Merges Planning/Zoning Boards

By Colleen Mahoney

The Great Valley Town Board on July 13 voted 3-1 to initiate a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) on the proposed Sand, Gravel and Clay Mining Overlay District.

The decision came after a public hearing on the proposed district in which Fred Perkins of A&F Trucking and Ken Ziccarelie of Gernatt Gravel were on hand to answer questions from the general public.

“I apologize to anyone who was at last month’s meeting,” Town Supervisor Dan Brown said. “We realized some of the maps … were a year old.”

Brown presented a map that was updated by the planning board. Ziccarelie explained that the areas the district covers is primarily where gravel pits are already allowed, and where residents have been “blessed … with quality gravel.”

Cattaraugus County Legislator Carl Edwards was in attendance, and said he had received phone calls from residents expressing concerns about noise pollution and the district’s proximity to homes.

“I know virtually nothing about it…and I have no direct authority,” Edwards said. “But I’ve received calls with concerns, so those of you who made your concerns heard, I’m here.”

Ziccarelie explained that the Department of Environmental Conservation will not issue a permit for a gravel pit within 500 feet of a residence, but that the town has the final say.

The DEC will be the lead agency on the SEQR, Ziccarelie said, but the town will have the ability throughout the process to add or remove provisions of the permit and will be aware of everything that is going on.

After a permit is issued, there is a 30-day comment period for the general public to voice its concerns, which the DEC will take into consideration, Ziccarelie said.

Using Gernatt as an example, Ziccarelie said that once they are aware of a problem or concern of a resident, they do their best to alleviate it. Each pit, he said, is subject to regular inspections by the DEC, either once or twice a year.

The board approved the initiation of the SEQR and expects to vote on the mining district local law at its August meeting.

The board also approved dissolving the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and combining it with the Town Planning Board. Going forward, there will be a seven member board, with two alternates, that will serve as both the Planning and Zoning Board.

Town Attorney Peter Sorgi explained that the combined board will conduct issues of the zoning board separately from that of the planning board. The main purpose of the consolidation, Sorgi said, is to ensure that there is always a full board present for voting.

The new playground behind the town hall has been completed, Brown said, and has already been in use. With about four days of straight work, Brown said the playground was completed, and a concrete sidewalk was laid by the Highway Department.

The next Great Valley Town Board meeting will be Monday Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.