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Cattaraugus County Planning Board to discuss mineral reserves plan

LITTLE VALLEY – Officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation want to be sure that mineral rights are considered when Cattaraugus County planners go out to talk to residents about what the updated county comprehensive plan should look like.

In a presentation developed by DEC officials, members of the county Planning Board heard thoughts on why it would be important to take a look at mineral reserves for potential future development and mining in the area. The presentation, read by members of the board and not representatives of the DEC, laid out reasons that residents should consider marking out potential resource reserves, to include future uses of gravel and sand by municipalities.

“Little, if any, governmental planning has been done to locate and preserve these dwindling resources for future use,” one of the slides pointed out.

“This runs completely contrary to what we heard 15 years ago in Chaffee,” board member Robert Kies said.” We had a huge push against mining and resource mapping at that point. No one wanted to even think about it.”

The plan to map out potential reserves as part of a comprehensive plan is something of a pilot program, using Cattaraugus County as the first test subject, Planning Director Crystal Abers said.

Since minerals are a non-renewable resource, the DEC is interested in knowing where the potential reserves are in case there is a need for them.

The issue is expected to be part of the discussion when planners take the process of building the comprehensive plan to county residents.

That will take place at three informational sessions, held at various places in the county. The first will be held Tuesday in the Cutco Theater at the Olean Jamestown Community College Campus. The second will be May 8 in the Machias Library, and the final meeting will be May 14 in the Legislative Chambers of the Cattaraugus County Center in Little Valley. All of the sessions are expected to start at 6 p.m. With an open house, moving into presentations on the project background and the planning process at 7:15 p.m.

County residents are encouraged to come ready to ask questions about what the county has to offer.