DEEP RIVER – A proposal to expand quarry operations closer to a nearby neighborhood has mixed reactions from neighbors.
The proposal would expand the Haynes Aggregates quarry to allow a phased mining of 50.35 acres at 24 Woodbury Road, a property contiguous to the existing mine.
Several residents on nearby Rosemont Drive attended a recent Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing in which several of the applicant’s experts gave detailed information about the proposed blasting operations.
Todd Harrington, from Maine Drilling and Blasting, claimed that only wells within a distance of 50 to 100 feet are damaged as a result of blasting.
Peter and Kelly Lent, who live closest to the quarry at 72 Rosemont Drive, are 1,300 feet from the proposed excavation project.
While John Hankins from Fuss and O’Neill said that the “Rosemont residential area to the east is in a different drainage basin”, adding that its depth is deeper than both the existing and proposed quarry operations and will not impact residential wells, attorneys hired by the Lents questioned these claims.
The Lents have acquired the law services of Tobin, Carberry, O’Malley, Riley, and Selinger, of New London.
William Sweeney, a regulatory analyst working for the firm, questioned why the applicant’s well-water guarantee is limited to a ¼ mile radius since it “does not reach any house.”
While most of the homes on Rosemont Drive are at least 2,000 feet from the proposed quarrying, resident Deborah Brown said several residents have reported a change in the water quality from their well shortly after current blasting operations.
These changes affect the taste, smell, and appearance of the water, Brown said.
Kelly Lent said current Haynes blasting operations have resulted in her whole house shaking including plates on her dining room table.
Blasting operations have already created cracks in the basement and floor tile, Lent said.
These vibrations are similar to those experienced by residents who live close to the Amtrak railroad when a large train passes by, Lent said.
Lent disputed claims made by Reverend Peter Larom, Executive Director of the Incarnation Center, who at the last public hearing said blasting operations are no “louder than the Essex Steam Train.”
Attorney Robert Tobin said, “There is a discrepancy between the technical testimony and the evidence of homeowners suggesting problems with the application and the existing operation.”
While the Essex Steam Train travels at a top speed of 20 miles per hour, the Acela Amtrak train travels up to 150 miles per hour.
Sweeney told commission members that Rosemont Drive residents “have experienced a loss of quality of life from the existing Haynes operation.”
While neighbors have tolerated the blasting, Sweeney said they hoped that after gravel pit excavations were exhausted on the property, these operations would be shut down and the site would be used for another purpose.
If the proposed operations are approved, Tom Haynes, owner of Haynes Aggregate, predicts that the operation will take fifteen to twenty years based on previous average sales of $200,000 to $240,000.
Sweeney said the expanded quarry would result in the “removal of the forested buffer and removal of screening for two incompatible uses.”
Specifically, Sweeney said that the hours are “incompatible with people especially families with young children,” Sweeney said.
The applicant’s statement of use states proposed operations will go from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
Brown said that the Rosemont Drive neighborhood has 28 children under the age of 16 and Sweeney argued that blasting on Saturdays should not be allowed since that is when families are able to spend time together at home.
John Olson, who lives close to the existing mining operations at 21 Winthrop Road, said that “Haynes has been vital to the continued economic stability of the community.”
Olson said that “we are concerned as a family on safety and appearance of what is there,” specifically referring to the dangers and appearance of the large 100 foot ledge.
While Olson claimed he was notified of blasting operations, Sweeney said that those living on Rosemont Drive have not always been notified and claims that operations sometimes occur outside the regulated hours of operation.
David Jones, a certified appraiser from Guilford, claimed that “no real estate agents I spoke to said quarrying has a negative impact to property value,” adding that he examined a residential area near the Tilton Operations in North Branford.
Sweeney said such claims are “irrational and defy common sense” and that local realtors the Lents have talked to claimed that blasting operations near residential areas do affect property values.
The Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing of the application will continue on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Deep River Town Hall.
The extension was granted, Commission Chairman Jonathan Kastner said, so that both the public and commission members can review new information submitted by the applicant.
The Inland Wetlands Commission approved the application with ten conditions, mostly dealing with its landscaping plan, at its Jan. 4 meeting.