Bumpy Future for Rocky Mountain Road?

February 9, 2011 Updated Feb 9, 2011 at 9:49 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

February 9, 2011 Updated Feb 9, 2011 at 9:49 PM EDT

(North Collins, N.Y.) At the end of August 2010, Erie County construction crews working on rebuilding New Oregon Road in North Collins, needed to a place to dump hundreds of tons of excavated road fill.

The North Collins Highway Department had an idea - dump it on Rocky Mountain Road.

Rocky Mountain Road had been closed for well over a decade, possibly even as long as 20 years, say residents.

Erosion made it unusable. What was once a roadbed had deteriorated into rough terrain sprinkled with small waterfalls.

The idea was also a good deal for Erie County taxpayers. It saved thousands of dollars in transportation costs when the old road fill didn't have to be hauled far away.

But three property owners along Rocky Mountain Road didn't see the project as a 'good deal.'

In September 2010, they got a State Supreme Court injunction to stop work on Rocky Mountain Road.

On January 31st, they served a "Notice of Intent to Sue" with Erie County, The Town of North Collins, and Union Concrete & Construction Corp.

The plaintiffs argue that construction on Rocky Mountain Road violates the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act).

Specifically, they contend that an environmental impact study was not conducted and permits were not properly secured.

The land owners say a drainage conduit, installed as part of the road reconstruction, is allowing water run-off from the road fill to pollute their properties and 18-Mile Creek.

Attorneys from both sides are scheduled to meet for mediation talks later this month.

If a solution is not agreed upon within 60 days, the land owners say they will proceed with the Federal Lawsuit.

"I would like to see them take the fill away," says plaintiff Dr. Frederick Sachs. "They can put it wherever they want on somebody else's property."