Bitter debate over salt

Swatting mosquitoes with shotguns rarely works. That's what a national company is learning as it applies for a special use permit to move its bulk salt oper-ation from one side of the Rotterdam Industrial Park to another.

What seemed like a routine application before town planning commissioners turned complicated, and commissioners remained unconvinced after hours of lobbying by the firm's representatives. They declined to assume lead agency status for the permit, an important first step in such matters.

Riccelli Enterprises, a Syracuse-based company, last week asked the town's planning commission to issue a permit to move from Lot 5, which they have leased for the last five years from The Galesi Group.

Riccelli's seven-man contingent argued more than two hours for issuance of the permit.

The salt company's lawyer, Frederick Micale, brought six witnesses with him to bolster the company's case.

\It is a safe, non-hazardous operation that has operated without incident, Micale said, adding that Riccelli Enterprises has added many jobs, and millions of dollars in revenue, to Rotterdam over the years. "Denying this application has no basis in law. It would also have an adverse effect if it forced Riccelli to leave this community, which would be unfortunate."

When asked afterward if "case" implied possible or pending litigation, Micale said he was referring to the special permit application.

"We have a lot of concerns," planning commission chairman Lawrence DiLallo said after the meeting, noting the new site will hold a salt pile three times as large as its existing one. "They're doing their best to try to address our concerns, but they have a lot of work to do."

DiLallo said the town has asked Riccelli to look at alternate sites, but the company replied that it is hard to find suitable sites for its operation.

Complicating matters is the push to complete the ongoing Railex project that proponents say will employ 300 people.

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