By Julia Purdy
CAVENDISH—Tierney Road has become the focus of contention among neighbors over the proposed reopening of a small rock quarry at the end of this mile-long town road that climbs a wooded hillside. Brightly-colored signs reading “Stop the Tierney Road Quarry” stud the roadside, with a few exceptions.
Quarry opponents maintain that the quarry would produce disturbing noise, heavy trucking, blasting and dust, as well as possible disruption of wells and stormwater violations, endangering the high property values in the neighborhood.
Not so, say Snowstone LLC and its defenders. The proposed quarry is a two-man, manual operation, they say. Blasting would be minimal, just to loosen the brittle stone without damaging it; the pieces are taken off-site in a large pickup truck or occasionally a dump truck for processing elsewhere, said neighbor Justin Savage. He noted that many of the new homes on Tierney Road used the sparkly stone from the quarry for patios, retaining walls and facings.
Both opponents and supporters have the same concerns for peace and harmony on the road.
Neighbor Doris Eddy, who plays an active role in town and operates a reiki studio in her home, noted that the noise from a neighbor’s firing range and ORV activity is “far greater than a quarry.” She noted that the anger she sees among the opponents seems to outweigh the actual impact of the quarry itself.
Maureen Savage, the seller of the quarry parcel, wrote in an email, “We are so dumbfounded at the resistance to such a small operation.” She noted the verbal threats that have been made by the opponents. “As small business owners we have helped many and others have helped us so it’s tough to be criticized and never experienced this before,” she added.
In June 2017, town officials got a request from the Natural Resources Board for public input concerning the proposed quarry. That was the first time they had had heard of the issue, according to Town Manager Brendan McNamara.
Since then, the quarry opponents have appeared before the Select Board and the Cavendish Planning Commission, urging the acceptance of a zoning ordinance, crafted by themselves, that would prohibit the quarry project.
Cavendish has no zoning or subdivision ordinance. Vermont statute allows the town to establish ordinances tailored to specific activities or areas.
Carved out of the old Roundy farm beginning in 1987, the Tierney Road suburban-style subdivision includes 13 house lots; other house lots and the quarry at the top of the road lie outside the subdivision plat boundaries. Most of the subdivision homes are second homes. Deed restrictions on commercial activity apply only to the subdivision parcels.
Maureen Savage’s husband, Justin, told the Mountain Times that he had held site visits in 2017 for whoever wanted to attend, and no one showed up.
This summer Snowstone LLC and the Savages made two settlement offers to the opponents; both were refused. Responding to fears of uncontrolled quarrying, the first offer guaranteed to prevent any future quarrying anywhere on the hill, once the Snowstone operation ended in five years. The second offer, recognizing that quarrying of dimensional stone is Snowstone’s livelihood, said that Snowstone would abandon his plan immediately in return for compensation for lost income of $500,000 over the 5-year period.
Given those developments, the opponents presented a lengthy revised ordinance to the Select Board on Aug. 13, “Prohibiting Operations Requiring Federal Licensing on Tierney Road.” The Select Board advised against a hasty acceptance without legal consultation.
The Superior Court’s Environmental Division is currently deciding whether the quarry parcel falls under Act 250 jurisdiction.
Photo By Julia Purdy
The stone quarry at the end of Tierney Road is the subject of neighborhood controversy. The quarry is one of many in the Chester-Cavendish area.