GovernmentThe Putnam Examiner

‘We Want to Do This Right’: Kent Officials Extend Mining Moratorium a Third Time

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A mining moratorium has been extended for another six months in Kent as officials continue to craft legislation that will regulate excavation work within the town.

As the Kent Town Board works to include mining safeguards in the municipal code, officials unanimously voted on March 2 to extend an existing moratorium halting an excavation work from being conducted on town property. This is the third time the freeze has been put into effect since last March.

“We now have before the town board proposed changes to the soil removal code and a portion of the zoning code that we are working on and trying to actually get into a form that addresses mining and the concerns of our residents and the concerns of town board members on this issue,” Town Supervisor Maureen Fleming said. “We have made clear that we want to do this right.”

Last March, the board tried putting together a mining code rather quickly, but it was the public that suggested a moratorium to guarantee lawmakers could carefully craft legislation. But those plans were ceased due to COVID-19.

While mining isn’t a specific use, nor is it prohibited within the town code, officials opted to pass a six-month freeze on mining, which was later renewed another six months in September. The moratorium stops the excavation of sand, gravel, topsoil, rock, and other natural materials.

“This is too important of an issue to just rush through,” Fleming said.

The topic of mining became a hot-button issues within the town after Kent Country Square LLC in 2019 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 withdrew the truck stop element of the project, residents had 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.

The board is now reviewing a series of amendments that would regulate mining and excavation work performed by potential developers in the town’s soil removal and zoning code laws. Officials have said it’s a simpler approach than creating a new and separate mining law.

Of the proposed amendments, the town would ensure no construction operation could be commenced or continued for the purpose of the sale or exchange of excavated topsoil, earth, sand, gravel, rock, or other substance from the ground.

Furthermore, a building permit would be required for any building and additional structures that require excavation or landfill necessary for construction, providing the volume of any excavated material removed from the property doesn’t exceed two times the volume of the foundation.

The building inspector would specify the maximum volume of excavated material that would be allowed for removal upon permit approval, according to the proposal. The mandate would also apply to all operations, such as proposed streets, rights-of-way, and drainage facilities, that require the removal of unearthed material.

An exemption to the law would be municipal and other public operations conducted by the Town of Kent, Putnam County or New York State.

Officials would also consider the location and size of the proposed operation, the nature and intensity of the work involved, and if the proposal upon completion will be and appropriate use for the district in which it is located. 

The board is currently in communication with the towns planning, zoning, and aggregation regarding the proposed amendments. Fleming said the town received comments from each group regarding the changes, which will likely be discussed publicly during an April meeting.

“We hopefully can work through their comments and come up with something that works for us,” Councilman Chris Ruthven said. 

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