QUEENSBURY — The neighbors on Ridge Road aren’t horrified by the idea of yet another mine near them — but as the town prepares to take action on a mining proposal without knowing exactly where the mine will be, residents are getting concerned.
“I want more information,” said homeowner Paolo Licari. “I’d like to say, go ahead and do it, but I don’t want to kick myself later.”
He and his neighbors aren’t anti-mine. Some of them have worked for mining companies all their lives and others work in construction.
They noted there’s a mine directly across the street from them. Between the noise of the mine and the traffic, they doubted that another mine would be heard.
“The noise really isn’t a bother to me. Obviously, I have another pit across the street,” Licari said.
Neighbor Katie Fezza had a similar low-key reaction to the proposal.
“It wouldn’t bother me if it didn’t affect my property,” she said. “I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear it.”
But given that the mine would be behind the ridge that rises behind their homes, they expected not to be able to see it.
One neighbor wasn’t happy by the idea of a mine. Peggy Bress, who has lived on Ridge Road long enough to remember when there was previously a mining operation near her, doesn’t want another one.
“The trucks would hit Ridge Road and you’d think there was an explosion,” she said, describing how trucks navigated the steep descent to the road. “It was truck after truck. I’m pretty upset.”
She’s also worried about whether the mine would affect her well.
She acknowledged she likely wouldn’t see it, but she can see the active sand mine across the street and it hasn’t made her a fan.
“To me, it’s an eyesore,” she said. “I always loved Ridge Road — it’s a lot of trees. Then they put that (mine) so close to the road. I’d be nervous if they’re in our backyard.”
The two mines are owned by separate companies.
The neighbors’ main concern is that the town Planning Board will make a recommendation on rezoning the land to allow mining without knowing the particulars about the proposed mine.
The timeline, according to Zoning Administrator Craig Brown, is to make a recommendation in July without taking public comment. Then the Town Board will hold a public hearing before voting on the zone change.
If the zone change is approved, the Planning Board will then go through site plan review to decide whether to allow the mine, as well as what restrictions to set. Those limits could include how far the mine must be from each home.
The town has asked Fort Miller, the mine owner, for a map showing the proposed mining area. That map hasn’t been provided yet.
“We’re hoping we have that detailed map before we talk about the rezoning,” Brown said. “Because we may get questions about it.”
But it won’t be required until the site plan review, he said.
“The specifics about the project, that’s a whole separate issue. In July they’re just doing the rezoning,” he said.
Fort Miller has proposed building a new exit from the mine onto Ridge Road if it gets the rezoning and site plan approval. Then, the company said, it would stop using Dream Lake Road for truck traffic.
That has long been a goal for residents on Dream Lake Road, which is partly a dirt road. It’s a narrow roadway with a dead end that was designed for low-impact residential traffic.
But one resident on Dream Lake Road has been fighting the rezoning request because he believed the residents on Ridge Road would be abused. Andy Holding said it was unfair and wrong for the town to make decisions without a public hearing and without notifying residents that the rezoning could lead to a major mining operation behind their homes.
He has been filing Freedom of Information requests regularly to see all of the documents filed by Fort Miller, and has extensively researched the maps sent in by the company. He’s reported mistakes in those maps to the Town Board and is planning to argue against the rezoning at the Planning and Town board meetings.