LOCKPORT – Lafarge North America, which received a controversial approval of an enlargement of its stone-quarrying operations in the Town of Lockport a year ago, is making a similar request for its adjacent quarry in the City of Lockport.
The move comes as Lafarge has finally responded to a letter that the town sent eight months ago, asking for details about its future expansion plans. The letter doesn’t say when the company might seek to begin mining on the south side of Hinman Road, opposite its existing quarry.
“It is too early to tell at this stage what the exact economic value of the material south of Hinman Road might be,” the letter says.
However, Perry A. Galdenzi, Lafarge’s Western New York manager for aggregates and asphalt, said in an interview that the company anticipates that the strip of land north of Hinman Road that it began mining after last year’s town approval contains two years’ worth of usable material.
The 9.1 acres of land that Lafarge is now seeking approval to mine in its existing quarry within the city limits, at 400 Hinman, would add another two years to the operation’s life, Galdenzi added.
Lafarge still calls the city mine by its former name, Redlands Quarry, although Lafarge acquired that gravel pit several years ago.
“It’s the same quarry where the (town) expansion was. The city-town line runs right through the quarry,” Galdenzi said.
Jason C. Dool, chief city building inspector, said that if the Niagara County Planning Board approves the request today, the city Planning Board likely will add the project to its Jan. 6 agenda.
Galdenzi said the land in question is a 15-acre piece of former farmland once owned by the Murphy family, which Lafarge acquired about six years ago.
Subtracting mandatory setbacks from the property lines, Lafarge will be able to quarry about 9.1 acres. It would need state Department of Environmental Conservation approval if the city and the county give the green light.
“We’ve been looking for reserves, hunting and pecking within the quarry,” Galdenzi said. “It’s good-quality limestone. It contains the good-quality aggregate we need for Department of Transportation projects.”
Dool said the Common Council would have to vote on a one-year renewable special-use permit for Lafarge, but not on a two-year extraction permit that his office would issue.
Meanwhile, Galdenzi’s eight-page response to the Town of Lockport’s April letter is still being read within Town Hall, Supervisor Marc R. Smith said. However, Galdenzi released a copy to The Buffalo News.
Lafarge has bought up property on the south side of Hinman in recent years, pointing to an eventual expansion.
Smith said the town, which expects to adopt a new master plan next year, would have to approve any expansion, but that approval would come in the form of a revised zoning map to be drawn after the master plan is adopted.
“I believe it is the truth that without expansion they might go out of business in a few years,” Smith said. “You have to weigh that. Our concern is the safety of the residents.”
Town residents near the quarry will be forwarded copies of the letter shortly, Smith said.
The document rejects a town proposal to establish a dedicated fund to pay claims from residents who say their homes are being damaged by blasting.
The letter says Lafarge has enough money to pay any claims as they come along.
The company said that it is willing to provide baseline assessments of the properties near the quarry to make it easier to identify damage, and is open to discussing a host community agreement to pay the town for expansion to the south side of Hinman.