Friday, July 10, 1998
OMYA ACT 250 PERMIT SAID To BE UNACCEPTABLE
By Bruce Edwards
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
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
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
"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
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