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Oct 21 2014 State DEC says Manlius village should be lead agency for proposed fire station project

First Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 -8:29 a.m.

— The disagreement between the village of Manlius and the town of Manlius over which municipality should be the lead agency to create the proposed new fire station at the corner of Enders Road and Route 92 last week received some direction from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which issued an opinion in favor of the village.

“Based on my finding that the village has the broadest governmental powers to investigate the impacts of the proposed action by virtue of its control over all aspects of design, construction and operation of the proposed fire station,” the village was designated to serve as lead agency on the fire station project, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens wrote in his official opinion dated Oct. 14 and delivered to both the village and town of Manlius governments last Friday.

Both town and village officials have been waiting for the DEC decision to come down since the village asked the state environmental agency to make a ruling on the issue in early August. The fire station project, which has been in the works for years but has been stalled throughout 2014 as the two municipalities argued, could not move forward until a municipal agency was declared to be the “lead agency” — or in charge — in terms of the state-mandated environmental impact review process of the project (State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQR).

“I’m relieved that a decision was finally made so that we know now that we can move forward, the direction we have to move forward to start getting the project back underway,” said Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall. “We will work closely with the town and we will do what we have to do that’s required of us with the SEQR review. We’re not going to exclude the town in letting them know what we’re going to do.”

— Manlius Town Supervisor Ed Theobald, on the other hand, said the town board was “somewhat surprised” and “disappointed” that the DEC determined the village should have lead agency status “over property that is outside the village. As the project proposed would serve town and village residents alike and provide a very important public service that the village has clearly determined is needed, the issue is the location and the potential adverse effects on traffic, neighborhood, nearby community character and similar effects addressed by zoning and environmental review laws and regulations.”

The village has spent nearly seven years — and more than $440,000 — working to improve the fire station situation by building one new, state-of-the art station to replace the two outdated stations currently in use. The new station would be an approximately 20,000 square feet building on a 4.1 acre parcel on land to be purchased by the village — although the land is outside the village limits and in the town. The new station would become the hub for all Manlius fire personnel.

The proposal for a single, consolidated station was announced last September, but from January to June this year discussions between village and town officials had stalled. The village board then in June voted unanimously to declare its “municipal sovereignty” from the town and to seek immunity from town regulations as they worked to bring the fire station project to fruition.

The town and village have been at odds over the project ever since.

In his Oct. 14 designation, Martens wrote that he based his lead agency decision on three criteria: the anticipated impacts of the project, which agency had the broadest governmental powers to investigate the impacts of the proposed project and which agency had the greatest capability to provide the most thorough environmental assessment of the proposed project.

— Martens wrote that the first and third criteria apply equally to both village and town, but the second criteria — which agency has the broadest governmental powers to investigate the impacts of the proposed project — Martens found that the village had the broadest authority.

“The village has the greatest ability to change, add and even delete project elements to avoid or reduce such impacts through its control of location, design and finance,” Martens wrote. “The village is in the best position not merely to identify but also to ensure implementation of any measures necessary to avoid or minimize potential impacts from the construction of the proposed fire station as they may be revealed during the environmental review. The village has direct authority over site selection, construction and administration of the proposed facility.”

While Martens clarified one aspect of the fire station argument, he refused to clarify a second one — which municipality has zoning jurisdiction over the land. Martens stated that the land for the proposed fire station may need a zone change in order to allow its use for the fire station. While he acknowledged that the town claims jurisdictional authority and the village claims governmental immunity from zoning, he stated that he accepted both claims as legitimate “for purposes of resolving this dispute.”

For now, the village board will immediately start to move forward on the project, Whorrall said, starting with a fire station committee meeting on Tuesday night, Oct. 21, which occurred after press time, and consultation with the village attorney.

As for the village and town working together to bring the fire station to fruition, Whorrall said, “We’re willing to work with them if they’re willing to work with us. But if they do something I feel is not in the best interests of the people in this community for the best fire service, then I will make other responses.”

— Theobald offered similar sentiments.

“We will continue to try and resolve this amicably with the village, which, by the way, we were working on meeting with to have further discussions with before receiving any word back from the DEC,” Theobald said. “The town board had reserved decision on the jurisdictional issue of application of the town zoning, but now is somewhat ‘boxed in’ and we likely have to proceed by asserting our own jurisdiction. If we do not take these steps we would be disregarding our responsibilities as representatives to our town residents.”

Jason Emerson is editor of the Eagle Bulletin. He can be reached at


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First Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 -11:42 a.m

Manlius town board and zoning board members discuss disagreement with village over lead agency status for proposed new fire station


— Town of Manlius government leaders said last week the village of Manlius is squeezing them out of the planning process for the proposed new fire station at the corner of Enders Road and Route 92, even though the site of the new station is entirely outside the village.

The Manlius town board and town zoning board of appeals held a joint public meeting last week about the issue and, after receiving information and guidance from the town attorney, both agreed to consider the situation and make decisions about project jurisdiction at their respective upcoming meetings.

The town and village have been at odds over the project since the village board unanimously passed resolutions in late June declaring their “municipal sovereignty” from the town and seeking immunity from town regulations as they try to bring the fire station project to fruition. While the village is charged with providing fire protection to the town, the land for the proposed station is on town land.

“This has to do with the sovereignty of the process,” said Manlius Town Supervisor Ed Theobald. “We do want to make this work, but we want to do it the right way.”

“The concern is, why wouldn’t the town board have jurisdiction over this like any other project in the town?” said town attorney Steve Primo.

Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall, who attended the meeting but did not speak, said the next day, “I took away from the meeting exactly why, after six months, there is no inter-municipal agreement. If it’s going to be this long and arduous climate, couldn’t they just turn around and say it’s not appropriate to build the fire station there? That’s exactly our concern.”

Until one of the municipalities — either the village or the town — is declared the “lead agency” in terms of the state-mandated environmental impact review process of the project (State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQR), the project cannot get started.


The village has spent nearly seven years — and more than $440,000 — working to improve the fire station situation.

Manlius currently has two fire stations, station 1, which is located on Stickley Drive, and station 2, on Pompey Center Road. The village spent six years — from 2007 to 2013 — investigating the possibility of renovating both fire stations due to the deteriorating conditions and lack of sufficient facilities, such as restrooms, cleaning facilities, bunk rooms and overall handicapped accessibility. Both stations have issues that require remediation to ensure the “health and safety” of emergency personnel, Whorrall has said.

After numerous studies and much deliberation, the village Fire Facilities Committee decided to take the plans of what was needed at the two stations and combined them into one 20,000-square-foot building, which is proposed to be located at the corner of Enders Road and Route 92.

The new station would become the hub for all Manlius fire personnel, and the proposed location would be right in the middle of the Manlius fire district, which reaches south into the town of Pompey and as far east as the border of the town of Sullivan. The location would not only be more central in terms of response time to emergencies, but also for emergency responders to reach the station when they are called to respond to a situation, Whorrall said.

The proposal for a single, consolidated station was announced last September.

The village has been paying the landowner, Walrus Enterprises, $1,000 a month to hold the four-acre property at Enders and Route 92 for the village. That contract expired at the end of August, and the village had hoped to hold a village referendum on bonding for the new fire station before that expiration, but no vote occurred because the village and town could not come to an inter-municipal agreement. As a result of the six-month delay and the need to move the project forward, the village board voted unanimously on June 24 to declare its municipal sovereignty from the town.

On July 1, the mayor and village clerk were invited to the town board’s regular meeting to discuss the village’s position. Town Supervisor Ed Theobald said afterward that the town board still had “major concerns” about the issue, and would make a decision by the end of July. The town board never made an official decision, but it did vote to object to the village’s application for lead agency status under the SEQR, and sent a letter to the state Department of Environmental Conservation stating its objection.

In the meantime, the village’s contract with Walrus Enterprises expired, although it has been extended while this issue continues, Whorrall said.

Joint meeting

At the joint town board and zoning board of appeals meeting last week, Primo told the two assembled boards that the purpose of the meeting was to make a determination as to the town’s jurisdiction in the fire station proposal, specifically as to the village’s assertion of sovereign immunity and exemption from town regulations. He said the board also had to decide whether the project should be allowed to go forward without the town being named lead agency for SEQR review.

Primo said the boards needed to discuss the “balancing test” criteria as related to one municipality declaring sovereignty from another for a specific project, and laid out nine criteria as set forth in the main legal precedent case on the issue, Monroe County v. City of Rochester, from 1988. Those criteria included items such as considering alternate project locations, alternate methods to provide project improvement, impact on legitimate local interests and the extent of inter-governmental participation in the project.

“The procedural law is not that clear” to help make a determination in this case, Primo said. “It is somewhat confusing and it is unique.”

Primo said that from his perspective, once the village adopted its June resolution of sovereign immunity, the town does not even have “involved agency” status in project planning and zoning decisions. “We’re looking for some give-back,” he said.

Other town board members agreed.

Councilor Nicholas Marzola said the town board is concerned about having “at least some say and standing in the process,” and having an opportunity to review all the necessary project information and studies.

Councilor John Loeffler said there is a concern that, while the SEQR process is always the same, different boards can reach different outcomes in how they answer the SEQR questions based on their specific concerns. He said the boards’ decision was about what was the “right process” and “best approach” to the question of whether the village or the town is the lead agency for SEQR review and, ultimately, chooses how the process is administered and accomplished.

Theobald said he had heard from town constituents that because the proposed fire station is on town property the town should be named lead agency and the project should go through the town zoning and planning process.

“There are checks and balances here — there are due diligence issue by us, the town board,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to make this work, but we must do it correctly and do it together.”

Village attorney Matt Kerwin told the joint meeting that the village is “committed to this project and sees it as crucial to improve and maintain emergency services in the village and town alike.” He said the village board is dedicated to working together with the town. “I think there’s a solution to be found here among everyone,” he said.

Ultimately, the state DEC will make a determination as to who the lead agency will be for the fire station project, Whorrall said, although he has no idea which way the DEC may decide to go.

If the DEC chooses the village as lead agency, they will work together with the town board on the project; if the DEC chooses the town to lead, then the village board will have to discuss that decision with its attorney and decide the best way to move forward, Whorrall said.

“We will work with [the town], as we have all along; we’ve never left them,” he said. “What they’re willing to do, we don’t know.”

As to why the village and town are arguing over this if the DEC is making the decision anyway, Manlius Village Clerk Martha Dygert said it is her understanding that if the town disputes the lead agency issue now, then if the DEC chooses the village the town can challenge that decision in court and dispute the village’s claim that the town is not an involved agency.

The two town boards agreed to consider the issue further and vote as boards at their next respective meetings. The next ZBA meeting is Thursday, Sept. 18, while the next town board meeting is on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Eagle Bulletin. He can be reached at or at 434-8889 ext. 335.

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Manlius, N.Y. – Manlius police are asking for the public’s help in their investigation of a fire Thursday at The Beverage Outlet recycling center, 312 Fayette St., in the Village of Manlius.

The call came in about 6:30 p.m. It took firefighters about 50 minutes to put out the fire in the building that was filled with plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, said Manlius Fire Chief Paul Whorral. The fire traveled through the building's false roof, he said.

Nobody was injured, he said.

Fire investigators from Onondaga County Emergency Management are investigating the fire, Manlius police said.

Police ask that anyone with information call 682-2212, or 682-8673.


Our 2014 Every 15 Minutes Program has now concluded. We truly hope this has a positive impact on the 11th and 12th graders in attendance. A big thank you to all who had a part in presenting this worthwhile program. Article Article

The Fire and EMS personnel from the Manlius and Fayetteville Fire departments, the Town of Manlius Police Department, staff from Upstate Hospital, Mercy Flight Helicopter, Newell-Fay Funeral Home, and the Manlius Village Court will be participating in a 2 day event that will show the Junior and Senior Class Students at Fayetteville-Manlius High School about all of the facets and consequences of a drinking and driving related incident. The program is titled "Every 15 Minutes". Good luck to everyone are helping to make a lasting impact on these kids!
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