On April 12, 2023

Residents, state decry permit violations at Chester quarry

By Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger

CHESTER — Local residents, affirmed by a state Natural Resources Board decision, say three quarries run by a pair of Connecticut brothers are operating illegally.

Through photos and videos, the citizens have shown sediment polluting a nearby stream, rock fragments blasted onto a roadway and railroad tracks, and noisy hydraulic hammering. Those residents brought their grievances before Chester’s Select Board at a meeting March 22.

“I’d be happy if you would just abide by the Act 250 permits and the rules and regulations put forth by our town,” said Mike LeClair, who presented a slideshow at last week’s selectboard meeting, addressing the quarries’ owners. Andrew and Jason Julian — who split time between Vermont and Connecticut — own the three locations in connection with their AllStone Vermont business in Chester and Julian Materials based in Fairfield, Connecticut.

A jurisdictional opinion issued by the Natural Resources Board’s District 2 Environmental Commission earlier this month outlined a number of violations, including the fact that two of the three quarries are operating without Act 250 permits.  

 The Julian brothers’ “North Quarry” had an Act 250 permit that expired in 2008, and their “Chandler Road Quarry” lacks a permit entirely, the board found. 

The state board also found that the hydraulic hammer used at the site — shown in video footage attached to a backhoe — was not permitted in any of the quarries’ permits. 

Two of the brothers’ quarries lie along Route 103 in Chester, and the third, the Chandler Road Quarry, sits not far from Route 10 near Dean Brook Road. 

Neighbors say the hydraulic hammering, which has gone on six days a week, causes such loud noises that their homes shake. The noise got so out of control, said Sam Melanson, who’d spent 28 years at her Chester home, that she recently relocated to nearby Cavendish to escape the nuisance. 

“It was just a peaceful place where you could get away from your trouble,” Melanson said in an interview, describing her Chester residence. Once the hammering began, everything changed.

“I would end up crying because it just never stopped,” she said.

Residents such as Melanson and LeClair say they have brought their issues with the quarries to local and state officials’ attention since 2020. But at the recent selectboard meeting, board members expressed surprise at the severity of the situation.

“From the presentation that we got, and from all the comments that I’ve heard from all the people, we’ve got a serious, serious problem going on here,” said Arne Joynas, the board’s chair. “(I) never knew these issues existed. And that’s not an excuse.”

Andrew and Jason Julian, the quarries’ owners, spoke at the meeting to address residents’ concerns. 

“We wanted to make sure we are here tonight to just listen to what’s going on,” Jason Julian said. But the two brothers did not say if or how they would change their operations, and instead criticized the state Natural Resources Board’s findings. 

“There are a lot of factual and legal problems with the (board’s findings),” Andrew said, adding that his company’s lawyers and engineers were working to address the discrepancies. 

The brothers also said they had closed nearby roads before blasting, a claim that residents uniformly refuted. 

Selectboard members, though expressing thanks for the brothers’ presence at the meeting, took a serious tone toward the quarry owners.

“You as the owners have an opportunity to make a nice gesture here,” selectboard member Arianna Knapp said at last week’s meeting. “You don’t have to wait for a lawyer.”

Neither Jason nor Andrew Julian responded to an emailed interview request for this story. Voicemail boxes for both brothers were full. 

In Connecticut, where the brothers’ operations are based, Jason Julian has faced extensive legal troubles related to his business. 

An ongoing lawsuit alleges Jason Julian illegally dumped toxic waste and conspired to cover up his actions, CTPost reported. He is also accused of bribing municipal officials to allow his business to dump PCB-contaminated materials on town property, and trials on the allegations are scheduled to begin in April.

Jason Julian faces 16 felony charges, including larceny, bribery and forgery.

The Julian brothers have until April 5 to appeal the Vermont Natural Resources Board’s jurisdictional opinion on their Chester quarries, according to Michaela Stickney, an enforcement and compliance officer for the board.

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