ZONING & MINING BASICS: A beginner’s guide to understanding basic terminology

The Rhinebeck Town Board currently has before it an amendment to the zoning law to correct mistakes in the current map of the Mining Overlay District.  For those not familiar with ZONING TERMINOLOGY, which to be honest is most of us, these are terms relevant to help better understand this amendment:


–  Comprehensive Plan.  This is the document the Town Board adopts that details the community’s preferences for its future development.  It includes elements like the retention of rural character, support for local businesses, natural resource protection.  To implement the goals of the Comprehensive Plan, the Town drafts and adopts a zoning code.  The zoning code is the legal document that governs how land will be developed in the community.  In New York State, the zoning code is derived from, and meant to comply with, the guidance of the Comprehensive Plan.  The Rhinebeck Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2009.


–  Mining Overlay District. In Rhinebeck, this is the only area in the Town where sand and gravel mining is permitted to take place.  It is based upon the recommendation found in the Comprehensive Plan. Mining is not allowed to occur outside the Mining Overlay District.


–  The Mining Overlay District Map shows where in the Town sand and gravel mining can take place.  Like the Mining Overlay District itself, it is supposed to be based upon the recommendation in the Comprehensive Plan that defines and delineates where that District will be situated.  The amendment to the zoning law currently before the Town Board recognizes that mistakes were made in drawing up the boundaries of the map, and when adopted will correct those mistakes.


–  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation more commonly referred to as DEC.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is the department of the New York state government responsible for the conservation, improvement, and protection of natural resources.  It manages and enforces the state’s environmental laws and regulations.


–  Mined Land Reclamation Permit.  In New York State, the DEC has the sole authority to determine how sand and gravel mining will be carried out in a community.  This is accomplished through the issuance of a Mined Land Reclamation Permit to an applicant wanting to operate a sand and gravel mine.  It governs how sand and gravel will mined, how much will be mined and how the mined area will be ‘reclaimed’ when the sand and gravel in exhausted.  Towns have no authority over these aspects of mining.  A Town’s authority, by means of its zoning authority, governs where in the Town mining can take place.  In Rhinebeck, that area is the Mining Overlay District.  It is important to remember that Towns cannot govern how much material is mined, or how many truckloads per day can be used to transport that material.  That authority belongs to DEC alone.



 Rural Rhinebeck Neighbors

An association of residents concerned with the proposed increased mining activity along White Schoolhouse Road and its impact on our environment,  quality of life and the negative reflection an expansion will have on the rural character of Rhinebeck.   Our goal is to inform the community about the issues and work together to stop large scale mining in the area.

Rural Rhinebeck Neighbors ruralrhinebeck@gmail.com