Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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September 5, 2013

Referendums, Lafarge draw reaction

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Donna Pieszala voiced her support of Black’s referendums.

“I feel they are very important,” Pieszala said.

Thomas Grzebinski, a resident and alternate on the town planning board, raised some concerns about the proposed ward system. He gave a few examples of towns that either decided not to have wards or got rid of them.

Most of those towns struggled to have competitive elections, he said.

There are other challenges with the ward system, Grzebinski said. For one, residents would have fewer representatives, as instead of the entire five-person board they would have one ward representative and the supervisor, he said.

A few Hinman and Murphy roads residents spoke up about the ongoing Lafarge issue. 

Lafarge North America’s proposed expansion was allowed with a zoning change approved by the Town Board in December. 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.

Residents said they wanted answers and better communication from the Town Board.

”Please communicate with us, we’re afraid, honestly, we feel powerless, we’re afraid bad things are going to happen to our neighborhood,” said Tony Battaglia.

Some residents have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the zoning change, which is why town officials couldn’t speak about it, Supervisor Marc R. Smith said Wednesday. But prior to the lawsuit, town officials did speak with concerned residents, Smith said.

Enough is Enough, as the group of residents is known as, is contending the Town Board did not follow the proper procedure for an environmental review process, before it approved the zoning change.

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. 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.

Town officials sent a letter to Lafarge asking the company about their plans with the expansion and raising residents’ concerns. The company said it would not answer the letter until the suit is resolved.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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