Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, Inc.
updated 10/26/2002
Landfill Proposals Rejected byTown of Eagle
over six years of litigation stalled, then defeated

Western New York landfill developers CID and Modern Landfill submitted proposals to the Town of Eagle, which the town  requested in 1997. In early May, 1999, when it became clear the Town would not act on either landfill proposal, Modern filed suit to enforce what Modern alleged is an agreement with the Town. On May 8, 2000, the state Supreme Court (Wyoming Co.) decided Modern had no claim for compensation for loss of its interest in a landfill in Eagle, and noted that the Town retains its police powers to regulate landfills. The door was thus open for the Town to ban landfills. On October 10, 2002, Eagle finally ended its ordeal with landfills by enacting a landfill ban law.

No town in New York has ever lost a lawsuit challenging its power to ban landfills.

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Modern operates one of the largest commercial landfills in New York, in Lewiston. CID, which operates a landfill in Sardinia, was purchased last year by Waste Management, Inc., the largest garbage company in the world. A few years ago Modern and CID submitted competing proposals to the Town Board of Eagle for a new landfill that would take in 600,000 tons of waste per year. Talks broke down, CID pulled out, and Modern sued the Town claiming it had an agreement with the Board.

On September 16, 1999, the Eagle Town Board held a work session for local citizens to discuss the issues posed by the CID-Modern contest. On October 7 they held a public meeting where there was near unanimous opposition by citizens to both dump proposals. Each garbage company offered a package of financial and environmental benefits. Neither offered to go beyond the minimum environmental protections provided under DEC regulations.

Both Modern and CID tried to convince the Town that New York regulations (6 NYCRR Part 360) provide stringent and more than adequate protections for local health and the environment. However, both failed to acknowledge that towns in New York have separate, independent permitting authority, alongside New York's DEC. Unless a town enacts a local landfill law or regulation and awards a permit under its local law, a Part 360 permit is not enough to authorize construction and operation of a landfill.

On May 8, 2000, the county Supreme court rendered its decision in Modern Landfill, Inc. v. Town of Eagle, a lawsuit attacking the generous fee structure provided under the Town's Local Law Number 1 of 1993. The court ruled the Town could get the financial benefits of the local law, which it found unconstitutional, but noted that Modern voluntarily withdrew its application for a local landfill permit prior to pursuing litigation. Therefore, although the local landfill law was thrown out, Modern was found to have no property right to a landfill in the Town. Moreover, the court noted with approval that even Modern "accepted that Defendant [the Town] could regulate landfills to protect public health, safety and welfare, as an exercise of its police powers."

And that's exactly what the Town proceeded to explore.

On October 10, 2002, Eagle finally ended its ordeal with landfills when the Town enacted a landfill ban law modeled after the successfully litigated Town of Root law.

In the end, the town board decided a landfill in Eagle is not the right thing to do. They had the courage of the convictions, and the law on their side.

When all else fails landfill developers sue to get what they want. If Town Boards are not intimidated, they will prevail.
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