Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Articles about the Box Elder County referendum where a 2-1 vote of a 3-member county commission authorized the sale of the county landfill

This KSL article has an explanation of the initial positions, pictures, and some horrible arguments for disallowing referendums:

The 2nd article down describes the court decision allowing the referendum--very applicable to the importance of referendums overall.
Box Elder residents want more say in landfill suit
By Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/23/2008 03:21:32 PM MDT

Posted: 3:22 PM- BRIGHAM CITY - Box Elder County residents who
successfully petitioned for a right to vote on selling the county
landfill are now asking a judge to let them have a say in the lawsuit
challenging the referendum.
Eight residents, including several sponsors of the petition, say
in a 1st District Court filing that they have both a constitutional
and a statutory interest in seeing that the landfill vote remains on
the Nov. 4 ballot.
The Northern Utah Regional Landfill Authority, comprised of
garbage districts covering most of northern Utah, wants to turn Box
Elder County's Little Mountain Landfill southwest of Tremonton into a
large regional dump.
The three-member County Commission, two of whom also serve on the
authority's board, agreed last December to sell the landfill to the
But residents were angry over what they considered a lack of
public debate and circulated petitions to force a referendum on the
sale. They gathered far more signatures than were necessary, and
County Recorder LuAnn Adams certified the petitions and put the matter
on the ballot.
In its lawsuit against the county and Adams, the landfill
authority argues that the Box Elder Commission's decision to sell the
landfill was administrative, not legislative, and thus not subject to
a referendum.
Ron Germer, a Brigham City resident who is among the eight trying
to intervene in the case, said they are trying to protect the
constitutional rights of the 4,400 residents who signed petitions.
"It is unbelievable that NURLA would try to infringe upon the
rights of the people," he wrote in an e-mail. "If this is what we can
expect from them, I am not sure we should have anything to do with
Some of petition signers have said that, although they eventually
may support selling the landfill, they want a more public process
before the decision is made.
NURLA was organized last year by four entities that handle all the
garbage - except Bountiful's - in Davis, Morgan, Weber, Box Elder and
Cache counties.
Participants are Wasatch Integrated Waste Management System, Weber
County, Box Elder County and Logan.
Little Mountain facility
Box Elder landfill sale decision appears headed for the ballot
Judge Hadfield rejects arguments seeking to quash the referendum
By Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 05/17/2008 12:34:41 AM MDT

BRIGHAM CITY - Box Elder County residents will get to vote after all on the sale of their Little Mountain Landfill to a regional landfill authority.
First District Court Judge Ben Hadfield has rejected arguments from the Northern Utah Regional Landfill Authority (NURLA) to keep a voter referendum off the Nov. 4 ballot.
Reggie Petersen of Penrose cheered the judge's decision.
"I'm happy the judicial system protected the Constitutional right of the people to have a say," he said.
The Box Elder County Commission voted last December to sell the landfill southwest of Tremonton to NURLA, formed in 2007 by garbage districts covering five northern Utah counties. The plan is to line and enlarge the landfill to eventually accommodate garbage from Davis County on the south to Cache County on the north.
Unhappy with the sale, county residents gathered more than 4,000 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot.
NURLA sued, asking the judge to rule that Box Elder County Clerk LuAnn Adams was wrong to certify the petitions.
The landfill authority argued that the commission's decision was administrative, not a policy-making decision open to referendum. It also argued that the sale fell under Utah's Interlocal Cooperation Act, which prohibits referendum - and that the matter was too complex to entrust to voters.
The judge rejected all three arguments.
"The court finds that the issue . . . is one of great potential impact upon the county's environment, resources and citizens and very appropriate for voter participation."
Weber County Commissioner Craig Dearden, the chairman of NURLA, said the authority board will meet June 5 to discuss its options.
The lawsuit, he said, was more about clarification than preventing the public from voting, he said.
Nonetheless, "We felt like the County Commissioners represent the people and were elected by the people and they made their decision to sell it."
Election issue
Landfill authority to make case for dump sale on ballots
The agency previously had opposed putting the matter before voters
By Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 06/19/2008 12:44:28 AM MDT

BRIGHAM CITY - The board representing garbage districts in five
northern Utah counties decided unanimously Wednesday to drop its
challenge of a voter initiative in Box Elder County.
The Northern Utah Regional Landfill Authority board (NURLA),
comprised of elected officials from Davis to Cache County, instead
turned its attention to defeating the initiative on November's ballot.
Opponents of selling Box Elder County's Little Mountain Landfill
to NURLA gathered more than 4,000 signatures last winter, giving
voters a shot at reversing a Box Elder County Commission decision made
last December.
The NURLA board this spring sued in 1st District Court, arguing
the matter was not open to a referendum, but Judge Ben Hadfield ruled
against NURLA.
"We communicated as a body that our intent was to refer to the
court to have its opinion," said Box Elder County Commissioner Clark
Davis, who added that the board should "live with the decision."
The board now has to figure out how it will campaign for the sale
because it is illegal to use public money to do so.
Attorney Patrick Malone said NURLA can use public money to explain
its reasoning, but must give opponents the opportunity to explain
their positions as well.
Brigham City Mayor Lou Ann Christensen told the board its plan for
a regional landfill would save the city $90,000 to $150,000 a year in
tipping fees. She encouraged the board to organize independent
supporters to raise money for the publicity campaign.
Opponents of selling the landfill told the board it should
consider other options.
Dean Anderson, of Bear River City, said the Little Mountain site
is too small for the five counties' garbage, while a site on
Promontory Point is better suited.
"They just need to look at the big picture," said Anderson. "They
need to super-size."
The board settled on expanding the landfill at Little Mountain,
southwest of Tremonton, as the best choice after a feasibility study
last year.
Resident Bonnie Germer, who was involved in the petition drive,
said she doesn't want her county partnering with others in the
regional landfill authority.
"If you lose in November, don't come back suing us, because we
will fight you again," said Germer.

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