Jamie Sutphen took the podium at the DeWitt Town Board July 9 meeting to introduce a possible moratorium on three inactive quarries within the Jamesville hamlet. The Zoning Code Update Committee investigated this option in response to a request from Supervisor Jim DiStefano.
Sutphen said her firm, Baldwin and Sutphen, reviewed the town's 2002 Comprehensive Plan, zoning codes, and the various issues brought forth from the six zoning update community meetings prior to proposing a local law for a six-month moratorium. The freeze would include part of the north and south quarries within Hanson Quarries, as well as the Alpha Jamesville site.
"This is a recommendation of the committee on the lands shown in the comprehensive plan as industrial transition zones," Sutphen said. "These areas were noted by the consultants as areas that were planning concerns relating to appropriate uses of these properties once they are no longer, basically quarried -- because they're all quarries."
Creating another zoning category could be considered an option to transition these lands from high industrial to a category that is more attuned to the hamlet.
Sutphen said a moratorium is appropriate in this instance because a thread of activity "may not be compatible with what is appropriate for the town."
The high industrial focus is of immediate concern to the committee, in particular, because of a pending application. Empire Synfuel LLC has proposed a coal gasification facility at the former Alpha-Portland cement plant, that if built, would ship about 10,000 tons of coal via train from West Virginia or Pennsylvania to Jamesville daily, where it would be turned into natural gas for businesses and domestic use. Jamesville residents have vocally opposed its proposition from the beginning.
If the local law gets passed, there can be no new applications, building or activity within the designated lots for a period of six months. lf the zoning code update takes longer than six months, then the moratorium can be extended for an additional half year, Sutphen said.