COVENTRY — In a surprising turn of events after Monday’s town council meeting, Tom Miozzi, owner of T. Miozzi Asphalt Company, offered to form a coalition with residents who have had complaints about plant noise, air quality, hours of operation, heavy truck traffic and truck noise for more than a year now.
According to Miozzi, after the meeting he approached Tammy Duxbury, a member of the Citizens Advocating for a Safe Environment (SAFE) and offered to form the coalition in an effort to come to a resolution to better the quality of life for residents and himself.
“I can’t afford to retire, nor do I want to and I want to resolve this issue one piece at a time,” Miozzi said. “We can butt heads for the next 30 years and have no one’s quality of life change for the better or we can work together.”
His offer to the group was; if they can come up with a place for him to relocate and come up with the money to do so and it’s acceptable to him, he will gladly do so.
“I want to work with positive energy to come up with a solution,” added the business owner.
Duxbury confirmed that the group and Miozzi did have a brief conversation after the meeting but Duxbury said as much as she does want him to relocate the business; it’s not up to her to come up with the money or the space for a new place.
“I told him I’d be willing to sit down and talk but I can’t help him with anything else,” she said. “I’d love to see that area as open space again.”
Prior to the conversation between Miozzi and SAFE, a presentation was given by Sage Environmental Group regarding the results of their study on the sticky, oily, black substance found in Westwood North Estates.
The study found that the substance found on homes, mailboxes, cars, playground equipment, deck rails and anything else outdoors in the neighborhood off Reservoir Road, is a naturally-occurring mold produced by tiny insects.
The study conducted by Sage came after many complaints from residents in Westwood Estates North, who believed the substance came from two asphalt plants that operated a mile away from their homes.
Duxbury read Sage’s report but said many unanswered questions remain.
“If the testing was done last year then the results would’ve been different,” she said. “We knew it was mold but also requested the study because we knew it was also more than mold mixed in and the report confirms levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and total xylenes which are found in petroleum products.”
According to the results, presented in Sage’s report, the analysis supports what University of Rhode Island research associate Heather Faubert also discovered—as insect populations decrease, so will the mold.
According to Sage’s study, the amount of mold present this year was much less than last year at this time.
Complaints by the Citizens Advocating for a Safe Environment (CASE) were made last fall to the town council and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). They believed the soot was coming from the Miozzi and Pasteryak’s asphalt plants.
Debra Bacon, Duxbury, Nancy Sullivan and Irene Drew make up a portion of the neighborhood committee concerned for their health and their environment.
During the first work session held Sept. 10, 2012, residents brought the concern to the town council who promised to do whatever they could do to help out the neighbors.
“We will do whatever we can to help you get to the bottom of this,” said Town Council President Gary Cote, “because we want to know what’s going on just as much as you do.”
Duxbury, who lives at 2 Orchid Trail, said she’s tried Soft Scrub, Magic Erasers and bleach.
“If it was mold or mildew, it would wipe right off,” she said.
“As of right now, we have no evidence of it being anything other than a natural problem,” said Cote just before the testing got underway.
“It’s coming from a tiny bug, a lot of hype about nothing,” said Dave Renzi, a pesticide applicator and arborist in Exeter, who offered his opinion last October when residents originally raised concerns.
He has seen this in the past and said it is more prevalent on Oak trees and has been seen throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“The black substance is sooty mold created when Lecanim Scale fee on Oak trees,” he said. “The honeydew they secrete covers everything under it and mold attacks the sugars, turning it black. It doesn’t hurt anyone or anything, it just looks bad.”
The soot was just one of many complaints put forth by neighbors. Residents from both Westwood Estates and Westwood North Estates maintain that the noise for the trucks and plant operation, truck traffic and heavy dust and odor have been effecting their quality of life for more than a year and are getting worse.
The war between the residents and Miozzi’s company on Airport Road in Coventry, continued over the last few weeks and became more heated when the Rhode Island State Police Truck Squad was on his site all day August 22 monitoring the weighing of each truck after Coventry Town Councilman Ted Jendzejec contacted Coventry Town Manager Tom Hoover who in turn, contacted The Coventry Police Chief Bryan Volpe who then contacted the state police truck squad.
Jendzejec said he did make the request because a portion of the intersection at Route 3 and Reservoir Road is caving in due to constant heavy truck travel.
“It doesn’t matter what’s right or wrong, they want me gone,” stated Miozzi two days after.
Members of the council have been fielding complaints from neighbors from both Westwood Estates North and Westwood Estates regarding loud noise, asphalt odor, sticky residue and truck traffic for more than a year but there seems to be no cease fire on either side.
Betsy and Jim Morgan, of 18 Sandra Ct., spoke for some of their neighbors when they said some days they can sit outside for a short time, other days they can’t because the odor and residue drives them back inside.
“I’ve had mild breathing issues for quite some time, but my breathing has gotten worse over the past year and I attribute it to his company,” Morgan said.
Marie Fisher, another Westwood Estates resident questioned the intelligence of the town council to allow this business to continue if there are breathing, noise and safety complaints on such a continual basis.
“The children wait for the busses every morning on Reservoir Road where these heavy trucks travel constantly, she said. “We can’t get away from the noise. He said he’ll lay everyone off and close his business – good, it’ll get him out of here.”
David Houle and Bob Gagnon, at 11 Sandra Circle, said they’ve all contacted DEM but never received a response.
“We live here, we can’t get away from it,” Gagnon said. “He gets away from it when he goes home.”
“We love the neighborhood and we love the quiet when it’s quiet but when the plant is active, we just can’t enjoy the deck,” Charlotte and John Porter said.
Gail Mastrati, communications for the Department of Environmental Management, explained that the state office only looks into air quality concerns, not noise, hours of operation or trucks on the road. Those would be the responsibility of the municipality. According to her information and the information available on the DEM site pertaining to the asphalt plants, records show there were no violations during inspections for either plant beginning at March 20, 2013 through August 26, 2013. There have been inspections on an almost-daily basis.
Coventry Police Chief Bryan Volpe said Tuesday that there have been no other reports recently besides residents’ concern about the trucks traveling on Reservoir Road, but he said, it is an industrial area.
Duxbury’s frustration also stems from what she calls “Cote’s lack of response.”
“We’ve been to all the town council meetings and have presented fact after fact but apparently Cote doesn’t feel that’s enough evidence. He’s obviously not interested in helping us anymore.”