The New Jersey Superior Court yesterday rejected attempts to block a new incinerator in Union County, clearing the final obstacle to a $283 million bond sale that closed after the ruling.
In a 3-to-0 opinion, the Appellate Division of the state's Superior Court declined to issue a restraining order requested by a group known as Concerned Citizens for the Environment.
Last week, after the Union County Utilities Authority had already priced the bond issue, Concerned Citizens filed an appeal with the Superior Court for a restraining order to block excavation of wetlands on a portion of the property designated for the new incinerator.
The group wanted construction stopped until its lawsuit against one of the utility's construction permits is heared in February. But the court ruled the group failed to meet the requirements for a restraining order, which include showing that the underlying case has a strong likelihood of success.
Concerned Citizens appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, which scheduled a hearing for Jan. 14. The authority warned in a statement that if the Supreme Court reverses yesterday's decision it may not be able to complete construction of the facility and costs could rise substantially.
But authority officials said they are confident the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court's ruling. "This is a nuisance lawsuit," and all similar attempts to stop the project have previously been blocked by the courts, one official involved in the deal said.
Representatives of Concerned Citizens could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The group wanted to take its case to the public in a demonstration planned for yesterday's scheduled groundbreaking ceremony, but authority officials undercut that plan by holding a secret groundbreaking a day ahead of schedule. Authority members and officials of the construction company attended, but neither the public nor the press were notified.
Authority Chairman Angelo J. Bonanno said yesterday that any additional delays to the financing could have forced the authority to renegotiate its contract with the construction frim handling the deal, Ogden Martin Systems of Union Inc.
"Instead, we are finally moving forward and the facility is expected to be operational by early to mid-1194," Mr. Bonanno said. He added that the facility is expected to save county residents more than $9 million in garbage disposal fees a year and construction could create up to 300 jobs in the region.