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Shelby proposes district to protect wildlife refuge

This map shows the northern portion of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, along with the proposed Protection Overlay District.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2016 at 2:10 pm

SHELBY – The Shelby Town Board is looking to establish a “Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District” that would ban mining and other uses the town doesn’t think are compatible near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

The Town Board will have a public hearing on the local law at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 at the Town Hall on Salt Works Road. Shelby is proposing the district as a 3,000-foot buffer from the refuge border. The district would include 227 parcels or 3,821 acres. Of that land, 3,638 are enrolled in the agricultural district.

The Town Board is looking to establish the the local law after the state Department of Environmental Conservation ruled on July 27 that Frontier Stone won’t need to go to adjudication to resolve any “substantive or significant” environmental issues with a proposed 215-acre quarry on Fletcher Chapel Road.

In his ruling, Administrative Law Judge D. Scott Bassinson said DEC officials can now work towards issuing a permit for the project following completion of the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper said the town doesn’t want a quarry so close to the wildlife refuge. Many residents have spoken against the project during DEC hearings. Establishing the Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District would establish a new level of regulation to protect natural resources.

The district would ban blasting, mining, junk yards, kennels, airports, motor vehicle repair shops, outdoor commercial recreation areas and telecommunication facilities.

The district also proposed banning agricultural product processing and distribution facilities, but the Orleans County Planning Board last Thursday said those uses should likely be allowed because of the NYS Agriculture and Markets Law. Otherwise, the Planning Board backed the local law.

Frontier Stone is proposing the new quarry and would like to provide lime and some services for the farm community. The proposed quarry would be established in four phases, over 75 years, with 11.6 acres mined in the first 11 years.

Frontier Stone, on its website (click here), says the local law if adopted would “significantly restrict” property rights in Shelby, limit how property can be used, and hinder the ability to sell property for an economic benefit in the future.