Residents near Julian quarries haul in truckload of complaints to Chester board


By Shawn Cunningham
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Gassetts residents turned out in force for the Chester Select Board’s Wednesday, March 22 meeting to complain that quarry operations in their area is in violation of its permits and that the noise, traffic, unsafe blasting and pollution have become too much to bear.

Dean Brook running white with stone dust from the neighbors’ Power Point presentation

Listed on the agenda as the “Julian Quarry,” the operation consists of the “North Quarry” which is visible from Rt. 103 at the bridge just north of Route 10 and a second quarry referred to as the “Allstone” or “Village Quarry” located behind the “stone store” on Rt. 103 and across from Smokeshire Design. A third quarry in the operation runs along Dean Brook Road where raw stone is cut into slabs for sale. That operation is known as the Chandler Road Quarry because its entrance is at Chandler Road.

“The Dean Brook is white tonight,” said Clemons Road resident Mike LeClair as he kicked off the group’s PowerPoint presentation.  He was referring to the stone dust flushed into the water by the Chandler Road operations.  LeClair said that the company that owns the three quarries isn’t playing by the rules and those claims are backed up by a “jurisdictional opinion” from Act 250 in which the state Natural Resources Board outlines several violations of the permits under which the quarries operate.

Mike LeClair told the board all he wanted was for the quarry owners to follow the rules. Photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted

While neighbors have been complaining about the problems since 2020, the NRB’s opinion was just issued in early March 2023. Complaints to other state agencies – such as state Water Resources Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife – have not gotten responses, LeClair said.

According to the jurisdictional opinion, the North Quarry was supposed to shut down 14 years ago and the property reclaimed.

Neighbors have complained about the noise of a hydraulic hammer. The opinion says that piece of equipment was not part of the list of equipment to be used at the quarry.

Finally, using the Chandler Road Quarry to support the other two “is a material change to the existing land use permit.”

The opinion concludes that the owners are out of compliance with their land-use permit.

The Chandler Road property flew under the radar, because it was an existing quarry on less than 10 acres, which exempts it from Act 250 and puts it under local zoning. But when Andrew and Jason Julian, brother who live in Connecticut, bought the property, they began using it to process stone and even got a town permit to put up a 25 foot by 70 foot shed for equipment storage. Instead, stone cutting equipment was installed in the shed.

‘We are leaving Chester’

Two or three years ago we met with the Julians – at my house,” said LeClair. “Their reason for coming was to ask us what they could do to make us happy.” LeClair said his response was for them to abide by the rules. “And we have not seen that in two and a half, three years.”

Sam Melanson saying that she can no longer enjoy the peace and quiet of her yard.

The group’s presentation included photos of the brook turned white by stone dust and the rocks blown down onto the railroad tracks below by blasting. LeClair said that rocks made it as far as the shoulder of Rt. 103 and the propane depot below.

“I don’t want a derailment at a propane facility caused by rocks unattended by the quarry operators,” said LeClair. He also said unregistered trucks are ferrying stone between the quarries.

The presentation also included the sound of the hydraulic hammer, which neighbors say goes on for hours.

Sam Melanson, who lives above the “Gassetts Gorilla”, told the Select Board that the hydraulic hammer at the quarry below operates all the time and she is not able to enjoy gardening in the summer as she used to. “This is what I hear from my yard. For 28 years I have built and cared for gardens. We built our dream house in Chester. For the last two years I cannot go out and enjoy the peace and quiet of my own home because of this constant pounding noise.”

“We are leaving Chester, nothing is being done and we are leaving Chester,” said Melanson.

John Nowak told the board he no longer trusts the town based on its lack of response to complaints

Blackberry Hill resident Leslie Thorsen said she and her husband work and look forward to sleeping on Saturday mornings, but the hammering begins at 7 a.m.

Hugh Quinn, who chairs the town’s Planning Commission and lives on Rt. 10 just west of Chandler Road, said that dump trucks are moving raw stone from the Rt. 103 quarries to Chandler Road once an hour, and 18 wheelers — several each day — are picking up finished stone to take back to the Allstone store.

John Nowak said that he has called the police about infractions, but was told that the police wouldn’t come. He said he didn’t trust anybody at the town as the quarries “break the law every day.”

Quarry owners call Chester operation ‘important’ to them

Brothers Jason and Andrew Julian told the board that Chester is a “very important” operation for them and that they employ 45 people in Chester who have families and support the local businesses.

Jason (left) and Andrew Julian saying they care about Chester and that their lawyers and engineers are preparing a response to complaints

“We’re not doing a presentation, we’re not commenting on anything,” said Jason Julian. “Our operation is right there. We have three people working in the office. The office has told us that no one has stopped in with a problem or complaint. We obviously would have addressed those.”

“We made a large investment in Chester, we care a lot about Chester,” said Andrew Julian. He noted that they have attorneys and engineers working on this for months and that there are a lot of factual and legal problems with the opinion from the Natural Resources Board. “Our attorneys have advised us that they will be notifying and updating the Select Board as stuff comes along.”

Board chair Arne Jonynas told the Julians, “You’ve got some serious issues here that are affecting a lot of people.” He noted that the Julians are continuing to operate a quarry that was supposed to be closed in 2008, and the land reclaimed.

According to Jason Julian those are things that their “attorneys and engineers are addressing right now and they’re going to be prepared to discuss.”

Board member Peter Hudkins noting that there is manufacturing going on at the Chandler quarry without a town permit

Board member Peter Hudkins, who also serves on the town’s Planning Commission, told the Julians that they are carrying on a manufacturing business and that requires a municipal permit – which they do not have.

Board member Arianna Knapp told the Julians that they could stop using the hydraulic hammer as a goodwill gesture rather than “standing behind lawyers. … If this is a two-way street, waiting for your attorney is not coming down the street,” said Knapp.

While talking about how they do business, the Julian brothers said that they use the largest blasting companies in the United States, that they contact the Chester Fire Department and that they shut down the roads while blasting.

Board member Arianna Knapp called on the Julian brothers to make a goodwill gesture rather than ‘standing behind lawyers’

Asked for comment on this on Thursday, Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson said he was not aware of being notified about blasting at that site.

Police Chief Tom Williams told The Telegraph that he has been with the Chester Police Department for two years — mostly working day shifts — and does not know of anytime that the quarries shut down the road for blasting.

Jonynas told the meeting that he was uncertain just how much authority the town has to resolve the situation, but the board asked Town Manager Julie Hance and Zoning Administrator Preston Bristow to consult with town attorney Jim Carroll to see what steps can be taken.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: ChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (4)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Bob Sartini says:

    I hope there is some solution to this besides throwing forty-five people out of work.

  2. Karl Fuller says:

    The Great Brook runs white/gray with sediment. I had filed a formal complaint with the state and provided them with picture evidence with dates and times going back two years ago. The brook no longer has any trout south east of the quarry located on dean brook rd. I have fished the brook and been in that brook since a kid in the 1960’s. It is so silted up I am not sure if the environmental impacts can be overcome. Silt of this nature cannot easily be mitigated. I own property on both sides of the brook and have seen it degrade rapidly over the last 2 years. I have asked the state to stock this area with trout. They seam unwilling to do so. I believe the reason for their reluctance is they know the trout have little chance for survival. The Fuller Property has never been posted because we have always welcomed fishing on both sides of the brook. We seldom see fishing any more southeast of the Quarry. Sad is the state of the once Great Brook!

  3. I had called the Julian quarry one morning when I could no longer stand the constant drilling. I told them “Stop Drilling”. I got a phone call from a Connecticut number who very disrespectfully told me that they employed 10 people, and then asked me what I do for work.
    They do not have a permit for the quarrying operation on Chandler Rd. Drive by sometime, it looks exactly like the north quarry face on 103.
    They need a permit for the hydraulic hammer and they don’t have one. Not following state law, and then having it not enforced opens the door for all of us to do what we want and say too bad, I don’t need a zoning permit for adding a new building on my property. If the Julian brothers can do whatever they want to do, without enforcement of the state laws, so can I.

  4. Ken Bergmann says:

    Sounds like the town isn’t enforcing it’s own laws. Or is it the county not enforcing its own laws. Or is it the state? I guess they all take the cue from the federal government.

    We have to enforce the laws!