An Endicott Village Board meeting on a battery recycling plant was a bigger attraction than Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime for 240 people sequestered in their homes Monday night.
Seated in their kitchens, living rooms and dens, the digital crowd joined five board members, their attorney and village manager in what substitutes for a municipal meeting during the coronavirus pandemic — a Zoom session.
More than four hours after the 7:25 p.m. start, the pressing issue that brought all to their computer screens was left waiting for yet another Zoom session. The next one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.
Remaining undecided after three and a half hours of public comment — consisting of 58 separate speakers held to a three-minute time limit — was a determination on a new zoning law regulating recycling operations in the village.
“This is a huge issue,” Trustee Ted Warner said. “In 25 years I’ve never seen a village board meeting with this many people.”
The sentiment among the crowd was clear: Keep a proposed lithium-ion battery recycling plant out of the village.
Virtually all expressed varying degrees of opposition, citing a host of reasons, from concerns about potential hazardous emissions to questions about the safety of the recycling process.
Just one, Frank Roma, a former New York State Electric & Gas Corp. engineer who monitored the cleanup of the IBM toxic Endicott plume for nearly 20 years, expressing qualified support for the project.
SungEel MCC Americas, a partnership between South Korean recycling company SungEel HiTech and White Plains-based e-recycler and broker Metallica Commodities Corp., will invest $11 million at the former IBM Corp. site to recycle 3,000 to 5,000 tons of spent lithium-ion batteries annually.
Company representatives said the recycling operation could be operational within six months after being permitted by the DEC. After three years, the company expects to employ 100 people. The initial workforce will be about 20.