Lyons Realty LLC withdraws application
Supervisor Richard Shea (L) reads a letter from the Lyons family withdrawing their application for soil mining in Philipstown, as Nate Lyons (R) looks on. Photo / Annie Chesnut
A small crowd gathered at the Philipstown Town Hall on Wednesday morning for a rare press conference with Supervisor Richard Shea concerning soil mining—specifically the pending application of Lyons Realty LLC to create a soil mine off of Route 9 between Mill Road and East Mountain Road North.
The family company had requested the use of 32.6 acres for the mine and a proposed road, but met with strong and vocal opposition from community members, particularly residents of the surrounding area, when the Zoning Board of Appeals held a second public hearing at Town Hall on June 11 and an overflow crowd turned out, largely to voice objection to the project.
Shea was joined at a table by Nathan Lyons of Lyons Realty, to announce that the Lyonses had withdrawn their application for the mining operation, and would consider other uses for the property.
“We’ve been going through a process for the past several months,” Shea began. “That public hearing process is supposed to strike a balance…what it’s not is a time to level personal attacks.”
Referring to various remarks posted on the Internet, Shea noted, “Some of the comments I’ve heard people would not say if they were in face-to-face conversation and that’s something to think about.”
Describing the Lyons family’s actions, Shea said, “Out of their concern for the town they’ve come to the decision that they are going to withdraw their application for the mining.”
He then read the brief letter of withdrawal from Lyons Realty. “This is a big concession,” Shea added “when you talk about the right to earn a living, property rights, and the consideration that’s been given to their neighbors….they have a long successful track record here. This is a good family, I stand by them…and something good will come out of it.”
As to how much the application process had cost the Lyonses so far, Nathan Lyons responded, “Quite a bit. I really don’t want to say.”
Meanwhile, could we now see proposals coming before the Town Board to outlaw mining entirely in Philipstown? “I’m sure of that,” Shea said.
With regard to why the community turned out when it did, Shea replied, “I think when the rubber hits the road, that’s when people come out.” He added that regarding zoning, he thought that “people were supporting it without understanding it.”
After the press conference ended, Shea told the PCN&R: “I’m not disappointed. I think that people need to realize that we have law, we have public process. That public process is for both sides…for the applicant and the public….”
Shea said that leveling personal attacks “compromises an applicant’s rights.” With reference to the sometimes heated public discussion regarding proposed work Butterfield and a possible Dunkin’ Donuts, Shea noted, “There’s a lot going on right now….people are becoming more aware that they need to pay more attention to public process….Public input is a good thing. As long as it remains civil.”
The application for a gravel mine in Philipstown – an endeavor that has rapidly sent political debate in town to a fevered pitch – will be withdrawn by Lyons Realty Co., the PCN&R has learned.
The well-regarded Lyons family is a fixture of many, many decades in Cold Spring. But the company’s proposal for the soil mine off Route 9, a half-mile south of the county line and 1,200 feet north of Mill Road, drew some 130 people, almost all of them opponents, to a hearing last week of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Seventy people filled the town meeting room to its safe capacity upstairs in Town Hall, and some 60 more residents gathered outside, unable to enter. Comments about the mine and about town leaders from opponents have become increasingly strident and withering, even though the mining district was included in the new zoning law Philipstown passed last spring.
Supervisor Richard Shea confirmed Tuesday evening that the application would be withdrawn, contingent on another use, possibly residential housing, being approved by the town. The mine would have occupied about 23 acres, of 137 acres in the Lyons Realty parcel. Additional details of the withdrawal came during a news conference Wednesday morning at Town Hall, where Shea and Nathan Lyons, president of Harold Lyons & Sons Inc., spoke about the decision.
The decision by the Lyons family to withdraw the application apparently came within just the past few days, and included Ernie and Nathan Lyons, children of the late Harold Lyons and partners in the family business, as well as their sister Barbara, an employee there. “I’ve met with them or spoken with them nearly every day since last Monday,” Shea said, referring to June 11.
The supervisor said it would be positive for Philipstown if the mining issue is resolved soon, and said the scorched earth public comment against not only the mine but the Lyonses was likely a factor in their decision. “They’re not the people they’ve been portrayed to be,” he said. “They’re hard-working people.”
Route 9 is the main commercial thoroughfare in the town, particularly for businesses related to construction supplies, concrete and so on.
Until this week’s sudden, and perhaps unexpected, development, the ZBA hearing was slated to resume July 9, at a larger venue such as Haldane School. Video of the June 11 meeting is available at the PCNR.com’s video archive; click the “meetings” tab in the upper right.
Shea noted last week that the mining issue went back to 2005, when he was a member of the Town Board, but not yet supervisor. As he said, the aim of the talks then was that it would “be a good idea to try to limit soil mining in Philipstown.” The Lyons property is within an overlay approved as part of the last year’s zoning overhaul. The site is the only such parcel in town in the overlay. Check PCNR.com for more updates.