DRB holds first hearing on permits for Julian quarries Site visits set for Sept. 25

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

DRB Chair Bob Greenfield asks for civility at the outset of the meeting. Photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted

Development Review Board hearings are quasi-judicial proceedings that can be quiet, formal affairs that consist of taking testimony and checking boxes. But they can also be confrontational and charged with emotion when people disagree over development plans. The latter was what Chester DRB chair Bob Greenfield was concerned about on Monday night as he opened a permit hearing for the three Julian Materials quarries in Gassetts.

Neighbors have been complaining about noise, stream pollution and truck traffic associated with those operations for years and, recognizing that, Greenfield asked for civility in the meeting and promised that if things got heated he would call a recess for cooling off. Thirty one people were in the room at the beginning of the hearing (apart from the board itself) including Jason and Andrew Julian, four lawyers and a couple of engineers.

After those who wished to speak were sworn in and dozens of exhibits and affidavits were accepted into evidence, Jeremy Matosky of Trudell Consulting Engineers ran a Power Point presentation that outlined information about each of the three quarries and described what Julian Materials intended to do with each if the permits were approved by the board.

Matosky explained that the stone cutting currently taking place at the quarry on Chandler Road would be discontinued in 12 to 18 months, while a new 20,000-square-foot building is constructed at the South quarry. In order to do that, Julian Materials would lower the floor of the quarry by 30 feet to “minimize offsite impacts” like noise.  They would continue extraction — including blasting and the use of a hydraulic hammer —  at the Chandler Road quarry and install features to keep stone dust from running into the Dean Brook.

Matosky showed photos of some of this work that has been done and spoke of the low concentrations of materials in the runoff that resulted. Chandler neighbor John Nowak said that as of 5:30 that afternoon, the brook was running white. “It was clear above the quarry and white below,” Nowak said.

Matosky said that a berm to contain that runoff has yet to be approved by the State of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources.

Plans for the North quarry include discontinuing extraction and reclaiming portions of the site while changing the elevation of the roadway to construct a “contractor’s yard” for storage of materials and equipment as well as ease of accommodating tractor trailers. Matosky said the company plans to build an “internal road” between the North and South quarries but that will require further permitting.

Extraction would continue at the South quarry and its new 20,000-square-foot building. According to a permit application narrative, about 2.5 acres of the 13 acre quarry site have been cleared.

‘They’ve proven they’re bad actors’ said Chandler quarry neighbor Michael Kenworthy

In addition, Julian Materials is asking for a permit to continue cutting stone in its building at the Chandler quarry during the time it takes to lower the floor of the South quarry and construct its 20,000-square-foot building.

That is a sore spot for both residents and Chester officials since Julian was given a permit to construct the building at Chandler to store equipment, but then installed an un-permitted stone-sawing operation. Matosky said he could not speak to what has happened before his firm began working with Julian Materials a year ago.

Recalling his experience with Julian Materials violating his boundary line, neighbor Michael Kenworthy asked the board not to give them permits for anything they didn’t previously get permits for including the stone-sawing at Chandler Road. “Do not give these people an inch. They’ve proven they’re bad actors. They put that saw in there. They knew what they were doing, come on.”

‘They don’t care, they just don’t care’ said Chandler quarry neighbor John Nowak Telegraph file photo

“They don’t care,” said Nowak, “because if they did, they would have fixed these problems three or four years ago. They don’t care, they just don’t care.” Nowak then referred to the legal trouble Jason Julian is facing in Fairfield, Conn., allegedly for dumping hazardous waste on city property, as well as forgery and bribery. The calendar for the Fairfield Judicial District lists a Sept. 26 pre-trial hearing for Jason Julian on 14 felony counts and one misdemeanor.

Route 10 resident Steve Green asked the board why they would let someone in violation of permits have a new permit.

Priscilla Melanson, who moved away from Gassetts because of the noise of hydraulic hammering, said “They just don’t care about their neighbors.”

Matosky told Melanson that the intent of the plans is “to make it better,” which provoked laughter in the audience.

Attorney Jim Dumont asks for someone who can answer questions to be at the next hearing

Representing Gassetts residents Leslie Thorsen and Scott Kilgus, attorney Jim Dumont said that he hoped that at the next hearing, the Julians would have someone knowledgeable present so they can answer some of the questions that Matosky couldn’t. There was also discussion of the issuance of subpoenas and later Dumont said he would be making an application for two.

Several of those testifying said that they didn’t understand how the quarries could continue to operate without the proper permits or in violation of permits.

DRB members — including chair Bob Greenfield  — explained that their job is to carry out the rules created by the Chester Planning Commission in giving permits to applicants who have met the criteria for those permits. Greenfield added that they have no enforcement powers.

Lawyers confer to settle on dates for more hearings

With a recess called, lawyers brandished calendars to work out the schedule, which Greenfield announced near the end of the meeting.

There will be a site visit on Monday, Sept. 25 but due to parking restrictions attendees will meet at the Green Mountain High School at 4:30 p.m. and be taken to the quarries by bus. Those wishing to attend must wear long pants and boots for safety.

There will also be hearings at Town Hall on Wednesday Oct. 11 and Monday Oct. 23. Both will begin at 6 p.m.

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