October 25, 2021

C’ville mulls moratorium

Six-month hold on projects aims to protect wellhead areas

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

A car drives past a sign for Cortlandville’s aquifer on Lime Hollow Road on Tuesday. The town will hold a public hearing June 2 on a moratorium to ban or ban expanding projects in the wellhead protection areas.

The Cortlandville Town Board will have a public hearing June 2 as the town seeks to impose a six-month moratorium on projects being developed in its wellhead protection areas to allow time to strengthen zoning laws.

The proposal follows the recent effort to expand a gravel mine in South Cortland. If enacted, the moratorium would prohibit:

• Projects that discharge or dispose of hazardous toxic materials.

• All mining projects.

• Projects that feature the production or processing of bulk quantities of any hazardous material or toxic substance.

• Gas stations.

• Projects that feature the open storage of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.

• The disposal of toxic substances or hazardous materials.

The wellhead protection areas are mostly located in the southwestern, northeastern, and eastern parts of the town, town documents show.

The six-month delay would give town officials time to revise the wellhead protection zone portion of the zoning section of town code, said Town Attorney John DelVecchio.

Williams said the need for the moratorium came to light because of a proposed mine expansion by Cortlandville Sand and Gravel off Route 13 in south Cortland.

The expansion would add 9 acres to the mine and dig down 100 feet below the town’s water table, town documents show.

Town officials and residents have raised concerns about potential exposure in the town’s drinking water due to the expansion of the mine near the aquifer.

Additionally, the timing comes as the town is working to update its comprehensive plan for the first time since 1978, said Bruce Weber, the town planning and zoning officer.

“When those types of things occur, you try to make sure your regulations are in place,” he said.

The town enacted a six-month moratorium on solar projects in April for projects that had not received prior approval.

The moratorium on wellhead projects,which was recommended for approvalat last week’s Cortland County PlanningBoard meeting, now goes back to the Cortlandville Town Board for the public hearing and adoption, said Dan Dineen, the county director of planning.

The protection of the aquifer is critical in providing clean drinking water to town, Cortland and residents in McGraw, Williams said.

“That aquifer supplies water for 30,000 people,” he said.