U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl L. Bucki has put off until at least April 28 his decision on whether the 400-acre farm formerly owned by Douglas J. and Carole Morrell of Savage Road, Sardinia, will be sold to the Morrells' longtime foe, CID Refuse Service, which operates the adjacent Chaffee Landfill.
Edwin R. Ilardo, the court-appointed Morrell farm trustee, had petitioned the court to order the sale of the property to CID, the sole bidder, for $529,000. The purchase offer is well above the $309,000 value set by the U.S. Farmers Home Administration, the Morrells' principal creditor.
Court papers show that Morrell Farm has debts of $1,176,357. Of that sum, $876,069 are secured debts and the remainder are unsecured.
The case has attracted wide interest in Sardinia, where the Town Board for years has refused to allow the landfill to expand, and the Erie County farm community.
While CID has little immediate prospect of using the farm to expand its Chaffee Landfill, it plans to use it immediately as a buffer and perhaps in "a changed political climate," to use parts of the property as a landfill.
CID has bought several properties near the Chaffee Landfill as a buffer to separate the landfill from neighbors.
Janet Burhyte and David J. Seeger, attorneys respectively for Douglas J. and Carole Morrell and their son, Douglas "Buster" Morrell and his wife, Deborah, argued that the younger Morrells possess Homestead and Preservation rights that would enable them to continue farming the property.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Wolf who represented the Farmers Home Administration and Ilardo, contended that the younger Morrells do not have those rights.
Bucki said that the case has drawn several letters of concern. "But the court's decision will be based on law," he added.
The pivotal issue is whether Douglas and Deborah Morrell derive any rights from the older Morrells.
So far, that has not been demonstrated, the judge said.
But he invited both sides to argue the point with written briefs by April 21 and granted each side another week to respond and, if desired, to make final oral arguments.