SENECA FALLS — The Town Board approved a motion asking the state Department of Environmental Conservation to deny Seneca Meadows Inc. the new and modified permits it needs to expand its Salcman Road landfill.
The 3-2 vote Tuesday night wound up being along party lines. Democrats David DeLelys, Doug Avery, and Steve Churchill were in favor, while Republicans Dawn Dyson and town Supervisor Mike Ferrara were opposed.
Seneca Meadows officials are seeking DEC approval to deposit solid waste in a 50-acre “valley infill” area of the old Tantalo space within the landfill’s existing footprint. SMI District Manager Kyle Black has stated the expansion would extend the landfill’s life by 15 years.
The plan is in apparent conflict with the town’s Local Law 3 of 2016, which requires the landfill to close by the end of 2025 and prohibits any new solid waste disposal facilities in the town after that date. SMI previously challenged that law in court. There has been no official word if Seneca Meadows plans to mount a new legal effort.
Avery said Wednesday he voted for the motion because, “Quite simply, the future of Seneca Falls cannot lie with the landfill. We are surrounded by municipalities that thrive without having a landfill within their borders. Yes, we must find a way to offset the lost revenues, and yes, we will have to create a plan to deal with our own garbage. We can and will do both and be a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous community for it.”
Avery presented figures on how much more trash would be brought in by the landfill, including how “tiny” the percentage of garbage coming from the local community would be.
Ferrara said Wednesday that with Local Law 3 on the books — he called it a law he respects — the landfill is required to close by the end of 2025.
“Many things can change between now and 2025,” Ferrara said. “My focus has been and will continue to be on the many issues that need attention. These issues are non-landfill issues such as infrastructure, government efficiency, spending reductions, etc.
“As for the landfill, the people of Seneca Falls need to be informed about what impact the closure will have on the community. Mainly, we need to inform people of the financial impact of the closure.”
Ferrara noted that by doing that, voters will be able to make an educated decision when it’s time to elect board members later this year and again in 2023.
“And I am not convinced New York state will close the facility,” Ferrara continued. “They have been operating without a town permit for 13 months, and the legal fees associated with this closure will bankrupt the town. No business would walk away without a legal challenge.”
During public comment at Tuesday’s meeting, two people spoke against SMI’s expansion proposal, Valerie Sandlas, who heads the Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee, and Allison Stokes.