DRB hears objections to Julian Materials’ permit

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

On Monday, Oct. 23, Chester’s Development Review Board continued its hearing on a conditional use permit application by Julian Materials to make changes in the use and operations of its three quarries in Gassetts. And with the next session not scheduled until Monday, Dec. 11, it’s looking like DRB chair Bob Greenfield won’t be able to close the hearing and begin deliberations before next year.

Attorney Jim Dumont questions Jeremy Matosky. <small> Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Attorney Jim Dumont questions Jeremy Matosky. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

In his questioning of Trudell Consulting Engineers’ Jeremy Matosky, attorney Jim Dumont, representing Leslie Thorsen and Scott Kilgus, asked a succession of historical questions about noise levels, permits, modifications of the sites, types of work and other issues. For the most part Matosky answered that he had only been working for Julian Materials for a year and did not know.

“If the Julians were present, could they answer these questions?” asked Dumont repeatedly, apparently to drive home the point that the company that operates three quarries was not sending anyone who could answer the questions that opponents of new permits want to ask.

Dumont had asked the DRB to subpoena owners Andrew and Jason Julian, but it reserved the right to do that until it saw what materials a subpoena of the Julian Material company produced. It seems likely that Dumont will renew his request to subpoena the brothers — Andrew and Jason Julian.

Not just the loudness, but the character

In response to the Oct. 11 testimony from Eddie Duncan of RSG Inc. on noise and noise control on behalf of Julian Materials, Dumont presented Herb Singleton of Cross Spectrum Acoustics, who spoke about the prediction of the impact of noise on the community.

Noise expert Herb Singleton explains his thoughts about the effects of noise on a community

Noise expert Herb Singleton explains his thoughts about the effects of noise on a community

Singleton noted that the volume in decibels is just one factor in whether a noise becomes annoying.  He pointed to the repetitive nature of the quarry’s hydraulic hammer hitting stone and described “impulsive” and “highly impulsive” noise that could add 5 dB or 12 dB to the basic level respectively. Singleton added that the hydraulic hammering is in the “highly impulsive” category and that RSG had not adjusted for that.

Singleton said that while all sound is created by a variation in air pressure, for use in zoning it needs to be weighted to the response of human hearing. The limit of noise in Chester’s zoning regulations is 70 dB, but a dog whistle that is silent to humans can reach that level. “Ordinarily, zoning regulations are not written in a technical manner,” said Singleton, but it is assumed that the results are “A-weighted” to reflect what humans can hear.

Julian Materials attorney Mark Hall said Duncan will return at the next meeting to answer Singleton’s assertions about noise.

Upsetting videos

Leslie Thorsen presents several videos to demonstrate the rapidly repeating sound of the quarries' hydraulic hammer

Leslie Thorsen presents several videos to demonstrate the rapidly repeating sound of the quarries’ hydraulic hammer

The applicants’ video of the sound test at Chandler showed the hammer making muted single or double impacts on small pieces of stone sitting on the ground, drawing laughs from the audience.

But a presentation by Leslie Thorsen of phone camera videos when the test was not being done revealed loud, rapid and prolonged hammering. Sam Melanson – who says she and her husband were forced to move from their home by the noise – left the meeting in obvious distress and did not return until after the presentation. The Melansons’ home is on the hill across from the south quarry and have told the board they have not been able to sell their house because of the noise.

Dumont noted that the videos were not meant to portray the volume of the hammering, but the frequency and duration of the hammering. Thorsen characterized it as eight hours per day, but Rene Melanson said it would start at 7 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., making it 10 hours.

Dumont introduces Scott Kilgus’ testimony

Some of Thorsen’s videos pointed to the difference between the hammering during the sound tests conducted by RSG on behalf of Julian Materials and the hammering outside of the sound tests. A number of neighbors confirmed that during the test, the hammering was less loud and at a lower frequency of strikes but when the tests were complete, the work reverted to loud and rapid striking that continued for hours.

After Thorsen, Scott Kilgus gave an explanation of how he arrived at his calculations that the amount of material that would need to be moved and processed to carry out the plans at the south quarry would be far greater than the plans submitted by Trudell.

According to Kilgus, Julian Materials would have to remove much more material to make the proposed 24,000-square-foot building in the south quarry usable. He added that moving that material to the Chandler quarry for processing and then back to the Allstone store on Route 103 will involve tens of thousands more truck trips than the applicant has estimated.

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