Two towns hear concerns over gravel mine plan

CLERMONT–The town Planning Board held its monthly meeting April 10 and the topic of Red Wing Sand and Gravel was discussed. But it wasn’t the discussion that some who attended were expecting.

The Red Wing Sand and Gravel Roe Jan Plant is located near Elizaville along the boundary between Dutchess and Columbia counties. Before the meeting, requests went out from private individuals to Town of Clermont residents and local media asking people to attend because of changes planned at the Red Wing surface mining operation. But at the meeting last week the Planning Board and the board’s attorney, Andrew Howard, said that an application by Red Wing for the plant has not yet been submitted.

Despite this, residents insisted on asking questions. Mr. Howard was less than pleased. “This is not a question and answer session,” he said.

But community members persisted with questions and comments, with some expressing confusion as to why they’d been notified to attend the meeting.

At that point, Clermont Town Councilman Robert Desmond said that at the last two Town Board meetings “somebody here was speaking about the changes Red Wing wants to make. Our supervisor went to the building inspector and directed them to send a letter to Red Wing telling them that for a new application they need to come to the Planning and Zoning boards.”

Word had gotten around. Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th), whose district includes the Town of Clermont, sent a representative from her office. Councilman Desmond attempted to clarify further but the exchange continued.

One person asked how the community would know if Red Wing submits an application. Planning Board members answered, “The newspaper.”

Mr. Howard insisted that “in view of no application it made no sense to continue.”

But even then two community members, Donna Marquardt and Charles Robinson, requested to speak, saying they felt it important in the event that Red Wing submits an application. They also handed hard copies of their remarks to the board.

Ms. Marquardt, who spoke first, has lived in her home for 28 years, 17 of those years with the Red Wing mine on the border of the property she and her husband own. She urged the board to investigate why Red Wing is interested in Clermont. She said the price of land per acre may be the reason: “$10,642 an acre in Milan versus $1,820 dollars in Clermont,” she said. Much of the current Red Wing Roe Jan plant is in the Dutchess County town of Milan.

“We are concerned regarding the Red Wing’s efforts to modify its DEC permit to enable it to import raw sand and gravel to process this imported material at the Roe Jan mine,” Mr. Robinson said. The DEC is the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

He also said that half of the Roe Jan mine is in Clermont’s Roe Jan Corridor zoning district.

One issue appears to be that Clermont zoning laws have changed since Red Wing began mining at Roe Jan, and Red Wing now falls into “non-conforming use.” Now, after 20 years, the Roe Jan mine is almost exhausted. “Red Wing’s president informs us that the Roe Jan is rapidly approaching exhaustion of its native material.” At which point, the property would revert to the town. However, what Red Wing is suggesting by their request to modify is that Roe Jan would operate differently than its intended use.

Ms. Marquardt, referring to enforcement of town zoning laws, said at the meeting, “I hope that the leadership of this town is not spineless.”

Although there were no proposals from the company before the Clermont Planning Board, the matter did come before the Town Board in the neighboring Town of Livingston. The minutes for the February meeting of the Livingston Town Board say that Livingston’s Planning Board attorney, J. Theodore Hilscher, told the board that “Red Wing is requesting to bring more material to their site which is near the border of Livingston. There are concerns that it may have an effect on the town, [through] increased truck traffic and weight of the trucks, and the DEC has been asked to have the town be allowed to have input into review of the application by Red Wing. He also advised the town that they should have a traffic study done to see if it would have any impact on town roads.”

At that meeting the Livingston board drafted a resolution for “a traffic study in the Elizaville area where Red Wing proposes to bring material through.”

Minutes from the Clermont Town Board meeting of March 4, 2019 say that Mr. Robinson addressed the board, saying that the mining permit for Red Wing Properties mining operation on County Route 19 in Clermont is expiring in September 2021 and that the company is applying to extend its mining operation from property on County Route 19 and truck [materials] to their mining facility on County Route 19 in Clermont.

The Clermont Board’s minutes say that Mr. Robinson “is asking Clermont to get involved with this effort to stop the expansion of the mine and use of County Route 19 to haul the materials. There is a website to learn more about this at LivingstonNeighbors.org.”

A phone call to Red Wing seeking comment was not returned by press deadline.

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