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New York State Exposed: Romulus residents say decision on incinerator taken out of their hands

April 17, 2018 11:35 PM

It's a plan that calls for a 18-story garbage incinerator to be built in a small Finger Lakes town, and people in Romulus say that state law is allowing the developer to circumvent the local decision makers.

"This is just another outrageously inappropriate assault on the Finger Lakes," says Joesph Campbell, a member of the Seneca Lake Guardians. 

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The opposition of the proposed garbage incinerator on the site of the old Seneca Army Depot in the Town of Romulus has been loud and clear. 

"Nobody is in favor of this project except for the applicant," says Campbell. 

Now people who live here are getting support from the state capital...

"I really believe there's a unacceptable loop-hole in the current law," says Pamela Helming, a Republican New York State Senator. 

She represents the site of the proposed incinerator. and just introduced legislation that would put the decision-making power back in local hands.

The bill would remove garbage incinerators from the list of acceptable projects under New York State's Article Ten law. That's the state law that allows energy projects to be approved by a state board, instead of local governments.

"Allowing a proposed solid waste facility, in my opinion, disguise as a power plant to move forward under this process to me is unfair to our local community and existing businesses," says Helming.

The legislation will go to the Senate's Energy Committee, who's chairman is one of the bill's sponsors. The same bill is expected to be introduced in the Assembly.

"I'm all for making sure that state government doesn't get in the way of process, but in this particular case I think there's a huge danger here that we have to be able to take the time to address," says Brian Kolb, the New York State Assembly Minority Leader.

The attorney for the project, however, calls the bill short-sighted.

"How hypocritical, they're bringing in waste from all over into their landfill and they're saying 'oh no, we don't want waste to energy," says Alan Knauf, an environmental lawyer with Knauf Shaw LLP.

"Doesn't make any sense."

He says the Article Ten law was designed for projects exactly like this one. If it wasn't, the state board wouldn't approve the project.

But those opposed to the project are hopeful the fate of the project can be decided locally.

"What concerns me is the article 10 siting board can over-rule the town's zoning," says Campbell.

"If they were going through the town, they would never get these permits."

The proposed Assembly bill is expected to be sponsored by the chairman of their energy committee, so we'll track those bills if and when they're taken up for committee votes.

News10NBC will continue to keep you updated as the project continues to moves forward.

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