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South Buffalo residents are getting strong support from the Common Council in their fight to prevent the new operator of the Hopkins Street recycling facility from turning it into a garbage transfer station.

Council members Tuesday supported Majority Leader Rosemarie LoTempio in directing the city Law Department to find out whether Modern Landfill can obtain a state license that would violate the prior assurances of clean recycling only at 264 Hopkins St.

"The use of this facility as a transfer station is completely unacceptable," LoTempio said. "It runs counter to the original restricted-use permit and flies in the face of recent investments directed at cleaning up former industrial sites in the immediate area."

By their vote, Council members backed Assemblyman Brian Higgins' push to prevent the change. Higgins, D-Buffalo, a former South District Council member, and Mary Martino, the South District Council Member-elect, began the opposition campaign when they learned that Modern was seeking state Department of Environmental Conservation permission to use the recycling plant to shift 500 tons of garbage and solid waste daily.

Higgins pointed out that the original tenant, Integrated Waste Systems, was granted only a restricted-use permit when it won a five-year recycling contract with the city during former Mayor James D. Griffin's administration. Integrated was allowed to build $1.5 million plant to recycle blue box materials.

"This Council sought and received assurances at that time that this facility would be used solely for the handling of clean household recyclable materials," LoTempio recalled.

But a series of changes occurred. State officials say Integrated Waste was succeeded by CID, and last year CID changed the state permit to allow transfer of solid waste, although it did not initiate the practice. CID was succeeded by Modern Landfill of Lewiston, which is now applying to do so.

LoTempio questioned whether the permit obtained by CID, without coordination with the city, is valid.

Higgins has the support of fellow Democratic Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who this week alerted DEC Commissioner Sam Cahill to assurances made to South Buffalo residents by the city Public Works Department before Integrated Waste built the plant. Hoyt also reminded Cahill that the state helped pay to create 90 acres of green space within 200 feet of the recycling station.

Permitting 500 tons of garbage and trash transfer daily will blight the hopes raised so recently by the green space, Hoyt said.

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