On Valentine’s Day, Salem Town Planner Mary Ann Chinatti’s instincts told her to take Rattlesnake Ledge Road on her way into work. Kobyluck Brothers LLC has a quarry there, although its special permit to continue work on the site expired in October 2010.
Driving by, Chinatti saw several machines excavating stone and several trucks hauling it away. She took pictures, then went back the next two days, and continued to shoot pictures of the work.
“They were going full-bore,” Chinatti said. “Full-bore.”
On behalf of the town, attorney Steven Byrne filed a motion to dismiss Kobyluck’s pending lawsuit against the town. Included were the pictures of the men working.
“The plaintiffs have conducted earth excavation activities at their quarry without the benefit of a special permit,” Byrne wrote. “From their actions, it is clear the plaintiffs believe they can ignore the zoning regulations, in particular cease and desist orders, and act above the law.”
In June 2010, Kobyluck’s special permit to continue quarrying on Rattlesnake Ledge was approved by Salem Planning and Zoning Commission, but with strict stipulations, including a $253,000 bond for restoration. The Waterford-based company sued the town, saying the stipulations were unfair and unjust.
Kobyluck did not agree to conditions, and in October 2010, its previous special permit for the work expired. However, Kobyluck LLC will continue to work on the property, owner Matt Kobyluck said.
“We are going to do what we have to do to run our business,” he said. “I have employees I have to pay, I have a mortgage on the property; I need to keep that going.”
Kobyluck and his lawyers have argued that since the new special permit was illegal, the previous permit should still be in existence.
“Generally when you appeal the conditions stay the way they were,” he said. “And in this case we had a permit before we appealed.”
The town of Salem is asking the court to dismiss Kobyluck’s claim.
Background In Salem
Kobyluck LLC has been working in Salem since 2002, quarrying and processing stone. Neighbors began to complain in 2005, saying the company was working more hours and using more equipment, namely stone processors, than what was agreed upon.
The town and Kobyluck could not agree on a settlement, sending the issue to court. In 2008, the court agreed with the town, ordering a cease and desist order.
Kobyluck followed the stipulations of the cease and desist order by removing extra equipment and restoring land it wasn’t supposed to disturb. It also paid damages to the town, and was allowed to restart its business for the time being.
Last year, Kobyluck submitted an application to quarry and process stone at 28 Industrial Drive in Waterford. The application went to a public hearing, held by the Conservation Commission.
, many residents and both Waterford legislators, State Rep. Betsy Ritter and State Sen. Andrea Stillman, spoke against the application. They brought up Kobyluck’s issues in Salem, as well as its issues in Montville, where the Department of Environmental Protection and then-Attorney General Blumenthal fined it $100,000.
Kobyluck eventually , saying it needed more time to complete several questions asked by the Conservation Commission. The company, which employs around 100 people in the area, will reapply within the next couple of months, Matt Kobyluck said.
Previous problems in Montville and Salem will not play a large role in deciding if a quarry should allowed, Conservation Commission Chairman Gary Johnson and Town Planner Tom Wagner said. The focus of the commission and staff will be on the new application, they both said.
“I’m more worried about the exact usage and all the potential issues that come with this kind of facility,” Wagner said. “That is what I will be advising the commission on.”
Johnson echoed that thought.
“We have to look at every application on its own merits,” he said. “I don’t hold (their previous problems) against them.”
“I don’t really think the (application in Waterford and what happened in Salem and Montville) have anything to do with each other,” he said.
Kobyluck added that the area he is looking to build in is zoned industrial, and has been zoned industrial for a long time. Industrial zones have to end somewhere, and normally they end at residential zones; but that doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t be allowed to build there, he said.
“A lot of people take it personal, and that’s unfortunate,” Kobyluck said. “Because it isn’t personal. It is about business.”
Kobyluck said he feels confident that the quarry will eventually be allowed.
“It will be a long, drawn-out process,” he said. “But I think it will eventually work out.”