The recent Surface Transportation Board decision (see “STB Denies NIR Application Without Predjudice”) was a victory for the Village, but only a procedural one denying a summary decision for the applicant. The result will be full application and more extensive hearings, all requiring a lot of expensive legal time for the Village attorneys. Because there is so much at stake for both sides (an operation probably worth 20 to 30 million dollars to them; prevention of a largely unregulated waste/garbage transfer station for us), the loser at this hearing will file a Federal lawsuit challenging same, and the loser of that lawsuit will file an appeal, up to the United States Supreme Court if possible.
Also looming is a fight with Westchester County over waste permits, and litigation with Allied on their claim they never needed a special permit in the first place (see: “Stecich Prepares for WCSW Commission Decision on Regus Licensing”).
We are in a legal morass, looking at years of expensive litigation, which will, I believe, cost us over one million dollars. Given the money involved and the value of the operation they could lose, our opponents are not going to quit, nor will they, as suggested by David Goldman’s letter in last week’s Gazette, rent their space to another kind of business, (the return they could get from this would be relatively minimal).
Before the Court of Appeals decision, the old Metro Enviro operators had an incentive to cheat – they could make more money and apparently thought the worst they could get would be a slap on the wrist. Under a proper settlement, however, Allied would have a strong disincentive to cheat, since getting caught would, under Court of Appeals precedent, allow us to shut them down, and/or deny any special permit renewal, thus interrupting their sure and steady profits and plunging them back into uncertain litigation. We don’t have to have any confidence in Allied’s business ethics, but we can have some confidence that a large public company will act in its own best interest, which sticking to a settlement would be.
Pros of a settlement:
Cons of a settlement:
As far as I’m concerned, this is a starkly clear choice – the benefits of a settlement would be huge, and the detriments minor. I continue to maintain that most Crotonites would never know this facility existed if it weren’t for all this publicity.
The prior board may have made a mistake by giving Metro Enviro a permit in the first place, but we are way past that now, and the current board will be greatly compounding this mistake, to the detriment of all Village residents, if they don’t settle on the very favorable terms I believe we can probably still get.
Unfortunately, however, the board seems to be listening to the small group who are so emotionally involved with this issue and so angry with the prior board and prior operators, that they are not thinking clearly and rationally about what is best for the Village.
— Bruce Kauderer