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Hamburg orders full environmental impact study of planned asphalt company

Mike Desmond
It was a full house at Monday's Planning Board meeting.

The fight over a proposed asphalt plant in Hamburg took another turn Monday night, as the Hamburg Planning Board ordered a full environmental impact statement on the project.

The project has been controversial since AL Asphalt applied to make asphalt on a site on Camp Road used by owners of the company to make concrete and concrete products. The property is zoned for this type of manufacturing and that is a core issue in a lawsuit filed against the Planning Board, claiming it had to approve the plan because of zoning.

At Monday's meeting, Planning Board member Augie Geraci read the legal findings explaining the EIS and concluded with the resolved.          

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
The Hamburg Planning Board postponed the proposed asphalt project again due to resident opposition.

"That the Hamburg Planning Board hereby issues a positive declaration and authorizes the Planning Board chairman to sign the EAS, which will act as the SEQR positive declaration and be it further resolved that the Hamburg Planning Board will begin the EIS process once the applicant submits the draft scoping document," Geraci said.

Asphalt plant lawyer Corey Auerbach said he is expecting a court decision within weeks on his lawsuit against the Planning Board, claiming illegal delay. He said the board should have approved the plan and focused on the site plan for the project.

"We have a use that is expressly permitted in the district where it's located, subject only to site plan review," Auerbach said. "The SEQR regulations make clear that for an action of this size, it is a Type 2 action which ends enviromental review or is not subject to environmental review. So that's why we have been asking all throughout to have our site plan reviewed and approved because we have demonstrated that we meet the standards and law for entitlement."

Town resident Heather Jackson said it is a bad project in the wrong place.

"Just because it has been okay in the past doesn't mean that we are going to keep that okay," Jackson said. "We are a village and a town that has been coasting on progress for the last decade and we don't need to go backwards. We don't need to use archaic zoning codes in order to make sure that the area continues to be industrial."

Many of those opposed to the asphalt plant argue fumes from the plant would not be healthy, and they would blow off the site and into a surrounding area of homes, a nursing home, offices and Hamburg schools.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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