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Lewiston to extend moratorium; hears on home rule legislation

Sat, Feb 28th 2015 10:00 am

Town Board approves Stella Niagara Preserve funding

By Terry Duffy

The Lewiston Town Board took further measures against Quasar Energy Group of Ohio at its Monday meeting. A public hearing was held that evening to extend the town's current moratorium barring "equate" injections, the byproduct from Quasar's biosolids treatment processes, into soils on private farms in the town as Lewiston moves on amending the language in Local Law No. 5 of 2014.

That measure, once finalized, would revise the town's existing landfill solid waste law, with the intent to permanently ban any future "equate" injections.

Assemblyman John Ceretto, one of the few who spoke at the hearing, advised Town Board members of home rule legislation efforts he is now pursuing on the state level with State Sen. Marc Panepinto, D-Buffalo, on behalf of the towns of Wheatfield in Niagara County and Marilla in Erie County.

Like Lewiston, the two communities have been contending with Quasar, its plans for "equate" injections, the conflicts with local laws, and litigation issues from the company.

Quasar currently has a biosolids processing facility on Liberty Drive in Wheatfield.

Ceretto said that, if successful, the home rule effort would strengthen existing or soon-to-be-adopted measures aimed at thwarting Quasar in the communities, as well as assisting Wheatfield in its current legal battle.

"I am willing, ready to help out the town," he said. "My hope in doing this is to help out more than one town at a time."

Board members expressed their appreciation to Ceretto and went on to the approve extending the current moratorium an additional six months. It was scheduled to expire March 8.

In other news:

Joseph Davis State Park was again in the news. Supervisor Dennis Brochey updated the board on recent discussions he's had with Mark Thomas, Western Region director, state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to allow Lewiston to exit its park lease agreement with the state agency. The agreement gives Lewiston the opportunity to exit its lease via a 90-day notice, provides for state parks to resume maintenance responsibilities at the park and enables the town to establish a partnership with OPRHP, aimed at establishing new and enhanced recreational opportunities at JDP.

 "This will be a joint venture with state parks," Brochey said. "It's a win-win for both sides."

The Town Board met briefly with Thomas that night, and soon after approved a resolution by Councilman Bill Conrad covering the transfer agreement and partnership.

"We are grateful to the Town of Lewiston for their stewardship of Joseph Davis Park over the past several years," Thomas said. "We look forward to developing a new partnership that focuses on providing enhanced recreational opportunities for the residents of Lewiston and Western New York at Joe Davis."

In other news:

•Town Highway Superintendent Doug Janese told the board that highway department snow removal costs for this winter are already approaching budgeted amounts and he would need additional funding. "We've used 200 tons of salt over three days," Janese said of the town highway department's dealing with the latest storm to hit the area.

In their budgeting last fall, Town Board members did allow for Lewiston Highway to receive additional funding for snow clearing, as needs dictate. Thus far, Lewiston, like Niagara County communities, has contended with season snowfalls approaching 100 inches.

Janese told the board he would have an updated list of road paving needs and estimates for the upcoming paving season, reflecting the impact of winter on roads, at the March work session.

•Water Pollution Control Center Administrator Jeff Ritter advised the board the 2015 Quad Community Sewer Use Agreement still needed to be reviewed before finalization. The agreement, which includes a 5-cent per thousand-gallon use increase, was reviewed earlier by the Quad Community Sewer Board.

•The board agreed to commit $150,000 in Greenway funding over a three-year period to the Western New York Land Conservancy group, which is working to establish the Stella Niagara Preserve on lower river lands across from the Stella Niagara Educational Park and Peace Center. Under a resolution from Councilman Ron Winkley, the town would provide the first $50,000 payment to the Land Conservancy this June with subsequent funding of $50,000 to come in 2016 and 2017.

The town is expected to make its application for the Stella Niagara Preserve funding to the Greenway Host Committee this spring.

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