Does Local Law 3 violate host agreement in Seneca Falls?

There hasn’t been a more hotly-debated issue in Seneca Falls than the operating future of Seneca Meadows.

The landfill, which operates along State Rt. 414 for decades has come under fire in recent years by a growing group of concerned citizens.

As with any controversial issue, each argument one side makes — it is quickly walked back or challenged by the opposing group. It’s created years-long tension in the community of Seneca Falls, which holds most of the cards and power when it comes to this landfill.

That’s why the passage of Local Law No. 3, or the Waste Disposal Law of Seneca Falls was so significant for those who have been fighting to see a landfill-less Seneca Falls.

The law was passed in December after the community held a public hearing on the then-proposed legislation. The law called for a firm closure date of the Seneca Meadows Landfill, which was set at December 31st, 2025.

RELATED: Timeline of events in Seneca Falls v. Seneca Meadows

Fast-forward to present day and the Town Board is aggressively moving through the process of hearing a new local law. One that would rescind the aforementioned Local Law No. 3.

It comes after an Article 78 Petition was filed in February on behalf of Seneca Meadows. The Article 78 challenges the legal process by which the Town went through to put Local Law No. 3 on the books.

One question has stood out in recent months:

Does Local Law No. 3 violate the host community agreement?

It was a question, and major reservation among those who were on the fence of the issue during the debate stage. Those who opposed the law said that introducing such legislation could damage the agreement between Seneca Falls and Seneca Meadows.

READ THE LAW: Local Law No. 3 of 2016; Waste Disposal Law of Seneca Falls

This issue came up at February’s Waste Management Advisory Committee meeting, which was held on February 13th.

Committee members Matt Blair, Dave Clark, Dave Pannucci, Barb Reese, and Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro were present.

That day the question of ‘violation’ was addressed by Supervisor Lazzaro and Seneca Falls Town Attorney Patrick Morrell. The two didn’t agree on the answer, but it only highlighted the general uncertainty around the old, and new legislation.

Reese posed the question, asking Supervisor Lazzaro to follow up on his comment at the February 7th Town Board meeting, where he asserted that Local Law No. 3 was a violation of the host community agreement.

He didn’t back down from his position. Lazzaro reiterated his interpretation that the local law violates the host agreement.

Morrell didn’t agree.

He noted that Local Law No. 3 is not a violation of the current host agreement because it allows Seneca Meadows to continue operating until the end 2025.

READ THE ARTICLE 78: Seneca Meadows files Article 78 against Seneca Falls, Town Board

Morrell drafted the very local law, which will be debated at the public hearing slated for March 29th, according to Supervisor Lazzaro. “I had [Morrell] draft the new local law at my request,” he explained during the special meeting in February.

At different times over the last year, the Town Board has expressed interest in re-negotiating the host agreement to better fit the community moving forward. Those talks have not been made public, and it isn’t clear where they may lead for the community going forward this year- or next.

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