ALBANY: On February 21, at the Polish Community Center on Washington Avenue Extension in the Pine Bush, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation held a “scoping” hearing on the proposed landfill expansion in the Pine Bush. Over 250 people attended; there was standing room only.
Scoping hearings are held to determine the what topics should be covered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Usually, these hearings are pro forma, and not many people attend. Perhaps it was because Save the Pine Bush volunteers distributed over 2000 flyers to neighborhood businesses and residents that so many people attended. How else were people to find out about the hearing, unless Save the Pine Bush volunteers publicized it?
In the City of Albany’s proposed Scoping document, which lists the topics the City believes should be covered, the City said, “Odor control has been an issue for residents in the past . . .[emphasis added].” Save the Pine Bush volunteers were astounded that the City said that odor control was a problem in the past, but did not identify the smell as a current problem. Obviously, the City did not talk to anyone living in the vicinity of the landfill!
Most people attending the hearing wanted to express their oppostion to the proposed expansion. Many people held signs that simply said “No” (signs provided by Save the Pine Bush volunteers).
Department of Environmenal Conservation Hearing officer William Clarke kept a tight control on the hearing. Though he tried to get people to put away their signs, many people held them during the hearing.
Fifty people spoke at the scoping session. Only one person spoke in favor of expanding the landfill, and everyone else spoke against an expansion.
Many people spoke about the stench and how it affects the quality of their life. Many people cannot enjoy their backyards or sit on their porches. People need to keep their windows shut in the summer time. Some people expressed concerns about family health problems and wondered whether these problems were caused by the landfill.
Save the Pine Bush volunteers sold t-shirts to attendees. The deep, royal blue t-shirts with white lettering made an excellent visual for the TV cameras.
Three weeks after the scoping hearing, Save the Pine Bush called a meeting to discuss legal options availbable to residents who live with the stink of the landfill. Mayor of the Village of Colonie, Frank Leak, offered the Village of Colonie Family Recreation Center for the meeting. Over 300 people attended the meeting—there were not enough chairs for all.
Save the Pine Bush lawyer, Peter Henner, discussed legal options available to residents. Residents who have been harmed by the landfill can sue the City of Albany for damages. Harm can range from be not enjoying the use of one’s home because of the foul odor to people losing property value to suffering from health effects caused by the stench of the landfill.
People who are interested in a lawsuit may contact their own lawyer or contact Peter Henner by phone at 518/768-8232, write to him at PO Box 326, Clarksville NY 12041 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynne Jackson, volunteer for Save the Pine Bush said, “The City of Albany cannot control odors from the landfill. People cannot be expected to live with such a stink. It is our duty as environmentalists to assist neighbors affected by the landfill to learn about their legal rights and options to sue the City for damages.”