In several letters (click here for archive) over the last two months, I have discussed the extreme seriousness of the situation facing our Village with the potential for the Metro Enviro site to become a “24/7” waste transfer station accepting all types of waste, including NYC municipal waste, with little or no local control over its day to day operations such as truck trips, tonnage, noise, hours, etc.
An exemption for Northeast Interchange Railway (NIR) from the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) allowing them to be considered a railroad could result in this becoming true. Railroads are allowed to apply for an exemption to handle all types of waste including garbage.
The STB will vote on this application on November 16th. However, even a denial for NIR by the STB does not prevent another entity, perhaps one that is already a railroad entity, from applying for the STB exemption to handle waste at the former Metro Enviro site.
Other parties at the county and state levels are also weighing decisions that will affect us. In the meantime are there steps the Village should be taking to be ready? To take them knowledgeably, both residents and the Board of Trustees need to have some important questions answered.
I previously outlined the many legal situations that potentially have to be initiated or defended depending on the decisions of other bodies. This letter discusses one option the Village has, namely should the Village use its power of eminent domain to acquire the Metro Enviro site. Using eminent domain is a very big step and requires that the entire village develop some understanding of the process and financial implications.
Under NYS Eminent Domain Procedure law the Village would initiate a legal action to acquire the site to accomplish a “public good”. State law requires the owner of the site be paid a fair price based on the “highest approved appraisal of just compensation”. To start this process, the Village, as condemnor, must:
The law also requires that prior to exercising eminent domain, the Village must make an offer to the owner of the highest approved appraisal amount. The owner may 1)accept it in full, 2) accept it as an advance payment and claim the right to additional compensation, or 3) reject it. In all three cases, if the Village continues its exercise of this power, it must deposit the money, in advance, with the clerk of the NYS Supreme court who will place it in an interest bearing account.
Here are some very important things for all of us to consider and questions that need answering before the Village takes the step of executing eminent domain:
Once again, I don’t have the answers to all these questions, and there are others as well, but I do continue to be very concerned about the situation. As a resident, your input is important to the Board’s decisions on this matter. Do you think eminent domain is the right step to take? Let your Board of Trustees know what your questions are and engage in a discussion of the whole range of possibilities, not just eminent domain.
— Ann Gallelli
Related Letters to the Editor by Ann Gallelli: