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Citizens group told it can halt Sardinia plant construction Temporary delay hinges on financing of bond

A Sardinia citizens group can temporarily halt construction on the nearly completed waste-to-energy plant at the Chaffee landfill if it finances a $30,000 bond to indemnify the owners against possible financial losses, a judge ruled Thursday.

In addition to the bond covering CID Landfill and its Waste Management parent company, Concerned Citizens of Sardinia also must turn over $1,000 in cash to the Town of Sardinia, said State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek.

Michalek ruled that those amounts would satisfy the Houston-based conglomerate's demand for a "significant bond" to cover the costs of a temporarily delay to the energy project that is being challenged a group led by former Sardinia Supervisor John R. Schiener.

After the court session, attorney Julie M. Grogan said Concerned Citizens already is working on assembling the bonding. Work will not have to halt while the bonding is being obtained.

Grogan stressed that the challenge to the energy plant is in connection with the citizen group's earlier challenge to an October 2005 change in the Town of Sardinia zoning ordinance to facilitate the project. That challenge is pending before State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dillon.

Sardinia Town Attorney Anthony DiFilippo III has questioned the legality of the Concerned Citizens challenge to the waste-to-energy plan, which the Town Board approved last August. He said methane gas generated at the Chaffee landfill currently is just "flamed off."

The plant is scheduled to be completed in February at an estimated cost to Waste Management of $8 million. It will produce energy that can be sold to the state's energy grid and provide the town with additional revenue, DiFilippo said.

Waste Management's local attorney, Richard T. Sullivan, said if Concerned Citizens raises the bond and temporarily stops the project, it will idle 20 construction workers at Christmastime. The plant also will create a number of full-time jobs, Sullivan added, though he didn't know how many.

The citizens group is seeking a preliminary injunction barring work on the project pending a revision of the Sardinia zoning code. The group contends that not only is the October 2005 zoning revision illegal, but the project being built on a 2.6-acre portion of the Chaffee landfill is not in compliance with that change, which created a business/light industry district.

The Schiener group, which is also fighting a proposed expansion of the 70-acre landfill, contends that the energy project could adversely affect hazardous waste buried at the landfill since the late 1950s.

Thursday, both DiFilippo and Sullivan reminded Michalek that the State Department of Environmental Conservation approved the waste-to-energy project before work began on it months ago.

Michalek is scheduled to consider further issues in the case Jan. 11.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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