SENECA FALLS - Seneca Meadows officials may as well bury their latest expansion proposal.

By: DENISE M. CHAMPAGNE, Times Staff Writer December 04, 2002

Any hope they had of getting land re-zoned fizzled Tuesday night when the town board voted 4-1 to leave intact a 2000 local law that prevents expansion of M2 zoning, which is needed for a solid waste facility.

Seneca Meadows had proposed buying the Dove Farm on Black Brook Road, across from the landfill, so that it could expand there.

Councilman David Swenson voted in favor of the expansion; Joseph Peone, Lucille Cook and James Terryberry and Supervisor Peter Same opposed it.

About 100 people attended the meeting, at which Nancy Perrotto of Black Brook Road challenged the board to decide last night on whether to repeal the local law.

She gave the board an unspecified number of opposing signatures to add to the 1,300 that were presented on petitions at a Nov. 14 public forum. She said only three people of more than 300 in attendance that night spoke in favor of the landfill.

"The people from the landfill did not - and will not - elect you," she said. "You know how we want you to vote."

She said Seneca Meadows representatives have been drilling core samples on the Dove Farm, which abuts land on the east side of Route 414; it is across from the landfill, which is on the west side of Route 414 and permitted through 2010.

Same said he had heard about the drilling, explaining it was part of a private agreement between Seneca Meadows and the landowner.

Same said the local law was introduced by a previous board in 1999 and revised and approved in 2000; four of the five current councilors were on the board then.

Marc Gerstman, an Albany attorney the board has consulted on landfill issues, said negotiations took place with Seneca Meadows over a number years, and it was determined that it was appropriate for the town board to limit M2 zoning. It was agreed during the last negotiations to require an environmental impact statement if any subsequent board decided to expand the landfill.

Same said the board simply started a process at the request of Seneca Meadows' owners, who asked in October if it were possible to re-zone the Dove Farm they were thinking of buying.

"My understanding is Seneca Meadows gave us an informal proposal," said Perrotto. "We don't have to repeal the law. They have other options. Why can't we say that we don't want them to come closer to our residential area? You have the power, right now, as a board, to put this to rest and allow us to have a wonderful Christmas."

The audience applauded.

Cook requested a motion to leave the 2000 law as written, but Same said he wasn't sure it was an appropriate time since the town had scheduled a forum, started a process and heard questions.

"I understand the forum was for us to listen to them (the residents); not them to listen to us," Cook said.

Swenson said it's important for everyone to follow the democratic process.

"I think we have used the democratic process," said Joseph Peone Jr. "We heard enough people say they don't want it."

Terryberry noted the board had more than 2,000 signatures (of people against the expansion) and called it a dead issue.

After several more minutes of discussion, Same said he was not recognizing Cook's motion and called for an executive session to discuss attorney-client privilege. When reporters from the Finger Lakes Times and The Citizen objected, Same said he wanted to take a recess to talk about privileged information. Cook, Peone and Terryberry refused to join him, and Peone called for a motion to suspend the rules, so that the measure on the local law repeal could be considered before it came up under old business on the agenda. Cook seconded that motion.

The meeting resumed after about 10 minutes of confusion over what to do. Peone and Cook again moved to suspend the rules and were joined by Terryberry. Same and Swenson objected.

With the rules suspended, Cook moved to leave the 2000 local law alone.

"I would like to see the process go to completion," said Swenson. "I personally probably would not support expansion. Shortcutting the process leaves us open to potential lawsuits and liability."

Peone said the measure would not prevent the town board from answering questions raised at the forum. "If we're going to be sued, we're going to be sued," he said. "I don't see that we cannot put the matter to bed and move on."

Same said he would vote for the people whose "only outcry has been not to expand the landfill. The fact that we are not continuing with the process could leave it open to something we don't want."

Although Same voted for the measure, he later admitted he was concerned about the working relationship the town would have with Seneca Meadows in the next seven years until the current permit expires. The town receives more than $1.5 million annually in landfill revenues.

At the residents' request, the board promised to keep them informed if the landfill owners make more expansion requests.

Repr. from Finger Lakes Times (Dec. 5, 2002)