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Rezone sought for soil storage

Town officials have scheduled a public hearing on the proposed re-zoning of several town parcels owned by an aggregate shale manufacturer based in Cohoes.

Four properties owned by the Norlite Corporation are to be re-zoned from residential to commercial classifications.

The company is seeking to use the property to store removed topsoil as it looks to get at more shale.

Last year the state Depart-ment of Environmental Conservation renewed Norlite's mining permit for another five years. No mining will be done in the town, according to Arnis Zilgme, Colonie town attorney.

There is a lot of dirt they have to get out to get down to rock. They want to take it and move it from the (Cohoes) site to the Colonie portion of operation rather than driving it out through Cohoes or Colonie, said Zilgme.

The four parcels comprise 34-acres that run east to west along alternate Route 7.

The removed soil will be terraced so as the redirect water back toward the mining operation in Cohoes. Town officials had raised concerns of water runoff from the site, and the company agreed to terrace the land.

United Industrial Services Ltd., which owns Norlite, is a large-scale company that recycles and disposes of hazardous waste produced by industries from pharmaceutical companies to automotive service and repair shops.

The wastes are filtered at the Cohoes site and then burned to heat shale near to the rock's melting point. The process yields a light, porous stone that is used in products such as wallboard, cement blocks and cement.

Norlite became the focus of area residents and grassroots organizations in 2002 after a series of violations and fines were imposed on the company for improper storage of the wastes. The company has changed ownership since the string of violations and operates under on-site state monitors.

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