Sullivan residents push for tougher mining regulations

The scenic view in Sullivan may be altered soon, as a decade-long legal battle over a proposed quarry comes to a head.
Chittenango (WSYR-TV) -- The scenic view in Sullivan may be altered soon, as a decade-long legal battle over a proposed quarry on Quarry Road comes to a head. The idea brings back bad memories for Mary Susan Laughlin who lives near the site of an old quarry.

“Maybe two people could take a shower a day. Then, the next two would take a shower the next day. We could do a load of laundry every other day and if we did anything more than that, we would lose water,” Laughlin told NewsChannel 9.

Now, neighbors are pushing to extend a moratorium, giving the town time to rewrite old rules. About 40 residents attended two public hearings at the Sullivan Town Hall on Wednesday.

Two moratoriums on new mining activity have already been passed. The current proposal would offer a six month extension. Town board members will vote on the plan in two weeks.

If the moratorium extension succeeds, the town will have more time to draft a new law to regulate mining operations in Sullivan.

The latest draft law calls for new developers to have 50 acres of space for mining operations that must be located at least 500-feet from the nearest property line. First, public hearings would be held on any applications approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The idea has to pass through a lengthy process before the town votes to implement a new law.

New rules could invite more legal challenges. Residents at the public hearing on Monday said they're more worried about safety, water quality, their assessments, and heavy truck traffic.

The quarries developer, Thomas Oot, says it takes about five truckloads of crushed stone to build a new home. He believes new construction in the area justifies a local quarry, allowing operators to reduce the hauling distance for materials.

“We're looking at rising fuel prices. We're look at carbon emissions. We're looking at all the taxing on the environment that is done by the trucks that deliver the stuff,” said Proposed Quarry Developer Tom Oot. “If you add that up, it is worse than having it in close proximity to you.”

Oot said he's waiting for a legal challenge to compel the town to issue a special use permit. If he obtains the permit, operations could begin within a couple of weeks.Oot is confident it's too late to stop his project on Quarry Road. Neighbors are prepared to keep pushing.

“How are we going to protect the people? How are we going to protect the water quality? All of these things that are near and dear to us have to be addressed. Can we stop it? I don't know. But, we're going to try,” said Quarry Road resident Dean Farley.

Comments regarding the moratorium extension and drafts of a new law regulating mining operations in the Town of Sullivan can be sent to Town Supervisor John Becker at the Sullivan Town Hall on 7507 Lakeport Road, Chittenango, NY 13037.
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