IWS Tactics in Farmersville
Only four residents responded to a marketing brochure disguised as a "survey" mailed in December, 1999, by IWS. The mailing recited the amounts of money the Town had agreed to as royalties in the 1991 contract, and then asked residents how they would want the money spent, and what job they'd like at the proposed landfill.
In the wake of the resignation of newly elected Town Supervisor Larry Justus, in April, 2000, IWS sent out another mailer in to Farmersville residents promising to bankrupt the Town with a new lawsuit if residents support any changes to the town's landfill law. That worked: by October, 2000, the town board repeated the mistake of the 1991 board and made its local landfill law a red carpet inviting IWS to town.
IWS's mailer came on a 3 x 5 card signed by one "Burns," undoubtedly longtime IWS agent Cheryl Burns, who gives her address as 8643 Route 98 N Franklinville, NY 14737 (Phone: 716-676-2596). The card includes this:
"Don't let the County Legislators run
this town. Stop outside towns from running the Town of
Farmersville. As a resident of Farmersville, make a
decision that will benefit YOU! Let's get the most we
can from this potential future business, including
other economic benefits - jobs, new equipment for the
fire dept., lower taxes, etc. Whether you want a
landfill business or not, it is time to look at the
potential losses to this town if the proposed changes
to the law go through! Please respond by completing
the enclosed postcard, sign and drop in the mail."
Potential losses to the town? Farmersville's 350 voters have already spent well over a quarter-million dollars in legal fees and engineering expenses to babysit this proposal, while IWS strues to keep its head above water! IWS's only hope is to sell a permit (if it ever gets one) to Waste Management or Casella, among the baddest of the bad boys of the garbage world. Then Farmersville residents (and most of the county) will truly be outgunned. Such underhanded scare tactics are taken right out of Bill Heitzenrater's play book. Those who have watched this issue will remember how Heiztenrater hoodwinked a widow and a near-bankrupt farmer to acquire the proposed landfill site in 1990. He told them he'd put a nature camp on the parcel and they could have jobs there. (Click here for that story.)
A few Farmersville residents remember what Heitzenrater said at a 1991 Town Board meeting when he was asked why he wanted to put a landfill in a place with pristine clean water supplies: because it will take longer to pollute it beyond the state's minimum water quality standards.
Fewer know what Heitzenrater did in 1994 in the Finger Lakes Town of Galen. In April of that year the Supreme Court Maurice Strobridge (Wayne County) declared illegal Heitzenrater's attempt to make an end run around the Galen Town Board by striking a deal buy the town's old landfill with an independent commission. Heitzenrater planned to dump 1,200 tons of garbage per day on the land. The judge found the commission had violated New York's Open Meetings Law in its dealings with the wannabe garbage king and, at any rate, it didn't own the land Heitzenrater wanted.
Heitzenrater was successfully sued by the Western Finger Lakes Solid Waste Management Authority, the towns of Lyons and Galen, the villages of Lyons and Clyde, and the Galen Concerned Citizens Committee. How did Heitzenrater respond? By threatening to sue members of the Galen-Lyons Joint Landfill Commission (which disbanded after Judge Strobridge's decision) for breach of contract--one of the first arrows in the dump developer's sling. (Geneva Times, 4/29/94; Finger Lakes Times, 4/30/94)
Nobody should be surprised that Heitzenrater and Swanz work well together: according to the NYS Comptroller, who audited the town for 1995, Swanz got the entire $75,000 filing fee submitted by IWS in 1991, which was supposed to go toward review of IWS's application for a local permit (a permit the contract says they get automatically anyway, once a DEC permit is issued). Also, the NYS Dept. of State issued a legal opinion to the Farmersville Town Board in 2000, questioning the legality of the royalties provision in the contract, as an impermissible tool for obtaining town revenue. Swanz has never questioned the legality of the town's contract with IWS.
Don't expect IWS to convince the Farmersville town board a regional landfill with an interstate service area in their backyard is a good idea. They don't think it is. They're just afraid they'll be sued into submission if they don't go along, and they're not getting accurate legal advice on their powers to act. No town that has stood up to a predatory landfill developer's tactics in New York has lost in court.