The Yates County Legislature has agreed to join other municipalities around Seneca Lake in opposing the development of a waste-to-energy plant at the former Seneca Army Depot site in Seneca County.
Circular enerG has announced plans to build the plant on 39.4 acres, and has filed documents seeking approval of the project from New York State after withdrawing an application for local approval of a special use permit in the Town of Romulus.
A resolution unanimously approved by the 13 legislators (James Multer was absent) at the April 9 meeting noted the operation of the proposed plant would involve importing up to 2,640 tons of municipal solid waste to be burned. The waste would arrive in the Finger Lakes via up to 176 tractor-trailer loads or up to 30 rail cars of refuse traveling over local roads and/or rails.
The resolution states, “The Yates County Legislature has serious concerns over the negative environmental impacts associated with said proposed waste-to-energy facility on Finger Lakes’ tourism, quality of life, water quality, and air quality, and thus the negative impact these would have on the economic vitality of the Finger Lakes Region’s tourism and agriculture industries.”
This move comes just days after a local advocacy group, Seneca Lake Guardian, announced the introduction of bi-partisan bills in the state Senate and Assembly that would eliminate garbage incinerators from the state approval process. If that legislation is enacted, approval or disapproval of the plan would be returned to the Town of Romulus.
“Circular enerG originally applied for a special permit through the Town of Romulus and once they realized there was widespread community opposition, they attempted to circumvent the Town’s wishes and push their proposal through the state,” said Joseph Campbell, president of Seneca Lake Guardian.
Sen. Thomas O’Mara whose district includes Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties, and a portion of Tompkins County, is one of the sponsors of the Senate bill.
In other business April 9, the county legislature approved the following items unanimously, unless noted otherwise:
• Farmland Protection: Legislators supported an application for funding the protection of the Robert Henderson Farm on Route 14A from development. The Finger Lakes Land Trust has agreed to apply to the state’s farmland protection implementation grant. The county has pledges a cash match of 5 percent of the project’s transaction costs, or $5,000 due if the project is awarded by the state.
• Salaries: Legislators approved resolutions re-establishing annual salaries for assistant public defenders to $42,697 and $35,020; increasing the District Attorney’s salary to $197,600, up from $185,200; and increasing the salary for the full time Assistant District Attorney to $80,000 from $69,381. District 2 Legislator Terry Button voted against all three resolutions. District 2 Legislator Timothy Dennis also voted against the DA salary increase, and District 3 Legislator Carlie Chilson and District 2 Legislator Rick Willson voted against the ADA salary increase. State legislation requires counties to pay DAs a salary equal to the county judge’s salary, which is 95 percent of the Supreme Court Justice salary of $208,000. The DA and county judge are the highest paid county officials. The DA’s salary is funded by local tax revenues, but the judge’s salary is paid through the Unified Court system.
• Public Hearing: Legislators set a public hearing on a local law prohibiting the use of tobacco, nicotine or other substances on real property owned by the county for 1:05 p.m. May 14.
• Bridge: Legislators awarded a $308,211 bid to Silverline Construction for construction of a new bridge on Loomis Road over West River.
• Lease: Legislators authorized Administrator Robert Lawton to negotiate with Dryon Holdings, doing business as RuralNET to lease space in the county office building basement for up to 15 years. Button, Willson, Elden Morrison, and Chilson voted against the resolution. Chairman Douglas Paddock noted Lawton has been given parameters to work within, and the agreement will be dependent on approval by County Attorney Scott Falvey.