Letter, Opinion

Responding to 2019 article “Judge buries quarry squabble”

Dear Editor,

We recently found the March 6-12, 2019 article “Judge buries quarry squabble” by Julia Purdy and Lani Duke. This reported on a court case in a dispute between a group of Cavendish Tierney Road residents and the owners of land at the top of the road, Justin and Maureen Savage, who want to start a granite quarry there, operated by Snowstone, LLC. Just as Khrushchev’s boast that the USSR would bury us didn’t turn out as planned, the quarry issue is far from buried. The very title of this “news story” displays the leanings and bias of the authors. But the slanted “reporting” didn’t stop there.

First, the authors write that the owner’s desire was to “reopen a long-dormant, tiny quarry high on a hillside in Cavendish.” The only objective part of this description is “long-dormant”: the last time it was quarried was in 1844. The word “tiny” is loaded and was probably used because the authors don’t know the word “infinitesimal.” We are surprised they didn’t use the term “itsy-bitsy.” In fact, given statements Justin Savage made under oath, the tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees which dwarf any profits to be made, and other developments, the notion that this will be a “tiny” quarry is absurd: we just can’t say how big this quarry will become. The authors also don’t report that a quarry on this very property was defeated by the Cavendish community in 2006.

For it being “high on a hillside,” a loaded description, the authors should have noted that this is actually a residential neighborhood. In 2019 there were two properties within 3/10 of a mile from the top of the road, and another 11 within 8/10 of a mile. All are on the road to be used for quarrying operations. Current owners long predated the new owners, and today there are several more houses near the top of this one-mile road.

Despite lacking expertise to evaluate legal arguments, the authors say that the judge was “thoroughly parsing pertinent sections of the law and definitions.” Maybe he should have parsed some more, because on appeal in 2021, the Vermont Supreme Court reinstated 24 of 28 of our questions and remanded them to Judge Durkin.

This isn’t the first time Julia Purdy has written biased articles on this issue.

Her Aug. 29, 2018 piece “Glimmerstone Quarry future hangs in the balance” was just as biased. We pointed out in our letter of Oct. 18, 2018 that it was “factually wrong, incomplete, and one-sided.”

In addition, on Aug. 29, 2018 she published “Romancing the stone in south-central Vermont” in the Mountain Times, in which she says “Above Cavendish village the hillside, as do so many Vermont ridges, contains abundant mica schist…”

This nostalgic piece was probably meant to soften resistance to the quarry. Yes, let’s get rid of the flatlanders and return to that wonderful time when slavery was legal, women couldn’t vote, and gasoline-powered vehicles and mRNA vaccines were far in the future.

Perhaps before writing another piece like this, the authors should take an ethics course from the UVM School of Journalism and reconsider their reporting methods.

Kem Phillips for Tierney Road residents opposed to the Savage quarry

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