The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a final order Monday denying a permit to a company that has been seeking to build a household garbage landfill outside Dade City since 2006.
DEP adopted an administrative law judge's recommendation from June which held that plans for the landfill failed to ensure that its structure would hold up and not pollute the environment.
The decision ends a seven-year legal battle that ignited almost immediately after Angelo's Aggregate Materials first proposed the Class 1 landfill four miles southeast of Dade City off Enterprise Road. The project drew opponents including environmentalists, local governments, powerful ranchers and the Nestle Waters North America company, which bottles water from nearby Crystal Springs. They all said the project threatened to contaminate the nearby Green Swamp and Hillsborough River.
DEP had already denied the permit in January 2012, which was a reaffirmation of a 2009 decision by the department, citing risks that a sinkhole could open below the landfill and send waste into drinking water aquifers and the Green Swamp.
Angelo's, owned by the Iafrate family, appealed and cut the initial size of the landfill from 90 acres to 30. It also argued that a further study of nearby landfills showed the risk of sinkholes was minimal.
Jake Varn, one of the attorneys representing Angelo's, said the agency's decision was expected.
"It was all preordained," he said, explaining that the rules required DEP to abide by the judge's findings of fact.
"It may be the first battle in a long war," Varn said. "We'll see what happens."
The company now could opt to appeal the decision in court or start over with a new application.
Landfill opponents took some credit for the denial.
"The results reflect what we can do as a community to protect the great things that we all appreciate in eastern Pasco County, preserve the ecologically sensitive Green Swamp for future generations, and assure our precious drinking water supplies can be used safely by the greater Tampa Bay Region today and well into the future," Carl Roth, who led a group opposed to the landfill since 2006, said in a news release.