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Hamburg talking settlement with controversial asphalt plant

There may be some movement on the asphalt plant dilemma in Hamburg.

Representatives from AL Asphalt Corp. are to meet with members of the Town Board and Planning Board Wednesday evening on a possible settlement.

It would involve moving the asphalt plant and rezoning part of the Camp Road property where it has been proposed.

AL Asphalt Corp. wants to open the plant at 5690 Camp Road, where Riefler, and later Great Lakes Concrete, manufactured concrete for years. The plant’s proximity to Hamburg middle and high schools, a nursing home and other businesses and homes has drawn the ire of residents and elected officials worried about odors and dangerous emissions.

The company took the town to State Supreme Court, contending the project does not need a lengthy environmental review. Last month the Planning Board determined the plant could have potential adverse effects which will require the asphalt plant to prepare and submit an environmental impact statement.

Town Supervisor James M. Shaw said representatives of the two sides have met several times since the summer to discuss whether there was any possibility of resolving the heated asphalt plant issue.

After the first meeting, he drew up a framework of the issues, and what a settlement would look like. Top on the list for the town is moving the plant from the Camp Road site.

"There would have to be consideration of an alternative site," Shaw said. "Obviously, we can't move you from one neighborhood, and make everybody happy there, to take you to another neighborhood, where we get flak from folks living there."

Shaw, who said the meeting would be conducted in a closed executive session, expects AL Asphalt to reveal where that alternative is to town and planning board members. The company has indicated it has made plans to go elsewhere, he said. The town indicated if that occurred, the town would consider accommodating a "fast-track" resolution to rezone about seven acres at Camp Road from manufacturing to a mixed residential-commercial zoning.

"So we get the prime real estate out of the industrial classification, and move it into something where offices could be developed, perhaps some retail and some housing," Shaw said. "To my mind, that makes sense for that area."

But moving the plant does not sit well with the vocal opponents who have flocked to Planning Board meetings on the proposal.

"We are hoping that the Town Board and the Planning Board don't settle on a different location. It isn't specifically about the Camp Road location," said Heather Jackson, an opponent of the plant. "It doesn't belong in the area. We hope the town recognizes that and holds firm."

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