It was a fiery, contentious debate few expected to see take place in Seneca Falls on Thursday.
As Seneca Falls Supervisor Greg Lazzaro attempted to close the session, which was introduced and advertised by local media – three board members made a move that came as a complete surprise.
Annette Lutz, a member of the Town Board made a motion introducing a proposed local law, which was instantly met with the hammering of the Supervisor’s gavel.
“This is out of order. It is not germane to tonight’s workshop,” Lazzaro said. As she initially read the motion, Lazzaro called for a supervisor’s ruling, which did not stop the proceedings.
As she finished reading the motion, it was quickly seconded by Dave DeLelys, which led to an intense debate.
Lazzaro admonished the board saying, “Shame on you for making this a politicized board.” That a reference to the recent election, which saw both Annette Lutz and Mary Sarratori defeated by their Republican counterparts – Thomas Ruzicka and Lou Ferrara.
Vic Porretta asked why it would be necessary to introduce a local law when an expensive legal battle could follow. “I don’t think it’s fair to put me in this position to be on pins and needles in the eleventh hour every time I come to a board meeting,” Porretta said.
After multiple fiery exchanges, Lazzaro asked if either of the recently elected board members would like to speak out on the matters being discussed. Ferrara, who had been seated at the back of the room, exploded when accusations were hurled his way about outside influence impacting his race for Town Council.
Lazzaro eventually gaveled Ferrara out of order – after a few contentious remarks, which included language not typically seen in a board room. Emotions were running high for all in attendance.
Several members of the audience spoke out during the debate, which lasted approximately 15 minutes. Kyle Black, district manager at Seneca Meadows Landfill said that they could not take a stance on the proposed local law without “having time to digest it.” This came in response to the assumption that the proposed legislation would prevent Seneca Meadows from operating immediately.
Sarratori explained, “This is about protecting the future of our town,” while attempting to calm the room.
Lazzaro followed suit before calling for a vote, “I’m not going to argue about this all night. People don’t know how to understand a difference of opinion – that’s all.”
DeLelys, Lutz, and Sarratori voted ‘yes’ to scheduling a public hearing – while Porretta and Lazzaro voted ‘no’.
Sarratori said after the session, “I thought it was important to at least show the people of Seneca Falls the local law that we have been working on. They can then see that it actually has nothing to do with Seneca Meadows and instead has everything to do with protecting our town from ever being in this situation again once Seneca Meadows closes.”
She continued, “Kyle Black again said tonight that they are currently planning to close in 2025. This law will not effect them. It will however effect our town and allow us to finally move forward. We need to start planning now.” Sarratori said this has driven her to have conversations with department heads within the Town.
She closed, “I truly hope people will examine this law, look it over and come to the meeting on November 30th with constructive comments.”
Former Seneca Falls Mayor Brad Jones, who was available for comment after the contentious session said “It’s been quite a week for politics at all levels of government. With that said, I’ll let others discuss whether three Seneca Falls Town Board members played politics; or simply spoke for those of us that have little, or no voice.”
He went on sharing his support for the move by the three board members. “What Annette, Mary, and Dave accomplished tonight was to ‘put teeth’ into the ongoing discussion of closing the SMI landfill sometime in the near future. Their actions earlier this evening will be talked about in years to come when waste no longer comes to Seneca County. To be frank, their vote will be part of their legacy, whereby now our community will always be the home of Women’s Rights; not the future home to the largest mega landfill in the northeast.”
Putting teeth into any future agreement with Seneca Meadows has been a common calling card among those who believe local legislation would be beneficial. During debate, one member of the audience read a portion of the community benefit agreement, which points out that Seneca Meadows can circumvent an agreement – if the Town does not put one in place.
Jones concluded, “Something tells me that Susan B. Anthony is looking down stating ‘job well done’. These three leaders have spoken for not only Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Junius, and Tyre residents, but Seneca County as a whole.”
The public hearing will be held on Wednesday, November 30th at 6 pm inside the Town Offices located at 81 West Bayard Street.
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