Niagara Gazette

October 28, 2013

Lewiston Town Board votes to pay legal bill over CWM expansion fight

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

LEWISTON — Results of Monday's Lewiston Town Board meeting may not be exactly what environmentalist groups and residents may have wanted, but an outstanding bill is set to be paid.

Councilman Ernie Palmer said an $18,000 payment Niagara County says the town owes in fighting the proposed expansion of Chemical Waste Management is approved to be paid, pending the receipt of an actual bill from the county.

He said making sure the account balance is zero heading in to 2014 is important, but that the town likely wouldn't be contributing anything more this year to the fight.

"We want to bring the account balance to zero," Palmer said. "We'll worry about next year, next year. It's only eight or nine weeks away."

In 2006, the town entered into an agreement with Niagara County to retain the services of environmental attorney Gary Abraham, an Allegany-based lawyer, to legally fight any expansion of the disposal site for chemical waste located in the vicinity of the Lewiston-Porter school district buildings.

Since then, the town contributed $50,000 in legal fees to the fight in both 2007 and 2009, but hasn't been asked by the county to pay anything further, according to officials.

Earlier this month, the board voted to set aside at least half of its outside attorney reserve account to fund the legal fight in 2014. Next year's budget is not expected to be complete until late next week, though, and the town could still decide not to fund the account.

In 2013's budget, the town set aside $100,000 in the line to pay for any outside consulting work needed from specialists aside from the everyday town attorney, Mark Davis. If the dollar amount holds true in 2014, the necessary $50,000 would be set aside to pay Abraham.

For more on this story, see Wednesday's Niagara Gazette.