LOCKPORT – The public can have its say on the proposed expansion of the Lafarge North America gravel quarry within the town this week.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation will host a scoping session at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Best Western Hotel, 515 S. Lockport St. Written comments will be taken by the DEC until Jan. 8.
The company, applying under the former name of Redland Quarries, wants to add about 243 acres of land that it already owns on the south side of Hinman Road to the area being mined. The company has bought up most of the real estate in that area in recent years.
Residents in the area of Hinman and Murphy roads objected strongly to the Town Board’s December 2012 decision to allow Lafarge to expand the quarry within the town borders by allowing the company to mine a 162-foot-wide strip about a mile long.
“That’s why we have been meeting voluntarily for nearly two years with our neighbors through the Community Advisory Group,” said Perry A. Galdenzi, project manager for Lafarge. “We are focused on keeping our neighbors informed of our plans and working with them to address concerns and get their input along the way.”
Lafarge has said that its quarry, which has operated for more than 70 years, is running out of stone. The strip, along with the company’s request for a nine-acre expansion within the City of Lockport, are temporary measures to keep the quarry going until the big Hinman project is approved.
The expansion within the city limits has drawn concerns from city officials. They worry that the blasting at the expanded quarry might damage the city’s raw water supply line, which carries drinking water from the Niagara River at North Tonawanda to the city filtration plant on Summit Street in Lockport.
The path of the 110-year-old underground pipe runs right down Hinman, and the expansion would bring the blasting closer to it than ever.
Lafarge hired Greystone Engineering of Saratoga Springs, which issued a report earlier this year that concluded the pipeline would not be harmed by the blasting. Lafarge also agreed to provide $36,700 to the city to pay for a study by the city’s engineering firm, GHD Consulting Services, which carried out its own testing to see if it would confirm Greystone’s verdict.
City of Lockport Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said that the city has received a draft of the GHD report and that he is to meet with the engineers Thursday to review it before it is released. The company’s request for a special-use permit from the city is on hold in the meantime.
The DEC, which will send an administrative law judge to preside over Wednesday’s hearing, said the purpose of the comment session is to determine the issues that Lafarge must address in a draft environmental impact statement.
Galdenzi said, “These concerns will be documented, and Lafarge will address them accordingly in our draft environmental impact statement. This is an important step of the regulatory review process.”
Written comments on the town project may be sent to Lisa M. Czechowicz, deputy regional permit administrator, at the DEC, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203. They also may be emailed to DEP.R9@dec.ny.gov or faxed to 851-7168.