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Amenia upholds zoning, again rejects Compost operation

by Antonia Shoumatoff
Mon May 23rd, 2016

Tempers flared during a heated meeting on a composting operation that had already been turned down once.  Mr. Anthony Bulfamonte attempted to persuade the board with inducements to reopen his application to rezone for a composting operation on Route 22 in a residential neighborhood near Rte. 343.  The vote was 4 to 1 at a previous town board meeting in February.   

Mr. Bulfamante reappeared with an unsolicited hydrology report and made a hard sell for his proposed operation saying he would put in a rubber liner, spend large amounts of money pumping out and removing leachate, and even offerred to “pay back part of our profits to the Town from product revenue of the composted product.  We would be making a very large investment in your town.  Silo Ridge will need my product and I have approached them about selling my product to them and buying a property there.”  

Bulfamante said “I would like another chance to have my business be considered.  I understood from the last meeting water was an issue, now that I have done an expensive study, I want the facility to be opened. My investment will improve the town.”

The town’s zoning laws do not allow any solid waste operations, unless they are town owned and operated, and thus the decision to deny the application had to do with not wanting to set a zoning precedent as well as not wanting a solid waste operation in a residential neighborhood where large numbers of residents did not want it.

 “While there would possibly be 8-10 jobs created for the Bulfamante project, the questions about the effect of this project on the aquifer, property values, noise, odor, truck traffic, and the general quality of life to the neighboring property owners far outweigh the promise of a few more jobs,” explained Supervisor Victoria Perotti, after the meeting.

Regarding Bulfalmante, Vicki Doyle read a letter from the CAC: “Last night, at our monthly meeting, the CAC reviewed the Bulfamonte composting proposal including their hydrology report.  Our opposition to this project remains unchanged and we strongly advise the Town Board to remain steadfast to their original 4-1 rejection of the same.”  

Mike DeLango, who had cast the only vote for the project, said he felt the town is holding back business.  “No one wants to develop in this town because you have made it so difficult.  The youth are leaving, we are strangling the businesses that want to come into this area.” 

 “If we had voted to do the zoning text amendment, then the project would be able to go to the state review stage.  Who are we to spend his money?   Why can’t this project go to a discovery phase? This man does not have to ask our permission to file an application. Why can’t we do a text amendment to the zoning? ” DeLango asked. 

The town attorney, Denise Fitzpatrick, answered him saying “Because it is not allowed in our zoning. There was no zoning text amendment before the board to approve.  There was a comprehensive plan adopted by the town board, about where you want to see what kind of development.  When you are talking about amendments you have to look at those zones. And this kind of use is not even allowed in any zone.”

Mr. DeLango practically became apoplectic when the town lawyer told him that it was against town board code of conduct for him to interrupt her.  He postulated “You are on my dime, I am paying you and you have to do what I say.”

A free-for-all then broke out on the floor with a spokesperson for a contingent from Tally Ho saying to Mr. Bulfamante “I heard you say after the meeting last time when you were voted down that you thought we are all stupid.  Well, guess what, we are not stupid, we just want growth to come in the right way.  We are not hicks from the sticks.”

DeLango said “I think this town is going the wrong way.  It’s wrong for these Tally Ho people to threaten not to re-elect us if they don’t like our opinions.”

“But that’s what democracy is all about, we live in America,” said Sharon Kroeger, and everyone clapped.

Victoria Perotti took another vote to uphold the zoning: “Does the board want to entertain this application or uphold the vote as it stands.  We took a vote, 4-1 to not allow the text amendment to the current zoning law.  We do not have another application from Mr. Bulfamante.  He has done another study to try to get us to change our mind.  We already voted not to change the zoning. ”
After the town rejected the application again, 4 to 1, Mr. Bulfamante, his lawyer, his engineer and his hydrologist all left the room.

When asked about the turbulent and angry discussion, Victoria Perotti said: “We have a code of conduct resolution for public comment which includes everyone but some board members choose to ignore it.”

The subject was then changed by Pedro Torres, a principal at Silo Ridge, who talked about “Laughing Water, the Silo Ridge water fall.”

In other news, Vicki Doyle met with the Cosmo Design Factory to come up with an alternative design for the entrance to the Trail to the Train.  They applied for and received a $2,500 grant through the Wassaic Project.  The design will be reviewed and incorporated into the final design by WSP Sells.

The town is applying for a tax payer stabilization relief grant through Dutchess Count for $200,000 to assist with the funding for the town’s $1.1 million boiler. The grant is designed to assist projects that are ready to go. 

Hudson River Housing wants to partner with Amenia to write a grant and manage it to upgrade and renovate houses in downtown Amenia as well as funding for more streetscaping.