Saratoga Biochar prevails over Article 78 petition

Chronicle Staff Writer Zander Frost writes:

New York State Supreme Court Judge Richard A. Kupferman in Ballston Spa ruled Tuesday for Saratoga Biochar in the Article 78 Petition filed by the Clear Air Action Network of Glens Falls.

The suit challenged the Moreau Planning Board’s approval of the proposed plant in the town industrial park to convert solid waste into fertilizer.

The petition, which also named Saratoga Biochar CEO Ray Apy and the Town of Moreau Planning Board as respondents, alleged a series of problems with the Planning Board’s approval of the Biochar facility last year.

The project has substantial opposition.

Judge Kupferman issued two directives to the Planning Board. The petition was “denied in all other respects.”

First, the court said the Planning Board must correct a “scrivener’s error” from March 7, 2022 that said the board issued a “conditional negative declaration” instead of the “negative declaration” discussed at the meeting.

Second, in part, “prior to meeting with SBS [Saratoga Biochar] in advance of the construction of phases 2 and 3….obtain, review and analyze the readily available data, test results, and monitoring data regarding air emissions and wastewater discharges from the facility.”

“Our overwhelming sentiment was disappointment,” said Tracy Frisch, chair of the Clean Air Action Network. She said they will take “some time to analyze it and discuss our next steps.”

“There are numerous hurdles that Saratoga Biochar will need to overcome before the plant can be constructed. So that’s number one. It’s not a done deal,” she added.

“This is a company that has no track record running anything. And we remain confident of victory,” she said.

“Saratoga Biochar needs an air permit and a solid waste permit from DEC, and there will be a comment period and we’re going to be advocating for a public hearing,” she said. “So that’s one hurdle that they need to overcome.”

Saratoga Biochar Solutions praised “the Saratoga County Supreme Court’s thorough review of the extensive site plan application record compiled and reviewed by the Moreau Town Planning Board over the course of the one-year application review period.”

It added, “New York State faces tremendous difficulties with biosolids disposal, which the SBS facility is designed to alleviate.”

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