Dream home?

To the Editor:

I would like to express my opinion on the quarrying situation in Hall Quarry. On a lovely day in early September, I went for a walk in my Hall Quarry neighborhood. I could hear birds and wind in the trees and faint traffic noise. Suddenly, I was surrounded by what sounded like a major industrial work zone: trucks beeping very loudly, loud crashing noises of rock on metal. The noise was literally deafening and got louder as I got closer to the area of the Freshwater Stone quarrying site. By the time I arrived at Cobble’s End Lane, it was impossible to speak with one of my neighbors, as we had to shout to hear one another. She later told me the noise is much worse when the jackhammers and/or saws are also working.

I admire quarry operator Jeff Gammelin of Freshwater Stone and his family for the good deeds they have done in the community. No one can deny that their rockwork is “rock solid,” high end and in great demand. I would question, however, whether any of his clients would still buy from him if their home was suddenly accosted by the noise and potential pollution of a working quarry next door, or if opponents were being accused of being liars.

When the residents of Hall Quarry built their homes as early as the 1980s, the quarry lay still and quiet. The area was zoned as residential. The town, when it issued them permits to build their homes, did not warn them that they could have a very noisy working quarry as one of their immediate neighbors. As a matter of fact, the town listed the quarry lot as vacant land at the time.

Freshwater Stone, the lessees of the quarry site since 2009, and Harold MacQuinn Inc., the owner of the property, have stated that they are a grandfathered quarry as it had been in continuous use. If that is truly the case, then I am amazed that the town would zone an area as residential and allow the building of beautiful homes, knowing there was a working quarry in the middle of a peaceful, residential neighborhood.

The residents, of course, saw and heard no signs of active quarrying, or else they never would have purchased their land and built their homes there. But we, the residents of Hall Quarry, have been accused of lying repeatedly about the quarry and its activities. We are accused of lying about the noise of current operations. Why, if no quarrying had been happening, despite the cease-and-desist order that has been in place, would we lie and complain about the noise?

Gammelin has blatantly disregarded the residents of Hall Quarry in the pursuit of his business. The town also has seemed uninterested in how the quarry is affecting this neighborhood. Besides the stress of the noise, our homes are losing value. The town has our homes assessed at “fair value,” and yet, in the last several years, homes in this area have sold for up to 40 percent less than assessed value. And if the quarrying operation is issued a permit for full operation, with the jack hammering, drilling and sawing that will take place in addition to the loading of stones, it will become impossible for some of us either to live in our homes or sell them.

I hope we can reach an equitable solution for all concerned, but it currently appears that Gammelin feels it his right to do whatever he wants in Hall Quarry. I only hope that we, the residents, get a chance at a decent future in what we had thought would be our dream homes in a beautiful, quiet neighborhood.

Fran Leyman

Hall Quarry

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