Shepard Settlement mining laws voted down

By Abbey Woodcock


The town board introduced five proposed laws regarding mining in the Shepard Settlement area, but only two will make it to the public hearing stage.

There will be a public hearing May 1 at 7:30 for Local Laws 2008-B and E, but A, C, and D were all voted down in a 3-2 vote of the board Thursday night.

Councilor Dave Laxton said his reasons for voting down the proposed laws included "maintaining the integrity of the board." While all board members agreed the current mining laws were flawed, there was disagreement on how to correct the flaws while maintaining the public's best interest.

Last year, the "Orange Alternative" was passed intending to provide zoning boundaries for mines that kept open-pit mining 200 feet from property lines and 100 feet from water courses. The wording, however, was flawed creating setbacks rather than zoning laws. This means that the mines could challenge the setback with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The state has no authority to overrule zoning laws.

2008-B seeks to correct this wording, creating the zoning boundaries orginally intended by the law.

Town Supervisor Phil Tierney said at the meeting that the board owed the public at least Local Law 2008-B to correct the flaws in the Orange Alternative. 2008-B passed unanimously and will move to public hearing. The other three laws first proposed in January, 2008-A, C and D did not pass and will not come before the public.

2008-A was a repeal of the open pit mining overlay district.

2008-C would have allowed mining in the town in a floating zone, which will replace the special permit process currently in effect. This would provide an opportunity for new mines to be approved under special standards.

2008-D was a repeal of the open pit mining overlay district, similar to 2008-A but also provided a grandfather clause for pending mining applications.

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