WATERLOO — State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle will rule on motions in the lawsuit filed by Circular enerG against the town of Romulus at a later date.
The Rochester-based company is suing the town for its 2018 adoption of amendments to the town zoning code that would prevent the company’s proposed waste-to-energy incinerator from being built at the former Seneca Army Depot.
Attorney Alan Knauf argued Tuesday:
• The town did not comply with the State Environmental Quality Review process in adopting the amendments, which prohibit any new waste disposal facilities in the town.
• The town’s amendments should be nullified because it violated provisions of the state Open Meetings Law in adopting them.
• The amendments improperly and illegally targeted Circular, equating it to an illegal taking of the privately owned property by denying the owners the ability to receive economic benefits from the industrially zoned property.
“The Town Board did not go through the SEQR and take a hard look at the impacts of amendments on the environment, such as prohibiting the incinerator would make people rely on landfilling for disposal of their waste,” Knauf said. “Reliance on continued use of landfills will produce odors and methane and other negatives, and the recycling market is falling apart, yet the town is prohibiting a clean alternative.”
He argued the Open Meetings Law violations Circular alleges should be enough to nullify the amendments. He said resolutions related to the amendment were not posted on the town website or made public before the meeting in which they were adopted, giving Circular and the public no chance to comment.
Attorney Will Burns, who is representing the town, disagreed. He argued the SEQR was followed properly, and there were no violations of the Open Meetings Law.
“There was a thorough review of the law and potential impacts prior to its adoption on April 18, 2018,” Burns said, citing minutes of those meetings.
Burns said the town can prohibit activities allowed by state law, citing fracking bans imposed by municipalities before the state banned that process of extracting natural gas was banned in 2014.
Town Attorney Patrick Morrell said his motion to dismiss the Circular lawsuit is based largely on the state Legislature’s passage of the Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act earlier this year, legislation Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law. That bill prohibits a waste disposal facility within 50 miles of an existing solid-waste facility.
The proposed incinerator would be within 50 miles of landfills in Seneca Falls and the town of Seneca in Ontario County.
Knauf said he plans to challenge the state law in court and again argued the town would be preventing the owner of the former depot land from realizing a return on their land under current zoning laws.