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Town of Lockport sets hearing on extension of moratorium on biosolids

LOCKPORT – The Town Board on Wednesday scheduled a March 2 public hearing on a nine-month extension of its moratorium on the use of biosolids on land in the town.

Town Attorney Michael J. Norris said the current six-month moratorium expires March 17.

Lockport is one of several local towns that took action in the wake of the controversy over the Quasar Energy Group anaerobic digester in Wheatfield.

That plant converts food waste and sludge from sewage treatment plants into methane gas, used to produce electricity or compressed natural gas. But the process leaves behind a byproduct that the company calls “equate,” rich in nitrogen, which Quasar offered to local farmers as fertilizer.

Wheatfield, under pressure from residents, passed an outright ban on such use of biosolids in July 2014. Quasar sued to try to invalidate the law. State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso has yet to rule, even though the case was argued almost eight months ago.

Norris said the longer Lockport moratorium will give the town more time to study the issue – state agencies encourage the use of biosolids as fertilizer – and to see what happens in court.

On another topic, the board authorized Wendel, the town’s engineering firm, to carry out a follow-up traffic study around the Walmart supercenter on South Transit Road.

Walmart was required to provide $20,000 for the study, which was a condition of the town’s approval of the store. Town Engineer Robert D. Klavoon said the study was required within 18 months of the store opening, which occurred in January 2015.

Wendel will charge $19,800 to carry out traffic counts at seven intersections near the store. They include driveways leading to the Walmart as well as the intersections of Shimer Drive with South Transit Road and Locust Street, and the corner of Snyder Drive and Robinson Road.

The study will compare traffic levels with those predicted in a Walmart study done before the store was approved, to determine whether traffic signals are needed where they don’t already exist.

Also Wednesday, Councilwoman Patricia Dufour presented her colleagues with a list of 23 proposed construction projects or major purchases, obtained at a meeting of department heads last week.

Only two of them are currently in the town budget: the construction of a storage building at Day Road Park, estimated at $60,000, and the repaving of the Town Hall parking lot, priced at $40,000. Both jobs are expected to be done by town workers.

The storage building was priced at $95,700 when the town sought bids in September 2014. Since then, the town has shrunk the proposed building and removed the planned stone walls along with a cupola and some windows, Dufour said. The building is now to measure 30 by 50 feet, with a maximum height of 12 feet.