Vermont Supreme Court Rules Rock Crushers on Rock of Ages Tract Must Obtain Act 250 Permit
SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., Aug. 15, 2016––On Friday, Aug. 12, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that rock crushers operated by North East Materials Group (NEMG) on the Rock of Ages tract in Graniteville, Vt., are subject to Act 250, Vermont’s landmark land use law.
The decision comes after a recent appeal brought by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) at Vermont Law School on behalf of Neighbors for Healthy Communities, a group of Graniteville residents who live near the rock crushers. This is the second time the ENRLC was before the Supreme Court with the case, and the second time it won.
The NEMG rock crushers have operated without a permit for more than six years despite causing significant noise, rock dust, and truck traffic that impact neighbors who live near the crushers. The Supreme Court held that the rock crushers are a “substantial change” to pre-1970 development on the Rock of Ages tract, and therefore “NEMG is required to submit an Act 250 application and obtain an Act 250 permit to continue its rock-crushing activities.”
“We’re very pleased that the Vermont Supreme Court again held that the location of high-impact activities like rock crushing matters under Act 250,” said Laura Murphy, acting director of the ENRLC and lead attorney on the case. “It now is clear that rock crushing at other sites far away on the tract does not exempt NEMG’s present crushing and its impacts from Act 250 review.”
Lori Bernier, a member of Neighbors for Healthy Communities, expressed deep respect and appreciation for the Vermont Supreme Court’s final resolution in Neighbors’ favor.
“We and the other neighbors of these rock crushers have endured the noise, the dust coating our houses, and the dangerous trucks for six years, all without any public review of these impacts,” Bernier said. “The Supreme Court’s decision gives us the chance to be heard on whether these rock crushers should operate so close to our homes.”
Neighbors for Healthy Communities has also worked closely with Community Action Works, a New England-based nonprofit that helps communities organize to cleanup and prevent pollution. “Graniteville residents have suffered from noise and pollution from unpermitted rock crushing for far too long”, said Community Action Works’s Vermont Community Organizer Shaina Kasper. “We’re so glad to see their tireless dedication to standing up for their community and for Vermont’s environment continue to pay pay off, and to see industry be held accountable to the law.”
For more information about the Graniteville case, including the decision and court filings, visit vermontlaw.edu/academics/clinics-and-externships/ENRLC/cases/opposing-an-asphalt-plant-in-local-residential-community.