By DALE P. FAULKNER
Sun Staff Writer
WESTERLY — Westerly Granite Co. is offering its 108-acre property in Bradford and Charlestown as collateral for a $500,000 loan that Copar Quarries has received from a Connecticut company.
The transaction, involving the land where Copar of Westerly now operates a controversial quarry operation, is outlined in a mortgage deed filed Aug. 6 in the land records at Westerly Town Hall and Charlestown Town Hall.
Westerly Granite Co. is the guarantor of the $500,000 loan to Copar Industries LLC., described in the mortgage as a Rhode Island company, from Performance Asset Group LLC., a Middletown, Conn., company.
To guarantee the loan, Westerly Granite Co. granted a mortgage of its land to Performance Asset Group LLC. The property is also subject to a $400,000 mortgage loan from The Washington Trust Co. to Westerly Granite Co. The Washington Trust mortgage loan was recorded in the Westerly land records on July 23, 2010.
George Comolli, an officer in the family-run Westerly Granite Co., said he could not discuss his company’s involvement with the loan because, “These questions deal with client confidentiality so I cannot respond to your questions.”
Copar operates the quarry operation on part of the Westerly Granite property under a lease first instituted on Oct. 1, 2010. The lease agreement allows for four consecutive two-year extensions that commenced Dec. 1, 2012 and terminate Nov. 30, 2020.
Sam Cocopard, Copar CEO and president, described the relationship between his company and Westerly Granite as “not a normal” landlord-tenant relationship, but said Westerly Granite Co.’s decision to guarantee the loan does not signal a formal partnership between the two companies.
“We do a lot of things together,” Cocopard said of the two companies.
Both companies, Cocopard said, benefit from the success of Copar’s operations.
“The more we produce and the more we sell the better off we both are,” Cocopard said.
Cocopard declined to describe what his company plans to do with the loan aside from saying the loan is for “everyday business.”
In addition to its operation in Bradford, from which it transports stone and gravel to job sites in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, Copar is establishing a recycling facility in Lisbon, Conn. “We obviously have a lot of projects going on and we have the assets to back it all up,” Cocopard said.
Cocopard said his company became involved with Performance Asset Group LLC. through business connections developed by Randy Roberge, Copar’s chief financial officer.
In filings with the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s Office, the only member or officer listed as a principal of Performance Asset Group LLC. is Mark Balaban, a lawyer with an office in Middletown, Conn. He is listed as a member of the company. Balaban did not return a telephone message seeking comment for this story.
Interim Town Manager Michelle Buck said she was aware of the new mortgage and Westerly Granite Co.’s role as guarantor of the loan to Copar and said Richard Boren, the lawyer who represents the town in the many legal cases involving Copar, had been informed.
“To me, it demonstrates Westerly Granite’s level of support and commitment to their tenant, Copar,” Buck said.
Boren did not respond to a telephone and e-mail message seeking comment.
Westerly Town Council President Diana Serra said she was not aware of the loan to Copar from Performance Asset Group LLC. or Westerly Granite Co.’s involvement.
Neighbors of the quarry site have complained for more than two years that Copar is allowing stone dust to blow off of the quarry site onto their houses, coating their property with a black dust. The neighbors say the dust endangers their health and have also complained about incessant noise from machinery at the quarry and safety problems caused by Copar’s fleet of large dump trucks.
Thomas Gentz, Charlestown Town Council president, said his council and town solicitor were aware of the transaction involving Copar, Westerly Granite Co., and Performance Asset Group LLC., but he was unsure what to make of it.
“I’m trying to figure out what it all means. My concern continues to be with the neighbors and how we can help them out,” Gentz said.