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Sherman Hears Pitch For Biosolids Processing Facility

SHERMAN — The Sherman Village Board explored the possibility of hosting a biosolids processing facility at its regular meeting earlier this month.

Tid Griffin, CEO of Griffin Residuals, spoke to board members via ZOOM about constructing an advanced biosolids drying facility in the village. Griffin noted that regular wastewater treatment plants reduce sludge to 20% solid and 80% wet matter. This sludge is generally deposited in landfills. However, this procedure is becoming very expensive and often causes the landfills to slide and cave in, he said.

“New regulations keep coming out and the cost just continues to rise,” Griffin said. “Disposal is becoming the No. 1 cost for wastewater treatment plants.”

Griffin said the solution is to convert wet sludge into Class A biosolids that can be put back into the earth. “We can take them from multiple municipalities and convert them and return them to the soil,” he said.

Griffin said his company’s facilities use two dryers to reduce the wet sludge to 95% biosolids. Each facility can handle 40,000 wet tons annually, to be converted into a dried, solid agricultural product. “That’s 40,000 wet tons of sludge that would otherwise go into a landfill,” he said.

Griffin said the biosolids that his facility produces are small particles and are not dusty. Therefore, they can be easily applied to farmers’ fields, he said.

If Sherman agrees to go ahead with the project, Griffin said, his company would build the facility west of the wastewater treatment plant. The facility would be owned and operated by Griffin Residuals. “We have the luxury of using the technology that we created,” he said. “There’s been a keen interest in bringing this facility to the area.”

Furthermore, Griffin said the Sherman area is a prime location. “We think the business case is very strong in this region,” he said. “The metropolitan areas have nowhere to take their sludge. We would be looking at 10 to 12 trucks a day bringing in biosolids.”

Sherman Mayor Colleen Meeder acknowledged that wet sludge poses a “very serious environmental problem and a real problem for many municipalities.”

Meeder went on to say that the village would have to learn more about revenue sharing and how a facility such as this would impact those around it.

In another matter, Meeder told the board the application for the proposed electrical charging stations was submitted. “We received an initial response and had to answer some additional questions,” she said. In an update to the board on a grant application through Rural Development for signage for businesses, Meeder said, “We have to provide more documents by September 13th. We cannot say we’ve been approved, but we are in the final stages.”

Meeder also reminded board members that former Sherman Mayor Harold Wolfe passed away on Aug. 18. He served for many years as trustee and mayor of Sherman, and, Meeder said, he oversaw the first Main Street revitalization.

Meeder proposed that the village honor Wolfe with a plaque listing all mayors that served the village and the number of years that they served. She asked trustees to share any ideas they might have about honoring Mayor Wolfe.

In a matter of concern to all municipalities in New York state, Meeder opened a discussion regarding marijuana retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses. While municipalities can pass a local law to opt out of those domains, “We cannot opt out of growth and wholesale,” Meeder said. “It is legal, there’s no question about that.”

The state Office of Cannabis Management has recently clarified the role of municipalities. “Cities, towns, and villages can opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses from locating within their jurisdictions. Municipalities cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.”

The Office of Cannabis Management further advises, that to opt-out, a municipality must pass a local law by Dec. 31. “This means that if a municipality has already passed a local law or measure prohibiting adult-use cannabis licenses from operating in its jurisdiction, the municipality will have to pass a new local law conforming to the opt-out requirements outlined in the MRTA.”

Additionally, “if a municipality does not opt-out by Dec. 31, 2021, the municipality will be unable to opt-out at a future date. However, a municipality may opt back in, to allow either, or both, adult-use retail dispensary or on-site consumption license types by repealing the local law which established the prohibition.”

Meeder told the board that they need to look at the real issues before making a decision. “We have to consider the health, safety and welfare of the community,” she said. “It is legal to grow it, to possess it and to consume it … but do we want to be in a position to generate revenue?”

The board scheduled two discussion forums at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 to hear from and discuss the subject with village residents to determine what law should be adopted regarding zoning amendments and/or an opt out law.

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