July 17, 2008

Como Park Quarry’s Future is Undecided

By Barbara O'Brien, The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Jul. 17--Cheektowaga residents, Buffalo Crushed Stone and town officials are waiting for decisions that will affect the quarry and the Como Park Boulevard area for years to come.

At stake is how much property can be mined at the limestone quarry, which has been located off Como Park Boulevard and Indian Road since 1929, and how long it will be mined.

The company is seeking a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to mine the isthmus, a 40-acre area in the center of the quarry. Permission to mine that could extend the life of the mine another 20 years.

The State Appellate Court is ruling on a different, 10-year-old case: the appeal of a State Supreme Court ruling that the quarry could expand on two sections north of Como Park, but not to the west toward Union Road, nor to the east across Indian Road.

The court case deals with the town's contention that its zoning regulations prohibit the expansion, and Buffalo Crushed Stone's belief that it is a nonconforming use that may continue, because mining had been allowed in parts of the quarry until the town changed the zoning law.

The company sought to rezone 76 acres east of its existing quarry as well as 50 acres directly north of Como Park Boulevard and another 13 acres west of the quarry to aggregate district, which permits mining. The quarry withdrew its request in 1998, and filed a lawsuit against the town, claiming its mining operation was grandfathered.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph

R. Glownia issued a split ruling in October 2006 on the lawsuit. Both the town and Buffalo Crushed Stone appealed the ruling. "I don't think people are aware of what's going on," said Jane Wiercioch, president of the Depew/ Cheektowaga Taxpayers Association, who has been watching for the court decision.

She's also waiting for the state DEC to act on the request from Buffalo Crushed Stone to mine about 40 acres of land between the east and west basins.

The company wants to relocate the asphalt and rock-crushing plants and material stockpiles to the bottom of the east basin, more than 100 feet below grade, according to the DEC. It also wants to mine the area known as the isthmus, between the east and west basins, extending the life of the mine.

The taxpayers group is seeking to be granted party status that would allow it to participate on a different level in the permit process.

Wiercioch said her group is concerned about air pollution from a smokestack that would be located on the bottom of the quarry, and residents also would like to see the entrance moved from Como Park Boulevard to Indian Road.

Cheektowaga Zoning Officer Daniel Ulatowski said the town wants the company to address air emissions and moving the entrance in its final environmental review, which still must be completed before a permit can be issued.

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