Town will hear comments on mine moratorium

TAGHKANIC–The Town Board will conduct a public hearing Monday, March 1, to hear residents’ opinions on a moratorium on all mining applications. The board voted to impose the moratorium at its January meeting, but the moratorium has not yet taken effect, because the board must first hold a hearing on the measure

The stated reason for the moratorium is to give the town time to resolve a discrepancy identified in the town’s zoning code governing whether mining is allowed in R2 and R3 zones. The R2 and R3 zones are designated for two- and three-acre residential use.

A pending application by Berry Pond, LLC for a gravel mine on Livingston Road coupled with the realization by the board that ambiguities in the code could provide grounds for an appeal, precipitated the move by the Town Board last month.

Concurrent with the moratorium, the town Zoning Board of Appeals is conducting an ongoing hearing on the Berry Pond mine application. The hearing will continue March 15. If the moratorium is approved by the Town Board after the hearing Monday, then the ZBA will postpone any further discussion of the mine until after the town resolves the zoning discrepancy.

At the previous session of the mine hearing February 18, Kevin Bernstein, the attorney for Allyson Bennett, the owner of the site proposed for the mine, argued in favor of closing the hearing that night. Mr. Bernstein said at the time that the decision to approve the mine application was the job of the ZBA, not the Town Board.

“We view the moratorium as retaliatory and unlawful,” said Mr. Bernstein.

Most of the discussion at the February hearing focused on Livingston Road, which runs by the entrance to the mine site. The road is narrow, curvy and steep, and many residents fear it will be unsafe if 35-ton dump trucks make 60 trips a day on it should the mine begin operating. William Better, attorney for a group of town residents who live near the proposed mine site, suggested the ZBA get a professional road and traffic study and not rely on information provided by Berry Pond. “The board will consider it,” said Robert Fitzpatrick, attorney for the ZBA.

A group of town residents opposed to the mine has mounted a website, www.nogravelmine.com, which explains many of their concerns. The group is also circulating a petition.

The public hearing on the moratorium Monday, March 1, will be held at the Taghkanic Firehouse at 7 p.m. 

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