October 18, 2018

Quarry story lacks facts

Dear Editor,

We only recently were made aware of the article “Glimmerstone Quarry future hangs in the balance” by Julia Purdy. This article is so erroneous and one-sided that the 1,000 word limit in the comments section online did not allow full clarification of its egregious flaws. We would like the opportunity to correct the record in full.

We have been full-time residents of Tierney Road for five years and have owned this property since 2001. We are part of the group opposing the quarry at the top of the road. Reading the article “Glimmerstone Quarry future hangs in the balance” by Julia Purdy we find it both factually wrong, incomplete, and one-sided.

The article states that “the Superior Court’s Environmental Division is currently deciding whether the quarry parcel falls under Act 250 jurisdiction.” It fails to mention that the initial request for a jurisdictional opinion about the application of Act 250 had been assessed in 2017 by the District Coordinator of the Natural Resources Board, William Burke. Mr. Burke concluded that project falls under Act 250, that the motivation of the original proposal was “to evade and not to avoid Act 250 jurisdiction,” and that the argument made by our lawyer was “overwhelmingly compelling.” Snowstone appealed this decision and, the decision on this appeal is what is pending.

The article also states that our proposed ordinance “would prohibit the quarry project.” In fact, the ordinance, which is limited to Tierney Road, would not prohibit this proposed quarry because it is “grandfathered in”, but would prevent future quarries on the Savages’ property. The article also fails to mention that Cavendish Town Maps identify all Tierney Road land as “rural residential”, “forest”, or “deer wintering”, and the Town Plan states that rock quarrying must take place in a location “sufficiently distant and isolated from residential properties.” The author attended the Aug. 13 Select Board meeting where the ordinance was presented, so should have been in possession of the facts. Note that the article says that this is the “reopening” of the quarry. However, an earlier proposed quarry was defeated in the early 2000s by the Cavendish community, and the last time quarrying was supposedly done was around 1844. For context, at that time slavery was legal in the US, women could not vote, and gasoline-powered trucks were far in the future.

There were two statements attributed to the Savages that are simply false. First, Maureen Savage “noted” “verbal threats”. This serious accusation is just wrong and went unchallenged. We are unaware of threats of any kind having been made. Second, Mr. Savage is quoted as saying that “no one showed up” to site meetings. In fact, there were two such meetings, and most of our group attended them, one around Mar. 4, 2017, and the other around Sep. 8, 2017, attended also by William Burke. This could have easily been discovered by talking to any one in our group. Since Justin Savage was at both of these meetings and Maureen Savage was there for at least one of them, the statement itself is either a mis-quote or simply a lie. Note that Justin Savage is referred to as a “neighbor”, implying the Savages live on Tierney Road, but they don’t. So the quarrying would be done by “out-of-towners”, a derisive concept often applied to other owners, even though most have spent far more time here than the quarry supporters, whose total time here amounts to about one year. We are taxpayers and patrons, and four of us are Vietnam or Vietnam-era veterans.

Through loaded wording and misstatements, negative implications about the “angry” Tierney Road group, one-sided, often false quotes from the supporters, and complete absence of quotes from the opponents, the author, through incompetence or intentionality gives a very inaccurate and biased depiction of the dispute. This sort of “reporting” contributes to the unfortunate ill-feelings between us.

If this isn’t enough, on Aug. 29, the very same day this was published, Ms. Purdy published a second article entitled “Romancing the stone in south-central Vermont”, in which she says “Above Cavendish village the hillside, as do so many Vermont ridges, contains abundant mica schist…” This article and statement reveal the smoking gun in the charge of bias.

Kem and Svetlana Phillips, Cavendish

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