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Wheatfield: Amendment to biosolids law halted following letter from Quasar

by jmaloni
Fri, Oct 24th 2014 06:35 pm

by Autumn Evans

A public hearing involving Quasar Energy Group began the Town of Wheatfield Town Board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21.

The hearing was to discuss an amendment to Wheatfield's biosolids law, which would change how to define a biosolids spill and reporting methods. The board did not vote on it that evening due to a letter from Quasar's attorney, which suggested legal issues were present in the amendment.

Both residents and a lawyer representing Quasar addressed the board to discuss their concerns.

Laurie Galbo brought up remediation by Quasar in the case of a spill or other incidents.

"Remediation is not the same as cleanup," Galbo said. "Clean-up sounds like a basic, minimal effort made at the scene of an accident to clean it up. What I'm asking for is remediation, which means to restore the scene and the affected areas as closely as possible to original condition."

She also said she didn't agree with who spills would be reported to. Julia Otto expressed similar concerns, requesting a public alert be issued in the event of a spill.

"Unfortunately, I don't think we have the jurisdiction or the authority to order the DEC or the EPA to do anything," said town attorney Robert O'Toole. "All we can do is ask them."

Attorney George Van Nest of Underberg & Kessler spoke on behalf of Quasar.

"We do have concerns about the premise, perhaps, of a spill reporting requirement as it relates to biosolids," he said, adding Quasar took issue with the description of its products as hazardous waste, because the DEC and EPA had classified it otherwise. "There would be another inconsistency between the state law and a local municipal law, however well-intended - and I respect the fact that you have a job to do to address concerns in the community."

"Though the DEC does say (equate) is OK for land application - which many of us will disagree with, obviously - we've already determined in Wheatfield that it's not, because of our soil type," said Monica Daigler. "The fact that he's saying a spill would not be a problem is a problem."

The proposed Cobblestone Creek development was also brought up again.

Joe Downie of Errick Road told the board that the meeting held by Cobblestone Creek developers Oct. 14 hadn't resolved residents' issues.

"There were no material changes; it seems like what was presented to us was just a lot of window dressing," Downie said. "None of us felt any better about that situation."

Sharon Downie also said she had sent out a letter indicating that the land, including trees, streams and wetlands, had been illegally disturbed to accommodate the subdivision. She said more than 100 residents, including two members of the Planning Board, had signed a petition with the information, indicating their concern.

In other board news:

•John Wozniak addressed the board during the public input session to say he was unhappy with the three-minute rule instated at the last meeting.

"What gets me is, I go way back, 50-some years in this town," Wozniak said. "The tradition in this town is this: 'speak and speak.' ... I'm not against the motion, you've got the right by law, but it's the tradition and the culture in this town for free speech and saying what you've gotta say."

•Debbie Wozniak reported an issue with National Grid refusing to move a pole set in her driveway. The town had contacted the company to remove the pole, but no progress was made.

•A shouting match broke out between Steve Magyar and Highway Superintendent Art Kroening over a ditch in Magyar's yard not being cleaned for nine years.

"I hate to take issue with Mr. Kroening, but, you know, they had the equipment there and they had 630 feet of ditch to clean. Why wasn't it clean then?"

"Why don't you put the blame on the people who wouldn't let us on their properties?" Kroening said.

The argument escalated to shouting and had to be interrupted by Supervisor Bob Cliffe.

•A second public hearing regarding the rezoning of the Bedore Tours lot at 2968 Niagara Falls Blvd. ended with the board saying they would include it in the larger investigation of rezoning entire portions of the boulevard.

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