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Waste Management, Inc. v. Nashville

Citation: 28 ELR 20243
(11/05/1997)

The court holds that county regulations governing the disposal of solid waste generated within the county's boundaries discriminate against interstate commerce. A licensed waste collector that operates a waste disposal facility within the county's boundaries sought injunctive relief from these provisions. The court first holds that enforcement of the county's flow control provisions should be enjoined. These provisions discriminate against interstate commerce. They require that all residential waste be sent to a county-owned facility, thereby preventing the waste collector from disposing of such waste at a cheaper facility, and threatening the well-being of the waste collector's own dump sites. Because the flow control provisions are facially discriminatory, and because there are other means of advancing the legitimate local interests cited, these provisions cannot satisfy the rigorous scrutiny to which such laws are subjected under the U.S. Commerce Clause. The court next holds that enforcement of the county's waste disposal fee provisions should be permanently enjoined. The provisions are facially discriminatory because they treat county and noncounty interests differently. Examples of such differential treatment are the fact that the waste disposal fee is not imposed on waste disposed of at any county-owned facility, and that it is only imposed upon waste collectors that dispose of waste at facilities outside of the county's boundaries. In addition, the county failed to demonstrate that it had no other means of advancing a legitimate local interest, and both parties acknowledged that there was a reasonable nondiscriminatory alternative in the form of a generator or container tax on all residential and nonresidential waste generated within the county's boundaries. The court next remands the question of whether the county's passenger vehicle and pickup truck ordinance causes a taking of the corporation's property. This ordinance requires that all waste collectors operating disposal facilities within the county accept waste delivered by passenger vehicles free of charge and accept waste delivered by standard pickup trucks for a fee of $ 5 per load. The court also remands the question of whether the waste collector's taking claim is ripe for adjudication in federal court.

Counsel for Plaintiff
John M. Gillum
Manier, Herod, Hollabaugh & Smith
First Union Tower
150 4th Ave. N., Ste. 2200, Nashville TN 37219
(615) 244-0030

Counsel for Defendant
Stephen Nunn
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
Department of Law
506 Metro CtHse.
One Public Sq., Nashville TN 37201
(615) 862-5181

Before Contie and Boggs, JJ.