BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The City of Bristol, Virginia says the information on the landfill sought by Bristol, Tennessee officials is too much to gather in the time frame expected.
Bristol, Tennessee City Manager Bill Sorah said in a statement to News Channel 11 that a FOIA request was sent to city officials in Bristol, Virginia by legal counsel on Jan. 11. At the time of sending, a response date was set for Jan. 18.
Sorah said legal counsel for Bristol, Virginia requested an extra seven days, which Sorah says is allowed and was granted. On Jan. 27, Bristol, Tennessee reached out for a status update and did not receive a response.
On Feb. 1, Sorah said in a city council meeting that Bristol, Virginia had still not responded to the records request.
You can read the full FOIA request below:
Bristol FOIA Request (01.11.22) (1) by Murry Lee on Scribd
The City of Bristol, Virginia issued the following statement on Feb. 2, claiming the amount of information requested by Bristol, Tennessee was too voluminous and would require more time:
“The City of Bristol, Virginia has outside counsel providing legal guidance to the City as it relates tot he FOIA request. The FOIA request is voluminous and overly broad. Fulfilling this FOIA request will require more time than provided for in the Code of Virginia. The City’s outside counsel is attempting to reach a resolution with Bristol, Tennessee’s outside counsel as it relates to the timing of the City’s response and the specifics of Bristol, Tennessee’s request.”City of Bristol, Virginia per the Office of the City Manager
Bristol, Virginia went on to state that the city has been actively working to fix the odor issue stemming from the landfill since December 2020 and is aware of the impact the smell is having on residents on both sides of State Street.
“Bristol, Tennessee may choose to sue Bristol, Virginia for the landfill odor issue, but that seems counter-intuitive if we truly are a community working together to make Bristol better for our citizens,” the statement reads. “It’s time for both Bristols to stand together and seek solutions for the landfill odor instead of fighting one another when both cities are seeking the same solution which is the elimination of the landfill odor. We can conquer more as one united front rather than a house divided.”
City officials from Bristol, Virginia said in the statement that litigation would only result in taxpayers paying the penalty as the city would defend itself. The statement claims that Bristol, Tennessee has already devoted more than $150,000 to legal and expert fees.
Bristol, Virginia officials said if Bristol, Tennessee elects to sue, both parties would lose and it would not speed up the resolution of the landfill odor.