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Shelby seeks to join Orleans lawsuit against STAMP sewer discharge into Oak Orchard

By Tom Rivers
stamp sewer
A sewer main is shown along Route 63 in the Town of Alabama in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. The Town of Shelby wants to join an Orleans County lawsuit against the sewer construction in Orleans County and the discharge of treated wastewater into Oak Orchard Creek.  
Photo by Tom Rivers

The Town Board, in a 4-1 vote this evening, decided it wants to join an Orleans County lawsuit that seeks to stop construction of a sewer main along Route 63 from the STAMP manufacturing site in Alabama to the Oak Orchard Creek in Shelby.

Orleans County on Sept. 11, filed suit in State Supreme Court to stop a sewer line from coming into the Town of Shelby and depositing up to 6 million gallons of what Orleans says is “contaminated” water into the Oak Orchard Creek.

The county alleges that the Genesee County Economic Development Center formed a “sham corporation” in STAMP Sewer Works to make the 9.5-mile-long sewer main happen.

Orleans officials worry the sewer discharge could impair the water quality of the creek, cause flooding and hurt economic development opportunities at the Medina Business Park.

Scott Wengewicz, Shelby town supervisor, said he agrees with the concerns voiced by the county in opposing STAMP.

Shelby will spell out its reasons for objecting to the project when it files a notice to intervene with State Supreme Court Justice Sanford Church. The judge has set a court date for Oct. 23 at the County Courthouse in Albion for the initial hearing in the Orleans lawsuit. He also has issued the preliminary injunction to not allow any sewer main construction in Orleans County until the arguments are presented in court.

Kathy Bennett, the Shelby attorney, said the town has “a right to have at seat at the table” in court and any other discussions about the project.

“We are clearly an interested party,” she said after this evening’s Town Board meeting.

Ed Zelazny, a town councilman, cast the lone vote against seeking to join the lawsuit. Zelazny said the Town Board previously voted in support of the STAMP Sewer Works. That was in a 5-0 vote on Oct. 13, 2020, when Shelby provided its consent to the forming of STAMP Sewer Works.

Zelazny said the Town Board should have demanded money to ease town taxes as part of the vote, and the board members then should have stated their concerns about the impact on the Oak Orchard.

Zelazny said he doesn’t want to see the town commit to spending taxpayer dollars on another lawsuit.

Bennett, the town attorney, said the vote from the Town Board about three years ago was only for the formation of STAMP Sewer Works and didn’t give Shelby’s blessing to discharge wastewater from STAMP into the Oak Orchard.

STAMP would send up to 6 million gallons a day at full capacity. The first two tenants at STAMP – Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum – would have a daily discharge of 50,000 gallons of treated wastewater, GCEDC said.

Story courtesy Orleans Hub

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