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Private transfer station draws neighbors’ ire

By Dan Hust
HORTONVILLE — August 17, 2010 — The public hearing on Jeff Sanitation’s plan to open a private transfer station in Jeffersonville will remain open at the next Town of Delaware Planning Board meeting.
At Wednesday’s regular meeting inside the town hall in Hortonville, the board agreed to keep the hearing open at the September 8 meeting (7:30 p.m.).
The hearing had already been extended from the July meeting, mainly because the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has yet to give its consent and has so far rejected taking on lead agency status – which could saddle the township with time-consuming obligations.
But Wednesday’s hearing focused more on neighbors’ concerns, with several Jeffersonville residents expressing reservations about Jeff Sanitation owner Jim Hughson’s plan to erect an 88x100-foot indoor transfer station 24 feet in height.
“This is not in our backyard,” said Mariah Graham, who lives across Route 52 from Hughson’s operation. “This is in our face.”
“This has been in your face,” replied Planning Board Chairman Gerald Euker, noting the presence of a trash-processing facility – and a one-time dump – at that location for decades, which is why what would otherwise be a non-conforming use is permitted there under town zoning law.
“This property was not like this when I bought my house in 1982,” Graham responded.
“The original dump was right across from your house,” said Euker.
“Well, I did not see it,” countered Graham.
She and others argued that past issues with the property, its proximity to both Route 52 and the Callicoon Creek, and odor and noise concerns should give the Planning Board pause.
“We don’t want to get rid of it,” Graham clarified. “... We just don’t want anymore of it.”
“Everyone creates garbage,” replied Euker. “... You have to have these somewhere.”
He predicted truck traffic will not increase unless the local population (and thus Jeff Sanitation’s customer base) increases, and he expects that environmental and quality-of-life issues will be greatly mitigated.
That’s because trucks will be dumping their loads inside the new station, Euker explained, and hours of operation will not extend beyond 6 p.m. Plus, new trees a minimum of 10 feet in height will be planted as screening, and Hughson will be required to clean up the assorted trailers and machinery scattered across his acreage.
Though trash will be able to be temporarily stored for 48 hours (i.e., weekends) on site, “we do not want it used as a junkyard,” Euker remarked.
Hughson also will be subject to an annual review before his town permit is renewed.
“This should be a great improvement to the area,” Euker concluded.
Hughson did not speak, save to assent to the extension of the public hearing, by which time he hopes the DEC will have granted its approval as well.
County officials, including Deputy Planning Commissioner Jill Weyer, were also on hand simply to observe, as the county’s potential flow control law may impact Hughson’s operations – and create legal issues.
Neighbors disagree over wood business
The only other business handled at Wednesday’s meeting concerned a kiln-dried firewood business set up by Jeffersonville resident Forbes March and opposed by his neighbor, David Sager.
Both men are well-known, with March having gained fame acting in a variety of soap operas and Sager, currently a county legislator, running as a Democrat to unseat Republican NYS Senator John Bonacic.
According to Delaware Code Enforcement Officer Howard Fuchs, March obtains shipments of wood to dry in a kiln, bundle and then sell as firewood.
In July, March asked for and received a permit to erect a pole barn for his expanding operation, and Fuchs said Sager called the town to question the appropriateness of such a business in a rural agricultural area.
Town planner Tom Shepstone advised Fuchs to bring it to the planning board, even though Fuchs stands by his decision to allow it as a permitted use.
“I firmly believe the interpretation by the code officer is incorrect,” countered Sager’s attorney, Martin Miller.
The argument apparently is over whether March’s operation is a wood-processing or a wood-manufacturing facility, the latter of which is similar to a sawmill and is under different zoning rules.
However, the planning board unanimously opted not to get involved.
“I don’t feel we have the authority to overrule his [Fuchs’] judgment,” said Euker.
Instead, he recommended Sager take his concerns to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for its interpretation.
“If the ZBA throws it back at us,” said Euker, “then we’ll handle it.”

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