Carries Over Mining District Discussion
By Colleen Mahoney
Residents of the town of Great Valley will be able to install individual solar panels at their residence, after the town board passed Local Law number 2-2015 as an amendment to the town’s comprehensive plan at its May 11 meeting.
According to Town Attorney Peter Sorgi, individual solar panels will need a special use permit and a completed State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) before installation. The panels may not produce over 125 percent of the property’s energy need,s nor may they cover over 25 percent of the rear yard, as stated in the Solar Energy Systems petition.
The board also held a public hearing for a proposed Sand, Gravel and Clay Mining Overlay District, in which resident Hugh Dunne voiced his opinion.
“I don’t know why we come up with this comprehensive plan if we’re going to have variances and overlays,” Dunne said. “There are five gravel pits in town and we’re going to allow others?”
Dunne said he sees Great Valley “being hauled away” by rail and truck and thinks some companies should either pay the town for their use of gravel or furnish the town with additional gravel.
Town Supervisor Dan Brown explained that the town’s gravel pit is not exhausted, but that it is being depleted. If and when it runs out, the town would have to purchase material from other municipalities, resulting in higher costs to taxpayers.
“A lot of people in this town think that the sand we use … the materials we use come from Never Neverland,” Brown said. “We’re lucky the highway department only has to travel two miles round trip for their materials.”
The proposed mining district would cover a total of 102 acres, including where the five gravel pits already lay. If approved, the creation of a sand, gravel and clay mining district would reduce the amount of time currently spent by the town, planning and zoning boards to approve gravel pits.
As Brown explained it, the Department of Environmental Conservation will continue to be the lead agency on approval of new gravel pits, but creation of a separate district would give the Town Board the ability to act without involving the zoning and planning board, resulting in a more streamlined process.
“The area has a resource for material that’s relied on for residents to feed their families,” Brown said. “We’re just trying to make everything more efficient.”
The board tabled further discussion until the June meeting, although the public hearing was closed.
“In hindsight, we should have kept the public hearing open,” Brown said in a follow-up conversation. But he hopes to have all board members in attendance next month to hold a discussion during open session.
In other business, a rendering of the new playground equipment for the side lawn of the Town Hall was presented to the board, which includes a swing-set, jungle gym and slide. Brown announced the total project cost would be $29,996.20, of which $25,000 has been secured. The board approved allocation of $5,000 from the unappropriated fund balance and Brown hopes to have the project completed by July 1.
The next meeting of the Town of Great Valley board is scheduled for Monday, June 8 at 7 p.m. in the town hall. All are welcome.