October 24, 2021

County joins C’ville mining fight

The Cortland County Legislature is following Cortlandville’s lead to fight Cortlandville Stone and Gravel’s planned mine expansion — a battle that has been reinvigorated after the Department of Environmental Conservation announced it found no potential environmental effects.

“We had no control and we didn’t hear anything from them until two nights ago when they said they came up with a negative SEQR, so now we’re scrabbling to counteract their negative SEQR findings,” said Legislator Chris Newell (U-Cortlandville), who also sits on the Cortlandville Planning Board.

The Legislature voted unanimously to send a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation stating concerns the county Health Department’s environmental health division and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District had regarding the project.

That letter was not provided in the meeting agenda.

The company plans to add 9 acres to its mine on Route 13 in South Cortland near Byrne Dairy and Lime Hollow Nature Center and dig down 100 feet below the town’s water table, according to town documents.

The town board expressed concerns over the risk the mine could pose to the aquifer, which supplies water to nearly 27,000 county residents.

The DEC declared itself lead agent under the State Environmental Quality Review Act to determine potential environmental effects from construction.

The town received a letter Monday from the DEC stating the project had no potential environmental effects. A 30-day comment period has been opened to the public before the DEC decides whether to issue a permit.

Cortlandville’s town board members expressed concern because the quarry would be less than 1,000 feet from a town well and work could lead to pollutants getting into the water supply, a sole-source aquifer supplying Cortlandville — including McGraw — and Cortland.

But before the town received the letter, Legislature Chairman Paul Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Tuxton) said Cortlandville Supervisor Tom Williams contacted Heider on the issue.

Clerk of the Legislature Eric Mulvihill said he, Heider, Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Cathy Bischoff (DCortland) and County Administrator Rob Corpora all spoke to the DEC about a week ago.

Legislator Kelly Preston (U-Homer) said all legislator should have been informed sooner.

“It would have been nice for us to get notice of that prior to five minutes ago,” Preston said.

Heider said he was aware of what was going on a week and a half ago.

“We had to move fast,” Heider said, apologizing