Resistance to Tierney Road quarry continues; tax rates set in Cavendish

By Julia Purdy
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

A group of Tierney Road residents turned out for the Cavendish Select Board meeting on Monday, July 9 to continue their efforts to halt a quarry project on their road.

Tierney Road resident Linda Watson speaks on behalf of neighbors who want the Cavendish Select Board to stop a quarry at the end of their road. Photo by Julia Purdy

In October 2017, the proposed quarry on .64 acres of land currently owned by Justin and Maureen Savage and to be purchased and operated by Jason and Kristy Snow received a jurisdictional opinion from the district environmental commission saying that the project would need an Act 250 permit to go forward. Doing business as Snowstone, LLC, the Snows are appealing the opinion.

Linda Watson, the spokesperson for the Tierney Road residents, read from an update of the group’s previously submitted proposed ordinance. After consultation with the Secretary of State’s office, the group has concluded that their proposal meets the “rational basis test” for inclusion in the town plan. Ordinances are deemed constitutional if rationally related to local government goals, she said. Watson gave the document to the town manager.

The group demanded the Select Board hold a special meeting Monday, July 16, after giving town counsel an opportunity to review the letter, which Watson said must be done no later than the following day, July 10.

In closing, Watson hinted at a lawsuit but asserted, “We do not want any lawsuits. … We have to be protected.” She added, “Time is of the essence.”

July 16 is also the deadline for interested parties to file briefs in the appeal by Snowstone. At issue is the finding by William Burke, District Coordinator, that:

“As structured, the proposed sale of the property to Snowstone amounts to a lease for a term of four years, under which the Savages will receive a beneficial interest in the operation of the quarry ….the Savages will retain control over the entire tract of land after the Subject Parcel is conveyed to Snowstone.”

Burke wrote that “one or more physical contiguous parcel of land owned or controlled by the same person,” are a single tract of land for purposes of Act 250.

Board Chair Bob Glidden said that the decision will be made this week. Town Manager Brenden McNamara said he has spoken with the town attorney about this issue and will get an opinion in writing.

Several others in the audience challenged the positions of the Tierney Road group. A long-time Cavendish resident who did not want to give her name said, “Threats don’t make good neighbors.”

In response to the group’s belief that jackhammering noise and dump trucks might be coming from the quarry, Doris Eddy, whose home abuts the future quarry site, said that no work is going on there. Rather, she added, a foundation is being built for a new home in that area.

Hear Citizens item

Maryanne Butler asked if it was possible to add her home, the Aaron Jr. and Susan Parker Farm at 1715 Brook Road, onto the Town Plan as a historic property.  The farmstead was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, according to Wikipedia.

Butler plans to go to the Planning Committee with her appeal. The board offered its encouragement. George Timko said minor changes could be made in the Town Plan without changing the policy portion. McNamara said the revised Town Plan is going to put to a public vote in November.

Tax rates set

McNamara presented the proposed FY19 residential and nonresidential tax rates for the town and fire districts. The total town tax rate for both residential and nonresidential is $0.4068, up from $0.3691 in FY18. The net municipal Grand List for non-exempted properties is $2.819 million.

The total FY19 tax rate for Fire District #1 is $1.7633 for residential and $1.8787 for non-residential, down from $1.8282 and $1.8394, respectively. The FY19 total tax rate for Fire District #2 is $1.7491 for residential and $1.8645 for non-residential, down from $1.8150 and $1.8262, respectively. The Select Board approved and signed off on the new tax rates. Treasurer Diane McNamara added that in spite of the governor’s concern about the overall increase the non-residential education tax rate, it actually went down by $0.002 in Cavendish.

  • Brendan McNamara said that dogs belonging to Michael Mills of Rogers Drive have been repeatedly running loose on the roadway and elsewhere, with 42 incidents reported to Animal Control since 2015. Animal Control Officer Jill Flinn said Mills seemed “indifferent” about the dogs getting out. Most recently, the dogs attacked and ate a neighbor’s pet ducks on her porch. Now the dogs are being kept out of state at a relative’s home, McNamara said. Stating that the problem is “taking up far too much town time,” McNamara requested that the Select Board use its authority to impose a fine under Sec. 7-8 of the animal control ordinance, and recommends either fencing the property or leashing the dogs. The “genesis of the problem” is simple negligence, he said. He has explained to Mills he could be liable for damages incurred by motorists and others, and McNamara also warned that the town may have the ultimate liability due to its own inaction.
  • The board accepted the resignation of Diane McNamara as lister. McNamara has been wearing two hats as town treasurer and lister.
  • Reporting on the status of efforts to address the derelict building at 53 Depot St. in Proctorsville, McNamara said this was his first actual contact with owner Rose Kaupinnen. He said she was “very up front” and acknowledged the building is beyond repair. She told him she has the full intention of tearing it down but could not give him a definite timeline, referencing the death of her husband, Dean Kaupinnen.
  • Another project that may be hanging fire is the new town garage, necessitated by a fire in the old garage. Town Manager McNamara reported that the steel building shell is in the fabrication phase but that the engineering, permitting and planning has taken “much, much longer” than expected. The slab alone is now projected to cost $200,000 and McNamara is concerned about the cost overrun. He feels it is being “overengineered” with too much concrete and too much groundwork. “I’m not okay with that,” he said, adding, “I’m not ready to say go ahead just because we need it done” before the snow flies. He anticipates change orders may be needed.
  • Treasurer Diane McNamara presented for signature three separate applications to Berkshire Bank for short-term notes to bridge temporary revenue gaps from delinquent taxes, the anticipation of tax receipts for the first quarter, and grant revenue from FEMA. All were approved by the board.
  • Town Manager McNamara recommended replacing the present utility truck as “wise,” citing that it’s “non-inspectable” as is, but might bring in $500 if sold. A 2012 F250, red with a crew cab and valued at $28,000, is available for purchase for $22,000. The board approved the purchase.
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  1. Linda Watson says:

    In the article regarding Resistance to Tierney Road Quarry, you quoted the group as saying we DEMANDED the select board hold a special meeting. That is misquoted and untrue.

    In the meeting, I stated, “We respectfully ask that this proposed ordinance be transmitted to our Town Counsel tomorrow morning and that he inform the Town Manager, members of the Select Board and myself of his legal analysis no later than Thursday, July 12th. We again, respectfully ask the Select Board to re-convene in order to vote on the adoption of this measure one week from today on Monday, July 16th.” Your use of the word demanded implies an extremely negative posture.

    In addition, you quoted me as hinting of a lawsuit. That was NEVER implied or said.

    You clearly slanted this article and misquoted our cause using damaging language that will influence readers. You really need to retract this article and correctly quote what was actually said at that Select Board Meeting. I suggest you listen to the video and please get the story straight. I am angry you used me to spread libel and negatively impact our cause to stop this quarry. Tierney Road Neighbors Against the Quarry are extremely disappointed by this article and I urge you to address the inconsistencies.

    William Burke, Dept Natural Resources, concluded the following in the Snowstone Jurisdictional Opinion: “I reach this conclusion, with respect to the practical considerations suggested by the Supreme Court in the majority ruling in In re Vitale cited above. Namely, the .64-acre parcel here, like the .58-acre parcel cited in Vitale, will be “useless” once the extraction is completed. As stated above, the landlocked .64-acre tract will be deed restricted such that no further development can occur. Moreover, at the site visit, it was stated that there was no requirement for reclamation of the pit. Accordingly, I conclude that the market value to a “bona fide third-party purchaser” of a land-locked .64 acre physically disturbed un-reclaimed quarry hole to more likely than not be close to zero. Accordingly, seller’s legal right to reacquire the land is unfettered by any suggestion that the repurchase price will be anything but nominal. Piercing the veil of this opaque arrangement, I conclude that the primary motivation evidenced here is one to evade and not to avoid Act 250 jurisdiction. It is my opinion that that effort fails on the facts, and that an Act 250 Land Use Permit is required prior to the commencement of extraction for commercial purposes from the .64-acre tract proposed herein.”

    The fact that Snowstone was evidenced as being one to EVADE and not avoid ACT 250, that statement tells the actual truth about the intentions of Savage and Snow’s deal to quarry on Tierney Road.

    The Cavendish Town Plan clearly defines Tierney Road as residential on the Town Plan Land maps, which further authenticates our cause to remain a quaint, quiet country road planned as a residential community:

    The “Current Use/Land Cover Map” lists Tierney Road and Savage land is as Forest.
    The “Natural Resources Map” lists Tierney Road and Savage land as Deer Wintering Area.
    The “Future Land Map” lists Tierney Road and Savage land as Rural Residential.

    I ask you to please re-write and correct your inconsistencies. Unfortunately, your article is slanted in representation.


    Linda Watson