Moreau protesters oppose Biochar facility

Protesters opposed to the proposed Biochar project gathered Friday in Moreau. 
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Protesters opposed to the proposed Biochar project gathered Friday in Moreau. 

MOREAU- Protesters gathered Friday in opposition to the proposed Saratoga Biochar Solutions manufacturing facility.

Local residents opposed to the project met at the intersection of Routes 9G and 32 Friday afternoon. About three dozen protesters waved signs at passing cars opposing the proposed carbon fertilizer manufacturing facility which would be built in the industrial park.

The project has become a topic of controversy at recent town planning board meetings with some residents and board members voicing concerns about potential environmental impacts of the project, and potential noise traffic and odor issues .

“We’re here to raise a little bit of awareness to the Biochar factory that’s proposed to come to town,” said protester and local resident Kevin Ostrander. “Its a funny thing, I’m not so much against having business in town, just the way the process is going. I was able to go to the last planning board meeting, it seemed a bit unorganized, and a bit rushed. As a resident I back up

“I live next to the industrial park,” said protester Kevin Ostrander. “I’m concerned about it. I have a little farm there and I’m concerned about my health quite honestly.”

Ostrander called the planning board meeting earlier this month “unorganized and a “bit rushed.” Like many who gathered Friday he said potential health issues from the project were a concern.

“There’s so many contaminants out there that are getting into our wells,” protester Rev. Patti Girard said. “You breathe it in and there’s so many people suffering from cancer. Glens Falls, South Glens Falls, Moreau, this whole area, cancer. And its coming from someplace, and a lot of times its through our wells. I don’t believe anything they are saying about this place because they want it built.”

Protesters Tammi and Bill Allen said they live less than one mile from where the proposed project would be.

“It doesn’t sound like its been very well thought out,” Bill Allen said. “They are talking about a procedure that’s never been tried before in New York. There was no mention until the other day that there may be atomic waste they told us. I don’t believe the town has the purview to accept atomic waste.”

Protester Peter Bondziski and several family members, who live right next to where the proposed facility would be. He said he has a lot of different concerns about the proposed project

“We’re concerned about every part of it,” Bondziski said. “We’re concerned about the traffic, we’re concerned about the noise, we’re concerned about the smell, we’re concerned about the toxicity of it, that is a big question mark. You have a company that has never done this before. They put out different numbers. And there’s practically no supervision of this. The DEC has seemed to washed their hands of it because they have never overseen this in New York State.

The proposed facility would be able to produce carbon fertilizer from biosolids delivered to the manufacturing plant at a rate of 720 tons per day in a new 34,100 sq ft building according to project documents.

Earlier this month the planning board opted to take an additional 45 days to review the project’s documents, supporting materials and information in order to formulate its decision. At the meeting the applicant’s attorney Charles Dumas spoke and said that the project was already approved in accordance with the towns code. He had explained the application had been submitted long ago and the time for the town to take the 45 days had passed.

“The protest is unfortunate, the project has already been tacitly approved by rule of law,” CEO of Saratoga Biochar Solutions LLC Ray Apy said Friday morning. “The planning board will complete its process and reconvene in August I assume to conduct a final vote on it but their timeline to do so already passed so its more of a formality now.”

Apy believes the people opposed to the project are not in the majority in the town. He explained there is another group in town who is also putting out lawn signs showing support of the project. Dozens of laws signs from those opposing and from those supporting the project can be seen throughout the Moreau area.

“The protest consists of, I would estimate, less than 1% of the Moreau population,” Apy said. “At this time there is another movement that’s growing in Moreau and its actually called “Yes Moreau” as opposed to “Not Moreau” and its a group of citizens and business owners that would prefer to see business growth in Moreau and believe in the project.”

“So you’ll see a protest of a small group of people but I believe you’re also going to see another group, probably a much larger group, organizing in support because they would like to see Moreau Industrial Park put to use,” Apy said. “They would like to see growth in Moreau, an increase in tax base, and bring in new business, and that’s what the town’s majority of the town wants. So I think what’s happening now is sort of a counter movement developing and its called “Yes Moreau.”

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