Thursday, November 16, 2000

Landfill issue draws crowd to meeting
OBSERVER Staff Writer

BRANT - A standing room only crowd eager to discuss the decision to dissolve a landfill committee was present Tuesday at the regular Brant Town Board meeting.

The issue was not part of the regular agenda but many residents decided to attend the meeting after receiving a letter in the mail stating dissolving the landfill committee would be discussed.

The committee had been formed in September to consider a proposal for a landfill in the town of Brant.

At the regular town board meeting in August, a resolution was passed establishing an "evaluation committee" for a solid waste management facility proposed by Robert A. Gerhard III of Angola.

The first of five committee meetings was to be held on Sept. 12, with the committee to consist of town attorney John C. Grennell, town engineer Glen Cooley, town board member Ellen Bowman, a member of the planning board and a member from the community.

However, at the Sept. 5 town board meeting, evaluation committee, Chairwoman Bowman made a motion to dissolve the committee, which was passed.

Bowman said she had made a few phone calls around the state and then prior to the decision read part of a regulation which is strictly enforced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for regulating solid waste management facilities.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Supervisor Sam Chiavetta encouraged residents who had something different to say about the issue to speak. Tuesday's meeting was not a special meeting for the landfill issue, and because it was not an agenda item it would not be discussed at length.

The majority of the residents who spoke were concerned the committee was dissolved before people knew all the facts about the landfill.

"I never heard both sides," Farnham resident Jackie Kowlski said.

She thought residents should have had the opportunity to hear the pros and cons of the proposal and then make a decision to dissolve or keep the committee.

Others also felt it was unfair the committee had been dissolved and they were not aware of the Sept. 5 meeting.

When asked why the committee was dissolved, Chiavetta said he voted not to continue studying the proposal because it did not look like a feasible project.

Brant resident Mike Memmo said he thought there was a local law that Brant cannot have a landfill and this law could only be changed by a public vote.

"Because there is already a law on the books that says Brant can't have a landfill anyway, it saved the town a lot of money and time by dissolving the committee," Memmo said.

Bowman said that after the September meeting she received more than 100 phone calls and not one was in favor of the land-fill. Residents were encouraged to contact board members if they wanted more information on the decision.

"One of the reasons we were hoping to get the committee back is so that people will be able to say what they want to say about it," Brant resident Linda Crouse said. "It is a sad, sad thing when people can't speak."

A non-binding referendum could also be held, which would determine who was for the landfill and who was against it. No decision was made on the suggestion at Tuesday's meeting. There would be a cost associated to the process as well as a time investment. Another public hearing was also suggested on this issue so that residents would have the opportunity to speak on it. Grennell said that he would look into the matter and report to the board.

Landfill opponents are concerned about the possibility of waste runoff into their well water, and what will happen to the landfill in the future when there is no place to put more waste.

"Would others with children want the dump/landfill in their backyard near their well?" asked Brant resident Burt Douglas.

"People are either for it, or against it," Councilwoman Leah Mirusso said at the closing of the discussion. "I resent the fact that people here say that this board is paid off. We do the best job possible as a board."

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