Judge issues preliminary injunction, not allowing STAMP sewer construction in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2023 at 4:04 pm

Hearing set for Oct. 23 at Orleans County Courthouse

Photo by Tom Rivers: Traffic was limited to one-way on Route 63 on Aug. 30 while contractors installed a new sewer pipe in the Town of Alabama.

SHELBY – A State Supreme Court has issued a preliminary injunction and temporarily won’t be allowing a sewer line to be constructed in Orleans County, running from the STAMP manufacturing site about 10 miles north to Oak Orchard Creek.

Contractors started installing the 20-inch sewer main last month and are headed north along 63. They haven’t reached Orleans County yet.

Judge Sanford Church on Monday issued the preliminary injunction and set a court date for Oct. 23 at the County Courthouse in Albion.

Orleans County has filed a lawsuit against Genesee County Industrial Development Agency of Batavia, Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation of Batavia, Stamp Sewer Works, Inc. of Batavia, G. Devincentis & Son Construction Co., Inc. of Binghamton, Clark Patterson Lee of Rochester, and Highlander Construction of Memphis, NY.

Orleans contends the GCEDC didn’t properly form STAMP Sewer Works for the project and doesn’t have a right to seek construction easements in Orleans, which is outside Genesee County. Genesee never asked for Orleans permission to undertake the project, Orleans says in the suit.

Orleans economic development officials also are concerned the discharge of treated water from STAMP, at up to 6 million gallons a day at full capacity, could limit economic development efforts in Medina by overtaxing the creek.

GCEDC notes engineering reports say there would be another 10 million gallons of daily capacity for the creek from the Medina sewer plant if STAMP were at full capacity. The first two tenants at STAMP, Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum, would have a daily discharge of 50,000 gallons of treated wastewater GCEDC said.

GCEDC says it secured all required permits and approvals for construction and use of the force main for the sewer, including a right of way permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to cross Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and a discharge permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge has temporarily paused drilling as part of the construction after sinkholes were observed in the right of way of the refuge.

There also are fluids associated with subsurface drilling that appeared on the refuge surface outside the perimeter of the right of way, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement on Tuesday.

Craig Leslie, GCEDC attorney, said in a Sept. 11 court filing, asked the judge not to approve a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

“Orleans County’s allegations are wholly inconsistent with the facts and the law, and smack of a frivolous and politicized attack on the STAMP project,” wrote Leslie, an attorney with Phillips Lytle LLP.

Orleans County, represented by attorney Jennifer Persico of Lippes Mathias LLP, contends the Genesee agencies others named and in lawsuit “have been engaged in a conspiracy not only to violate General Municipal and Transportation Corporations Law, but also to defraud the residents of Orleans County and citizens of New York State in general by misusing millions of taxpayer dollars to fund an unauthorized project all while acting outside of their respective authority,” according to the Orleans court filing on Sept. 11, seeking the preliminary injunction.