LOCKPORT – The Town Board delayed action Wednesday on a proposal to permit expansion of Lafarge North America’s current stone quarry along Hinman Road, in the face of uniform opposition from a large crowd of residents.
About 75 people attended the public hearing on a proposal to create a section of the town zoning ordinance that would allow Lafarge to move the border of its existing stone pit 162 feet closer to the north side of Hinman Road.
The quarry now ends 300 feet from the road. The strip of mining that would be allowed by the expansion of the current pit would be about 4,000 feet long.
The expansion would keep Lafarge’s current south pit operating for another year and a half to two years, area manager Perry Galdenzi said.
“The aggregate we’re mining there is deteriorating, and no longer meeting the [Department of Transportation] requirements for ready-mix and asphalt,” he said. “If we can’t provide DOT products, we’re basically not in business.”
He said that would throw 46 people out of work and increase everyone else’s taxes.
“We have to decide if this particular change is going to be a big change to everybody’s quality of life,” Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said. He didn’t give the audience a date to expect a vote.
The speakers, residents of Murphy and Hinman roads, said the blasting, truck traffic, asphalt fumes and scattered stones already imperil their quality of life.
“My house shakes, and I’m a mile and a half away,” said James Mulrenin, who lives at Hinman Road and Campbell Boulevard. “The values of our homes are going to go down. We all know this. All this should not happen.”
They also warned about Lafarge’s long-term expansion plans, made apparent by the company’s acquisition of properties on both sides of Hinman Road.
“It does not a take a genius to figure out what the plans are for the future,” said Claudette Lemieux of Murphy Road.
Galdenzi didn’t deny that Lafarge has plans to open up new quarry pits. He said those would require plenty of review and red tape by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but the strip the company is asking for now is within the boundaries of its current DEC mining permit.
“We sit on the patio, and all we hear is the crusher going all night,” said Pete Frawley of Murphy Road.
He said everyone in the neighborhood knows that the daily blast at 10:58 a.m. may knock things off the walls.
Many speakers complained about cracks in walls, ceilings, foundations and driveways that they blame on the blasting.
Lafarge attorney Kevin Brown said the blasting is monitored in accordance with government regulations. He said, “If we do expand [beyond the current pit], there will be pre-blast surveys.”
As for current damages, Brown said. “If it’s reasonably caused by the blasting, the company will always make it right.”
Smith said he’s been dealing with one resident who’s been complaining about blast damage for years, but the results of a geological survey were inconclusive and he received no compensation.