The most critical situation facing the Village right now is the distinct possibility that an application by a common rail carrier to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) will result in a 24/7 operation at 1A Croton Point Ave (satellite map).
If the STB grants such an application, the site will operate legally and with no local control or input. An operation of this type, which the STB could permit to handle municipal solid waste, would truly be a terrible setback for Croton.
Croton has very little control over whether the STB in Washington approves a waste transfer station for the site or not. If the STB grants a federal exemption to a railroad to operate a waste handling site, that facility is no longer subject to the regulations of local governments, whether state, county or municipal.
Waste disposal is also is a major problem and of prime concern to large municipalities across the country and therefore considered to be in the national interest—50% of waste, nation-wide, is shipped by rail.
Many communities are affected and are currently working toward improving the federal law that allows this pre-emption for quasi-railroads who seek to establish waste transfer sites near existing rail lines, with or without existing spurs. However, shepherding a revision of the federal code successfully through Congress will take a very long time—probably years.
Meanwhile, if the Village does nothing, we find ourselves in the position of hoping that the federal law will be changed in a meaningful timeframe to prevent an operation from opening over which we have no control. Given the national interest in securing access to waste disposal, the STB law may be beyond improving at all.
Faced with this possibility, we—as Trustees of the Village—feel that we must examine all available options that might give us some leverage over the environmental impacts of the site.
To date, the village has spent almost one million dollars in legal fees in an effort to control this site. Also, a federal judge recently barred the Village from pursuing eminent domain to acquire the site for a centralized public works facility
The Village is currently engaged in seven or more actions regarding 1A Croton Point Avenue at all levels of government from the state and federal court, to the STB in DC, and including a recent special permit application submitted to the Village for a C&D waste transfer site at 1A Croton Point Avenue.
All of this action costs money and the fight has only just begun. Ultimately, if a common carrier prevails at the STB by securing the umbrella of federal pre-emption from local land use laws, our ability to establish any local control and environmental oversight over this waste transfer station would be zero.
For eight years, the politics of this situation has drained the village both financially and psychologically—sucking energy from other endeavors and resulting in postponement of worthy initiatives.
It is time to try to find a viable solution that protects the health, safety, and welfare of Village residents. To that end, we feel obligated to explore possible alternative solutions that will yield both control and closure (see: “Croton Trustees Change Tracks and Pursue Negotiations with Regus Industries”).
— Village of Croton-on-Hudson Trustees Ann Gallelli, Charles Kane & Leo Wiegman