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Concerns aired at landfill forum

Village of Colonie Mayor Frank Leak sponsored a community forum Wednesday, April 22, that allowed area residents to air concerns about a proposed expansion of the Rapp Road landfill.

Residents from the Town of Colonie, the Village of Colonie and neighboring communities, including Guilderland and Ravena, used the forum to warn of the health hazards and smell associated with the landfill, and said an increase in birds around the landfill would pose a danger to aircraft.

Many also blasted what they called shortsighted economic planning regarding the proposed expansion.

Everyone has the right to live a free and healthy life, said Elaine Sacco, a Village of Colonie resident.

Some of the people attending the meeting asked for governmental oversight from health agencies to determine the safety of the landfill's expansion.

The landfill was first expanded in 1991. Since then it has grown twice, with the last expansion in February 1999.

The planned lateral expansion would cover close to 15 acres, with two of those acres falling in the "existing landfill operations area," and 13 of those acres in undeveloped, city-owned land to the northeast of the landfill, according to the Oct. 8 Department of Environmental Conservation environmental impact notice.

The expansion also includes plans for the restoration of neighboring wetlands, with the creation of 22.14 acres of new wetlands, as well as improvements in quality and function, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, to an additional 27.45 acres of existing wetlands.

Rick Georgeson, a spokesman for the DEC, said there are alternatives on the table that do not involve expanding into the wetlands.

The expansion, Georgeson said, could include going into federally protected wetlands, but not into designated Pine Bush Preserve land.

Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings' executive assistant Bob Van Amburgh said the mayor "inherited" the issue, and a DEC consent order to find a suitable place for area waste was already filed before the mayor took office. Van Amburgh said Jennings is looking for the best alternatives and technology to handle waste management, and the expansion would buy the administration much-needed time to do so.

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