The county Planning Commission on Friday rejected plans to build a privately owned landfill in Gregory Canyon.
William Schwartz, attorney for Waste Management Inc., said the firm will probably appeal the commission's decision to the County Board of Supervisors.
Coast Waste Management had asked the commission to overturn an administrative decision of county Planning Director Lauren Wasserman denying the firm permission to initiate a county amendment to the general plan to redesignate part of a 1,600-acre site for landfill use.
The site, about 3 miles east of Interstate 15, south of California 76, is one of 17 sites that the county Public Works Department is reconsidering as alternative landfill locations to replace the San Marcos dump, which is expected to close early next year.
Gabrielle Soroka, environmental affairs manager for Waste Management, said her firm was not asking commissioners to grant a permit to build a dump site and recycling center in Gregory Canyon nor to decide whether a landfill should be publicly or privately run.
"We are simply asking for the right to do a site-specific environmental impact report at our own expense," Soroka said, adding that the action could save the county up to $800,000 for the in-depth environmental study. Without such a study, "any criticism or support is guesswork only," she said.
Soroka said Waste Management is willing to work with the county in its attempts to resolve the looming trash disposal crisis in the North County.
She pointed out that, since the Gregory Canyon site was turned down by county supervisors last year, a proposal to double the size of the nearly full San Marcos landfill has been stalled and a proposed trash-to-energy incinerator--which would have handled half the North County's solid waste--had been canceled.
Opponents of the Waste Management project included representatives of the Fallbrook Planning Group and the Pala-Pauma Sponsor Group. Both local planning groups recommended against the trash disposal project in Gregory Canyon, citing potential ground-water contamination, earthquake and landslide dangers, violation of sacred Indian religious sites, environmental damage to the San Luis Rey River Valley and potential contamination of pipelines bringing in the county's water.
Waste Management spokesmen countered that the Gregory Canyon facility would occupy only about 270 acres of the 1,683-acre site, and that the rest would form a "buffer zone" where mitigation projects could be developed to offset any environmental damage to wildlife in the San Luis Rey River Valley.