2015 Beautiful Waller County Calendars
Spring 2015 Dinner/Auction Fundraiser
Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3) Determination Letter
Dear CALH Member,
On August 6, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued correspondence granting the request of the Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead (CALH) to be made a tax exempt charitable organization. In the correspondence, the IRS stated in part: “We are pleased to inform you that upon review of your application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to you are deductible under section 170 of the Code.”
The effective date of our exempt status is June 26, 2011, the date of the initial creation of the organization. This means that any contributions made to CALH since June 26, 2011, are deductible for federal income tax purposes.
A special thank you goes to Debra Mergel, Attorney at Law, and Robert Fry, CPA, for their assistance in preparing this application to the IRS.
Your tax deductible donations can be sent to CALH, P.O. Box 871, Hempstead, TX 77445. Thank you for your continued support.
Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead
Pintail Landfill Trial Verdict: Jury Rules Waller County Violated Texas Open Meetings Law
~Article as posted from Houston Public Media.
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 08:56 PM
A verdict in a trial seeking to stop a new landfill in Waller County is not the end of the case. It’s up to the judge to deliver a final ruling. The plan is for the dump to be filled mostly with trash from greater Houston.
A jury Thursday deliberated for about two hours before finding Waller County commissioners violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when they discussed the controversial landfill without including the public.
The lawsuit filed by the city of Hempstead against Waller County came after the county passed an ordinance that enables a landfill to be built outside the town, which is about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Many residents oppose the project, fearing the development will harm the environment.
Attorney Corey Ouslander represents the city in this case.
“Now those actions can be voided by the judge because those are illegal actions that ended up with a public vote regarding the ordinance and the host agreement,” Ouslander said.
Judge Terry Flenniken is set to issue a final ruling on January 21, 2015.
Brent Ryan is an attorney for Pintail Landfill, the company, that plans to build the dump and which is also a defendant in the lawsuit.
He said regardless of the outcome, the company plans to build the landfill, which is awaiting a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“We’re confident the project meets all of the applicable permitting requirements,” Ryan said. “And we’ll move forward to get our permit and develop the project.”
He said since Pintail filed its permit application before any county ordinances were passed, the judge’s ruling will not affect the project.
Waller County Landfill Deal Ruled Illegal
~Article as posted by KBTX.com
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 10:46 PM
HEMPSTEAD - A Waller County jury has thrown out a deal that approved a 15-story landfill along Highway 6.
It was ruled that Waller County Commissioners violated state public information and open meeting laws by passing a 2013 ordinance granting Green Group the OK to put their landfill just north of Hempstead.
Waller County residents raised more than half a million dollars to prove the landfill deal was a backroom deal.
This fall, anyone who was part of the landfill deal in November was voted out of office by Waller County residents.
Status Update of December 18
Jury: Waller Co. Commissioners Met Illegally Before Approving Landfill
~Article as posted from The Houston Chronicle.
Thursday, December 18th, 2014, 9:34pm
A jury on Thursday found that Waller County commissioners met illegally in closed sessions among themselves and with developers of a controversial landfill proposal over more than two years before agreeing to host the project.
After a three-week jury trial that was the talk of this rural county, the 12-member jury sided with the city of Hempstead and a citizens group that had challenged the Commissioners Court's February 2013 approval of the 250-acre landfill just outside the Hempstead city limits.
The verdict does not block the landfill, but it does represent an important victory for those fiercely opposed to the project, who fear it would hurt property values and pollute an aquifer that serves the Houston area.
Dozens of landfill opponents squeezed hands and smiled as the verdict was read. Once the jurors had filed out of the courtroom and the judge had called a recess, Diana Tatum turned and hugged fellow Hempstead resident Billy Frazier as both cried in relief.
Bob Gage of Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead gathered members in a circle at the back of the courtroom. Holding hands with heads bowed, they prayed.
"Lord it's not over yet," Gage said. "We don't ask you to take our side. We ask you to guide us to your side and your will."
Crucial hearing Jan. 21
Landfill opponents say Thursday's victory will strengthen a separate case as they contest a draft permit issued two years ago to the developer, Pintail Landfill, by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The judge presiding over Thursday's civil case, retired Judge Terry Flenniken, could invalidate a 2013 ordinance allowing the landfill now that a jury has found commissioners met illegally. That would reinstate a 2011 city ordinance that had prohibited the landfill, said Corey Ouslander, attorney for the city of Hempstead. Pintail maintains that the ordinance has no weight because it was adopted after they had filed their application with the state.
Flenniken is also set to rule at a Jan. 21 hearing on whether the county had authority to approve the project given that 106 acres falls within Hempstead's extraterritorial jurisdiction, a bubble around it that could be pulled within city limits once the population increases.
A ruling in opponents' favor on that element could allow the city to block the project through health and safety codes or other means, Ouslander said.
The developer maintains that it has the necessary permits to proceed, regardless of the verdict.
"We plan to build a state-of-the art facility that will be an asset to Hempstead and to Waller County," said Brent Ryan, attorney for Pintail Landfill, a subsidiary of Georgia-based Green Group Holdings.
Residents of Hempstead, which is located about an hour northwest of downtown Houston, have been in open revolt over the proposed landfill, which would be several hundred feet high and visible from U.S. 290.
For more than three years, the number of rankled residents has grown, fueling voters to unseat sitting commissioners and residents to spend thousands of dollars at monthly garage sales to raise funds for legal costs.
"I've had a Christmas tree for two weeks. It smells good, but I haven't been able to decorate it," Joanne McCay told a friend outside the courtroom, laughing. "I've been here every day."
After less than three hours of deliberation to review nine different charges, 11 of 12 jurors reached agreement.
In closing arguments, attorneys for the plaintiffs cast county commissioners as unethical politicians while the defense argued they were heroic tacticians like Sam Houston.
"This case is not about whether a landfill will come to Waller County," said Blayre Peña, attorney for the citizens group. "Transparency and open government - that's what this case is about."
Attorneys for the city and the citizens group told the jury that Waller County Judge Glenn Beckendorff, along with Commissioners Stan Kitzman and Frank Pokluda, violated Texas' open government laws by secretly colluding with Pintail representatives, months before anyone else in the community knew about the proposal.
As Peña ticked off the allegations, Beckendorff slouched down. His face reddened as Peña clicked through PowerPoint slides in a tour of the evidence: phone records, emails and calendars.
James Allison, attorney for Waller County, contended that county leaders followed state law and only held closed meetings to discuss legal aspects of the proposal, which they are permitted to do. He detailed numerous occasions when they had delayed votes to allow for more public comment.
Allusion to Alamo
Allison contended that it all came down to Pintail Landfill being smarter and quicker. The company filed its application to the state before the county could adopt an ordinance to block the project, which he said left commissioners with little choice but to reverse previous restrictions and OK the landfill. The vote was 3-2.
He described the county judge's decision in 2013 to draft a hosting agreement, which would set terms for the project, and a second ordinance to ban landfills anywhere else in the county as "Plan B." He compared Beckendorff to Sam Houston, who declined to reinforce the Alamo as the Mexican Army advanced.
"The war wasn't won at the Alamo," he said, suggesting opponents of the landfill should be taking their fight to the state.
After the verdict was returned, Pokluda left the courtroom. Kitzman and Beckendorff lingered near a window with their attorneys.
"We have to respect the jury's decision," Beckendorff said, his eyes red and moist. "It's been very difficult when you feel like you did the right thing."
Kizsman echoed his thoughts.
"I absolutely believe in our judicial system, but I don't think they made the right choice today," he said, proud of his work as commissioner even on the landfill issue. Nearly 100 percent "of our county is protected from more landfills and if we could've stopped this one, we'd have done it."
None of the three will be returning in January to the court, which will have a majority opposed to the landfill.