OMYA Seeks To Open Four Quarries


By Ed Barna

Florence Marble Would Replace Brandon Supply

Florence - the OMYA marble company will soon

apply for an Act 250 land use permit to reopen four

small marble quarries in Florence.

OMYA wants to use the four quarries to replace

the supply of high calcium marble ore that will be

lost when the Smoke Rise Quarry in Brandon shuts down

in late 1995.

Currently, crushed marble ore from Smoke Rise,

the South Wallingford Quarry and the massive

Middlebury Quarry goes to OMYA's two stone grinding

plants in Florence.

The resulting calcium carbonate is used primarily

as an extender and filler in the paper, paint and

plastic industries, while rock unusable for that

purpose is sold to town public works departments and

contractors for construction projects.

The Florence facility, encompassing the former

White Pigment plant (now OMYA East) and a newer

crushing and drying plant (OMYA West) has grown

steadily in recent years. The Town of Pittsford which

has valued the property and equipment at $71 million

gained $1.2 million in tax revenues this year from the


But for OMYA to continue, it needs to add new

sources of marble when old ones run out, OMYA

geologist Donald Burns said in a recent interview:

The company owns a number of sites where test drilling

has shown there are commercially viably deposits, he


The four Florence quarries, Hogback, Valley, East

Smith and West Smith are part of a 325-acre site.

Burns said the site was chosen because environmental

impacts were limited. He cited these factors:

The quarries are out of sight, about half a mile

into the forest north of Fire Hill Road, along a now

abandoned railroad line and Vermont Marble Power

Division transmission line.

The land lies between two higher ridges that

would serve as noise barriers. Top soil and excess

rock would fill in between higher points and then be

reclaimed as forest land.

Trucks carrying crushed rock from the on-site

processing and stockpiling area (about 40 round-trips

per day, six days a week) would travel only about

1,400 feet on North Fire Hill Road, then about 1,000

feet west on Whipple Hollow Road.

There is already a pond to collect water pumped

from pits, created during former quarrying at the

Pittsford Valley Quarries to the north.

The project has met zoning and site plan approval

from Pittsford's Planning Commission and selectmen.

Applications for state water discharge and air

quality permits are under review. The company hopes

to begin the Act 250 process in the next few weeks.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Pittsford Town

Office, there will be an Agency of Natural Resources

public hearing on the air quality application, at the

request of Fire Hill Road resident Kathee Pilcher.

She said her family mainly wanted to learn more about

dust control, because they believe dust is sometimes a

problem already.

"Sometimes there's a huge cloud of it hanging

over Florence," Pilcher said. "You can see it from

Route 7."

Burns observed that closing the Smoke Rise Quarry

would reduce the impact of heavily loaded trucks on

Brandon's downtown business district. The trucking,

contracted to L.F. Carter, Inc. in Pittsford, involves

a many as 210 trips a day through Brandon, 20

round-trips to and from Smoke Rise and 85 for

Middlebury, he said.

Brandon officials have complained that the trucks

add to traffic problems, increase road maintenance

costs, and are damaging building foundations. They

and a Middlebury citizens group have said they would

like to see a rail spur connect the Middlebury Quarry

with Vermont Railway, since that quarry has been

estimated by Burns to have enough marble for another

50 to 100 years.

Burns said the company looked at the rail option,

and found that putting an underpass beneath Route 7

and a bridge over Otter Creek would make it a $25

million project increasing their transportation costs

by 78 percent. He noted that Addison County and

Senator Elizabeth Ready, D-Addison County, plans to

introduce a bill to offer a low interest loan to OMYA

for a rail link, but he said there would have to be

actual state financing for that option to be feasible.

A summary for Pittsford officials stated that

"with careful operation and blending of the stone from

other sources, it is anticipated that the Hogback

Quarry property could provide a source of plant feed

for approximately 50 years of operation of the OMYA

West Plant."

In the long run, the Brandon, Middlebury and

Florence quarrying will add three new bodies of water

to the state, Burns said. The smaller Smoke Rise

Quarry, which was permitted in 1979 and is now about

100 feet deep, will provide a pond and associated camp

sites for the nearby Smoke Rise Campground, he said.

When the Middlebury Quarry fills with water,

there will be a 3,000 by 800 foot lake about 500 feet

deep, Burns said. By comparison, Lake Champlain is

listed at just under 400 feet at its deepest.

The exact dimensions of the quarry formed from

the existing Hogback quarries will depend on whether

there is a buyer for the dolomite overlaying part of

the marble deposit, Burns said. But the initial

proposed quarry would be 1,700 by 500 feet, or about

20 acres, and marble has been detected as deep as 350

feet, he said.