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FLX Politics: Reaction to postponement of Local Law No. 7

For those of us covering the landfill story over the last several months — one way of describing it would be to call it “busy.” Record turnout at meetings, multiple events to keep track of in addition to regularly scheduled meetings, special meetings, community forums, and well — the list goes on.This second half of this week took “busy” to an entirely new level, though. Earlier this month during May’s regularly scheduled Town Board meeting, members of the board unanimously passed a resolution introducing a proposed local law. Local Law No. 7 as it was proposed would have made new landfills, or future landfill expansions illegal in the Town of Seneca Falls. While the local law sparked criticism from opposition, like those employed by Seneca Meadows, a public hearing on the local law was quickly scheduled for June 7th. The proposed local law was met with resounding support from those who have opposed landfilling operations in the Finger Lakes for several years now. Many felt the timing was right — after two protests had already taken place.Two major events took place this week within the landfilling story, as Seneca Meadows’ parent company elected to withdraw itself from consideration for the major solid waste contract with New York City.On Thursday, just hours after Seneca Meadows announced that they would not be working to win the New York City contract District Manager Kyle Black was in-studio to discuss the decision, as well as a number of other factors.Many felt that Seneca Meadows pulling out from consideration for New York City’s trash by rail was the first major sign that the Town and it’s governing body was moving in the right direction. Seneca Falls Supervisor (at-large) Stephen Churchill said just moments after the decision became public knowledge that he was overjoyed that New York City’s trash would not be coming to the Finger Lakes by rail.On Inside the FLX, Black said that the proposed local law “could put [Seneca Meadows] out of business,” and pointed out that he had been approached by a large contingency of Seneca Meadows employees who felt that the law was an unfair one. In an open letter written by Tarjac Inc. Co-owner Tony Eisenhut, it was asked that “each elected official consider this potential legislation carefully and act in the best interest of the entire community.” The letter titled, “An open letter of opposition to Seneca Falls Local Law No. 7,” came just days after the sale of Tarjac Inc., to Seneca Meadows for $3.3 million was reported with the most-recent deed transfers.The letter continued pointing out that, “The loss of a productive part of our business ecosystem will result in higher taxes, which will cause our business to make some tough decisions – scale back, move a portion of some or all of our business or simply close down. This is the reality we will face if Local Law No. 7 is passed.”As if all of that wasn’t enough — things got even more complicated on Friday — after the Seneca Falls Town Board called a special meeting.That was the second major news item that came out of the week, as the board met and addressed Local Law No. 7. While few from the public were in attendance, the board acted quickly moving into executive session. After executive session, the board voted unanimously on “A resolution to postpone the public hearing regarding the local law as we are in negotiations to amend the host agreement to address the concerns of the community.”Joanne Elliot, a Seneca Falls resident who has advocated against landfilling in the Finger Lakes said of the board’s decision on Saturday, “I am extremely disappointed by the actions taken by the Seneca Falls Town Board in the postponement of the public hearing on Local Law No. 7.”She went on to point out that amending the current Host Agreement would do little, when in her estimation — Seneca Meadows has repeatedly violated it — without consequence. “If the Host Agreement amendment is intended to address and satisfy the concerns of the community, without a local law in place to prevent new landfills and prevent the expansion of existing landfills, Seneca Meadows could wait it out and appeal to a more “trash friendly” future Town Board and get it amended once again.”She concluded, “Having a local law in place immediately, is crucial and of paramount importance in order to protect our community — as well as surrounding communities — against further degradation of quality of life, environment, health and property values.”Reacting to the news that there would be no hearing on Local Law No. 7 in June Kyle Black said, “Seneca Meadows is pleased with the Board’s decision to postpone the June 7 hearing.” He continued, “Our company is committed to supporting our community through financial contributions, providing family sustaining jobs and going above and beyond to protect our environment.” Black concluded that he hoped Seneca Meadows could “Continue to bring this value to the Seneca Falls and Waterloo communities into the future.”While the last week has seen several major shifts in the overall story, many remain hopeful and optimistic about what the next several weeks can hold. Moreover, those who call Seneca Falls and Waterloo home remain optimistic about the future of these two historic communities.FLX Politics is a weekly feature evaluating policy in the Finger Lakes by Lead News Editor Josh Durso. Let us know what issues are important to you in the comment section below, and be sure to check out FingerLakes1.com for the latest news from around the region.

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