Stockholm residents calling on DEC to limit expansion of mining operation near CR 49

Posted 5/16/24

STOCKHOLM -- Some residents say they are concerned about potential changes to the mining operation at the Catamount Ridge Quarry which would allow the operation to expand to County Route 49.

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Stockholm residents calling on DEC to limit expansion of mining operation near CR 49


STOCKHOLM -- Some residents say they are concerned about potential changes to the mining operation at the Catamount Ridge Quarry which would allow the operation to expand to County Route 49.

Doug Douglas, who says he has lived on County Route 49 for more than 30 years, said he and other residents want the operation to remain where it is. 

Douglas told Stockholm town board members that the operation is now seeking to expand beyond the previously agreed upon boundary of 500 feet from the county highway.

"They said that they would never come that far," Douglas said.

Douglas said that a special use permit and other documentation from the town show that the operation would not approach the county highway, but with a mining permit set to expire Sept. 28  plans are changing, Douglas said.

The property, owned by James Sheehan, is seeking a new mining permit through the DEC to move operations closer to the county highway.

"They also said they want to put a road in with direct access to (County Route) 49," Douglas said during the meeting.

That runs contrary to a signed agreement with the town, he said.

The mining operation also has a special use permit with the town that details how the operation will function in the area and what restrictions may be in place.

A call to Russell Thompson, quarry supervisor, on Thursday was not immediately returned. 

Who's responsible for notifying property owners?

For residents in the area, notification that Sheehan sought to amend his mining permit with the Department of Environmental Conservation was non-existent, according to Douglas.

A public comment period is currently open until May 24 and neighbors can voice their concerns in writing to the DEC, however time is not on their side, Douglas said.

"None of us knew. The town didn't notify us either," he said.

Town Supervisor Chad Colbert said while it's not the responsibility of the town to notify town residents of the DEC public comment period, he did say they would try to do better in the future to assist.

"This is a DEC public comment period, not the town. This technically doesn't have anything to do with the town board. But moving forward we will try to help however we can," he told Douglas.

Douglas said he was not trying to blame the town board but rather was critiquing the DEC for lack of notification.

In order to address concerns, town board members suggested residents also attend the planning board meeting next week to speak during the public comment period.

"You all are welcome to speak there as well and we certainly encourage you to do so," Colbert said.

Douglas said as part of the amendment to the mining permit, the operation would move to within 250 feet of the county highway. That didn't sit well with residents who also had complaints about dust, noise, low berms and blasting in the quarry.

Are the berms too low?

Berms are one of the biggest issues, Douglas said.

With environmental review falling to the DEC and other logistics falling to the county and town, Douglas said that the berms surrounding the property are too low.

"They can't be more than, what, eight feet tall. You can almost  see over most of them," he said.

Noise, safety and the view are the primary concerns surrounding the berms, he said.

"There are people that live right there. At least six or seven of us are here tonight. They aren't doing what they need to so that we don't get dust blown in our direction," he said.

Douglas said he has photos of houses and vehicles covered in dust from the operation. He also questioned whether the operation was utilizing all measures available to mitigate the dust, including covers for trucks, proper water distribution to keep dust down and proper berm height.

"Water only does so much," he said.

As for the berm height, Douglas said he felt they were too low.

"You look at Barrett's operation, their berms are probably 30 feet tall. They don't have a house within 2,000 feet, I would guess. The ones we have here are maybe eight feet. That's not high enough," he said.

Douglas said the operation paid for a study to be done to track how often wind would blow in the direction of the homes, finding it was about 20% of the time.

While Douglas and residents want higher berms, no recommended height was listed by the county when a site plan review was completed.

"It just said they have to be an appropriate height," he said.

Blasting posing issues

In order to mine the stone in the quarry, blasting is necessary as well.

Douglas said when the initial permit applications were filed, it was said that the quarry would not include any blasting, but rather stone being cleared from the top of the location.

Residents say the blasting comes at random hours, with trucks and generators running as early as 6 a.m. sometimes.

Douglas questioned whether there might be some sort of noise ordinance that would stop that.

"We're already hearing enough with the crushers running, backup beepers, trucks up and down the highway," he said.

Planning Board Chair Robin McClellan said neighbors will be notified in writing at least five days prior to any future blasting being conducted at the site. In the letters, residents will be notified of the days and times that blasting will be conducted, he said.

Douglas said that in instances when blasting occurs, property owners well off into the distance are able to feel and hear the explosions at the quarry.

DEC public comment period closing May 24

Board members and Douglas alike say that the residents on County Route 49 near the operation need to voice their concerns to the DEC as well.

"We're in the extended public comment period time, so we only have about a week and a half left to comment," Douglas said.

Douglas said he and other residents are just asking for higher berms and for the operation to remain where it is, though that is unlikely if the DEC approves the permit request as it is. 

“If the county says the berms can be up to within 250 feet of the county highway, OK we can work with that. But to allow them to operate right at the highway, that’s really what we don’t want,” he said.