CHARLESTOWN — Despite protests from town residents, the Charlestown Town Council decided to continue the Copar Quarries and Westerly Granite Company (WGC) hearing until the council’s September meeting.
On Tuesday’s night’s council agenda was the discussion and potential action of a resolution that would ask the Rhode Island Attorney General to look into whether WGC is in compliance with state laws.
In anticipation of the WGC hearing, about 25 town residents, who live near Copar Quarries, attended the meeting in order to report on their experiences of the quarry’s alleged violations, including excessive noise from explosions and stone-crushing, dissipation of silicon dust, pollution of potable water supplies, damage to residential structures, as well as illegally obtained permits among other issues.
Before explaining that the hearing was to be continued, Town Council President Thomas B. Gentz read aloud a letter from Copar’s legal counsel stating that WGC had only received notice of the hearing the day before the hearing’s scheduled date.
“It is clear that the late notice provided on the eve of the holiday weekend is little more than a thinly veiled attempt on the part of the town to deprive WGC of certain basic due processes including, without limitation, prior advance notice of the so-called August 13 hearing date,” Gentz read. “One can only draw one inescapable conclusion: namely that the town has departed from accepted procedure, breached protocol, and denied WGC basic due process as regards the alleged issues. Simply the intent of the town is to deprive WGC the opportunity to prepare for and address any purported issues in a meaningful and effective fashion."
The town council’s agenda, which included the WGC hearing, was filed on Aug. 8, with the Rhode Island Secretary of State, according to www.sos.ri.gov/openmeeting . WGC’s legal counsel stated that it had received the notice, dated Aug. 9, on Aug.12.
The letter went on to state that the WGC’s legal counsel was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict on Aug. 13, and to request a continuance of the hearing to the council’s September meeting.