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Bankruptcy for Gregory Canyon company
By J. Harry Jones, .Feb. 13, 2014

The company behind the long-planned Gregory Canyon landfill announced Thursday that its three original investors are seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — another setback for the project that has been dogged by delays for nearly two decades.

Nancy Chase, the longtime spokeswoman for Gregory Canyon Ltd., said the unsecured creditors filed an involuntary petition against the company Thursday seeking relief under the provision of Chapter 11 reorganization.

Chase said last month the company was seeking a new infusion of cash. It owes at least $320,000 to the county’s Air Pollution Control District, which announced in January it was suspending work on the landfill’s permit application because the company was past-due on its hefty bill.

On Thursday, she minimized the significance of the bankruptcy filing, saying it was designed to manage debt and provide new capital in order to develop a reorganization plan that would take the project forward.

“Big companies do this all the time,” she said.

Everett DeLano, a lawyer who has opposed the plans to build the dump for years, said he was not surprised by the filing.

“If it’s really this tough to finance it, there’s probably a good reason,” he said. “It’s a bad idea. It doesn’t sound like they will be doing any construction anytime soon.”

The initial court filing doesn’t contain monetary figures, but lists the names of what Chase said are the three original investors in the company: Naty Saidoff of Capital Foresight Limited Partnership in Los Angeles; Irwin Heller of the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris Glovsky and Pepeo P.C. of Boston; and Richard Marcus of Western Skies Associates, LLC of Englewood, Colo.

Chase said the filing will put a stay on all of the local, state and federal permits that are currently in the works and are needed before a landfill can be built. That means no work will be done on the permits, but they will also remain in the system during bankruptcy proceedings.

How long reorganization might take is unknown. Chase said she hoped it could be done within a few months.

Chase recently said the company has spent more than $62 million on its efforts to build the landfill.

The project has been a hot-button issue for the past two decades, pitting environmental groups, a Native American tribe and several local municipalities against project developers who have argued the future landfill is key to serving the region’s trash needs.

In 1994, voters approved Proposition C, a measure that amended the county’s general plan and zoning ordinance to allow a landfill without a major-use permit, thereby streamlining the project’s approval. Ten years later, the project withstood another major challenge when voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have invalidated Prop. C.

In both campaigns, millions of dollars were spent by both sides.

The landfill would span 308 acres inside a 1,770-acre parcel about three miles east of I-15 and two miles southwest of the community of Pala.

The Pala Band of Mission Indians has bitterly opposed the project, arguing it would desecrate a sacred tribal spot on Gregory Mountain as well as a nearby medicine rock marked with Native American pictographs.

In 2004, attorneys for the tribe, the city of Oceanside and local environmental group RiverWatch filed a lawsuit challenging the county’s approval of a solid waste permit application for the landfill. The suit was eventually dismissed in 2011.

The landfill developers say the landfill would be state-of-the-art and exceed all environmental protection regulations designed to prevent damage to the river and wildlife.

The project would include a recycling center, access roads and bridges, and soil stockpile areas on roughly 420 acres of land.

Another 1,300 acres would remain open space. The landfill would take in 600,000 tons of trash per year for 30 years in Gregory Canyon, beside the San Luis Rey River and Gregory Mountain.


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