Integrated Waste Services proposes to reduce size of proposed landfill in Farmersville
By RICK MILLER , The Times Herald 12/28/2002
FARMERSVILLE — Opponents of Integrated Waste Services’ proposed Farmersville landfill are girding for another round of public comment and hearings.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is preparing to release an amended application for a landfill with a capacity more than 25 percent smaller than originally proposed.

Cattaraugus County Concerned Citizens is mobilizing its members to review the latest landfill application when it comes out — possibly as early as next month — and be ready with written and public comments. A 30- to 60-day public comment period will begin once DEC officials issue the application.

The Cattaraugus County Legislature included extra money in the county’s 2003 budget for legal services. Environmental attorney Michael Gerrard has represented the county for much of its 10-year fight against the landfill proposal.

Integrated Waste Services was purchased several years ago by Southern Tier Waste Services Inc. of Niagara Falls.

A few years ago, the county proposed condemning the 400-plus acres Integrated Waste was planning to use for a landfill and use it to create a nature preserve/park. That effort has waned, but another opportunity for the county to take possession of the property is approaching.

County Treasurer Joseph G. Keller confirmed late last week that Southern Tier Waste Services owes $317,151 for three years worth of back taxes, fees and interest on five Farmersville parcels totaling 440 acres that make up the footprint of the proposed landfill.

“They have until Jan. 3 to make a payment,” Mr. Keller told The Times Herald. If there is no payment, the company would lose the opportunity to come back later and pay the back taxes. Another tax bill goes out in January, he said.

William Heitzenrater, president of Southern Tier Waste services, said he is seeking financing to pay the back taxes and other expenses.

“I’ve been scrambling to find secondary financing for our taxes,” he said.

Mr. Heitzenrater also suggested the possibility that the company could seek bankruptcy protection as a means of holding off a county takeover of the site while financing was organized.

Investors are discouraged about the amount of time it has taken for DEC to review the latest landfill application, he said.

“We’re confident the site is suitable for a landfill and that our design is suitable,” he said.
The landfill proposed by Integrated Waste in 1990 had a 950,000 ton capacity. The latest proposal calls for a capacity of 690,000 tons. The reduced capacity is due to engineering changes needed to reduce the proposed landfill’s steep slope near Route 98, according to Gary Abraham, environmental attorney for Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County.
The landfill would still take up to 3,000 tons of garbage a day from the New York City area, but it would fill up in 19 years rather than 25 years.

Mr. Abraham was concerned that the landfill could be approved at the lower capacity and later the application could be modified to expand the landfill.

He said new concerns that have developed since the previous landfill application include:

° The new city of Olean water treatment plant that will rely more on Olean Creek as a water source. Surface water contamination from the landfill could reach Olean in a matter of days, said Mr. Abraham.

° And possible Clean Air Act violations from landfill gas.

Concerned Citizens plans to ask Farmersville Supervisor Fred Zuech to recuse himself from any further landfill dealings because be runs a septic service that could benefit by dumping septic wastes at the landfill, said Mr. Abraham.

The environmental group also will ask the town to again consider repealing its local law governing the landfill so a more stringent county law would take effect. County lawmakers earlier this year approved revisions to the county’s solid waste law that make it more difficult to construct a landfill in the county.

Mr. Heitzenrater said if the landfill did not win approval, the town of Farmersville would lose up to $1 million a year over the life of the landfill.

Mr. Abraham advised residents to ask their county lawmakers to “urge the county to vigorously participate in the DEC review as they have in the past.”

He said, “There’s still a lot of hurdles the landfill will have to overcome in order to get a permit.”

©The Times Herald, Olean, N.Y. 2002
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