SAND LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rensselaer County Women for Change voiced its opinion Monday on the proposed expansion of mining for gravel in the town of Sand Lake. The group strongly opposed the mining, citing detrimental effects like residential wells running dry, local lake levels dropping, and noise and dust pollution increasing.

The Sand Lake Town Board is considering allowing the Rifenburg/Hoffay mine to expand by 70 acres. Advocates with Women for Change said this move would encroach on hundreds of residential properties.

“As residents of West Sand Lake, we are already paying a heavy price,” said Women for Change member Shawntell Mills-Sanchez. “Neighbors deal daily with the impacts of mining—cracks in foundations and interior home walls, dynamite blast reverberations, truck noise, continuous traffic, visible clouds of heavy dust in the air, homes covered in filth, and the frequent pungent smells of asphalt being processed.”

While recognizing the need for building materials such as gravel, Rensselaer County Women for Change also noted the responsibility of mining companies to preserve the peace of the area, and the need for homeowners to protect their wells, air quality, and property values. A spokesperson for the group added, “while the residents of the area bear the brunt of the destructive nature of this endeavor, neither a significant number of local jobs nor a reasonable tax burden is carried by the current mining operation.”

Sand Lake Town Board will meet to discuss and hear comments on this issue on Wednesday, January 11, at 7 p.m. in the Sand Lake Town Hall. Rensselaer County Women for Change encouraged residents to attend and voice their opinions on this proposal.

A spokesperson for Rifenburg Construction, which owns the Sand Lake mining pit, said they have operated in the town since 1988 and there has been very minimal impact on the neighboring community. “Although there are concerns from residents, we are in the very early stages of this process,” they said. “If the town accepts the sketch plan we drafted, it only goes onto other government agencies for approval. We understand the concerns, and those will be vetted through the process.”