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LOCKPORT – Officials of Lafarge North American portrayed their company’s Lockport operations as hanging by a thread, as they obtained the city Planning Board’s recommendation Monday for expanding stone quarrying on Hinman Road.

“In addition to what we have, it’ll give us another year or year and a half of aggregate to stay in business,” said Perry A. Galdenzi, Lafarge’s Western New York manager for aggregates and asphalt.

“We’re desperately trying to find the good stone so we can stay in business,” said Kevin Brown, an attorney for Lafarge.

David C. Chamberlain, a construction company owner and Planning Board member, asked some contentious questions about Lafarge’s plans, but at the end of the meeting, he said, “I’ve been using that stone since 1972, when I started my construction business. This is a necessary part of our economy in Niagara County.”

The company still needs approval from the Common Council for mining on a 15-acre parcel purchased about six years ago from the Murphy family. The company intends to quarry Lockport dolomite, a limestonelike stone that makes good paving material, from 9.1 acres of that parcel.

The expansion at what is still officially called Redlands Quarry, even though Lafarge acquired the business several years ago, is near a 162-foot-wide strip on the edge of the quarry that the Town of Lockport allowed Lafarge to mine in December 2012.

Jeffrey E. Thornburg, Lafarge’s U.S. environmental manager, said that strip combined with the Murphy property will keep Lafarge going in Lockport for another three to five years while it seeks permission from the Town of Lockport to expand to the south side of Hinman, where Lafarge has bought property in recent years.

Brown said state and town approval of that expansion will take about two years. A public outreach meeting has been called for 7 p.m. Jan. 21 in the South Lockport Fire Company to discuss Lafarge’s plans.

The current quarry on the north side of Hinman employs about 40 people, Galdenzi said, and about half of the business is providing asphalt that meets state Department of Transportation standards for use in road and bridge projects.

Geologist John R. Hellert of Continental Placer, a company retained by Lafarge, said that only some parts of the quarry have DOT-quality stone, although the remaining stone is still usable for commercial projects.

The Planning Board granted a two-year extraction permit and recommended a one-year special-use permit to the Council. The recommendation was made conditional on a report from Norman D. Allen, city director of engineering and public works, attesting that the blasting at the quarry would not harm the city’s raw water supply line, which runs along Hinman on its 13-mile path from the Niagara River at North Tonawanda.

Hellert said he doesn’t think that will be a problem. “Blasting can be tailored to the conditions,” he said.

The expanded quarry will remove the dolomite with blasting and then run it through an on-site crusher, which is exactly what Lafarge does now. “Operationally,” Hellert said, “nothing really changes.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com