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Friday November 11, 2005
Elmira/Corning, N.Y.
Landfill operator offers to buy homes
Casella promises market value to Chemung residents who want to sell.
November 11, 2005

Casella Waste Management rolled out its property protection plan to a crowded room of concerned and questioning Chemung residents Thursday night.

The plan provides protection to property owners who live within a three-fourths-of-a-mile radius of the Chemung County landfill by giving the ownersfull-market value for their homes if they decide to sell them, explained Tim Cretney, Casella regional vice president.

But the more than 100 residents, many of whom had already received letters about the plan and sign-up process, had questions on the necessity of the plan and what Casella would do with property it buys.

"I find it interesting that you are protecting the land for us from you," said Dr. Earl Robinson, who owns 380 acres within the designated radius.

Property owners who owned the land before Sept. 19 when Casella took over the landfill must register with Casella within 60 days of receiving the protection plan material if they want to participate, Cretney said.

Registration does not necessarily mean the property owners want to sell.

The plan would work something like this.

  • Landowners would notify Casella of their intent to sell property within 30 days of making the decision to sell.

  • They would coordinate with Casella for a full-value appraisal of the property, which will be conducted as though the landfill were not there and will be paid for by Casella.

  • At that time, Casella may choose to buy the property for the full-value price. If not, the property would be listed with a real estate agent for up to nine months.

  • If an offer is made that is below the appraised value, it must be submitted to Casella, and if it is accepted, Casella will make up the difference in the value.

  • If the property sells at or above the appraised value, Casella will not pay anything toward the sale.

  • Cretney said the company is evaluating how to address property protection for the trailer park on Roberts Hollow Road where residents own their mobile homes, but not the property.

    Some residents thought the plan was set up to encourage or even push them to move.

    "The property protection plan is there as an insurance," Cretney said.

    In Ontario County where Casella operates a much larger landfill, the company bought several pieces of property contiguous to the landfill.

    The company has restored a former bed-and-breakfast on that land into office space and provides a home directly across from the landfill for the site's general manager, Cretney said.

    While the company can purchase the property, Cretney said in most cases the land would be relisted and sold.

    Cretney said property owners are not obligated to participate in the plan.

    "If you've gotten a property protection plan letter and want nothing to do with it, crinkle it up and throw it in the fireplace," he said.

    The meeting also addressed plans to begin state Environmental Quality Review Act assessments on all the projects being considered at the landfill and to increase its accepted waste at the site from 120,000 tons a year to 280,000 tons.

    "Each aspect of the the future project will go through a full SEQRA process," said Larry Shilling, Casella's landfill district manager.

    Copyright © 2005 Star-Gazette.