As many “Albion-ites” know, over 20 years ago (in 1991) the solid-waste behemoth, Waste Management, approached the Albion Town Board with interest in constructing a new solid-waste landfill in the Town.
While there are several key players that fought Waste Management’s efforts, no one is more responsible for keeping the proposed landfill out of Albion than my mother, Susan “Kim” Remley. She and Patricia Wood brought SPOC (Stop Polluting Orleans County) back to life, and as part of their effort the small group of conservationists and activists successfully encouraged and enticed numerous candidates to run for town office on a single, anti-landfill platform. Just to name a few of the winners: former Supervisors Ted Sharping, Dr. John Fernandez, former Council members Scott Tilden, Dale Davis, Nancy Ebbs, and others not intentionally left out.
What many “Albion-ites” do not know is that the final word on Waste Management’s attempts to construct a new landfill rested, ultimately, with the New York State Uniform Court System. I encourage the people of this community to Google Waste Management of N.Y., LLC v. Town of Albion (legal citation: 859 N.Y.S.2d 900 (Supreme Court of New York, 2005)).
Read the factual record and the Judge’s decision. Because if you do, you will understand that the only reason why there is no 500-foot landfill just north of Route 31 is because the Albion Town Board, under the learned stewardship of Dr. John Fernandez, passed an ordinance requiring a special permit be issued by the Board itself before any landfill construction or expansion could take place.
The legal doctrine the N.Y. Supreme Court, and ultimately the highest court in the State, the Court of Appeals, affirmed is called “home rule.” Quoting directly from the opinion: “There is no threshold or unit of measure that reflects the residents perceptions or level of irritation and we therefore defer to localities on such quality of life issues based on home rule.” And with that, the Court dismissed Waste Management’s petition to compel the Town of Albion to approve a solid-waste landfill permit.
I write today because the Town of Albion is once again faced with an overzealous “landfiller,” who wishes to make millions at the expense of our Town’s future. As any academic or economist will tell you, landfills do not benefit the towns they are located in.
Landfills lower property values, erode the tax base, and contaminate groundwater and soil. Now, some will assuredly proclaim that SPOC’s argument is an example of the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) movement. Unfortunately for those naysayers, Albion has already been tasked with dealing with the fallout of two existing landfills, and we should not be forced to spend the next century cleaning up after another one.
To this end, there is only one candidate for the Albion Town Board that will fight with every ounce of her being to keep the landfill out and to keep the local “home rule” ordinance on the books. That candidate is Ms. Darlene Benton. With Ms. Benton on the Town Board, three of the five votes, a majority, will be locked-in against any new or expanded landfilling in the Town.
Without Ms. Benton on the Board, it is uncertain that a majority of the Board would vote to block further landfilling in the Town. The choice is clear, but surprisingly, many Albion voters thought the landfill issue had been resolved years ago. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as a new proprietor has been investigating and pursuing the possibility of re-opening and expanding Orleans Sanitary Landfill (OSL).
The good voters of the Town of Albion have risen to the occasion before and have repeatedly and resoundingly rejected additional landfilling. We must rise to the occasion again on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and vote for Ms. Darlene Benton for Albion Town Board.
Andrew “Drew” Remley
SPOC Member (1995 – Present)