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
"Sometimes there's a huge cloud of it hanging
over Florence," Pilcher said. "You can see it from
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
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.