From: Phillip Rawls, Associated Press
Published September 20, 2005 12:00 AM

Waste Company Scraps Landfill Plan along Voting Rights Trail

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The nation's largest trash hauler has scrapped plans to develop a landfill along the historic trail that commemorates the 1965 Voting Rights marches, a decision applauded by opponents.


Waste Management Inc. said Monday it was withdrawing an application to build a landfill along U.S. 80 near Lowndesboro, about 20 miles west of Montgomery.


The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others marched 50 miles along the highway between Selma and Montgomery on March 21, 1965, to press Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act, which opened Southern polling booths to blacks. Two earlier marches were rebuffed by authorities.


Landfill opponents, who had fought the project with lawsuits and protests, cheered the company's decision Monday.


"It means our National Voting Rights Trail will not be desecrated by a nasty garbage dump," said Barbara Evans, executive director of the consumer group Alabama Watch.


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Waste Management spokeswoman Lynn Brown said the company decided to withdraw the application because of pending legal action and general business reasons.


She said the landfill dispute had been in the courts so long that additional landfill space had become available in the area, and there is no plan to try to the develop the site in future years.


"It's a victory for the people, a victory for the environment," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had joined in opposition to the landfill. "Waste Management has exercised good judgment, and I applaud them for it."


The project began in 1998 when Lanny Young, a politically influential landfill developer and lobbyist, proposed building a landfill about 500 feet off the highway. The site was near where civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo was gunned down after the third march in 1965.


Young got approval from the Lowndes County Commission, which hoped it would bring jobs to the poor, predominantly black county, but a lawsuit by opponents stalled construction.


Young turned over the landfill project to Waste Management after running into personal legal problems. Landfill opponents contended the firm had to start over by getting another approval from the county commission. Waste Management disagreed and was fighting the state and opponents in court when it decided to drop the project.


"It shows you can take on a giant like Waste Management, and in the end, justice will prevail," said Montgomery attorney Susan Copeland, who represented nearby homeowners and landowners.


Source: Associated Press


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