WINCHESTER — Tension continues to build concerning a recently opened asphalt plant on the Winchester-Swanzey border.
In the latest sign of the deteriorating relationship between Mitchell Sand and Gravel, the plant’s owner, and residents who have objected to the facility, Mitchell’s attorney recently sent “no trespass” notices to a number of asphalt plant opponents.
The letters were a reaction to photos presented during a recent compliance hearing held for the plant by the Winchester Planning Board, according to Kevin D. Parsons, the Massachusetts attorney who sent the letters on Mitchell’s behalf.
Some of the photos, he said, demonstrated that someone had entered the gravel pit where the plant is located without permission. ( this is a commercial business is it not ? )
“Unauthorized people should not be going on other people’s property and some of these folks have,” he said.
( so where is his proof to back up that statement? )
The photos were submitted to the town’s code enforcement officer by State Rep. Daniel P. Carr, D-Winchester, and presented at the hearing by Michael Towne, who lives across from the plant on Route 10, Parsons said.
( Mr. Towne did not submit photos at the Compliance Hearing, he instead submitted a letter to the board on behalf of the residents of Winchester and Swanzey requesting that the Town's Code Enforcement Officer be present at the hearing to clarify his reports to the board and answer any questions. Mr Towne's letter to the board was ignored and never read before the board or public at the hearing.)
The letters warn that “failure to comply with this notice may result in your arrest.”
They were sent to not only Carr and Towne but other Winchester and Swanzey residents who have objected to the plant since before the town’s planning board approved its construction in the agricultural district in January.
Parsons sent six letters, he said.
( Including letters to a Swanzey Selectman and Winchester's Code Enforcement Officer banning them as well )
“We don’t know who was on the property, we don’t know who took the photos. But it’s clearly someone in the group that’s doing it,” Parsons said.
Towne was surprised by the letter, he said, because has never been on the plant property and has only taken photos of stack emissions that he can see from his yard.
“If they’re doing everything legit, wouldn’t they welcome the public onto the property to see that everything is on the up and up?” he said.
The plant began operating intermittently in late August, and neighbors quickly began complaining that truck noise and chemical smells were detracting from their quality of life.
( along with the constant sound of the rock crusher, backup beepers, slamming tailgates and a portable hydraulic jack hammer hammering away drilling blasting holes all day long )
“They’re worried about the water quality, and their air quality does bear a lot of noxious fumes and dust that were not there before,” said State Rep. Jane B. Johnson, R-Swanzey, who has taken an interest in the matter at the request of constituents.
Johnson contacted Gov. John H. Lynch about the plant, she said, and he advised her that the conditions of the plant’s temporary operating permit were within state laws.
As a state representative, she is thinking of encouraging a review of environmental regulations and how they compare to neighboring states’, she said.
“New Hampshire needs to make sure that its laws are such that companies can’t just come in here and get away with things that they can’t get away with in other states,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Towne, an avid bird watcher who reports there have been no birds in his yard since the plant first fired up, continues to keep an eye on the operation — from across the street.