Rutland Herald

Friday, July 10, 1998


By Bruce Edwards

Herald Staff

A day after a local environmental board granted a

long-awaited Act 250 permit for OMYA Inc., the calcium

carbonate company is keeping mum on whether it will go

forward with a four-year $160 million investment in

the state.

But according to the head of the Rutland Economic

Development Corp., the decision issued by the District

9 Environmental Commission on Wednesday was

unacceptable to OMYA because it failed to adequately

address the company's needs for future growth.

The decision allows OMYA to increase the number

of trucks hauling marble ore along Route 7 from its

Middlebury quarry to its Florence plant from the

current 85 round trips a day to 113 over two years.

That's far less than the 170 round trips a day the

company had sought in its permit application.

In its ruling, the commission said OMYA should

take the lead in exploring the feasibility of rail to

transport its marble ore.

"It's not acceptable to OMYA. I know that

because that's what they've told me," REDC Executive

Director David O'Brien said Thursday.

O'Brien said from OMYA's perspective "the number

of truck trips is not adequate for what they've asked

and where they see their business going."

OMYA's other problem with the permit, according

to O'Brien, is that the company rejects the position

that Act 250 has the authority to regulate truck

traffic on a federal highway like U.S. Route 7.

Although the expansion is not expected to

increase employment at OMYA, which currently employs

200 workers, company officials and O'Brien are

anticipating that jobs will be created indirectly as

OMYA's local suppliers increase their work forces to

keep up with the increased demand of the company.

He also noted that OMYA makes a significant

contribution in property taxes.

A spokeswoman for John M. Mitchell, the president

of Pluess-Staufer Industries, OMYA's parent company in

Proctor, said Mitchell would have no comment.

The company's lawyer, Edward van Schwiebert, said

he was still reviewing the decision and would have no

immediate comment.

In a recent strongly worded letter to Governor

Howard Dean, Mitchell warned that unless OMYA received

the necessary permits to expand its operations in

Vermont by August 1, the company was prepared to

divert the $160 million investment to its plants in

Canada and Alabama. The company began the permit

process a year ago.

In addition to the permit to increase its daily

truck loads, OMYA also needs an Act 250 permit to

expand capacity at its Florence plant. The holdup

there has been the lack of a wastewater discharge


But Schwiebert said Thursday the company recently

filed an application for its wastewater permit as well

as submitting a new Act 250 application for the plant


The threat of OMYA pulling the plug on its $160

million involvement has spurred REDC to action.

In a letter to his board of directors on

Thursday, O'Brien urged them to take an active role in

supporting OMYA.

"The fact of the matter is the State of

Vermont's chronic inattention to Rutland County's

infrastructure needs is coming home to roost. The 53

foot trailer and OMYA issues are both symptoms of the

larger problem. Routes 7 and 4 are federal highways

and our access to commerce. We can no longer tolerate

this situation given the clear impact on jobs and the

regional economy."

O'Brien recommended that the board send a letter

to Governor Dean to express their concern about the

potential loss of investment. He also asked the board

to write REDC's membership to seek their support

through a letter-writing campaign to state law makers

and the governor. Finally, he suggested this REDC

take out a full-page newspaper ad in support of OMYA

with a list of the company's suppliers and their