I am truly disappointed in the actions of the Cavendish Select Board not to pursue the tax appeal with the state and allowing the Property Valuation Review dated Oct. 24 (Watson V. Town of Cavendish) to stand. However, I understand why, given Cavendish is such a small town with a limited budget.
My husband, Justin Savage, and I own the property at the end of Tierney Road and live there full time with two of our three children. We are a small local business owners and have excellent reputations both professionally and personally.
Shortly after acquiring the property, Jason Snow of Snowstone, contacted us. His operation at the time was on the Cavendish Gulf Road in Cavendish and was reaching the end of usable material.
My husband visited his operation unannounced to understand the scope and I visited sometime after that. It was a very small two-man operation where he splits stone using only hand tools then moves it off site for further processing if needed. Jason Snow and my husband went to the town manager at the time to discuss the possibility given the history the nearby McClean case. Town Manager Rich Svec was supportive of this small scale quarry.
Mr. Snow set up two meetings with the neighbors to describe his operation in 2016. Bruce Watson, who lives at the beginning of Tierney Road, never attended either meeting. The neighbors were concerned given the history of McLean but there wasn’t an overall objection to the scope as a small operation with an ending to it.
My husband and I have been fairly quiet, letting Jason Snow take the responsibility of the legal charge, but a small group has chosen to make this very personal and attack my family, our reputation and our character directly. It is important to understand how and when Snow will remove the stone, which is in the same manner as he had done in the Cavendish Gulf, where no objections or issues from the town or neighbors were raised:
Quarries dimensional and decorative stone, process to remove and split is by hand.
Further processing by machinery is done off site.
0.64-acre parcel tucked in woods not in residential area, can’t see it.
No more than four trips daily in a Ford F550 (landscaping truck).
Controlled blast approximately once a year.
Operation would last approximately five years.
Seasonal business, no weekends or holidays, no operation in winter.
Mr. Watson has circulated considerable misinformation. The first one being that we will “postage stamp” our property and sell an acre over and over again. Last year we placed our entire property into land use, minus the 0.64 acres and our homestead.
We purchased our property to live on it, enjoy recreationally and would like to retire here. This is our home; we are local small business owners and consider ourselves respectful and good stewards of the land. We, just like all of you, have no desire to live next to a large-scale quarry.
Regarding Watsons tax appeal decision there are many incorrect statements and assumptions. It’s clear the state assessor was lied to by Mr. Watson and took his word as fact without confirming it.
Watson stated in a Nov. 14 Cavendish Board of Civil Authority meeting he showed the assessor where the quarry was, but you can’t see it from the road.
While I understand why the board did not go through with the appeal regarding Watson’s taxes due to financial cost of an appeal, this truly sets a precedent for this town. Neither the Savages nor Snows have done anything illegal, and all steps taken forward are within the parameters of the law and town regulations.
As taxpayers, residents and voters of this town, we expect our elected officials to protect the rights of its residents and uphold the laws and regulations of this community. It’s crystal clear and verifiable the board was lied to by Mr. Watson, as was the tax assessor from the state. After this discovery, it’s shameful that our officials did not stand up for the truth and protect the residents, business owners and hard-working people of this town. The NIMBY’s (Not in My Back Yard) are killing small businesses and Vermont generational craftsmen and farmers. These families are being picked off one at a time by the decisions we are making today. It’s no wonder the younger generation chooses not to stay in Vermont.