Board reviewing company’s expansion plan

WILTON – Granite State Concrete’s proposal to expand its operation is back before the Planning Board after several months of postponements while information was collected and evaluated by the town’s engineers, Normandeau Associates of Bedford.

At the board’s regular meeting Wednesday, Ari Pollock, attorney for Granite State, addressed several issues that had been raised earlier by the board, and presented what he called a “punch list,” and proposed a timeline for completion of presentations.

Granite State is proposing to expand its 22-acre operation off Route 31 north near the Lyndeborough line onto an adjoining 120 acres, part of which is owned by the company. The Planning Board accepted the plan as complete in August 2002, and it has been under discussion ever since. The plan is opposed by a coalition of neighbors known as “Wilton Pit Stop.” About a dozen neighbors attended the meeting.

The original operation is “grandfathered,” that is, it pre-dates current regulations. The expansion falls under the new guidelines. The operation is considered “mining,” in which the ledge is blasted and then crushed into various-sized pieces. Most of the material is removed from the site by train.

The board, plus a number of abutters, has requested a series of site visits to observe blasting. The first of those visits will be scheduled for the week of May 3, since the crushing plant is now up and running after a recent shut down. The board has requested observation of a blast “high up on the hill,” because that position has the most effect on the area, including, neighbors say, noise, vibration and dust.

Neighbor Matt Fish said it was important for a blast to be observed from the property line because town regulations state there can be no effects beyond that point. Nikki Andrews offered her property line, which, she said, “is a half-mile away. Come and feel it through your feet.”

Fish, the current chairman of the board, has excused himself from the deliberations.

Where the blasts are observed from is “a matter of safety,” Pollock said.

Acting Chairman Mark Whitehill observed, “It had better be safe from your property line. If your policy is safe 300 feet from the blast, you should do no blasting within 300 feet of the property line.”

Pollock said he would discuss the question with the blasting company.

Whitehill said the board wished to observe blasts under several weather conditions.

Pollock noted that the Department of Environmental Services has approved a site-specific plan for the area.

He added, “We need a plan for monitoring groundwater, surface water and wetlands. Language for well bonding for groundwater control will be ready before the next meeting,” which is set for May 19.

He said the emissions report for 2003 has been completed, and Granite State has retained an appraisal firm from Concord to visit the area and prepare a report on the effects on neighboring property values.

It was also noted that that the air-quality section of DES has not done a recent inspection of the site, but “they have no violations on record, and have one complaint on file,” Pollock said. “Our permit expires in 2005 and they will do an inspection before the expiration.”

Granite State will make a final presentation May 19, and Normandeau is scheduled for a presentation June 16.