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Quarry company says legislator candidate misses mark in his criticisms of Shelby project

Posted 9 October 2017 at 11:26 am

Editor:

Mr. Capurso of Gaines is running for an at-large position on the Orleans County Legislature. His July 4th letter, which took aim at Frontier Stone’s quarry project in Shelby, illustrates he is uninformed on the issue yet has no hesitation making unsubstantiated claims and misleading statements to the community about a project with over a decade of unrestricted documentation that is available to the public.

The importance of fact checking “often,” as suggested in a July 19th letter by Ms. Fisk, was never more important than it is today when the facts surrounding critical issues facing communities require substantiation.

We offer:

Mr. Capurso: “…it has been shown we have ample existing stone quarries to satisfy future needs.”

Mr. Capurso has offered no proof of this claim. Mined Land Use Plans and public documents will show this statement is factually inaccurate.

Mr. Capurso: “Another quarry would literally undermine the existing ones, hurting their bottom lines and causing a loss in local jobs.”

If the candidate would have you believe this is true than his prior statement as to there being “ample existing stone quarries” would have to be false. Both statements made by Mr. Capurso are intentionally misleading.

Mr. Capurso: “Keep in mind, Frontier Stone typically does not hire locally.”

This statement, made by Mr. Capurso in the present tense, would have readers believe Frontier Stone is currently a local employer, which it is not. Corporate records for the 14 years Frontier Stone was an active employer in the area reflect every member of the workforce was a local hire (1983-1997).

Mr. Capurso: “The DEC is not the failsafe protector of our environment we hope them to be. DEC regulations, in many instances, actually allow for a deterioration in wildlife habitat – very true in this case.”

If the Department of Environment Conservation is not tasked with protecting the state’s natural resources, then what are Mr. Capurso’s credentials as compared to those of the staff at the DEC?

A DEC Administrative Law Judge noted the USFWS “which has the responsibility for the Wildlife Refuge” did not submit objections to Frontier Stone’s quarry project, oral comments or file a petition for party status. He confirmed the DEC and Frontier Stone “have coordinated with the USFWS and addressed the USFWS concerns.”

The judge presiding over the project’s permit proceeding ruled both the Town of Shelby and Citizens for Shelby Preservation “did not provide any evidence, proposed testimony, or other offer of proof to support” their claims of error on the part of Frontier Stone or the DEC. The town and CSP made no “significant or substantive” offers of proof of any negative impacts. Nor could either party disprove the data supplied by the DEC or the verifiable data, studies and expert witness testimony submitted by Frontier Stone.

The candidate’s concern for the potential deterioration of the INWR habitat at the hands of Frontier Stone is hypocritical, considering his lack of concern for same at the hands of Shelby’s Town Board who, unlike Frontier Stone, did not coordinate with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The town’s New Local Law #3 of 2017 restricts land use for property owners near the refuge but does not limit uses the USFWS already deems destructive to the habitat and prohibits in the refuge.

In a June 19th Facebook post Mr. Capurso wrote: “The Shelby Town Board just passed the Wildlife Protection Overlay District. Kudos. Let’s stop the destructive quarry.”

Without any questions or objections from Mr. Capurso, the sole private citizen in attendance on June 19th, the Shelby Town Board voted unanimously to enact Local Law #3 of 2017. LL3 prohibits mining, other commercial uses and activities in Shelby’s newly-formed “Wildlife Refuge Overlay Protection District” (WROPD). LL3 further outlines two very specific uses the town board will not regulate or limit – ATVs and snowmobiles. “Nothing in this definition shall be read as limiting or regulating the use of snowmobiles or ATV’s on public or private trails” (townofshelbyny.org/Notices/Public Notices/Creating the Wildlife Protection Overlay District, pg. 2).

In direct contrast, the INWR’s website, hunting regulations and permits clearly state the USFWS prohibits the use of ATVs and snowmobiles. This is the case not only because of the “audible and visual disturbances they cause to wildlife but because ATVs, in particular, destroy necessary vegetation.” (Telephonically 7/7/17)

As written, Shelby’s LL3 prohibits numerous uses under the guise of protecting the refuge so “uses allowed in and near the Refuge are consistent with its goals and protecting the habitat within and outside the Refuge that are essential to the Refuge’s viability” (pg. 2).  Review of Negative Declaration documents for LL3 show the Shelby Town Board states the law will have no “impacts on any significant habitat area or any impacts on wildlife” nor will there be any “destruction of large quantities of vegetation.”

In the board’s haste to prohibit mining activities and other uses, without restricting the use of snowmobiles and ATVs, Shelby’s LL3 is contrary to its own stated purpose. The law blatantly fails to protect the habitat from uses previously identified as destructive by the federal government agency dedicated to managing the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Meeting Minutes reflect Mr. Capurso had no questions about the rights and restrictions under LL3 and its potential environmental impact on the refuge. He expressed no concern for Shelby property owners or how LL3 would affect future economic development in the gateway to Orleans County. Is this the type of representation residents of Gaines can anticipate?

Mr. Capurso: “…this quarry is based on the notion that Frontier Stone would attempt to mitigate to the best of their abilities, any negative impacts.”

Mining operations are not notions. They are highly-technical operations monitored by a state regulatory agency. Frontier Stone’s application was analyzed, modified and vetted by experts for over a decade. While there are many opinions by those not credentialed in any field, there were no negative environmental impacts identified for Frontier Stone’s planned mining operation. View FrontierStoneWNY.com | News & Information “7/27/16 DEC Ruling.”

Mr. Capurso: “Blasting …will reverberate…Nesting birds…eagles, ospreys, hawks will be disrupted… Migrating Canadian geese would avoid the sanctuary and suffer”

It has been established, noise from mining operations would reduce to ambient levels within 350 feet of the Wildlife Refuge boundary. See also DEC Draft Permit Conditions 18, 19 and 21 viewable online at Dec.NY.gov, FrontierStoneWNY.com or the Agency of Record –  Shelby Town Hall. Additionally, “Wildlife” and “7/27/16 DEC Ruling” at FrontierStoneWNY.com and the audible sound level data below against Mr. Capurso’s claim that this quarry’s blast would be disruptive.

Permit conditions 18-19 are the result of Mr. Mahar and a team of credentialed experts working in conjunction with the DEC, GCEDC and Vibra-Tech to design a blast in accordance with nanotechnology and semiconductor standards to accommodate the STAMP project. Condition 21 restricts the quarry’s blast to a maximum 133 decibels, which in audible sound levels is 62.5-dBA.

To the human ear, the noise made by a vacuum cleaner or kitchen blender is louder than this quarry’s 62.5-dBA blast. This blast is less noisy than a 103-dBA leaf blower or a lawn mower at 95-dBA, both of which can be heard in use daily on properties surrounding the refuge.  At 62.5-dBA, Frontier’s 30 annual blasts lasting two seconds each would be less frequent, jarring and disruptive than the dozens of shotgun and rifle blasts fired all day in and around the refuge during hunting season. Compare the audible sound level of 62.5-dBA to:

Dishwasher 60 dBA                                                    Snowmobile 73-78 dBA

Food Blender 88 dBA                                                  Bulldozer 93-96 dBA

Vacuum Cleaner 88 dBA                                                         Leaf Blower 103 dBA

Lawn Mower 95-120 dBA                                                       Chain Saw – up to 116 dBA

.22 Caliber Rifle 132-139 dBA                                                12-Gauge Shotgun 150-165 dBA

Mr. Capurso: “A landowner adjacent to the refuge who sells to Frontier Stone will reap thousands.”

There are not now, nor have there ever been, any offers made by Frontier Stone to buy anyone’s land in Shelby. Further, the “landowner adjacent to the refuge” has no interest in selling his land. Those of us born in Orleans County, and agricultural communities like it, know farmers generally prefer not to sell their land.

Mr. Capurso: “But don’t buy their story that this will be a recreation area.”

There is no story. However, there are requirements in the form of a DEC permit, a Reclamation Plan and a Reclamation Plan Map. Frontier Stone must abide by the requirements outlined in the permit and supervised by a regulatory agency to lawfully operate in the state. The permit includes “Mined Land Reclamation Permit Conditions” which outline the area that must be developed and reclaimed.

Mr. Capurso: “Their other water-filled quarries are deemed too dangerous and are off limits to the public.”

Another present tense statement crafted to intentionally mislead people who may not be aware Frontier Stone does not own or operate other quarries. There are no “other water-filled quarries” which are “deemed too dangerous and are off limits to the public” – none whatsoever.

Candidates should be held accountable for the information they present to the public.

As elected officials, they are ultimately expected to be informed on the issues and to administer the law in good faith. If they are so biased they refuse to accurately present verifiable data about a project with over ten years of public documentation, it brings into question their fitness to fairly represent all constituencies as required by the office.

Andina Barone

Mindful Media Group for Frontier Stone, LLC