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Watch: Ontario County Board discusses landfill

On Thursday night the Ontario County Board of Supervisors met for their regularly scheduled meeting, which was highlighted by one issue that stood out dramatically from the 79 resolutions on the agenda.It was a matter of landfilling, which unquestionably has become one of the most-polarizing issues for any county, city, town, or village. The Ontario County Landfill, which is operated by Casella Waste Systems sought a variance modification that would reduce the buffer that is required by the Department of Environmental Conservation.The DEC gave Ontario County the green light to pursue the variance modification — but that wasn’t a guarantee for success when put before the board. Last week, the board’s environmental quality committee approved the variance by a vote of 4-2. The change would thin out the buffer between the bedrock and liner by five feet.The current standard, which is still the standard according to the DEC, would be five feet under the new variance. Whereas the original standard would maintain the 10 foot barrier, which has been executed to this point. This point of emphasis comes as the DEC already granted permission for Ontario County to expand their operation to include a 43.5-acre cell. That expansion, as well as some of the actions by Casella over the last several years — were called into question by some supervisors. The resolution to lower that buffer was brought forward by Richard Russell, Ward 2 & 3 representative for Canandaigua. He reminded board members that urgency was important, as delays often cost money. In this case, he believed much of the $1.8 million in proposed savings, which would come as result of reducing the buffer — would be soaked up if a delay persisted on this issue.Charles Evangelista, Second District Representative said during discussion, “I want to know exactly what this is going to do for us.” Another quickly added that Casella has expressed the “will” to help, especially with the additional funding from the proposed savings — but questioned the extent to which they would actually assist.Geneva Town Supervisor Mark Venuti made multiple requests of the board, to consider bringing in a third-party to evaluate the impact a buffer reduction might have on the environment. While few were confident in the DEC’s ability to effectively plan out what impacts could be felt from a reduction of the buffer between bedrock and the liner — a vast majority of the supervisors expressed concerns about the process, citing worries about the local environment. “I don’t think we should assume the DEC is working on this,” Canandaigua Supervisor Pamela Helming said as the discussion drew closer to a close. She continued, “We should be looking for independent consultation no matter what.” While a motion to table the resolution was momentarily on the floor, it was quickly moved to a simple delay, so the Board of Supervisors could arrange for a special meeting to be held — and additional answers be obtained.At this point, the future of this resolution remains very unclear. Whether it will eventually get passed in it’s current form, or the supervisors work to modify it to get some explicit guarantees from Casella — which many supervisors requested — will remain to be seen. Check out the entire meeting from March 31st in the video above.

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