Saturday, October 15, 2011

Neighbors blast asphalt plant

WINCHESTER — The asphalt plant isn’t the only problem with Mitchell Sand and Gravel, according to neighbors of the business.
An explosion detonated last week at the gravel pit on Route 10 on the Winchester Swanzey border shook windows and raised ire in both towns.
“It is very loud; it is very powerful,” said Arthur E. Beckman Jr. of Swanzey, whose home abuts the pit.
Beckman has owned his house since 2004, he said, but never had a problem with the gravel pit before it changed hands about two years ago.
In addition to the blasting, which he worries is shaking his propane tanks and could affect the groundwater and his well, he also reports an increase in dust in the air from rock crushing.
“I think the previous owners took a little more precautions,” Beckman said.
But the company isn’t doing anything that hasn’t happened at the pit for years, according to Robert Snedeker, spokesperson for Mitchell Sand and Gravel.
The new attention to the sand and gravel operation is a side effect of the publicity generated by a new asphalt plant, which attracted vocal opponents even before it started operating at the pit in August, Snedeker suggested.
The rock crusher is also in a new spot in the pit this year, he said, which might make it louder in neighbor’s homes.
The blasting is measured on seismographs, Snedeker said, and only register at a tenth of the legal limit.
“I think that they’re actually feeling an air blast, I don’t think they’re feeling a tremor,” he said of the worried neighbors.
The asphalt plant is a benefit to the region because it has driven down prices local towns and the city of Keene have to pay to pave their roads, Snedeker said. He also suggested that the complaints are coming from the same group of people who opposed the asphalt plant.
“The greater Winchester community seems to be happy,” he said, adding that the company has not received a written complaint from the town about any of its operations.
But there’s no shortage of written complaints about the company coming in to town hall, according to Winchester code enforcement officer Leroy Austin.
In addition to complaints that were already on file about odors and noises attributed to the asphalt plant, by early this week there were also new complaints from two residents about last week’s blasting, he said.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. All I’m doing is compiling the information and passing it on to the planning board,” Austin said. “At some point the planning board is going to have to do something.”
As a property owner, Austin said he is also concerned that the blasting could affect the well at his own home.
“I don’t blame these people for complaining,” he said.
Snedeker said concerns about the groundwater supply are unfounded.
Other residents have different concerns.
Walter Hamilton lives far enough away from the pit on Route 10 that he can’t hear or smell anything, he said. But he has noticed that the birds that usually populate his yard have been absent since the asphalt plant fired up.
Vocal Mitchell critic Michael Towne has previously reported the same phenomenon.
But Snedeker dismissed the suggestion that the gravel pit or asphalt plant could be driving away birds.
“I wish we had fewer birds at the plant, because they kind of nest all over the place,” he said.


Anonymous said...

The town has found no violations. the state has found no violations and DES has found no violations even the governor has stated there is no violations. What do you expect to be done when they are in compliance?

not a fan said...

Go away Ed, get off your soap box and find a place to live. Like John P you haven't a clue.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone say "public nuisance"?
And to the poster above, many violations have been documented and sent to all parties involved; yet none have acted on them yet. We all know why Leroy hasn't done anything, he doesn't want to lose his cushy job. The state don't give a crap they are in Concord and have passed the buck to the town who's in bed with this guy.

Winchester Resident said...

Snedecker is quite the spinmeister, the Mitchell puppet who will say anything to stay in good favor with his boss. We all saw this clown at the hearings, the so-called expert on everything; not!
Mitchell is doing much more then the Payne's ever did and making 10 times the amount of noise the old pit ever did. As a long time resident who has lived near this plant all his life I can attest that this Snedecker is full of horse manure. The old owners never set off a blast more than 2-3 times in a whole year and we hardly ever heard it, it was a very muffled whoomp sound. It never shook the ground, or our homes. These people have already set off more than a dozen blasts that have rocked the area, I repeat, rocked the whole area, shook homes and caused damaged to at least two I know of. The blasting is 20 times louder and you can not tell me that it's only a tenth of what's allowed. If that's the case why won't they give the results to the people who have requested them? What are they attempting to hide again?
Snedecker lives in a fantasy world, we have been complaining about the noise and constant dust from the gravel pit more than the smells from the asphalt plant and by the way, no one has complained about an asphalt smell, it's the fuel oil and diesel and propane and other noxious gases that are causing issues. The Payne's hardly ever crushed any stone in the old pit, they mostly sold river bed rock and some crushed gravel they had shipped in. These guys have expanded this pit into twice it's original size and that damn rock crusher is going constantly from early morning straight through the day. How would you like to be woken up at 6am listening to noise emanating from that pit everyday? Over a hundred of us complained at every meeting, including health care professionals, state representatives and other professionals raising numerous concerns while less than 10 people counting this Snedecker, Mitchell and his attorneys and a certain Selectman and his wife sat representing this operation, so much for the whole town backing this project. As for the groundwater being affected, did you all know that at one time this pit area was a brown zone? Toxic chemicals among other waste were buried there and the state put in 14 monitoring wells to keep an eye on any chemicals escaping into the aquifer. Wanna bet what all this heavy blasting has done? Wanna put your faith in an out of state mouthpiece who has refused to comply with a condition of his approval to test four wells BEFORE he started up so there would be a baseline water report to fall back on in case of problems? Get your wells tested if you live in the area, you may be drinking something that could cause you harm and besides if you did ever have issues you'd have your proof to fall back on. This Mitchell hates exposure, is a really bad neighbor and others reports he's not a very nice business man either. We aren't going to just roll over and give up our homes and lifestyles for this guy, we will fight and continue to raise our concerns until he goes back to Massachusetts and takes his noise and his smells with him.

Mike Towne said...

The poster above has covered just about every point that I was going to say something about but one, the wildlife in the area being affected by the toxic fumes and noise coming from the plant.

Snedecker says “I wish we had fewer birds at the plant, because they kind of nest all over the place,”

This comment is so far from the truth it's almost funny. I guarantee that not one bird is "nesting" anywhere near that plant. Birds don't build nests in noisy, dusty, smelly areas, or at this time of the year. Their respiratory systems are very fragile and they avoid areas that would do them and their nestlings harm. As a card carrying, dues paying member of the Cornell University Ornithology Laboratory and a breeder of birds who has worked closely with NH state rehabilatators and someone who has studied birds an birding for years, I totally disagree with Mr. Snedecker and I'll give you an example of why I do. In days long gone before miners came up with the technology they have today, they used to carry cages of canaries into a mine to test for toxic gases before they could smell them. It's a known fact even known back then, that birds would succumb to even minute exposure to harmful fumes. If the birds died, they knew there were toxic gases that would harm them in those shafts. Birds don't hang around when there's something in the air that will kill them. I find Mr Snedecker's comments to be suspect of any truth. Just one more reason not to believe what these people are telling us about their plant or their operations. They will say anything to promote themselves.
And I am not the only one to observe this phenomenon either, others further away are now beginning to see the signs that something harmful is in the air we breath.

Anonymous said...

Why the hell do you think that they did not want him in his own town? Check the public records people and I think that you will find Mr. Mitchell gives new meaning to "liar, liar pants on fire."

Anonymous said...

You don't even have to go that far. He and Snedecker told whoppers at the hearings in front of the ZBA and Planning Boards. New burner? New baghouse? Only 25 trucks a day? "You won't even know we're there, Mr Mitchell will be a good neighbor to all" and on and on it goes. As someone else has mentioned previously, these people can not be trusted to do anything right and have the full support of the liars we have running our boards. None of this should have been allowed to happen, there are no new jobs for anyone, there will be no new taxes coming in, the darn pit was already there and paying taxes. Hundreds of people are being affected by the noise and dust and what they report are bad fumes coming from the area all so this guy can make money he couldn't get permission to do in his own town and he's cutting the throat of local businesses by giving Winchester, Swanzey and now Keene a break on prices so he can get their backing to run over everyone in the process. Real nice! So brainiacs,what happens when all these folks go to their town halls and submit paperwork for tax abatements, just how much revenue will each town lose? This is only a win win for Mitchell and those involved in this crooked dealing not either town, people have been hoodwinked by these liars and now good people are being forced to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Lot's of noise coming from that darn pit again today and dust flying everywhere, where's Leroy?

disgusted resident said...

Can you imagine the scenic view you are going to get coming into Winchester down route 10 when the state does the highway expansion and puts in the new bridge? All those trees will be gone and all you're gonna see is a big open pit, crumbling rock walls and be treated to all that dust and noise and smell as you drive by. Welcome to Winchester, the home of anything goes. We'll sell our heritage too if the price is right.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the other industrial businesses that currently operate on Route 10... Racetracks, cement factories, gun sellers, truck dealers. What do you expect, condominiums and McMansions? Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

Yes, several of them are questionable too and should never have been allowed on top of our Protected Aquifer Zone; perhaps that's why town well #1 is contaminated and being kept secret. The only noise issue with what is already established is the race tracks and they too could be gone soon under the US Nuisance Law. How do you like them apples?

Anonymous said...

Yeh right and there will be peace in Palestine anytime soon. What a joke. You win todays prize for being the most naive person. US Nuisance Law??????? What the heck is that?

the Winchester Informer said...

You shouldn't be so quick to judge other people for their opinions. Maybe if you had used your search box instead of your keyboard you'd have found out what that person was referring to before you stuck your foot in your mouth. There is such a thing as Nuisance Law; here's a link, go read.

Anonymous said...

SO Informer, you are now stepping up to the plate to defend one of your few cronies.... or was it really the Informer that posted as "Anonymous". You seem to have the information available really quick to respond.... hmmmmmm!!!!
Shut down the racetrack, and then shut down the polluting wood stoves and wood boilers. What is next... compost piles because they stink.

the Winchester Informer said...

Really fast? My crony? You are obviously under the influence of something; but it sure isn't intelligence. Look at the times the comments were posted; 2 hours apart isn't very quick in my book. The information was readily available on the web. It does take a little intelligence to use search and a bit more to read and understand that other people have opinions on subjects too besides you and also have the right to disagree with you. You may like noise just as long as it isn't in your backyard, but consider the fact that those who have to put up with it daily or weekly don't consider it very pleasant. As for wood stoves and outdoor boilers, where are you coming up with that comparison, the subject here is an asphalt plant?
But to comment on your wood stove example, are you aware that there is a federal and state program to turn in your old wood stove for a more efficient up to date model that will provide you with up to a $300 tax break. Wonder why states and the federal government are doing this? Think maybe they have figured out burning wood is polluting the air we breath?

Here's another tid bit of information for you that I/we have come across using the search function on our computers. Several asphalt plants have been shut down under the Nuisance Law. Do a search for Monoco and Lojac and you will see that there is court precedence.

Ronald H. said...

Way to go Informer, once again you provide top notch information and show that there are just to many moronic people willing to say anything to get attention. I especially love all the comments about hiding behind the anonymous option you provide all the while they post anonymously. Boy talk about stupidity, guess they don't want us all to know just who is the stupid person behind the remarks but we all have our opinions on who they are.

fighting mad said...

That damn rockcrusher has to go you can't hear yourself think lately. These people have no respect for their neighbors. That whole pit is nothing more than a mining operation now with dust and dirt everywhere and too damn much noise.

what a big mess said...

I drove by that place yesterday and I gotta say what a mess it is. I took a good look and I can honestly say in all my years of living in this area it never looked that way before. It is way bigger than it used to be and the dust and grey smoke coming out of there was very evident. No wonder these people are complaining, I would be too.

Anonymous said...

I recently had my water tested as it has been very cloudy and tasting strange lately with all of the blasting and low and behold it is full of unhealthy sediment and other stuff. I got this done for free up at Home Depot and they give you a copy of the results. Austin wasn't interested in them though so I sent them on to the state. Next week I'm taking a sample to EAI analytical labs on Emerald street in Keene for more testing, I'd suggest anyone in the area having issues to do the same. If enough of us are having issues with our water, the state will do what the town won't and shut this operation down. Even if you're not, it would be a good idea to have it done so you'd have proof if something did happen in the future. With all of the blasting and digging over there it's just a matter of time before the crap that was buried there long ago gets into the water if it hasn't already. Don't think for one minute this guy gives a crap about any of us, it's all about making money with him, just ask people who know him down in Massachusetts.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your well or spring is cloudy because of the 20 plus inches of rain we have had in the last two months. Ever think of that? Of course not... our society is all about the blame game instead of looking at other possibilities. Spend your money and have your fun.

If you are the same poster on 10/16 then we know how truthful you are. Over 100 people showed up to oppose? I read that maybe 15-30 people showed up. Should I believe your post or what was in the paper. You are obviously upset and have a tendency not to tell the truth. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Nice try blaming the weather; but we've had lots of rain before and there's never been an issue. By your comments I take it you never made a meeting so your opinions don't mean squat. You don't know me and you have the gaul to say I don't tell the truth, what a laugh, you're evidently a Mitchell supporter intent on putting the blame on anything except where it squarely belongs. I have lived here all my life, nearly 50 years and have never had issues before like we all have now that this money grubber has shown up in our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Just because I work, have a family to support, and don't have time to attend meetings corrupted by a bunch of idiots making fools of themselves, does not mean I don't keep track of what is going on. Why do you think your group doesnt get anyone elected to town office... because the people that actually work and pay taxes know who are looking out for out best interest. It is not a bunch of complainers like you all.

The silent majority

Anonymous said...

and just who that might be that's looking out for all of us, please explain.

Anonymous said...

So people who complain about illegal meetings, corrupt officials and businesses that destroy the peace and tranquility of their neighborhoods are the problem in town according to the so-called silent majority. That in a nutshell is the problem with Winchester, total indifference to the issues that are affecting some citizens and a lack of caring about your neighbors just as long as it isn't you is exactly the attitude those in charge want so that they can profit from their agendas without too much scrutiny. Keep your heads in the sands and your butts down cause your time is coming you just don't know it yet.

ITS SIMPLE said...

The majority of the voters are town employees, there friends and family and that's why the same people keep getting the vote. As taxes continue to rise maybe the people with there head in the sand will wake up. Until then arrogance rules.