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Dec 17, 2018 10:50 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

DEC Denies Sand Land Mining Expansion

Sand Land Corporation's mining site in Noyac. PRESS FILE
Dec 17, 2018 10:50 AM

On December 10, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Sand Land Corporation’s motion to renew and re-argue its permit hearing proceedings on its application to expand mining operations at its Noyac site.

Sand Land sought to expand mining operations at its Wainscott Sand and Gravel mine to 4.9 more acres of land, from the previously approved 31.5 acres to 36.4 acres at its 50-acre site, and by lowering the mine floor by 40 feet, from the previously approved depth of 160 feet above mean sea level to 120 feet above mean sea level.

Chief Administrative Law Judge James McClymonds made the ruling in the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, an independent office within the DEC that reports directly to Commissioner Basil Seggos. In January, the proceedings were suspended and adjourned indefinitely, pending determination from the Town of Southampton on whether the applicant’s proposed mine expansion was allowed under the Town Code.

The town has since submitted proof that Sand Land’s expansion was not authorized under local law.

In a letter to DEC Regional Permit Administrator Roger Evans on July 18, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman wrote, “Mineral mining is not a permitted use in any zoning category in the Town of Southampton. Therefore, the answer as to whether local zoning laws or ordinances prohibit mining uses within the area proposed to be mined is ‘yes.’”

Sand Land objected to Mr. Schneiderman’s letter, saying in a letter to Mr. Evans that it “failed to answer whether mining is prohibited at the premises and failed to provide documentation supporting the Supervisor’s determination.”

However, the objection did not influence the judge’s decision.

“It is another nail in the coffin for this operation and a step further forward for those who don’t want to see expansion,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said of the ruling. “This is not the end, but the beginning of the end.”

He has long opposed Sand Land’s operations because of its threat to the community’s drinking water supply, and even appeared at the ruling on Monday on his own behalf.

Mr. Schneiderman said he was also pleased with the ruling. “On the whole, it was a great decision. It reaffirms the town’s position,” he said.

Sand Land can now either appeal the ruling before the January 9 deadline, which can then take several months to process, or go to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals to further inquire into the expansion’s legality. The ZBA would determine if the proposed expansion is authorized under the Town Code without any further town approval, or if a variance is needed before allowing the expansion.

“The wheels of whether it is the courts or administrative law with the DEC, they turn slowly and sometimes too slowly for my liking,” Mr. Thiele said. “The threat to groundwater continues. I would certainly like to see this move along faster.”

He added more in a public statement: “OHMS’s decision is a win for the environment and public health; but the real victory will come when Sand Land is closed permanently and our groundwater is protected.”

Concurrent to this case, the DEC is also seeking to modify Sand Land’s existing permit at its Wainscott Sand and Gravel mine to halt operations. In a statement released on September 11, the DEC stated that it was “seeking to modify this facility’s permit to require the cessation of mining operations and require completion of reclamation within two years.”

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