Press Release from NoBurnBroome
November 16, 2020
For contact to the Endicott residents in this lawsuit, contact: Ellen Connett, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more legal information about the lawsuit contact: Claudia Braymer, email@example.com
An Article 78* proceeding was brought against the Village of Endicott (VOE) on November 13, 2020, by several individual Petitioners who are supported by NoBurnBroome.
The six Petitioners own property in close proximity to the SungEel MCC Americas LLC proposed project that will use incineration in their process to recycle lithium-ion batteries. Their concerns are for the health of their children and families. One Petitioner has a pre-existing medical condition, and another owns a home that has an air ventilation system due to contamination of previous industrial toxic releases. Among the many other concerns are fires and explosions at the site, decreased property values, and the irreparable harm to the character of the neighborhood.
This Article 78 lawsuit challenges the legality of a new recycling zoning amendment passed on May 7, 2020 to clear the way for the SungEel project. Three VOE Board members (Jackson, Chapman, Konecny) approved the code against a backdrop of intense controversy. They also passed, and issued, “a negative declaration pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) to amend the Village zoning code to expand the uses allowed in the Village’s industrial zoning district to permit waste recycling facilities.”
As stated in the Article 78 Petition, the purpose of the zoning amendment was tailor-made to allow SungEel’s project to be sited in the Village. According to the lawsuit, this amendment “constitutes illegal spot zoning for the benefit of a single entity.”
Specifically, the Article 78 Petition lists the following reasons for the proceeding:
• “the Village Board’s haste to pass the proposed zoning amendment resulted in the Village Board failing to satisfy mandatory procedural requirements.”
• “the Village Board failed to undergo the required environmental assessment that should have taken place for a proposal such as this that has the potential to result in significant adverse environmental impacts.”
• “the amendment to the Village code must be annulled because it was not adopted in accordance with the law.”
• “the amendment must be annulled because the Village Board failed to comply with SEQRA in its purported environmental review of the proposed zoning amendment.”
• “Petitioners are, therefore, entitled to annulment of the Village Board’s amendment to the zoning code.”
On both May 3 and May 13, 2020, Claudia Braymer, the attorney representing the six Petitioners in the suit, wrote to Endicott’s Mayor and Trustees, on behalf of NoBurnBroome, stating many of the same concerns about the irregularities underpinning the recycling amendment as expressed in the Petitioners’ Article 78 Petition.
Attorney Braymer’s letters may have prompted the three board members to say publicly that they would vote to repeal the recycling amendment at a Village Board meeting. However, at an Endicott Board meeting on September 21, 2020 these 3 board members went back on their word and refused to rescind the law despite numerous attempts by the Village Attorney, Bob McKertich, to do so, and by Trustee Patrick Dorner. McKertich and Dorner’s appeals were refused and now the Village has to respond to the Article 78 lawsuit. In the Endicott board meeting minutes for September 21, 2020, there is no mention of the several different proposals that McKertich made to the three VOE trustees to persuade them tochange their mind.
NoBurnBroome will begin a fundraiser for the Petitioners to pay for their legal expenses with a dedicated GoFundMe account https://www.gofundme.com/f/environmental-lawsuit
NoBurnBroome is an ad hoc citizens’ group united for technologies that respect our health and our environment.
*An Article 78 proceeding is a New York State law that permits residents, wronged by a decision made by a government agency, to ask a judge to order that agency to do that which they are required to do by law. It’s called Article 78 because it can be found starting at Section 7801 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.