Ga. Supreme Court Upholds Stephens Co. Nuisance Ordinance

March 24, 2014

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously votes to uphold Stephens County’s nuisance ordinance after it was challenged more than a year ago by the Wilbros facility.

In a ruling issued last month, the state’s highest court unanimously voted to deny Wilbros’ challenge of the county’s nuisance ordinance.

In November 2012, attorneys for Wilbros appealed one of the nuisance ordinance citations issued by Stephens County regarding odor from Wilbros.

Wilbros challenged the constitutionality of the nuisance ordinance, arguing that it was too vague.

Also, Wilbros argued that the county nuisance ordinance was pre-empted by state law and that Wilbros should be protected by double jeopardy from the county nuisance ordinance because the Georgia Environmental Protection Division had already alleged violations in relation to Wilbros’ conduct.

The Georgia Supreme Court rejected all of Wilbros’ claims in its ruling.

In its opinion, the court said that the county nuisance ordinance falls completely in line with existing state law and that double jeopardy protection does not apply to Wilbros because the nuisance ordinance is a criminal issue, while the EPD violations are of a civil nature.

Stephens County Attorney Brian Ranck called the court’s ruling positive news for the county.

Ranck said that Stephens County State Court should now have no impediments to prosecuting the numerous citations that have been issued to Wilbros over the last three to four years.

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