Disproportionate Impacts of Mining Operations in West Sand Lake
I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed PDD for expansion of mining in Sand Lake. While many have expressed well founded concerns about this, my focus is on the impact in West Sand Lake, particularly those of us who live on or near Rte 43.
Our hamlet bears the heaviest burden of mine location as well as the impacts of truck traffic, especially noise and chemical and particulate pollution from exhaust. This is exacerbated by the lack of progress in terms of traffic flow at the intersection of 43 and 150. At am and pm rush hour, traffic backs up on 43 and essentially idles there. Our houses are persistently dusty inside, while the exteriors of our homes are dirtied by the heavy dust and emissions from the traffic. We often cannot hear our neighbors during routine conversation outside and have to shout to make ourselves heard.
At the same time, we contribute to the town through the payment of property taxes. We, along with several neighbors, pay more in property taxes than the gravel miners collectively, which makes it seems others are benefitting at our expense.
Approval of mining expansion into the Gardner property means those of us affected by the noise and dirty air will never be afforded relief, and this current proposal is unlikely to be the last.
In addition to the uncaptured costs above, yielding so much property in town, for years or decades, to mining is financially imprudent. A dozen homes or so contribute more in property taxes than do the mining companies. Their impact as employers is important but not meaningful in a town where most residents commute to Albany, Schenectady or Troy or other towns for work.
To reiterate, it is questionable that mining expansion is advantageous to Sand Lake, as the town is reducing property tax income in doing so. Between the doubtful economic benefit and downstream costs noted, especially in West Sand Lake, I would urge the Town Board not to approve the PDD proposal to expand the Rifenburg mine.
Stefanie Neubert, West Sand Lake
North Greenbush property taxes and volunteer firefighter / ambulance service members
In January, our neighbor to the south, Nassau authorized counsel to draft a local law providing a volunteer firefighter and ambulance worker property tax exemption. North Greenbush should consider a similar law.
In December 2022, New York State Legislature & Gov. Hochul approved a property tax exemption for volunteer first responders who have been members of fire or ambulance service for at least two year. “Generally speaking, the new law gives municipalities, school districts and fire districts throughout the State the option to provide a property tax exemption of up to 10% to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. Any such exemption would be valid only on property used exclusively for residential purposes. [tax.ny.gov].
North Greenbush Councilman Jack Rogers has mentioned at many town board meetings, the Town’s need to support our volunteer firefighters and ambulance services and service members. I agree with Councilman Rogers that North Greenbush needs to support our volunteer firefighters and ambulance services. I don’t know if direct financial support is possible in the future. However, this reduction in property taxes is something that North Greenbush should evaluate and consider adopting for our town.
Michael Myer, North Greenbush