Julians admit violations, will cease hammering, other activities

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Chester’s Development Review Board was set to hear an appeal of the town’s notice of violation against Julian Materials/Allstone on Monday night when it was announced that those companies and the neighbors of its three quarries in Gassetts had agreed to a stipulation that brings a halt to many of the activities that were at issue.

The scene on Monday evening’s DRB hearing. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Julian/Allstone also agreed not to contest any of the facts in the five violations alleged by the town. The DRB’s acceptance of the stipulation serves as a decision and an order affirming the notice of violation issued by the town.

According to attorney James Carroll, who represents the town, the stipulation was worked out with the attorneys representing the parties and signed that afternoon. Carroll told the neighbors attending the hearing that the stipulation put the town in a better position because any new violation could be taken directly to Vermont’s Environmental Court, which has the power to levy fines and issue injunctions.

The stipulation included language that certain activities, such as rock hammering and rock crushing, would be discontinued “until such time as Allstone/Julian has received all local, state and federal permits specifically authorizing their use.”

Several neighbors were dismayed that Julian would be able apply for permits and get back into business, but Carroll noted that the Environmental Court had recently decided that Julian needed a new Act 250 permit for its activities. Neighbor Mike Leclair said that the Julian companies have not abided by any permits in the past.

Other neighbors were upset that the town could not directly enforce its zoning, but Carroll explained that state law puts enforcement decisions in the hands of the court. He also noted that the neighbors would be the best source of information if Julian/Allstone violates portions of the stipulation, and he asked that they provide him with contact information.

What’s in the agreement?

Among the terms of the stipulation are that Julian stops using rock hammers and crushers at its three quarries, that the structure the town permitted for storage be used only for storage and that rock splitting be limited to the machines that came with the quarry or smaller machines and only take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Additionally, the Julian companies must stop discharging water containing contaminates from the work at its quarries into any stream or waterway.

Attorney Jim Carroll explains the terms of the stipulation and how state law governs zoning cases

They must also remove the modular home on the so-called Bushee lot and the shed at the North quarry within 30 days. The stipulation asserts that the shed attached to a building at the Chandler quarry has already been removed, but neighbors disputed that. Carroll noted that if indeed the shed has not been removed, the Julians are already in violation and that could be taken to the Environmental Court.

The stipulation also says that the three quarries may not be used as “an integrated quarry operation,” meaning that various tasks for each quarry take place at one of the others that necessitates a lot of truck traffic. The document also gives the town the right – with 24 hours notice – to inspect the quarries. That is not currently the case.

According to the text, any violation of the terms constitutes “an unpermitted land development” subject to fines and penalties and that the Julian companies agree not to “contest the factual basis supporting each of the 5 violations” in the town’s notice of violation.

Court action can be faster

In the past, Carroll has said that the enforcement process can be long and expensive. But the stipulation appears to give the town a bit of a shortcut and a discount in enforcing its zoning because it won’t have to spend the time and money it would take to argue the merits of its notice of violation before the Environmental Court because Julian/Allstone have admitted to and said they won’t contest the facts in that notice.

With the stipulation in hand, the Town of Chester can go straight to the Environmental Court for fines or an injunction if Julian/Allstone violates those terms. And it looks like the Chester Select Board is supportive of making those terms stick.

“We had discussions about the matter and all agreed to continue with the actions recommended by counsel,” Select Board chair Arne Jonynas told The Telegraph on Tuesday. “The consensus of the board was to do what it takes to hold Julian’s businesses accountable to the law.”

Attorney Jim Dumont, who represents two of the quarries’ neighbors, said they – and others – will continue to press their complaints.

“The Julians have seen the writing on the wall and had no other choice,” Dumont said. “My clients and the community are not going to rest until the Julians have a legal operation. If they can’t have a legal operation, they shouldn’t have any operation.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: ChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.