I want to take this opportunity to thank Crotonblog for providing an audio of last night's proceedings at the village board meeting. For those who cannot open audio, however, a scanned plain text version is provided below.
Several subscribers to CCC1 have asked me to comment on these latest events.
While I try not to editorialize regarding the Metro Enviro saga, that is sometimes difficult. Because I--along with many other residents--and thank you David Tuttle--have been intimately involved in this issue since day one. With respect to Croton alone, I've watched members of this industry publicly threaten my neighbors in board meetings and our village in general with near impunity for seven years. Curiously, that same record is also peppered with a relentess defense of the operation by former officials to this day.
It has never made any sense. It never will.
And while many of us who have openly opposed this operation were fully prepared for the additional threats of tire-slashings, "egg-ings", and possible SLAP suits, the rest of the community should have never been subjected to any of this. But we were. And now we continue to move forward.
Allied's latest attempts to subjugate this community are reminiscent of the school yard bully who, having been reprimanded by the authorities and told to go home, nevertheless continues to terrorize his victims--even though he knows that his days are numbered. (As an aside, how many times was the prior board told that we would only come full circle if we did not take a stand in 1998?)
The fact is that the waste industry is, by and large, shameless. They always have been and they always will be--particularly since the lawsuit outlined in the village's statement below is believed to be barred on a number of legal grounds already. This should come as no surprise. It was always suspected that some machination lay in the road ahead.
And each one has failed.
As a former Democrat, it was astonishing--and disappointing--to watch then Mayor Elliottt and the board majority advocate a settlement with such men last September. Especially in light of the recent--and predicted--organized crime scandals that have now enveloped two states, including Allied operations in Mount Kisco and Mamaroneck. (25 articles alone in the last 5 days available upon request--and possible CBS coverage of Westchester side of the equation tonight at 6 p.m. as well.)
That disappointment in the prior administration is even more palpable when you review the village minutes from March of 1998.
At that time, Elliottt stated that the village had excluded conversations with Metro Enviro about receiving any host community fees because he did not want residents to feel that the welfare of the village and the environment would be compromised in exchange for money. But the fact is that the moment the permit was issued, the welfare of this community WAS indeed compromised.
In September of 2004--after a litany of environmental, health and safety violations, the FBI investigations, the damning reports of the federal monitor Walter Mack, AND Croton's victory in the courts---the board majority was fully prepared to do so yet again, this time for cash. In addition, unbeknownst to other members of the board, Mr. Elliottt sought endorsement from the Journal News of a dangerous settlement proposed by Metro Enviro that same week. While he got that endorsement, he was thankfully not as successful with village residents. Among those residents were two attorneys who shredded the deal he advocated line by line.
That episode remains disturbing, particularly when, contrary to the "party stand", there were at least a half dozen local attorneys who felt we had sufficient legal grounds to deny the original permit in 1998. And unfortunately, it is just one of far too many throughout the years.
However all that is past.
I believe that Croton will ultimately prevail in this matter, but the mess left behind by the prior administration--their rejection of our repeated requests that they not approve the rail spur at the facility given the then-imminent closure of the Fresh Kills landfill and other issues---all of which they have made Herculean attempts to avoid responsibility for--will take some more effort to undo. Again, even the prior board acknowledged that going in. However, Ms. Grant's sudden revelation that the approval of the spur might pose some possible problems is extremely troubling. This issue was covered over and over by residents and officials across multiple forums. The public's concerns were treated with contempt instead.
So, what choice do we now have? Do we allow an industry whose policies have proven to be--time and time again---historically incompatible with the law but wholly compatible with maximum profit--to threaten future generations of Croton residents simply because of this latest desperate attempt? Or do we continue to stand up--and against--such men. Especially in the face of what is surely a frivolous lawsuit on the merits of law.
The high court substantiated what residents have always known--that there was plenty of evidence that Metro Enviro is a danger to the health, safety and welfare of this village. It always has been--and if it remains here, it always will be. Mount Kisco, which opted for a settlement with Allied some years ago, is learning that difficult lesson right now.
I know that some of what I have said will offend supporters of the prior administration and the few supporters of Metro Enviro who choose only to anonymously post in chat-rooms. And who may be, for all we know, employees of the waste industry itself.
The fact is that the prior administration's handling of Metro Enviro has brought us to where we stand now. It yet requires some more effort to undo. No amount of self-righteous spin will ever change that. However, the continued willingness by some to re-writer history is utterly vexing in light of the many sacrifices that have been made by so many Croton residents.
I remind readers that back in 1998, the board insisted that if they did not issue the Metro permit, we would be sued the way the Town of Cortlandt was sued in the Emery Mine Case for thirty million dollars. That decision, also issued by Judge Nicolai, was successfully challenged by the town despite all the nay-sayers who screamed "settle". It was successfully overturned because it was found to be fundamentally flawed.
If the unfolding organized crime scandals of the last five days have told us anything, it is that you cannot make deals with the waste industry. If Yonkers was the "city on the hill where nothing is on the level", our village was equally famous for the following bumper sticker back in the 80's: "Lost? Can't find Croton? Follow the nearest garbage truck."
Is that the legacy we really want to hand to future Croton residents? The village's statement follows below.
Statement of the Village Board
Village of Croton-on-Hudson Concerning Legal Proceedings Brought by Metro Enviro Transfer LLC and Greentree Realty, LLC
On January 27,2003, after a long series of hearings and investigations, the Village Board voted to terminate the operations of the Metro Enviro Transfer LLC solid waste transfer station. Metro Enviro immediately initiated a lawsuit, and on February 19, 2003, Justice Francis Nicolai of the New York State Supreme Court granted the lawsuit and enjoined the closure. This decision was reversed by the Appellate Division on May 10,2004. The New York Court of Appeal. affirmed. the Appellate Division and reinstated the Village Board's decision July 6, 2005. Both appellate courts found that the Village Board had ample basis in the record for finding that Metro Enviro's repeated willful violation of its special permit posed a threat to public health and the environment
On July I8, 2005, the Village Board directed Metro Enviro to close by July 23. Once again Metro Enviro immediately sued. After hearing oral arguments from both sides on July 21, Justice Nicotai once again enjoined the closure order.
Justice Nicolai issued a temporary restraining order to allow the Village's Lawyers to submit papers and to give himself time to consider the arguments raised. He also ordered Metro Enviro to post a $25,000 bond. The Village's papers are due on Thursday, July 28. Metro Enviro has until August 5 to respond. After that, Justice Nicolai has indicated he will have the lawyers appear before him again, and he will then issue his decision.
The Village's attorneys are actively considering a number of legal options. One of them would be an expedited appeal to the Appellate Division in the event that Justice Nicolai Issues a preliminary injunction or otherwise rules for the plaintiffs.
The principal difference between this lawsuit and the one started in 2003 is that, this time the plaintiffs are not only Metro Enviro but also its landlord, Greentree Realty LLC, which is co-owned by the Estate of James Hickey. Greentree alleges that its property rights are impaired by the village's actions. Metro Enviro and Greentree are also seeking $50 million, plus interest in unspecified damages from the Village.
The Village's attorneys believe that there are numerous fatal defects in the lawsuit. Among them are that the suit is barred by the prior rulings of the Appellate Division and the
Court of Appeals; the suit is barred by the statute of limitations, since the Village Board's decision not to renew Metro Enviro's special permit was taken in January 2003 and the claims must have been brought within four months; that the plaintiff have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies; and that, on the merits, Metro Enviro and Greentree have no rights to continue operation of the facility.
The Village Board is disappointed that once again its attempts to close the facitity have been thwarted. However, the Village Board is optimistic that either Justice Nicolai or the appellate courts will ultimately allow the closure order to take effect, The Village Board vows to carry on this fight with vigor and resolve in fulfillment of its obligations to the health, safety and environment of the village.