LAZZARO: Cuts to services are imminent as Seneca Falls faces litigation over Local Law #3

Downtown Seneca Falls


The cuts are coming.

In a conversation Saturday morning, Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro told FingerLakes1.com that the litigation announced on Friday “Would cost the Town hundreds of thousands of dollars.” He said that the Town Board would begin looking at cutting services and that future budgets would likely be impacted.

“Recreation and Public Safety are our two largest departments and we’ll be looking at spending very carefully moving forward,” Lazzaro continued.

He said one of the ways the Town Board will consider cutting costs is by looking to outside agencies within those departments to fulfill needs. The option of utilizing outside shared services could be weighed if costs rise too quickly fighting for Local Law No. 3 in court.

Read the original report, as well as the Article 78 Petition below…

Seneca Falls will be going to court over Local Law No. 3 after all

Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro told FingerLakes1.com that the Town was served papers on Friday from Seneca Meadows Landfill, over the enactment Local Law No. 3 of 2016.

The Article 78 Petition seeks that the Town of Seneca Falls vacates the local law, which is known as the Waste Disposal Law.

The petition also seeks attorneys’ fees, costs and disbursements, as well as granting Seneca Meadows any other relief as the court deems just and proper, according to documents obtained on Friday.

The petition challenges the Town Board’s adoption of the local law, which was passed by a vote of 4-1 on December 6th saying that it jeopardizes the ongoing operation of the facility.

They allege that the Town Board failed to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, otherwise known as a SEQRA.

Source: FL1 Staff Photo

Seneca Meadows also asserts in the petition that the Town Board allowed a biased member to participate in voting to adopt the law.

In the process, Seneca Meadows says that their substantive due process rights were violated in adopting the local law.

The petition rips apart the local law, citing multiple issues with the process by which the Town Board went about enacting it.

It points out that Seneca Meadows requested to delay multiple drafts of the local law — dating back to the first scheduled public hearing for proposed Local Law No. 7 of 2016, which was ultimately never held.

The petition outlines the process by which former Seneca Falls Town Councilor Annette Lutz made a motion at the November 10th meeting of the Town Board to schedule a public hearing, which was ultimately held on November 30th.

Seneca Meadows notes that they requested an adjournment on that public hearing, but that request was ignored. In the petition, Seneca Meadows asserts that significant changes were made to the local law — as it moved from Local Law No. 7 to Local Law No. 3.

A variety of changes had been made, which had drawn concerns earlier in the year. While Supervisor Lazzaro did not agree with scheduling the public hearing — the board collectively came to terms with the fact that the final draft of the local law, which was subject to public hearing — corrected issues that previously had been raised.

The petition says that Lutz “blindsided her fellow Town Board members,” as well as those in attendance at the public hearing. It notes that part of the SEQRA requirement includes taking a “hard look” at the relevant areas of environmental concern prior to adopting the Local Law.

“It’s difficult to conceive how the Town Board could have complied with this key element of the SEQRA when their alleged ‘hard look’ occurred for no more than ten minutes,” it continues.

The petition notes that Lutz was an active part of Seneca Meadows opposition, and engaged in actions opposing their operations in Seneca Falls. The ‘actual bias’ towards Seneca Meadows creates a conflict of interest, according to the documents.

Paragraph 58 of the petition says that Lutz should not have been permitted to participate in the vote on the Negative Declaration, as well as the adoption vote of Local Law No. 3.

Submitted photo

The petition also brings up the timing of Local Law No. 3 being introduced. Days before the scheduled meeting on November 10th where Lutz made a motion to schedule a public hearing — both She and Mary Sarratori — lost their bids to retain the Town Council seats they were appointed to earlier in the year.

While both remained steadfast in pointing out that their loss during November 8th’s election had nothing to do with bringing up Local Law No. 3 for consideration — opponents held that as a point of contention over those next 30 days.

The petition also attempts to discredit the “Findings” section of Local Law No. 3. Seneca Meadows notes that the Local Law contains no explanation of factual bases for the purported “Findings” section. It notes that studies of evaluations should have been conducted.

“The Local Law includes factual ‘findings’ that relate directly to SMI’s operations and their alleged negative impacts on the Town, including but not limited to, air and water pollution, odors, traffic, noise and dust.”

The petition calls the Local Law vague, lacking factual evidence, and arbitrary — due to Seneca Meadows’ comments and submitted documentation regarding the alleged issues with the landfill operation.

“These findings are not factually or scientifically supported or accurate. In addition, the language of the Local Law lacks the necessary clarity to provide assurance that provisions contained therein will not negatively impact SMI prior to the year 2025.”

Read the ENTIRE Article 78 Petition here

FingerLakes1.com will have reaction and comments from elected officials in Seneca Falls throughout the weekend. Stay tuned for updates.

Also on FingerLakes1.com