LEWISTON – New town codes have put a hold on a plan that would allow Tug Hill Environmental to start a new clay mine on Ridge Road. The proposal came before the Town Board Monday night and was referred to the Planning Board for further action.
The town has been down this road before. Over the past decade, the town has fought the expansion of mining at a different site on Ridge Road being operated by Wilson-based Mawhiney Trucking. The town unsuccessfully tried to put a moratorium on the mine, but was overturned in court because it had state approval, said Building and Zoning Inspector Timothy Masters.
But new town codes are expected to give the board more control over the Tug Hill request.
The Mawhiney site had been active since 1996, but was allowed to expand from a 7.5-acre irrigation pond to a major mining operation, receiving state Department of Environmental Conservation permits to expand in 2003 and again in 2006.
“We strengthened our law two years ago, which now requires every request to be rezoned as a Mining Overlay District, which gives everybody input and then the town can make an informed decision,” Masters said.
The new mine being requested was formerly owned by Michael Bergey and was transferred to Tug Hill Environmental in 2011 with a mining permit already in place from the DEC.
With the new zoning laws in place, the proposal must first go to the Planning Board to seek rezoning. Then, the board will hold public hearings to get public opinion on the plans. Afterwards, the board will make its recommendations to the Town Board.
Tug Hill Environmental Regional Manager Tom Santasiero said after the meeting that his company, based regionally in Williamsville, plans to “soil mine” 25 acres of the 70-acre property.
“The 25-acre pond [created by the excavation] would be for wildlife,” said Santasiero. “The length of time to excavate the land would depend on the market.”
He said they would address concerns such as truck noise with suppression measures.
“We will try to leave as much existing vegetation in place as possible. Earthen berms would be constructed to deflect noise. The trucks would be equipped with the latest mufflers,” Santasiero said, adding that “the mine site itself is over 800 feet from any existing residences.”
“Who takes care of these [ponds]? And residents have to put up with years and years and years of truck traffic and excavators in their backyards. There are already complaints out there all the time,” Masters said. “My issue is that the Mawhiney mine never received a Town of Lewiston permit.”
“This will be the first test of the new law,” Masters said. “And people will definitely have input.”
In another matter, the board approved a special permit to allow outdoor seating at the Marlboro Inn at 5984 Ward Road in Sanborn. Outdoor seating, formerly prohibited, is allowed under new special use permits.
John Martino owns the bar with his wife Kari, who is the manager. They also own the Mister B’s in Niagara Falls.
He said the 16-by-40-foot expansion, which he plans to begin immediately, will allow them to put a four-foot wrought iron fence around a concrete pad, which is already in place, and put in picnic tables and umbrellas for open patio-style seating.
He said he’s owned the bar for the past two summers, but the Marlboro has been in the town since 1947.