Town Might Appeal Court Decision On County Landfill

The Ellery Town Board is looking to challenge a recent state Supreme Court ruling that favored the expansion of the Chautauqua County Landfill.

On Tuesday, Arden Johnson, Ellery town supervisor, told The Post-Journal, that town officials were not happy with the Hon. Frank A. Sedita’s decision, and that the expansion of the landfill, which currently occupies approximately 83 acres of land in Ellery, was still not a good idea.

“The (town) board is highly disappointed with Judge Sedita’s decision,” Johnson said. “Next week, we will have a conference call with our attorney and discuss whether or not we will appeal this decision. We will certainly pursue any steps that we can take.”

Last week, the court ruled in favor of the landfill’s so-called “Phase IV” expansion, a 53-acre lateral expansion designed to extend the life of the landfill’s operations for another 20-30 years.

The expansion ran into trouble earlier this year, when Ellery town officials and residents claimed the county and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation acted in an “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful manner.”

Specifically, the town claimed the DEC failed to conduct a full adjudicatory hearing to review environmental concerns, including the landfill’s proximity to a seismically sensitive area and a primary water supply aquifer. Other environmental impacts included traffic, noise, litter, dust and the effect on a bald eagle habitat.

The town commenced litigation in January, seeking to annul the DEC’s findings and drop the DEC’s permits for the expansion. Town officials argued that a local ordinance    known as Local Law No. 3 – prohibited the construction or expansion of landfills in the town without a special exemption permit.

The county and DEC countered by claiming they were exempt from the ordinance and acted in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

In his written decision, Sedita concluded that the DEC satisfied the requirements of the SEQRA and that its issuance of permits was lawful. He also concluded that the county and the landfill are immune from Local Law No. 3 because the local law is preempted by state law and made null and void.