Philipstown Considering Outright Ban on Soil Mining

Mining overlay district would be removed first

By Michael Turton

The Philipstown Town Board began a preliminary discussion at their Oct. 3 (Wednesday) workshop that could lead to a town-wide ban on soil mining.

Only one area of Philipstown currently has the potential to be mined as part of a soil-mining overlay district contained in the updated zoning code adopted in May 2011. That designation became somewhat academic in June of this year after Nathan and Ernest Lyons of Lyons Realty LLC, owner of the single property covered in the overlay district, withdrew their proposal to begin mining the property after heated public opposition to the project. The mine was to be located between Mill Road and East Mountain Road North, just off of Route 9.

Supervisor Richard Shea led the discussion regarding a strategy that would see the overlay district removed, followed by an outright ban on soil mining within the boundaries of the town. Shea said that if that happens, the property covered by the overlay district would revert to its previous zoning of highway commercial and rural residential. At the same time, Article 175-34 of the zoning code, which in part dictates how much soil can be removed from individual construction sites, would be made less restrictive. Currently, in individual construction projects, only 1,000 cubic yards of material can be removed from a site.

Resident Dave Vickery expressed concern over the total ban on soil mining.  “I thought the Lyons proposal was excellent,” he said. “Soil mining is a reasonable thing to do. We may need it in the future. Leave that possibility open.”

But Oliver Maletz, who lives on Horton Road, supported the ban, fearing that the Lyons property may be proposed as a mining site again in the future. “What if it’s sold and someone else comes in … is willing to go to the mat, and says, ‘I’m not from here – I don’t care?’”

Shea said during the public debate over the Lyons Realty proposal, “I didn’t see any groundswell of people in support of soil mining. I did see a lot of people against it. People were pissed off, to say the least.”

The town will seek advice from planning consultant Joel Russell, who was heavily involved in the zoning code update, before beginning more formal public discussion of the potential soil-mining ban.

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