Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 30, 2013

Group sues over Lafarge

STAFF REPORTS
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A group of Hinman and Murphy Road residents opposing the expansion of the Lafarge North America quarry have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Lockport Town Board’s decision to allow it.

Enough is Enough, as the group is known as, filed a suit Friday with the state Supreme Court. The group is contending the Town Board did not follow the proper procedure for an environmental review process, before it approved a zoning ordinance amendment that allowed Lafarge to start mining 162 feet closer to Hinman Road.

The lawsuit states the board voted Dec. 26 to approve the amendment and an environmental assessment form. However, back on Dec. 4, board members approved a “negative declaration,” asserting that the zoning change would have no impact on the environment.

So, the group says in the lawsuit, the Town Board issued a negative declaration three weeks before the actual form was completed.

“The board’s approval of the resolution was based on its own arbitrary and capricious and/or legally improper conclusion that expanding the special mining district would not have a significant adverse effect on the environment,” the lawsuit says.

In the lawsuit, town officials said the negative declaration was proper because the Town Board was merely amending the zoning ordinance, not undertaking a particular project.

The zoning ordinance change allows Lafarge to mine on a strip of land about 162 feet wide and 4,000 feet long. The change cuts in half the current 300-foot buffer between the edge of the quarry and the north edge of Hinman Road.

Mining is not allowed in the town, with the exception of the Lafarge quarry, which was grandfathered in when the ordinance took effect in 2005.

At board meetings in February and March a group of residents protested the Lafarge expansion. Speakers said often their homes are shaken or property is damaged allegedly due to blasting at the quarry.

Town officials have their own issues with Lafarge. Supervisor Marc R. Smith did send a letter to Lafarge earlier this month asking a series of questions revolving around the public’s well-being and the need for Lafarge’s expansion. It also asks the company about compensating for damages and keeping the area cleaned up.

Most of the questions in the letter came from residents who spoke at the board meetings in February and March.