. I hear a noise in my house everyday and I’m sick of it. I can’t rest during the day because those trees have been stripped to bear bones and removed our buffer,” LaPlace resident Sam Nasello said.

SWDI originally had a purchase agreement for Parish-owned property located next to the airport, but the Parish withdrew its proposal after aviation representatives suggested that the facility would jeopardize future grants from the airport and hinder aviation, according to Lee.

The company then sought two privately owned plots of land on 19th Street and Power Boulevard, but the deals fell through, Matherne said.

Matherne appeared uncomfortable throughout the meeting after being pummeled with an onslaught of complaints and questions, but admitted during the discussion that building the facility near residences &#8220is not the right thing to do.”

A follow-up meeting to further discuss SWDI’s plans should be held in approximately a month, according to Steve Lee.