Judge: Community Recycling can stay open, no fines

Judge: Community Recycling can stay open, no fines »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Lamont-based Community Recycling and Resource Recovery Inc. will continue to stay open after it was denied due process of law by Kern County officials who shut down the facility after two brothers died on the job in 2011, a Kern County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday.

Additionally, the company will not have to pay $2.3 million dollars in fines imposed by Kern County.

Mark Smith, an attorney representing Community Recycling, said he was gratified by the court ruling.

"This order commands the (Kern County) Board of Supervisors to set aside its prior ruling," Smith said.

The Board of Supervisors revoked the facility's conditional use permit on Nov. 15, 2011, about one month after 16-year-old Armando Ramirez and his 22-year-old brother Heladio died after they inhaled toxic gases during the cleaning of a storm drain system.

But, on Nov. 29, 2011, a judge ordered a stay on the removal of the conditional use permit, and the facility has been open since.

"County abused its discretion in that there is no substantial evidence to support county's determination that during the Nov. 15, 2011, hearing, 'The applicant/operator was afforded a reasonable time to present a response," the judge wrote.

Kern County Fifth District Supervisor Leticia Perez called the decision disappointing, but said the county did the right thing in pursuing the closure of the facility.

"I stand by the county's decision to protect the residents of Lamont and Arvin to hold this company accountable for their behavior," said Perez.

She said the county will have to consider whether to appeal the court ruling.