The Darien Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at town hall Tuesday night got off to a rocky start when the application for a controversial permit was met with one local resident's outrage. Graham Powell, who lives on Hale Lane and is president of the Hale Lane community association, took the floor to protest the potentially loud stone crushing operation that would take place over 90 days this summer at the transfer station on Ledge Road.
Although the site is currently used for the disposal of refuse asphalt, concrete, rock and dirt, Robert Steeger, director of public works, is hoping that the town will allow a private contractor to crush the 5,000 tons of material currently located at the site and remove it from the station.
"Material comes from town projects and sits there till we have no choice but to ship it out," Steeger said. He said crushing the stone will save between $150,000 and $173,000 by making room for additional material without having to financially cover the removal of existing waste rock. In addition, the contractor has agreed to give the town a portion of the crushed rock that he otherwise would be able to sell to construction companies.
DJ Cavaliere of Cavaliere Industries in Stamford, the man responsible for the operation, feels that residents of Hale Lane may be "contaminated" due to past experiences with similar projects.
"People have pre-feelings that this equipment is loud. Our equipment is not."
Powell does not buy the reassurances. "He [Cavaliere] may feel people's opinions are based on preconceptions, mine is not, I assure you."
Powell referred to the rock crushing project at Whole Foods last summer, another location directly adjoining Hale Lane.
"Holy hell it's loud," Powell said. "It tests the threshold of cruel and unusual punishment."
Powell has demanded that if the town goes through with the rock crushing operation this summer Hale Lane residents be reimbursed one-third of their annual property taxes.
"I did not buy a house near a quarry, or a processing plant," he said.
Over the course of the meeting Powell repeatedly asked the Planning and Zoning Commission why the town needs to recycle rocks and why they must do it now. Steeger estimates that the town would be forced to empty the site in two to three years time regardless.
In response to allegations that the rock crusher and rock screener required for the operation will be ear-splitting, Cavaliere defended his equipment saying it would be far quieter than the equipment used near Whole Foods.
"Whole Foods was mostly a rock job," he said. "Our machine is 90 horsepower, not 640 hp." He also said the rock that would be crushed this summer is primarily concrete and asphalt; a material he maintains is softer and easier to crush than harder natural rock.
When asked if any particular time of day for the crushing to occur would be preferable to another Powell wryly responded, "No time of day is preferable to another time, except for perhaps not at all."
In closing remarks M. Reese Hutchison III, secretary of the Planning and Zoning Commission, conclusively stated, "It may be an imposition to some of the neighbors but it make sense outside of that." No decision by the commission has been made as of yet.