Landfill developer declares bankruptcy to protect Farmersville site from foreclosure
By RICK MILLER , The Times Herald 12/31/2002
LITTLE 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 site.

©The Times Herald, Olean, N.Y. 2003
Back to top  Back to Farmersville links
related Times Herald 12/28/02 article