Shepard Settlement residents want three town board members to change their minds
"No New Mining" signs dot Shepard Settlement's byways. If you are not familiar with the settlement, take a drive to the northeastern-most-corner of the town of Skaneateles. Van Camp, Foster, Chapman, Hoyt, Kingston, Stump are the roads you will travel. These wind throughout gently rolling countryside. There is pasture, woodlands and homes with a few mines tucked in.
Tom Baker grew up in Otisco Valley, moved to Marcellus in 1977, then to Foster Road in 1988. There was an active farm across the road to the west. Now a new mine is slated on that farmland. One that will encompass 80 acres and dig down 90 feet.
"This will be a huge hole," Baker said.
Baker's main issue with the mines is his property value. He's put a lot of money inside and outside his house over the years and into the barn too, and if this new mine goes through, he believes his property value will go down drastically.
What he can't understand is why the town board is supporting Vitale's newest mining operation under the name Cemento versus the citizens that live in this area of Skaneateles.
"They (Vitale) do not live in Skaneateles or even Onondaga County," Baker said. "Their company isn't even located in this county. Why are they (Astemborski, Laxton and Spain) representing a non town, non country entity?"
Vitale is based in Cayuga County. Town councilors Ted Astemborski and Dave Laxton came to the hearing with prepared statements, which translated to Baker and others that live in Shepard Settlement that their minds were made up before the hearings.
The main issue is that a lot of families, homeowners that pay taxes, have done their homework and tried to voice their concerns in regards to new mining. The miners were allowed over an hour to speak, while the residents felt cut off said Bunny McLaud.