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Copar denies zoning official access to company property


WESTERLY — The town’s zoning official was denied access to the Copar Quarries of Westerly property Friday.

Zoning Official Jason Parker went to the quarry site on Church Street in Bradford late Friday morning to investigate a complaint, but Copar officials refused to allow him on to the property, interim Town Manager Michelle Buck said. The situation will be one more matter involving the controversial quarrying operation to go to court.

“It is our position that he has a statutory right to access the property to investigate complaints,” Buck said Friday afternoon. “Our attorney is dealing with the refusal and has already filed a motion.”

According to Town Council President Diana Serra, Parker was sent to investigate a complaint that a blast about to be conducted at the quarry would occur outside the area on which the company is allowed to work. Quarry operators use explosives to break through large sections of rock.

Serra had gone to a Quarry Road residence with Councilor Kenneth Parrilla to get a first-hand sense for what neighbors of the quarry experience when blasts occur. Neighbors have complained for two years that the blasts shake their houses, causing wall hangings to drop to the floor, frightening their children, and causing other damage. The company has denied causing any damage.

“I don’t see why, if they have nothing to hide, we wouldn’t be allowed on the property,” Serra said. “We were just following through on a complaint.”

Serra said it was difficult for her to describe the sound and effects of the blast because she had nothing to compare it to, but said the owner of the house she went to described the blast as being “not as severe as some of the other ones.”

Jeffrey Gladstone, Copar’s lawyer, did not return a telephone message seeking comment for this article.

The Town Council is scheduled to receive an update from Thomas Moses, the lawyer hired by the town to evaluate the l quarry, Monday during a closed-door executive session.

An environmental engineering firm was hired to determine wind direction and test the air for particulate matter as part of Moses’ work. The test results have not yet been made public.

The Zoning Board of Review is scheduled to resume a hearing on Nov. 5 on Copar’s appeal of a cease-and-desist order issued to the company and its landlord, Westerly Granite Co. Inc., by former Zoning Official Elizabeth Burdick in August 2012. The order cited Copar for failing to properly use water to prevent dust from leaving the quarry property and for making excessive noise. The board plans to consolidate the hearing on the appeal of Burdick’s orders with a hearing on the companies’ appeal of orders issued by Robert Craven, who was appointed as special zoning officer in the Copar case. Those orders included revocation of the quarry operation’s zoning certificate.

dfaulkner@thewesterlysun.com



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