Press Release July 25, 2005
Statement of the Village Board
Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Concerning Legal Proceedings
Brought by Metro Enviro Transfer LLC and Greentree Realty, LLC
On January 27, 2003, after a long series of hearings and investigations, the Village Board voted to terminate the operations of the Metro Enviro Transfer LLC solid waste transfer station. Metro Enviro immediately instituted a lawsuit, and on February 19, 2003, Justice Francis Nicolai of the New York State Supreme Court granted the lawsuit and enjoined the closure. This decision was reversed by the Appellate Division on May 10, 2004. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division and reinstated the Village Board’s action on July 6, 2005. Both appellate courts found that the Village Board had ample basis in the record for finding that Metro Enviro’s repeated willful violations of its special permit
posed a threat to public health and the environment.
On July 18, 2005, the Village Board directed Metro Enviro to close by July 23. Once again Metro Enviro immediately sued. After hearing oral arguments from both sides on July 21, Justice Nicolai once again enjoined the closure order.
Justice Nicolai issued a temporary restraining order to allow the Village’s lawyers to submit papers and to give himself time to consider the arguments raised. He also ordered Metro Enviro to post a $25,000 bond. The Village’s papers are due on Thursday, July 28. Metro Enviro has until August 5 to respond. After that, Justice Nicolai has indicated he will have the lawyers appear before him again, and he then will issue his decision.
The Village’s attorneys are actively considering a number of legal options. One of them would be an expedited appeal to the Appellate Division in the event that Justice Nicolai issues a preliminary injunction or otherwise rules for the plaintiffs.
The principal difference between this lawsuit and the one started in 2003 is that, this time, the plaintiffs are not only Metro Enviro, but also its landlord, Greentree Realty, LLC, which is co-owned by the Estate of James Hickey. Greentree alleges that its property rights are impaired by the Village’s actions. Metro Enviro and Greentree are also seeking $50 million, plus interest, in unspecified damages from the Village.
The Village’s attorneys believe that there are numerous fatal defects in the lawsuit. Among them are that the suit is barred by the prior rulings of the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals; the suit is barred by the statute of limitations, since the Village Board’s decision not to renew Metro Enviro’s special permit was taken in January 2003 and the claims must have been brought within four months; that the plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies; and that, on the merits, Metro Enviro and Greentree have no rights to continue operation of the facility.
The Village Board is disappointed that once again its attempts to close the facility have been thwarted. However, the Village Board is optimistic that either Justice Nicolai or the appellate courts will ultimately allow the closure order to take effect. The Village Board vows to carry on this fight with vigor and resolve in fulfillment of its obligations to the health, safety and environment of the Village.