Victor board OKs permit for Syracusa quarry

Julie Sherwood

The Town Board Monday approved a special-use permit for the Syracusa Sand and Gravel operation. The permit — which must be renewed annually — allows mining to continue in a residential zone as long as it sticks to setbacks, approved hours of operation and other town laws.

The permit was approved 4-1, with Councilman Pete Hessney voting against it.

The quarry on Malone Road is at the center of an investigation into groundwater contamination on the western part of town. State officials believe industrial solvents were dumped on or near the property prior to 1990. The water in a one-mile stretch between Modock Road and the operation tests positive for the toxins.

Hessney said Tuesday he didn’t support issuing the permit because he thinks the quarry should be under tighter scrutiny by the town in light of contamination concerns and questions about the ongoing investigation. The Town Board had a chance to require more frequent monitoring of the property than the  required yearly check stipulates in town law, he said. “People want more out of us,” said Hessney. 

Town Building Inspector Alan Benedict said Wednesday the quarry was notified last year it had to remove some vehicles from the property because they exceed the number allowed, as well as remove debris from a house that was torn down. The quarry was not served with a violation but was given a timeline to comply within the next few months, said Benedict. The vehicles and debris don’t pose a health or safety risk to the public, he said.

Benedict said a special-use permit must be renewed annually, though the mine had not had one issued since 2002, prior to Benedict’s tenure as town building inspector. 

The quarry’s permit with the DEC had also expired in 2002. DEC officials discovered the lapse in October, after investigating complaints from residents concerned that  materials were being trucked off the site on Malone Road.

The DEC suspended operations at the Syracusa site in October while it conducted tests to make sure continued operations would not affect the investigation. Testing showed no contamination of stockpiles, production areas or the quarry pit’s face or bed, so the DEC renewed Syracusa’s permit, and operations resumed Nov. 7.

DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said the DEC permit should be renewed every five years, with the Syracusa permit expiring in November 2012.

Contact Julie Sherwood at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 263, or at jsherwood@mpnewspapers.com.