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Land swap deal may clear way for NYCO mine

The Oak Hill Quarry entrance in Lewis

The Oak Hill Quarry entrance in Lewis Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— NYCO Minerals may finally have its deal with the state of New York.

After four years of talks, the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee has unanimously backed a proposed amendment to the state Constitution Article 14 which would allow for a land swap between the state and the company.

“Hopefully this does get through the Legislature,” Lewis Supervisor David Blades said. “This would be a swap of lands that are adjoining where one has a considerable amount of minerals.”

Blades said that Lewis would not be the only town that would benefit if the land swap was agreed to in the state Legislature.

“It’s a benefit for the town of Lewis as well as for the town of Willsboro,” Blades said. “The towns really are partners in this because Lewis has the mines while Willsboro is where the processing takes place. This really is beneficial to the economy of the entire county.”

Blades said that the state would be receiving a good parcel of land in the swap.

“They are getting a great property that they can classify as Forever Wild,” he said.

The amendment is part of a package deal to make changes to Article 14, as it is coupled with a clause that would end the land dispute between the state and more than 200 residents of Township 40 in Raquette Lake. The amendment would grant clear titles to the property owners, while setting up a fund that landowners would have to pay into for future state land acquisitions.

The amendment must be passed by two consecutive state Legislatures and ratified by New York voters.

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