SENECA FALLS — The Town Board voted 3-2 Thursday to introduce a new local law that would rescind Local Law 3 of 2016.
Local Law 3, which passed by a 4-1 vote Dec. 6, would prohibit any new solid waste disposal facilities in the town and would allow Seneca Meadows Landfill to operate until Dec. 31, 2025.
Seneca Meadows filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the town Feb. 3, challenging the legality of Local Law 3 and asking that it be declared null and void.
The motion to introduce Local Law 2 of 2017 to rescind Local Law 3 was made by Supervisor Greg Lazzaro and seconded by board member Louis Ferrara Jr.
Voting for the new local law was Lazzaro, Ferrara and board member Thomas Ruzicka. Opposed were board members David DeLelys and Vic Porretta.
“We need to work cooperatively with businesses in the town,” Lazzaro said after the meeting. “Local Law 3 impacted a town business and that is wrong. We should sit down at the table with this business in a non-contentious way.
“Local Law 3 was contentious to Seneca Meadows. They were specifically targeted,” he added.
Lazzaro said he hopes negotiations can be set up soon to discuss modifications to the host community benefits agreement between the town and the landfill. That agreement provided the town with $3 million for 2017, based on 2016 tonnage and other factors.
Lazzaro said the new local law was drawn up by Town Attorney Patrick Morrell, who consulted with lawyers from Boylan Code, the outside law firm hired by the town for environmental matters.
Ruzicka and Ferrara were elected last November and joined the board Jan. 1.
“I voted for the local law to rescind so we can get back to negotiations. I hope that results in Seneca Meadows dropping their lawsuit,” Ruzicka said.
Ferrara said he agrees.
“The way Local Law 3 was done was wrong. At the election, people spoke and told us this was the road to go down, which is to negotiate, rather than litigate,” Ferrara said.
Porretta said the community is split on the landfill issue and debate on the board has gone back and forth.
“My reason for voting no on this local law is that I feel Local Law 3 needed to be litigated to see if it will hold up. If not, then we have to figure out what to do,” Porretta said.
“I feel we need a closing date for the landfill and that’s what Local Law 3 did,” he added.
Allison Stokes, an environmental activist critical of Seneca Meadows, said she wasn’t surprised by Thursday’s action.
She pointed to the nine-year fight by Concerned Citizens of Seneca County to oppose the landfill’s proposed clay mine in the town of Waterloo as a “role model” for what might happen now that Local Law 2 has been introduced.
The Fourth Department Appellate Division court recently voted 5-0 to uphold CCSC’s appeal of a lower court ruling.
The Appellate Court said the landfill could not access the mine area through a road on a residential zone on Burgess Road.
She lauded DeLelys and Porretta for their votes, saying they represent the people. She said Lazzaro, Ruzicka and Ferrara seem to represent the landfill.
The board convened and quickly moved to go into executive session, citing “attorney client privilege” as the reason. They came back after 10 minutes and Lazzaro introduced Local Law 2.
There was no discussion during the voting.
A public hearing on the proposed local law will be 4 p.m. March 14 at the new municipal building, 130 Ovid St.
Morrell said the town was originally scheduled to file a response to the Seneca Meadows lawsuit Thursday. He said an extension was sought and granted to move the response date to May 19.
If the lawsuit is dropped, however, that will not be an issue.
The board must go through a State Environmental Quality Review Act process for any local law. Morrell said that could begin at the board’s regular meeting March 7.
Seneca Meadows officials were unavailable for a comment Thursday.