Complaints Are Leveled Against Quarry in Brandon
Brandon - the Brandon Planning Commission told
zoning administrator Jane DeAngelis Monday that if the
OMYA company has violated permit conditions at its
Smoke Rise Quarry north of Brandon she should issue a
cease and desist order.
DeAngelis will meet Wednesday with company
geologist Donald Burns and trucking company head
Edward Carter to discuss allegations of excessive
blasting vibrations, excessive truck traffic and dust
problems caused by trucks.
Only a state's District Environmental Commission
could reopen hearings on the state Act 250 land use
permit. But the planning commission has agreed to
meet with a professional blaster to familiarize itself
with such issues.
Smoke Rise Quarry received its original permit in
1979, then in 1985 was authorized to expand
operations. The second permit added restrictions.
Raymond Mulcahy, the former superintendent of the
Brandon Training School who lives near the quarry,
made an extended presentation to the commission
Monday. He contended these restrictions had been
disregarded, and provided a dated list of blasts and
their effects at his house.
DeAngelis said, "Every explanation you can get
from the quarry is that they are operating under
federal Bureau of Mines standards."
There was much discussion of seismograph tests
performed by a firm OMYA hired in 1985. At the
complaining individual's property the test records
show no ground movement, but do not give the size of
the blasts involved.
It was alleged at the hearing that blasts of as
much as 5,000 pounds of dynamite have occurred. OMYA
spokesman Duncan Ogden said Tuesday that all blasts
had been 3,000 pounds or less, as verified in a log
that is public record.
Mulcahy's log titled, "Blasting of Significant
Decibel" overlaps the period of Burns' tests, which
Ogden says were of normal quarry blasts. Burns
detected no vibration for a May 15 blast which the
homeowner recorded as "Blast causing vibration in
house. Upset dog."
Board of zoning adjustment chairman Francis
LaPine questioned the tests, claiming vibrations occur
at his house on Mount Pleasant strong enough so
"sooner or later somebody is going to get a cracked
Mulcahy said his chimney had developed problems
and his 100-year-old flagstone foundation also may be
Ogden said the company has given up trying to
find vibrations off the quarry site, and now monitors
each blast with an automatic seismograph to make sure
no vibrations pass the property line.
OMYA attorney Edward Van Schwiebert was surprised
that blasting vibrations were still an issue.
"Heavens, the Toths don't feel anything," he said,
adding, "They're right across the street."
Mulcahy also was concerned that more trucks were
going to and from the site than allowed, which is 20
round trips per day for a five-day week. Trucks from
another marble company, a construction company, and
both the towns of Brandon and Pittsford were also
making trips, he said.
Schwiebert said, "The company hasn't been taking
anywhere near the quantity of material that is
permitted" (100,000 tons a year) and the number of
trucks is based on the tonnage taken out.
Ogden said, "It's an asset to the area. I don't
know why anyone complains about that."
Planning commission member William Braun said, "I
have complained about the police department and the
town manager letting the trucks from Pittsford go
through. (Dust) is coming off the tailgate, there's a
halo around these trucks and the halo is just dust,
and it's a dustbowl."
Town manager Frank Farnsworth agreed with
Schwiebert that the permit conditions only covered
OMYA trucks. As for others, "there's no requirement
in the law that I'm familiar with or that the police
are familiar with that requires covering," he said.
Mulcahy also said trucks had appeared at the --
site as early as 5 a.m. and had been seen leaving as
late as 6:30 p.m., in violation of required working
Schwiebert said the company has been willing to
work out problems even when they were not legally
OMYA's responsibility, such as bumps in Route 7 the
property owner complained about years ago.
We're not taking the position "We're here and
that's the way it's going to be," he said.