Fenimore Landfill has sparked controversy once again in Roxbury, N.J., after an appellate court ruled that New Jersey's Dept. of Environmental Protection overstepped its authority when it seized the site in 2013.
The court found NJDEP did not secure judicial approval before seizing the property under an emergency order and neglected to properly test the site for contaminants it claimed were a danger to the community.
The state's emergency order was issued hours after Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed the New Jersey Legacy Landfill Act, a law which allows the state to seize landfills that have been in operation since before 1982 and fail certain environmental standards.
Under the unlawful emergency order, The Conti Group was given a $9.6-million contract to seal 18 acres of the 101-acre landfill with Posi-Shell, install a geo-membrane cap and seed a vegetative cover.
Even as control of Fenimore returns to the site's owner, Richard Bernardi, NJDEP still plans to continue the agency's remediation efforts with Conti, which they say are nearly 90% complete.
The Conti Group did not comment on the involvement of the contractor or Bernardi.
NJDEP's work will extend into the spring and include the replacement of an oxidizer with a more powerful model and seeding the cap's cover.
"We have control over [Fenimore] at the present time, as we implement the health and safety plan," said Larry Ragonese, press director of NJDEP, who asserts the ruling does not change the NJDEP's imperative to cap the landfill.
Bernardi could not be reached for comment.
This ruling further clouds the legal situation between the state and Bernardi regarding the site: Both parties are intertwined in litigation concerning constitutionally unlawful seizure of property, according to court documents.