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Seneca Meadows attorneys say no ‘hard look’ taken with Local Law 3

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  • Staff Report 

Seneca Meadows Inc., owned by Texas-based Waste Connections, is claiming that the Seneca Falls Town Board violated state law in 2016 when it adopted Local Law 3-2016, which requires the landfill on Route 414 to close by December 31, 2025, and prohibits the construction of new waste-deposit facilities in the town. In a supplemental memorandum of law filed on March 14, lawyers representing Seneca Meadows argued that the town did not consider the possible environmental impacts of adopting the local law, as required by the State Environmental Quality Review process. The lawyers claimed that the violation is the reason why the company’s motion to declare the local law null and void should be granted by State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle.

Seneca Meadows’ lawyers reviewed the written, audio, and video records of the two Town Board meetings where the local law was introduced and then adopted. The memorandum stated that the Town Board failed to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of the law as required by SEQRA. SMI’s lawyers said that the video of the November 30, 2016, meeting showed that the board did not engage in any substantial discussion of the environmental impacts of the local law, and the board adopted the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) and negative declaration immediately after Lutz introduced them. Lutz, a board member who was in support of the local law, had not shared the documents with her fellow board members before the meeting.

Doug Zamelis, the attorney representing intervenor Concerned Citizens of Seneca County and property owner Dixie Lemmon of Waterloo, is handling the opposition to SMI’s effort to void the local law. Zamelis argued earlier that the board complied with SEQRA and will file a brief in opposition to SMI’s memorandum. Once the case goes to Doyle for a decision, SMI will have an opportunity to file an answer.

Despite the local law in place, SMI has applied for a state permit to expand the landfill upward in a valley infill area on its property. If approved, it would extend the life of the landfill to 2040. Roughly 600 comments submitted on the draft Environmental Impact Statement filed by SMI as part of the application process are being reviewed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Once the DEC review is completed, a decision will be made on its status, and public hearings scheduled.

Seneca Meadows is the largest of the state’s 27 landfills, permitted to accept up to 6,000 tons of household solid waste a day from New York and other states.