A state supreme court judge in Albany last week declined to issue a temporary restraining order barring the implementation of new permit authorized by the state Department of Environmental Conservation on June 5, allowing the Sand Land mine in Noyac to expand into a three-acre area called the “stump dump” and dig 40 feet deeper than the limit set by its last permit.
The issuance of the permit was expected, even though opponents had urged the DEC to withhold it until pending litigation is concluded.
The mine, meanwhile, is still barred from expanding into the stump dump under the terms of a preliminary injunction the same judge, Acting Justice James H. Ferreira, issued on May 31. It came in response to a lawsuit filed by an alliance of mine opponents, including the Town of Southampton, the Noyac Civic Council, the Group for the East End and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.
They are challenging the legality of DEC Commissioner Basil Seggo’s decision in March to clear the way for the new permit by negotiating an settlement agreement with Wainscott Sand & Gravel, the corporate owner of the Sand Land mine, that allows for the expansion but would see the mine closed within eight years.
That case remains pending before Judge Ferreira. But after the DEC issued the new permit this month, the opponents moved to amend their original petition to request a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring its implementation. Judge Ferreira allowed them to amend their petition but denied a TRO.
Claudia Braymer, an Albany area attorney representing the Group for the East End in the case, said by email on Monday the judge had set a conference for later this week on an order to show cause why the mine should not be enjoined from expanding under the terms of the new permit “during the pendency of this proceeding.” The order is returnable in court on July 12.
Because there appeared to be some uncertainty if the mine was still enjoined from digging deeper within its original lateral limits, the opponents were headed to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court on Wednesday to request an order clarifying the issue. There had been no decision by press time Wednesday.