| Landfill developer declares bankruptcy to protect
Farmersville site from foreclosure
| By RICK
MILLER , The Times Herald
VALLEY — Southern Tier Waste Services Inc. has declared bankruptcy to avoid
foreclosure on 440 acres in Farmersville where it plans to locate a landfill.
The Niagara Falls-based company owes Cattaraugus County $317,151 in back
property taxes. That represents three years of back taxes, penalties and fees.
Southern Tier Waste acquired the Farmersville property when it bought Integrated
Waste Systems of Buffalo, which first proposed a mega-landfill more than 10
years ago at the Route 98 site.
County Treasurer Joseph G. Keller said last week that Southern Tier Waste
Services had until Friday to pay the back taxes or face foreclosure.
The treasurer told The Times Herald Tuesday that his office received notification
that morning that Southern Tier Waste Services had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
This filing will likely freeze any county foreclosure action.
Southern Tier Waste Services president William Heitzenrater said Tuesday,
“We filed for bankruptcy for protection to hold off the county for the back
taxes we owe.”
He said the company “couldn’t close a deal for secondary financing” because
of the threat of foreclosure. “We’re in the process of putting a reorganization
plan together. With a (landfill) permit it won’t be as tough to get financing.”
Mr. Heitzenrater said the state Department of Environmental Conservation
was scheduled to return the landfill developer’s permit application for further
comment on Tuesday. An additional two or three weeks will be needed before
it is released for public comment, he said.
Southern Tier Waste has submitted a new permit application, reducing the
size of its proposed landfill by 25 percent. The reduced capacity is due to
engineering changes needed to reduce the proposed landfill’s steep slope.
The site is located mostly on a hill side, and landfill developer’s engineers
have been unable to show they could design a stable slope that would prevent
the landfill from sliding down toward Route 98.
“We are still planning to go forward with the project,” said Mr. Heitzenrater.
The bankruptcy filing wasn’t a surprise to County Attorney Dennis Tobolski.
“They had very few options: pay the taxes, seek bankruptcy support or let
the property revert to the county,” he said.
Mr. Tobolski said, “The county is still evaluating its options, but at this
point, we can’t proceed with the county’s foreclosure proceeding. This will
give them time to sit down, reorganize and come up with a plan.”
Bankruptcy plans often give a company five years to reorganize and pay off
creditors, the county attorney said.
The county and Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County have been fighting
the landfill for a decade. The landfill developer proposes disposing of 3,000
tons of garbage a day over 20 years, mostly from New York City, at the Farmersville
| ©The Times Herald, Olean, N.Y. 2003