Vindicated and reinstated: Taylor Biomass is moving forward
After more than a year tied up in court, the Taylor Biomass project in the Town of Montgomery is seemingly back on track.
The project improves on its existing recycling facility with a state-of-the-art commercial sorting, separating, recycling and biomass gasification facility said to be capable of generating enough electricity to power about 20,000 single family homes. It has been touted as an innovative solution for the world’s management of the non-recyclable organic portion of the waste stream and was selected for a Department of Energy loan guarantee.
All of that slammed to a halt in 2011 when court proceedings, brought by its neighbor, Highview Estates, alleged that there had not been a proper environmental review. A subsequent Supreme Court decision in Highview Estates’ favor annulled the permits and approvals for the $134 million project.
Taylor, the Montgomery Town Board and the DEC all separately appealed the decision and one month later, were successful in obtaining a stay which reinstated the approvals pending the final decision on the appeal.
A third petition was then brought by Highview Estates, which was moved to the Ninth Judicial District, Environmental Claims Part (ECP). It challenged the Town Board’s determination that a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) was not necessary to address modifications to Phase III of the project.
The ECP has since issued a decision dismissing the proceeding, finding that the Town Board conducted a comprehensive review and correctly applied the law before deciding not to require an SEIS.
The Supreme Court decisions on the first two petitions have also recently been reversed on appeal, permanently reinstating all of the approvals and permits.
The Appellate Division found that the Town Board had properly reviewed the environmental impacts and stated in its decision that the “permits and approvals should not have been annulled.” The court also awarded costs against Highview Estates.
“In this case they’re pretty high,” said Charles Bazydlo, attorney for the Town of Montgomery, noting that Taylor had previously reimbursed the town for their costs.
Taylor’s attorneys have now filed a judgment against Highview Estates for costs totaling $41,164.11, with more than $40,000 of those costs associated with printing the records and briefs.
With the permits and approvals now back in place, the biomass gasification facility is one step closer to finally opening for business. Last May the plan was to have it up and running this April and open for business by August. Taylor was reluctant last week to release the updated timetable just yet, but admits things are looking up.
Taylor thanked the Town Board, NYSDEC and NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for their “tireless efforts in defending the legality and propriety of their respective approvals,” and added that his company was “proud to have assisted in this effort and gratified that the correct result was reached.”
By RACHEL COLEMAN