Quarry foes OK with waiting on town


By David Avitabile

Schoharie town board members are not rushing to judgment on the proposed settlement with Cobleskill Stone Products and that suits some quarry expansion opponents just fine.
Councilmen plan to meet in executive session with the town's land use attorney next month before contemplating any decision on the settlement, Councilman Alan Tavenner told about 30 residents Wednesday.
Mr. Tavenner has been leading the meetings on the issue since Supervisor Chris Tague, who works for CSP, has excused himself from the discussions and any decision.
Councilmen have not had the chance to discuss the issue as a group or with the attorney, Mr. Tavenner said in a response to a question from resident Bob Montione on what has transpired since last month's public hearing.
At that hearing, more than 25 people spoke against the settlement that would allow CSP to expand its mining area in exchange for ending future legal battles with the town.
Once those discussions are completed, board members can begin to make a decision on how to proceed, Mr. Tavenner added.
"We're not going to decide it overnight and we're not going to decide it in the dark. We're going to make it as public as possible," Mr. Tavenner said.
The delay is fine with settlement and expansion opponent Peter Johnson.
"It's a complicated issue," Mr. Johnson noted Thursday.
He said he spoke with Councilmen Tavenner and Matt Brisley after last week's meeting and was told board members will consider the issue together.
"They're really thinking it through. I'm comfortable with that," Mr. Johnson added.
Any decision will have consequences, "and they are weighing that and I applaud them."
Mr. Johnson did not want to comment on what action might be taken after a decision by the board, wanting to wait for that determination to be made.
Mr. Montione was also satisfied with the pace of the town board.
"It's good to see they are taking the time to review the material and to speak to their legal counsel. The pace is appropriate to what they are doing," Mr. Montione said Sunday.
"I can't complain about the process they are taking. It sounds like they are taking the appropriate steps...
"We'd all like it to end and have them stop suing the town, but we want to see it end on the appropriate terms."
The town board received a number of questions and comments and the land-use attorney, who could not attend last week's meeting, has not had a chance to review all of them.
"The process will take its course," Councilman Tavenner said, and then board members will have to decide whether to approve the settlement, go to CSP with a different offer or "fight it out in court."
Mr. Tavenner did note that CSP has filed an article 78 proceeding, a lawsuit, on the new land-use laws that were adopted by the town in December.
The land-use attorney noted that the town is facing a bill of more than $100,000 on defending the 2015 zoning law and future related fees.
The settlement would end 11 years of legal wrangling that began when CSP officials announced plans to expand their mine near Rickard Hill Road.
The ongoing legal battles have cost the town more than $500,000 in legal fees since 2005.
The settlement would also end the town's opposition to expanding the mining area near Rickard Hill Road in exchange for several key concessions by CSP, including a smaller expansion and a larger buffer area.
Settlement opponents have blasted these concessions stating that several are already required by the state or are not very beneficial for the town.
The next town board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8 at the town hall on Main Street in Schoharie.
The proposed settlement notes that CSP filed plans in 2014 to downsize the quarry expansion by providing a 600-foot buffer from Warner Hill Road. Those plans are currently under review by the DEC.