The December 12th court date in regards to the Article 78 filing by the AL Asphalt company in regards to the proposed asphalt facility at 5690 Camp Road has been adjourned again and rescheduled to January 3rd, 2020 at 9:30am. This is likely a result of an ongoing negotiation of a settlement between the AL Asphalt company and the Town of Hamburg.
Settlement Talks Ensue
At the town meeting this week, Jim Shaw, Town Supervisor of Hamburg, informed those attending that settlement talks are in the works between the asphalt company and the town. They are supposedly attempting to negotiate a new location for the asphalt plant as cited in recent media coverage. Shaw only spoke to allow the crowd to ask questions and did not provide detailed feedback due to the continuing nature of the lawsuit.
Our Stance on the Settlement
We are of the opinion that no settlement is needed. It is highly unlikely that the Article 78 hearing will weigh in favor of the asphalt plant company due to the fact that there is some question as to whether the Article 78 filing itself is even applied properly to the scope of this project. Further, even if an Article 78 decision were to rule in favor of the asphalt facility, citizens could still work together to appeal any decisions across both the scope of the Article 78 decision and also through the SEQR process. Due to this, we do not feel that it is an appropriate outcome to settle and simply subject what could potentially be another neighborhood to this proposed asphalt plant in lieu of the original site.
It’s worth noting that it is highly unlikely that the AL Asphalt representing attorney would suggest settlement talks if they felt that it was likely that the plant would be approved once the legal process proceeded. If they were under the opinion that they would simply get there way, there would be no incentive for their party to settle for what would likely be worse terms for their company.
Further, the applicant claims that they have an alternative site for the plant to operate on, but refuses to acknowledge its existence or share its location even to the Town. Due to this, we cannot confirm that this site even truly does exist, and that this company isn’t simply attempting to extort public officials in hopes of obtaining grant money or other considerations.
With all of the information we have obtained, we simply cannot justify any settlement that grants a “fast track” to operating this plant juxtaposed to a different neighborhood. Further, we cannot support any settlement that uses any taxpayer dollars to support a company without Hamburg’s best interests in mind, especially from a developer who has a history of not delivering results.
Hamburg has already footed the bill on this family’s past ventures by providing tax incentives for their operation of the cement plant. This has produced next to no economic output and further, the owner of the cement plant is behind on hundreds of thousands of dollars of county and school taxes.
Due to this, we are of the opinion that it is the elected officials duty to protect citizens by:
- Changing the zoning of the existing Camp Road properties to C zoning to prevent any future proposals of similar nature
- Refusing to apply taxpayer dollars to either the asphalt company or other holdings of the family of the asphalt company
- Refusing to allow a “fast track” process to move forward with another site for the asphalt plant
We strongly recommend that you contact the office of Jim Shaw (Facebook, Town Website) to voice any of your concerns or questions to his office as his office is in charge of making the decision on any potential settlements in regards to this project. It is important to note that he is up for election in the coming year and that he should be held accountable for any decisions made due to this.
We want to be clear that we do not wish ill will against the family proposing the asphalt plant or their businesses, but rather want them to be transparent, honest and involved in the community. We are aware that the site owner of the asphalt plant had proposed a mixed used development years ago that would have changed the zoning to C (commercial) and placed a hotel and other mixed use properties on those adjoining parcels. While we oppose the town granting any public monies to fund this project, we do suggest that both the town and village should reconsider their stance which denied the rezoning and approval of that project, regardless if the current family retains ownership of the parcels or not. This would be an amicable resolution for all parties and would make rational sense as it allows the family to hopefully monetize their property and contribute to the local tax base while citizens would not have to deal with the fallout of the asphalt plant that could be in their backyards.