Boykins to appeal trash ruling

Published 11:43 am Saturday, July 11, 2009

BOYKINS—The town plans to appeal a judge’s ruling against Boykins in a dispute over its mandatory trash collection fee.

Southampton County General District Court Judge Warren Parker Councill re-entered judgments in favor of four defendants — including the town’s vice mayor, Linda Beatty — on Friday, after agreeing to a town request to reopen the cases, but only to give Boykins more time to consider its options for an appeal.

That appeal to Circuit Court will be forthcoming, according to Town Clerk Pat Draper, after the Town Council voted 3-1 at a special meeting to take the dispute to the next level.

Councill originally ruled in favor of the defendants on June 23, although the four cases were on the docket for June 26.

“When I realized that I would be sitting (in court) in Suffolk on the 26th, I entered the disposition on June 23, so as to avoid further delay,” Councill said in a letter to the town’s attorney, Timothy Drewry, and Beatty dated June 30. “The town has asked that the matters be reopened for the purpose of taking further evidence or receiving additional legal authority, or both.”

But the judge said he would not “hear further evidence or argument in the case.”

Councill ruled that the town’s trash collection fee was not enforceable because the municipality did not hold a public hearing before making the fee mandatory in 2007. His ruling currently absolves Beatty, J.C. Owen, William Pennington and Charles Vaughan from paying the fee.

Draper said Beatty recused herself from the Town Council vote on June 29 to appeal. Michael Gadsby was the lone dissenting vote.

Beatty asked for the case against her and, possibly by extension the other cases, to be dismissed on July 2. She said the Town Council’s vote to appeal made the town’s request for a continuance until Friday a moot point. She also said that since Drewry said the town did not need a continuance during an evidentiary hearing on June 12 that the request for a continuance should not be allowed.

Drewry, in a letter to Councill dated June 25, revealed the town has received legal assistance from Virginia Municipal League attorneys, government officials and other legal counsel. He said those sources unanimously concurred that a state statute, Section No. 15.2-928, gives the town the power to regulate waste disposal and does not require a public hearing.

The town attorney also said three decisions by the Virginia Supreme Court — Mountain View Limited Partnership v. The City of Clifton Forge, McMahon v. City of Virginia Beach, and Tidewater Ass’n. of Homebuilders Inc. v. City of Virginia Beach — were examples of where the court upheld mandatory fees, even on individuals that did not use services provided by municipalities.

Beatty and Gadsby were the dissenting votes at the Town Council meeting on July 17, 2007 when the trash collection fee was made mandatory. The measure passed by a 3-2 vote.