The Marilla Town Board for the second time in a week faced a standing-room-only crowd of residents questioning what the board plans to do about a permit for the storage of effluent on Trav-Co Farms property on Eastwood Road.
They want to know when the DEC will make a decision and what the board will do if the DEC approves the permit for Quasar Energy Group, an Ohio-based company.
Residents have been fearful of what the effluent will do to ground water, wells, nearby streams and wildlife.
Supervisor George Gertz replied that the board has sent a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation, which is charged with making the decision regarding the permit application to store the effluent, a byproduct after waste goes through a digester.
Quasar officials say the effluent can be used on cropland as a “greener” replacement for fertilizer.
The letter notes that Trav-Co Farms is located in an agricultural district in the Town of Marilla and according to town zoning code, commercial operation of a solid waste management facility is not a permitted use in an agricultural district, either directly or by special-use permit.
The Marilla Town Code also prohibits the collection, resource recovery, transfer or disposition of waste matter within the town.
“The board can do nothing until something is in front of us,” Gertz told the crowd. “We have done all we can legally.”
Gertz reminded the audience that, while Sept. 19 is the deadline for the public to respond to the permit process, it doesn’t mean the DEC will make a decision then.
The state can make its decision “whenever,” Gertz said.
He also said he has spoken with Stanley Travis of Trav-Co Farms several times.
“Stan Travis hasn’t signed anything yet,” he said.
The board can also issue a six-month moratorium because this is a new product and an unknown, he said.
Debbie Zimmerman wanted to know the identity of another farmer who may be applying to Quasar to spread the effluent on his land.
A Quasar Energy representative refused to name that person at the last meeting.
Gertz said she could request it through the Freedom of Information law.
“We also can’t stop Stan Travis from bringing it into town for him to spread on his own land for personal use but he can’t sell it,” Gertz said. “We can only hope to stop it for commercial purposes.”
“What does it take to change our codes to prevent this from happening again?” Marian Presnya of the Conservation Board asked Gertz. “Can we count on you to change the code?”
“We have to find out what the product is first and will the DEC ... OK it,” he responded. “We don’t know what the product is, it’s new to us. We have to hire an environmental engineer.
“Right, wrong or indifferent, Stanley Travis has a right to apply for a permit. We know absolutely nothing about the product. We can place a moratorium on it for six months because it’s new but probably will be tested in the courts,” he said.
“We had an information meeting with Quasar last week to tell us exactly what the product contains, but it turned into a shouting match,” he said. “West Seneca is the one who OK’d the digester. All action is over there. They’re the ones in trouble.”