Landfill debate remains up in the air as Town Board weighs options

Photo by Tammy Whitacre, FL1 News

With much to consider and still awaiting the completion of the State Environmental Quality Review, the Seneca Falls Town Board had little to say about proposed Local Law No. 2, tabling the issue for another month.

But that didn’t mean local residents were done talking.

At their regular meeting Tuesday night, residents petitioned the board to speak about town issues – namely the landfill.

At the heart of the matter is Local Law No. 2, which would rescind a law passed in 2016, Local Law No. 3, which made the operation of a landfill within the town illegal and requires Seneca Meadows to shut down operations by the year 2025. Seneca Meadows has since filed a suit against the town challenging the legality of the 2016 law.

Public hearings on the rescinding of 2016’s Local Law No. 3 has brought supporters from both sides of the issue, voices raised to sway the board. At Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, Allison Stokes questioned the lack of activity from the Waste Management Advisory Committee, which seemed an obvious committee to be consulting in light of the recent debate on the landfill.

Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro said the committee was one he started when he came into office.

“I did not treat this committee as irrelevant,” he said, but conceded the committee could be doing more. “I think we’re trying. Can we do better? Yes.”

Doug Avery also spoke to the board, noting that of all those who have spoken at the public hearing, only two local residents spoke in favor of Local Law No. 2, while 26 community members stated they were opposed.

“Who do you represent?” Avery questioned. “Seneca Falls residents or [Seneca Meadows]. Let the Article 78 stand. Let a judge decide if Local Law No. 3 is a good law or not.”

The evening’s final speaker was Anna Luisi, a Seneca Falls resident, teacher at Mynderse Academy and Local Law No. 3 supporter. Luisi said when she talks to students, they don’t talk about coming back to Seneca Falls to live and when visiting schools come to compete, local students are taunted as the “smelly kids of Seneca Falls.” The teacher said she would like to see the town work now to find a way to stand on its own two feet without the landfill. And although Seneca Meadows has given much to many good organizations, “It is still 53 million tons of stinking garbage.”

“Having the largest landfill in the United States should not be a point of pride,” she added.

The board did approve the landfill’s annual permit. Town Attorney Patrick Morrell said Seneca Meadows has undertaken a huge effort to take care of the odor emanating from the landfill after the town received multiple complaints a year ago. Morrell said Seneca Meadows is still working on the project and when it is complete will notify the town. At that time, the attorney said, the town will go in to inspect the work.

Last year, quarterly payments from the landfill as agreed upon in the community agreement totaled over $3 million. At this time, Lazzaro said, in light of the pending lawsuit, he is uncertain whether Seneca Meadows will make any quarterly payments this year. Their first is due in a couple of weeks.

-Tammy Whitacre, FingerLakes1.com

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