ATHENS — State officials confirmed Thursday that the application for a proposed construction and demolition debris processing facility has been withdrawn.
The project, proposed by Athens Stevedoring & Environmental Development LLC, involved importing 8,400 tons of C&D materials each week to a 6.1-acre site off North Washington Street, according to the developer’s application to the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Jan. 3.
The materials would come from DEC Region 2, which is Long Island City, according to the application.
After processing in Athens, the materials would be exported by truck to locations in state Department of Environmental Conservation Region 3, which includes Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan, Orange, Putnam, Westchester and Rockland counties; Region 4, which includes Delaware, Greene, Columbia, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Albany, Schoharie, Montgomery and Otsego counties; Region 5, which includes Saratoga, Washington, Fulton, Hamilton, Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties; Region 6, which includes Oneida, Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties; and Region 7, which includes Oswego, Onondaga, Madison, Cortland, Cayuga, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome and Chenango counties, according to the application. The project required a Part 360 registration from DEC, but did not require a permit from the DEC and was not subject to state environmental quality review, according to DEC.
Local officials and activists rejoiced with Thursday’s news.
“I’m elated,” Village Trustee Joshua Lipsman said Friday. “It’s one less thing to worry about.”
The village board had several concerns about the project, Lipsman said.
“We were concerned about the end of quality of life here in the village as we know it and all of [the] plans and hopes for future development of village were looking like they were going to be sabotaged by the project,” he said. “Now that can all come back on the table.”
The village is in the midst of updating its 13-year-old comprehensive plan, resubmitting an application for a Brownfield Opportunity Area and has aspirations to update its Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan and become a Climate Smart Community, Lipsman said.
“All of those things severely would be hampered or impaired if the C&D project went through,” he said. “We are beside ourselves with happiness. I find this tiny bit of good news amidst [COVID-19] extraordinarily uplifting.”
The village announced the Athens Stevedoring’s withdrawal on its website.
“Thanks to all who got involved and made their opposition to this project known,” according to the website. “But we’d especially like to thank the good people at Keep it Greene and Friends of Athens who worked so hard to bring this matter to the attention of local government on every level. We have no doubt that the diligence of these two organizations combined with opposition from the community was instrumental in pushing back this existential threat to our village.”
Mayor Stephan Bradicich echoed similar remarks in a release from Keep it Greene, a local environmental activist group.
“I am very proud of how our entire community came together to make their voices heard,” Bradicich said. “I have no doubt that the large and unified opposition to this project played a large part in stopping the effort.”
Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay also credited community engagement.
“The system worked here because these communities got the facts and got active,” Gallay said. “This should give everyone in the Hudson River watershed the confidence to fight misbegotten projects like these in their own communities.”
Keep it Greene collaborated with several organizations and lawmakers in its efforts, according to the release.
“Keep It Greene worked with Friends of Athens, KingstonCitizens.org, Hudson Riverkeeper, and the Village of Athens Mayor and Board of Trustees to inform the community and encourage them to organize,” according to the release. “After an outpouring of support from the public — an online petition garnered over 2,000 signatures in only two weeks — and support from State Assemblymember Chris Tague (R) and Congressman Antonio Delgado (D), Athens Stevedoring withdrew its application and abandoned the project.”
The C&D processing facility comes in the wake of Wheelabrator Technologies proposing to construct an ash monofill in Catskill, trucking in 445,000 tons of waste per year from its incinerators. The project was withdrawn last June after public outrage. Another proposal from Peckham Industries in Catskill for a berm made of C&D materials is still underway.
Local geologist David Walker, of Catskill, is not surprised by these types of projects popping up in Greene County.
“There are idle quarries along the Hudson River awaiting some new purpose, and New York City is the source of an enormous C&D waste stream, which is twice the tonnage of its municipal waste,” Walker said. “With barging cheaper than trucking to transport tons of materials and the Hudson Valley located closer to New York City than alternative sites, such as Seneca Meadows or Rensselaer, the area has been — and will continue to be — targeted for many more of these projects.”