A group of Tiverton residents is fighting a 536 Highland Road quarry operator whose activities, they allege, violate town ordinances and are disrupting the quality of life in their once peaceful area …
A group of Tiverton residents is fighting a 536 Highland Road quarry operator whose activities, they allege, violate town ordinances and are disrupting the quality of life in their once peaceful area of town.
David Stewart, one of the organizers of "Stop the Quarry," said the group now has 40 to 50 members. Supporters have posted flyers around the neighborhood, created a website, and are considering a GoFundMe campaign as a next step in its efforts to stop the operation.
Stewart has owned his Highland Road home for nearly four decades. As an abutter to the 90-acre parcel of land owned by the quarry operator, Highland Ridge Farm LLC, he said he has had plenty of opportunity to observe the negative impacts of the company’s operations on surrounding property owners.
In a presentation to the town council earlier this year, Stewart and his next-door neighbor, Norman Whitehead, described in detail the noise, water, and air pollution they and their neighbors are experiencing. Quarrying had been going on for months, they said, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., up to five days a week.
Referring to Tom Chace, the Little Compton realtor who operates the business, Whitehead told the council, “He has a tremendous rock ledge and he is just chopping away at it.”
While Chace declined to comment to the Sakonnet Times, opponents said the quarrying of sand, rocks, and minerals, besides being illegal under town ordinances, creates an “incredible amount of noise” that is extremely disruptive. One new resident in the area who has a home office finds it so difficult to concentrate, even with his windows closed, that he is considering renting office space elsewhere, they said.
Stewart told the council, “He [Chace] is trying to tell people he is doing this to build a foundation. Well, he must be building the Prudential Center there.”
Both men pointed to the impact on property values. Referencing an analysis that showed the total assessed value of properties located within 1,000 feet of Chace’s land is $63 million, Whitehead said, “He’s destroying that value. Who is going to buy a house next to a quarry?”
In March, Tiverton Building and Zoning Official John Hoyle Jr. issued five cease-and-desist orders against Chace’s company, citing a host of violations including failure to obtain a special use permit, unauthorized and un-permitted use of the premises, and prohibited uses such as retail and/or wholesale sales and storage.
The town alleges that the company is engaging in illegal uses that have a substantially adverse impact on the surrounding neighborhood, and ordered that “all quarrying and/or mining activity for sand, gravel, rocks or minerals, including that of granite, lime rock, and/or limestone must immediately cease." Further, Chace was ordered to stop "all earth removal activity" immediately.
Previously, Chace had filed a lawsuit against the Town of Tiverton contending that the quarry is grandfathered and is therefore operating legally.
Chace's appeal of the cease-and-desist notices is scheduled to come before the Tiverton Zoning Board of Review at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at the Tiverton High School auditorium.
Chace purchased the property in 2016, and it is currently on the market for $9.9 million. It is described in the listing as a “quarry and aggregate producing operation with expansion capabilities” with an “estimated yield of 10-20 million tons or more of available granite material.”
Fifty-five acres are quarry area, according to the listing, and the remaining estimated 35 acres are leased and protected as a farm. The listing also states that “the quarry, sand and gravel extraction permit will be transferred to the buyer.”