Solid waste authority sues Wetlands
By Jerry Blair
The Herkimer Evening Telegram
UTICA - The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority last
week sued a state appeals board for reversal of its decision
regarding a proposed landfill in the town of Ava.
The New York State Freshwater Wetlands Appeals Board
on June 3 overturned a state Department of Environmental
Conservation determination on Ava wetland WL-2. Exactly
one month later, the Authority filed a lawsuit in the
Oneida County Supreme Court to nullify the classification
set forth by the appeals board.
A coalition of regional organizations have fought to
stop the Ava landfill since plans were announced more
than a decade ago. These landfill opponents petitioned
the DEC in October 2002 to reclassify WL-2 from a Class
II to a Class I wetland, which would prevent the project
from getting under way. DEC officials said their investigation
found insufficient information to upgrade the wetland.
A quasi-judicial body, the appeals board was created
in 1976 to allow for expeditious review of decisions involving
Freshwater Wetlands. According to the DEC Web site, it
is an alternative forum for individuals seeking substantially
the same relief as would be available through other proceedings
under the Civil Practice Law.
The proposed landfill facility will impact 14 acres of
state regulated wetland. In issuing its decision, the
appeals board remanded the matter back to the DEC for
further consideration of a bird possibly found there,
the American Bittern, and whether it is a vulnerable species.
The Authority filed an application for rehearing of the
appeals board decision, asking that it consider if the
American Bittern meets the criteria for classification
This should be a straightforward legal decision,"
Authority Executive Director Hans Arnold said. "The
species is not on the list and therefore it doesn't qualify
as a criterion for upgrading the wetland."
To date, the Authority has gotten no response to its
rehearing request. Arnold said the lawsuit was filed to
avoid missing the 30-day deadline for such a hearing.
A decision in the Authority's favor would settle the wetland
reclassification issue, he said. The appeals board could
not be reached for comment.
According to Arnold, the Authority will create 32 acres
of wetland as part of a wetland mitigation program, which
includes the creation and purchase of off-site sensitive
wetlands to be maintained as "forever wild."