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Asphalt plant in Hamburg seen as dead as company seeks permit in Town of Niagara

Asphalt plant in Hamburg seen as dead as company seeks permit in Town of Niagara

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In Hamburg in 2019, signs opposing a proposed asphalt plant sprang up on front lawns. 

The same people who unsuccessfully sought to open a hot asphalt plant in Hamburg now have a similar proposal for the Town of Niagara.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comments over an air quality permit sought by the developers of the proposed plant on Witmer Road, just west of Interstate 190 and the south driveway to the Niagara University campus.

Last July, the Town Board approved the site plan and found that the project would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The plant would generate 150,000 tons of hot asphalt per year, according to the company's DEC application. That application was signed Aug. 13 by Alexandra Lettieri, president of AL Asphalt, the company that sought permission to open the Hamburg plant.

Rosanne Depizio of Depizio Construction, who also was involved in the Hamburg project, is listed as general manager of a new firm, 4660 Witmer Road LLC. Lettieri also is its president, according to the air permit application. That company, established in Erie County last May, is the official applicant for the Town of Niagara project.

AL Asphalt was stymied by the Hamburg Planning Board in 2019 in its request to produce asphalt in a former concrete plant on Camp Road. The board ordered the company to file a full-length draft environmental impact statement.

Instead, AL Asphalt took Hamburg to court. In January 2020, State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto ruled in the town's favor. The company filed a notice to appeal the ruling. But the six-month time limit to send court records to the Appellate Division expired without any being sent.

"It's in a moribund state. They haven't gone forward with their application," Hamburg Supervisor James Shaw said Monday. "We consider it a closed application."

A DEC spokeswoman said the department received a permit application from AL Asphalt for the Hamburg site in August 2019 but has never ruled on it.

The company told Hamburg officials in December 2019 that it had an alternative site for the plant it would not disclose.

"It's located in our heaviest industrial zone. Most of the buildings and sites over there have been vacant for years," Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee S. Wallace said. "From our point of view, we saw it as as good fit."

The DEC notice said the company has a plan to keep carbon monoxide emissions below 100 tons a year and emission of volatile organic compounds below 50 tons a year.

The plant would have a 31-foot-high smokestack 4 feet wide, according to the application. The plant would burn liquid propane to heat and dry gravel before mixing it with hot asphalt oil.

Jeffrey Palumbo, attorney for the firm, said the "construction material manufacturing facility" would operate only from April to November,  according to minutes of the town Planning Board's July meeting.

"(Palumbo) said the odor analysis concluded that there would be no odor detectable off the property itself and the same with the noise level. He said for the traffic analysis they estimate that the peak hour will generate only 11 to 12 vehicle trips," according to the minutes.

Most of the existing shrubs and trees would be preserved to maintain a natural buffer.

The vacant 15-acre site is owned by Drive Star Properties, headquartered in Hamilton, Ont. Its CEO, Andrew G. Priest, said he hadn't heard about the DEC permit application.

"I haven't heard from the people who wanted to buy the land in months," Priest said. "I just assumed the whole thing had died."

DiPizio told The News last week that she is a consultant to the applicant but had signed a nondisclosure agreement. Neither she nor Lettieri responded to requests for further comment Monday.

The DEC has announced a public comment period through April 2 on the air quality permit request.

Written comments may be sent to Kerri L. Pickard-DePriest at DEC Region 9 Headquarters, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203.

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