Kiniry West LLC, situated on 1740 and 1752 Route 212, has requested that the Saugerties Planning Board approve a revised site plan that would lift a stop-work on what neighbors call his excavation and mining operations, issued by the town’s building department last November. About 50 neighbors and residents came out to a public hearing January 21 to express themselves, disturbed, they said, by the droning noise, persistent dust and potential water contamination that comes along with such an operation. Despite the turnout, the public hearing regarding one of the two Kiniry parcels owned by Kim Kiniry was postponed until the board’s next scheduled meeting on February 18.
Kiniry said that he withdrew his plan in response to backlash on Facebook about his operation, which he found “disappointing and upsetting.”
“They’re acting like we’re some kind of criminals,” he said in an interview January 22. “The threw this on [Facebook], I know what they’re going to do to me — make me out as a knucklehead who hasn’t been working for 35 years.”
Kiniry characterized the primary bent of his business as “making topsoil and mulch.”
The original site plan designated .98 acres of disturbance through mining. If a planned site exceeds one acre, a Storm Water Protection Plan (SWPP) and other additional measures have to be taken on. The stop-work order for the site was issued on November 14 because the site is alleged to have exceeded one acre. In the new site plan that will be under consideration by the planning board, the owner seeks to retroactively account for the additional disturbed space. Kiniry said that he has employed two engineers to establish and SWPP plan.
The closest neighbors to what are actually two adjoining excavation sites, fine artists Mark Kanter and Heather Hutchinson, recalled two years of intermittent foundation-shaking mining and processing activity taking place approximately 40 feet from their home on Adams Road, much of it on a rock ledge preceding a small overlook onto the northwest side of the Kiniry property that, Kanter said, Kiniry had agreed to leave untouched. The jackhammering and manipulation of this rock, he said, caused the worst disturbance — the clearing of a number of trees on the Kiniry property and the processing of sand, stone, wood and topsoil was still disturbing, but less so.
“What we have is a bluestone quarry right under our house,” said Kanter. “None of that is permitted use, but since we’ve already seen Kiniry West take an inch and get a mile that any kind of permitted use would result in more and more undermining of our property line and impact on the environment.”
They ignored activities at the site in 2018; by last summer, Kiniry was operating “every day.”
“Dusty activity, banging, crushing, grinding sounds, dust in the air [and we] couldn’t open our windows the whole summer long,” described Kanter.
But Kiniry wouldn’t characterize the work on the stone ledge of the property as “mining.” He said that the excavated material is being moved to a place onsite, specifically the site of the metal structure on 1752 Route 212, to grade the property.
“[There are areas of the grade that are] still two feet low in some of the areas, but we’re not going to [continue using onsite-rocks for this purpose] because we don’t want to cause a ruckus.” Kiniry said that he would, instead, bring in rocks from other locations at his own expense.
According to Kanter and Hutchinson’s attorney Emily Svenson, the property is improperly zoned. Although there are other industrially zoned areas in the town, this Route 212 site is in a Highway Business district, where manufacturing is not permitted. According to the town’s zoning code, “manufacturing” includes “forestry…mining and quarrying.”
After Kanter and Hutchinson’s reports to the town’s building department were finally acknowledged and Kiniry was warned of an impending stop work order, they “got a second machine to mine as much as they could before they got the paperwork.”
Kiniry said that he was “transparent” in his plans for activity that he brought to the planning board when he first developed the property, and that “[he] misinterpreted something” in the planning process, and that “the zoning laws are very difficult to interpret — we don’t know how to interpret that.” He reiterated his commitment to “rectifying the situation.”
Svenson expressed concern in a letter addressed to the planning board chairman Howard Post for wellbeing of a perennial stream that originates and runs across the westernmost of the two parcels. And although Kiniry wrote on its Environmental Assessment Form that the project would not “physically alter, or encroach into any existing wetland or waterbody,” the stream on the site is not mentioned. Svenson argues that Kiniry would need to receive a Protection of Waters Permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation before work could legally proceed. A downstream neighbor reported that a small lake on their property has begun filling with mud and refuse since operations have started on the site.
Kiniry would not categorize the water body as a stream: “It’s just a drainage drench in a culvert coming from the road — it’s a vernal area, it dries up all the time, takes the road drainage.”
“He (Kiniry) misrepresented what he was going to be and betrayed the trust of the town and the neighbors which is why I have no confidence in having anything allowed here,” said Kanter. “We’re not against businesses. It’s about allowing use that is consistent with the area and doesn’t rob from the residents who’ve been there…To allow somebody to enrich themselves by extracting wealth out of their neighbors largest investment is not the way that we should operate in our town.”
Both Kanter and Kiniry were grateful for the community support they garnered for their side of the matter.
“I know all these people,” said Kanter. “When we found out this meeting was going down, we started planning to get people who were in the community and the neighborhood to come out and support this.”
Kiniry said that he was surprised and appreciative of “how many friends [he] did have that came to bat for [Kiniry West].”
A public hearing on the matter, where residents can voice their opinions will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 18 at the Frank Greco Senior Center.