By Michael Horgan
The public outcry over a local mining operation continued at the April 28 Rhinebeck Town Board meeting.
More than 15 residents showed up to express concern about the application for a mining permit renewal and future plans for expansion by Red Wing Properties. And a petition opposing the mine’s proposed expansion on White Schoolhouse Road is also gathering steam in the community.
At the meeting, Town Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia noted that resolving all concerns about the Red Wing expansion would require many public hearings, with potential for extensive administrative proceedings and even litigation.
Spinzia told the attendees that the Town Board “will be proceeding in a responsible, careful manner which best protects the environment, the health, the safety, the welfare, and the property rights of all citizens and property owners of the town.” She did not indicate what further action the board would take.
Resident Sue Greenberg urged community members to spread the word about the petition, called “Keep Rhinebeck Rural,” which by Friday, May 2 had reached 725 signatures of the group’s goal of 750. The petition, which calls for a zoning change to halt large-scale mining, charges that expansion of Red Wing’s operation at 234-286 White Schoolhouse Road “will significantly destroy wetlands and change the character of Rhinebeck.” An application for a more-than 100-acre mining expansion on the property is now before the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Sixteen community members waited in line at the meeting to speak about negative environmental impacts, the types of companies allowed to conduct business in Rhinebeck and increased truck traffic on White Schoolhouse Road.
Richard von der Lieth, a resident on the road and the owner of another excavating and soil mining operation there, shared his concern that the zoning changes the town board is considering would put his company out of business. However, he said he is also not in favor of a large soil mine in the area. “A small operation has far less impact on the environment and, managed properly, can supply the local area for a much longer time,” he said.
Frank Doherty, President of Red Wing Properties, reminded attendees of several mining sites his company has completed in other Hudson Valley towns, such as Beekman and LaGrange. “We don’t intend on destroying the town of Rhinebeck,” he said, adding that he feels the petition contains several untruths. Air quality near the mine and noise levels will not change, he said.