LEWISTON – Environmental concerns topped the discussion as nearly a dozen residents spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Lewiston Town Board meeting on Monday.
One of the top issues centered on Quasar Energy’s plan to build a 6.5 million-gallon bioenergy fertilizer storage pond on a site on Porter Center Road, between Swann and Langdon roads. The plan has received the approval of the Niagara County Planning Board, but still needs to go before the Town Board.
Both candidates for Town Supervisor, Ernest Palmer, who is a councilman on the Town Board, and Dennis Brochey, a trustee on the Village Board, have spoken out against it, but current Supervisor Steven Reiter said it is still too early for the current board to make any decisions.
“It’s too early for us to say in public whether we are against anything unless it comes publicly to us,” Reiter told the crowd prior to opening the discussion to public comment. “I’m pretty sure the feelings of the board are very similar to the folks that live in the area, but [Quasar] are allowed to follow the process. So it will come to us eventually after it goes to the Planning Board. Once it gets to the Town Board, there will be another public hearing where you will have the opportunity to address the Town Board.”
Reiter said it would be improper to discuss the issue and no Town Board member commented on the matter on Monday.
One resident, Evelyn Lauer of Williams Road, called the pond “a cesspool lagoon” which would be built almost in her back yard and said the fertilizer material, known as equate, was “just a fancy name for sludge and sewage.”
Several residents expressed concerns about run off and reports that no crops for human consumption could be harvested for 38 months after the product is put onto fields.
Bill Jolbert of Williams Road said Niagara County “pushed the issue through” and wanted the Lewiston Board to remember that they represent the residents of the town.
“There’s nobody in favor of this. We ask you to be our representatives and stop this,” said Jolbert. “We will not stand for this.”
In another environmental matter, the town was asked to pay its share of an attorney’s fee to stop the expansion of Chemical Waste Management.
“After seven years, and just as hearings are expected to begin, it is bewildering that any board member could have questions or want to suddenly change the practice they have historically supported,” said resident Amy Witryol. “In a town that spent $100,000 on a failed Recreation Center concept, the board’s delay in defending us against toxic waste dumping is not for lack of money.
“It’s like voting against crime and refusing to fund the police,” said Witryol, who encouraged the board to release $50,000 and put the experts back to work.
The Town Board did not respond to comments and took no action on either matter.