Months after a moratorium on mining was extended in Kent, officials agreed last week to revisit crafting legislation that would properly restrict any form of mining within the town.
If a measure is crafted and approved, it would allow lawmakers to gain more control over work proposed by future developers. Currently, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is the only regulatory agency that can issue mining permits to developers – leaving the town with little control.
While mining isn’t a specific use, nor is it prohibited within the town code, officials passed a six-month moratorium on mining in March, which was later renewed for another six months in September. The moratorium halts the excavation of sand, gravel, topsoil, rock, and other natural materials.
“We don’t want to just keep extending it,” Town Supervisor Maureen Fleming said at the November 10 meeting. “We need progress.”
Any changes would ensure all mining work conducted is in accordance with the terms and goals of the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which officials also intend to update to reflect the current climate and issues the town is facing. Public input will be sought during the process, officials said.
Lawmakers added plans to also address logging in potential legislation.
The topic of mining became a hot-button issues within the town after Kent Country Square LLC last year proposed building a truck stop on a 137-acre parcel east of the intersection of Ludingtonville Road on Route 52, and 1,500 feet away from Kent Elementary School and Kent Primary School.
Original plans called for a gas station, a rest stop, truck service and repair shop, two hotels, an indoor waterpark, a restaurant, and convention center. Additionally, the plan would have resulted in the developer blasting 54 acres of rock and mining down 180 feet.
While the developer announced last October that the truck stop element of the project had been withdrawn, residents warned the contractor still planned to mine the site. Since then, officials have examined the town code and discussed not only identifying mining and creating new policies, but also strengthening regulations regarding work related to mining.
Back in March, Fleming had said the board tried putting together a mining code rather quickly last year, but it was the public that suggested a moratorium to halt the current proposal while lawmakers craft proper legislation. But those plans were halted due to COVID-19.
“I think there could be another type of development, so it’s important to get all of our ducks in a row,” Councilman Bill Huestis said. “Let’s be prepared and let’s do it.”