Citizens speak on Julian Quarry

A section of Dean Brook before it reaches the Julian Quarry. Photo from presentation

CHESTER, Vt. – The March 22 Chester Selectboard meeting opened with nominations for chair and vice chair of the board and the welcoming of new board members Arianna Knapp and Peter Hudkins. Arnie Jonynas was nominated as the board’s chair once again, with Lee Gustafson as the vice chair.

During the opening citizens comments section Chester resident Jeff Holden spoke on the newly formed police advisory committee. “I have concerns over an appointee that is being considered for the police oversight committee,” he stated “I was on the police department back in 2018, I had a complaint lodged against me.” Holden explained that the incident in question was reviewed by both the sergeant and police chief in Chester and both of them wrote reports and found that there were no violations. After further pressure, the town hired an outside investigator whose findings are summed up in a 90 page report, with a three page conclusion, “based on the evidence in this case, it is my opinion that Officer Holden did not violate any law or violate any of the Chester Police Department policies.” Jonynas thanked him for speaking, but was not allowed to comment.

The Dean Brook after passing Julian Quarry. Photo from presentation

The next item on the meeting agenda was a discussion on possible violations by Allstone Vermont – Julian Quarry LCC, this was brought forward by a large number of Chester residents, there was a presentation that was led by Mike LeClaire. The citizens’ concerns included violations made by the quarry that has led to constant noise for the surrounding properties, pollution in the Dean Brook, and dangerous blastings, among other violations. Jonynas shared that there had been a jurisdictional opinion put out by the natural resources board on the three quarries being operated by the company in Chester. There seemed to be a number of Act 250 and other violations being carried out at all of the quarries, and “one of the quarries is not even supposed to be operating since 2008.” It was also known for certain that there are tools being used at the quarries, such as a hydraulic hammer, that were not mentioned in the quarries permits.

The presentation given at the meeting contained pictures and videos showcasing the citizens complaints. There were pictures of the Dean Brook before and after it passed the Julian Quarry, the section before the quarry was green and clear, and the section of the brook following the quarry was almost completely white. Many of the citizens stated that the river was even running white that night. There were pictures of debris from blasts that had landed much farther from the blast sight than it should have. It was made clear that there were many more pictures and videos than showcased, but that they could not show all due to time constraints.

It was mentioned to the board that the company is currently involved in a public corruption case in Fairfield, Conn., where they are under investigation for 12 felonies, including illegal dumping, larceny, conspiracy, and more.

Jason and Andrew Julian, the owners of the quarries, spoke at the meeting, they stated that they only found out about the meeting last minute and did not have time to prepare. They assured the town that they have had their engineers and lawyers both looking into the matter. They denied some of the claims, stating that they “hire the biggest blasting company in the country” for their blasting. When asked about using equipment not permitted at the quarry the brothers stated that they had purchased it with the quarry.

It was decided that Preston Bristow, Chester Town Planner and Zoning Administrator, would go through the permits for the quarry to see what they are and are not permitted to do and would determine the next steps of action along with the town’s legal counsel. State Rep. and board member Heather Chase was in Montpelier the night of the meeting, attending on Zoom, and said she would talk to the Vermont Attorney General as well as other state reps and senators about the issue the next day. Jonynas thanked all the citizens for bringing this issue forward.

After the discussion of the Julian Quarry, the board heard from 10 citizens who had applied to become members of the newly formed police advisory committee. The board went into an executive session to decide who to appoint to the five member board. The following citizens were appointed; Samantha Snedorf-Bailey was appointed for a one year term, Vincent Buckholz and Roy Spaulding were both appointed for two year terms, and Wendi Germain and Frank Kelley were both elected for three year positions. The committee will later decide what days and times to meet. The selectboard was grateful for the amount of interest in the committee.

Back To Top