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DISPUTE OVER SAND, GRAVEL MINING IN SARDINIA FACES FURTHER DELAYS

The seven-year legal struggle between the Town of Sardinia and Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc. of Collins over sand and gravel mining on the 400-acre Gabel-Thomas tract will take more time to settle, Supreme Court Justice Barbara Howe has ruled.

The new delay is to pursue the legality of the claims made in the original 1993 Gernatt lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Justice Howe ordered both sides to present memorandums of law before Nov. 12 when she will hear more oral arguments.

During extensive oral arguments last April, Frank Gaglione, Gernatt's attorney, raised the prospect of suing the town to recover the money, said to exceed several million dollars, Gernatt had spent preparing to open the mine.

Gravel and sand valued at many millions of dollars are at stake for Gernatt.

Sardinia officials have said that Gernatt already has been digging at the Gabel-Thomas site that lies off Route 16 between Allen and Genesee roads. In opposing the new mine, the Town Board has been trying to exercise authority to govern certain activities with town borders.

The ability to determine activities within its borders are key issues for Sardinia officials who do not want the farmland converted into a water-filled pit after the property is mined out after an estimated 80 years.

In a just-released Sept. 30 decision, Justice Howe said that the Aug. 26, 1993, lawsuit brought by Gernatt against the state DEC -- eight days after DEC denied its mining permit -- must be adjudicated before two other related lawsuits and a series of motions can be addressed.

Sardinia has sought an injunction to halt Gernatt's early mining while Gernatt has filed an action seeking damages from all Sardinia officials who have been involved in the dispute since 1989.

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