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Ellery Board Supports Appeal On Landfill Decision

Town officials in Ellery are looking to pull out another stop against the Chautauqua County Landfill expansion after the state Supreme Court’s decision allowed the project to carry forward.

On Monday, Arden Johnson, Ellery town supervisor, told The Post-Journal the town has agreed to file for an appeal after obtaining unanimous support from board members. On Nov. 1, the Hon. Frank A. Sedita ruled in favor of the 53-acre expansion that’ll extend the life of the landfill located within the town for another 20-30 years.

The town has 30 days to decide whether to go ahead with the appeal as Johnson said they’ll look to make a final decision after they speak with their attorney sometime this week.  Johnson said they disagree with “a couple items within the decision.”

“We can always back down from (appealing), but we want to talk to our attorney first,” Johnson said. “At the moment, we will be going with the appeal.”

If the town moves forward to appeal, County Executive Vince Horrigan said the project will progress in accordance with the judge’s decision. Horrigan said he’s confident no matter what the town does, the project will proceed as it’s in the best interest of the county.

“Quite frankly, the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the town keeps spending is quite disheartening,” Horrigan said. “I’m an Ellery resident myself and these are our taxpaying dollars going for something that’s not understandable. We will be proceeding with the project and I’m confident it won’t interfere with it going forward.”

Tree clearing and site preparation will be the next steps for the expansion project, Horrigan said.

The dispute between the two municipalities over the landfill dates back to last year when county officials approved $18 million in bonds and obtained a DEC permit for the project. During that time, town officials relayed their displeasure with the expansion, citing environmental and public health concerns. They also looked to receive a host-fee payment on imported waste.

The town originally suggested a $4-per-ton surcharge be placed on imported waste to compensate Ellery taxpayers. They rejected the county’s proposed host-fee payment of 50 cents per ton of out-of-county waste.

Town officials filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Chautauqua County to invalidate the permitting and the SEQRA. The town claimed the DEC didn’t 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.

Sedita wrote in his decision 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, which prevents the expansion or construction of landfills in the town, because it’s preempted by state law and made null and void.

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