Bryan Files for Injunction Against CS Over Landfill Agency

The City of Bryan announced plans to file for an injunction against the City of College Station Tuesday afternoon, all over the Brazos Valley Solid Waste Management Agency.

Bryan officials allege they have been denied the opportunity to approve budget for the BVSWMA, which the cities each own 50 percent.

City leaders in Bryan also say they have been left off the contract for the proposed Twin Oaks landfill in Grimes County. Bryan officials say they've put $9 million into the project, but if they are not on the contract for construction, they would be left vulnerable to suits were accidents to occur on the site.

College Station officials are in Grimes County this week for hearings over the final condemnations for the Twin Oaks site. Bryan officials say they weren't allowed in on the debate.

Bryan leaders say they also haven't been consulted or included in BVSWMA's purchases or contracts. In addition, they claim College Station delayed negotiating a contract for a project that woudl convert methane gas into energy, this after Bryan Texas Utilities won the bid.

The injunction will seek to stop the bidding process for Twin Oaks -- located off Highway 30 in Grimes County -- until Bryan is added to the contract. Bryan is also asking for a mediator to renegotiate the agreement between the cities.

This partnership was formed back in 1990, but it's been about a year-and-a-half that Bryan officials say they've actively been trying to better their deal.

Currently, the board of BVSWMA consists of Bryan Mayor Mark Conlee, Bryan City Councilman Jason Bienski and College Station Mayor Ben White. However, as Bryan officials explain, the board is mostly a recommending body, and that the city councils are the deciding bodies on issues with the agency.

The two people mainly heading up BVSWMA, a director and an attorney, are College Station employees. Bryan City Manager David Watkins believes more complex, major issues arising in recent years has shown there needs to be a change in the structure of BVSWMA.

College Station operates the Rock Prairie Road landfill. Bryan leaders say they are fine with their neighbors to the south continuing as operators.

Monday, College Station City Manager Glenn Brown said he was disappointed Bryan went public with their disagreements. He declined to make any further statements Tuesday.

"We have had some disagreements in the past few months, but College Station intends to continue working with Bryan," Brown said Monday from Sugar Land, where the city council is at a retreat.

The following is a statement released by the City of Bryan:

"After several months of attempting to work out differences, including an agreement to mediate these differences that was later not honored by College Station, the City of Bryan has been forced to seek the assistance of the courts with the Brazos Valley Solid Waste Management Agency (BVSWMA) agreement, which is a partnership agreement between the Cities of Bryan and College Station. As a partner in BVSWMA and with the many BVSWMA assets, the City of Bryan has a fiduciary responsibility to protect its investments and those of the citizens of Bryan from serious potential adverse liability and large damages from the repeated failures of College Station to properly include Bryan in the contracts affecting the landfills.

"BVSWMA is a partnership formed through an interlocal agreement in 1990 between the two cities to combine landfill operations to minimize solid waste management costs. The two cities, through the Brazos Valley Solid Waste Management Agency Interlocal Agreement, jointly own and operate the Rock Prairie Road Landfill. More recently, the two cities, operating as BVSWMA, have jointly purchased land in Grimes County for a new landfill, the Twin Oaks Landfill.

"The City of Bryan has repeatedly requested that it be included in major BVSWMA decisions for the current Rock Prairie Road Landfill and the new Twin Oaks Landfill. In recent months, the City of Bryan has been excluded from many decisions even though the BVSWMA agreement stipulates that both City Councils have joint approval authority over operations, budgets, purchases, tipping fees and land acquisition. Under the Agreement, College Station employs personnel necessary for the routine performance of the day to day operations of the landfill. The current agreement does not provide the City of College Station the authority to contract on behalf of the City of Bryan or BVSWMA. Instead, the Bryan City Council and the BVSWMA Board, along with the City of College Station, are to consider and approve agreements. The City of College Station appears to be misrepresenting their authority to third parties that are considering submitting bids for the Twin Oaks Landfill construction contract because neither the City of Bryan nor BVSWMA is referenced in the request for bids document. Bids for the construction contract are due August 11, 2008.

"Additionally, as a partner, the City of Bryan should be included in contracts so as to be protected from possible litigation. The current request for bid for the fifteen to twenty million dollar construction of the Twin Oaks Landfill does not mention the City of Bryan or BVSWMA. As a result, the City of Bryan is not required to be included as an additional insured or covered by contractor indemnifications resulting in significant risk of exposure to Bryan. Moreover, by excluding Bryan from the contracts, Bryan is not included as a beneficiary of payment and performance bonds, contractor warranties and is not entitled to recover contract damages. Despite that the City of Bryan pays half the cost and jointly owns the landfill property as a tenant in common, the City of Bryan does not have the protections provided to the City of College Station.

"Another concern exists with the time to finalize the Landfill Gas (LFG) to Energy project. Last summer, BVSWMA issued a Request for Proposals for a LFG to Energy project at the Rock Prairie Road Landfill. Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU), seeing the opportunity to tap into a new source of energy for its customers while providing a Green initiative, partnered with Amereso, the industry’s leading LFG utilization project developers, to submit a proposal. The City of College Station evaluated proposals and BTU’s proposal was selected as the preferred response. Since selecting BTU’s proposal in October 2007, agreement discussions have stalled multiple times.

"As a green initiative, the LFG project provides a benefit to the entire region by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., gases that trap heat in the atmosphere). The project will provide a reduction in flared methane from the landfill and offset carbon dioxide by avoiding the use of fossil fuels to produce energy. Overall, the project will provide an environmental benefit equal to removing emissions equivalent to 23,439 vehicles or planting 33,401 acres of forest. Converting the methane gas to electricity can provide energy to as many as 1,780 homes each year for the life of the project. The expected life of the project is 15 years.

"Another LFG to Energy partner is Texas A&M University as it will also play a part in the project by developing a web-based monitoring system that can be viewed via the Internet by BTU and TAMU personnel. This system is envisioned to allow interaction with high school students on sustainable energy conversion, environmental issues and renewable technologies. A&M may also test other forms of generation at the site to demonstrate better ways to generate with LFG.

"The City of Bryan is dedicated to fostering partnerships and embracing initiatives that are beneficial to the community and the environment. At times, it is unfortunately necessary to take action to prevent injuries that are beyond repair. This is one such moment and it is now necessary to take action to prevent the City of College Station from entering into additional BVSWMA contracts and agreements without consideration by the City of Bryan and its citizens."

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