Rutland Herald

Residents oppose quarry proposal

February 7, 2000
By SANDI SWITZER Herald Correspondent

DANBY - OMYA Inc. will have a battle on its hands as it moves forward with plans to activate a dormant marble quarry on the eastern slope of Dutch Hill.

Residents in Danby and nearby Tinmouth are already promising a fight.

The company sent Danby officials a nine-page document (dated Jan. 13) detailing quarrying and reclamation plans for the Jobe Phillips Quarry property. OMYA asked the town to support its Act 250 application.

Proposed activities include drilling, blasting, crushing and screening marble ore to be hauled 23 miles to the company's processing plant 23 miles away in Florence. There it will be made into fillers and extenders for the paper, plastic and paint industries.

The proposed hauling route has trucks exiting the 400-acre Danby site, heading east on Hoisington Cross Road, north onto East Tinmouth Road to Route 140 into Wallingford, and from there traveling north on Route 7 through Rutland and Pittsford to Florence.

The proposal calls for a maximum of 40 round-trips a day, six days a week.

A group of Danby residents armed with this information have circulated a petition urging the town not to support OMYA's Act 250 application.

"We are gravely concerned about serious and negative environmental, transportation, aesthetic and wildlife impacts that the proposed open pit strip mining operation would have on this rural and agricultural valley," the petition reads.

It was signed by about 70 residents, and presented to the Danby Select Board at a meeting on Feb. 3 with nearly 20 Danby and Tinmouth residents in attendance.

Steve Burzon of Danby read from a prepared statement that the project would have a "far-reaching and extensive negative impact" not only on the Four Corners region but on the neighboring communities of Tinmouth, Pawlet, Wallingford, Rutland and Pittsford.

He said Danby would be faced with adverse impacts on transportation, farming, human habitation, wildlife habitat and aesthetics.

"We do not want our cars and minivans, our town's school buses, nor our neighbors' trucks to ever meet a fully loaded 76,000-pound, five-axle, 18-wheeler coming down the Brook Road, the Tinmouth Road, the Wallingford Mountain Road or the Danby-Pawlet road on a dark, damp, foggy, slippery and snowy day," Burzon read.

Marshall Squier, chairman of the Tinmouth Planning Commission, said OMYA trucks were not welcome in that town.

"If they think they're going to come through the town of Tinmouth, they're going to have a fight like they've never had before," he said.

Squier added that his town had lowered speed and weight limits on several roads, and was even considering giving up state highway aid to control use of its roads.

"We're opposed to the whole project," he said. "Vermont doesn't need to be ground up endlessly for the benefit of an out-of-country company."

OMYA's parent company, Pleuss-Staufer Industries, is based in Switzerland.

Robert Easton said he lived "within shouting distance of the quarry" and was concerned about the potential adverse impact on water supplies.

"This brings up a real concern for everybody on a well or a spring," he said. "This operation is going down into a watershed that feeds the wells in that valley up there."

Easton suggested that OMYA be required to post a performance bond to ensure that any problems would be corrected.

When asked for their response to OMYA's request for support, Danby Select Board members unanimously agreed to withhold approval until more information was available.

"I don't have a problem with putting it off at this point until we have more input on it," Selectman Kenneth Bushee said.