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Fight over Finger Lakes trash incinerator going to court

Circular enerG
WRVO News File Photo
A rendering of the potential trash incinerator facility that Circular enerG hopes to build in Seneca County.

A controversial trash incinerator project in the Finger Lakes is headed to court. The company trying to build the $365 million facility, Rochester-based Circular enerG, is asking a judge to void a decision by the town of Romulus' zoning board that would stop its construction.

Romulus' zoning officer determined back in 2017 that the waste-to-energy facility is a renewable energy project, a certification Circular enerG needs to move it forward. But that decision was challenged this year by a Romulus resident who claimed the trash incinerator would emit toxins that would harm his health and the resale value of his home.

The town's Zoning Board of Appeals granted that appeal, which Circular enerG attorney Alan Knauf told WRVO in an earlier interview was an illegal attempt to stop the project.

"Under state law it's classified as renewable energy and under federal law it's been classified as such, but they changed their definitions to say, 'Oh this is not renewable energy, so it's not allowed,'" Knauf said.

Knauf has filed a suit against Romulus and its Zoning Board of Appeals claiming the appeal was not made in time, the resident's concerns are unfounded and that waste to energy facilities are classified as renewable energy under New York state law.

Romulus' town lawyer Patrick Morrell says they plan to defend the board's actions. 

The trash incinerator has picked up opposition in recent weeks from prominent New York politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.