Swampscott settles long-running dispute over blasting in quarry
Swampscott settles long-running dispute over blasting in quarry

SWAMPSCOTT, MA — Swampscott has settled a long-running dispute with Holcim US (also known as Aggregate Industries) that involved a lawsuit in federal court over blasting restrictions the town sought to enforce as part of an annual permit.

The Select Board had repeatedly extended the previous permit, often in heated disputes – both legally and publicly during open meetings – with Holcim representatives, who said the proposed restrictions went “too far” and were “unlawful and would significantly impede (the company’s) ability to use its property.”

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But Fitzgerald welcomed the agreement last week as the start of a new partnership with the city, praising Holcim officials for agreeing to limit the number of blasts per year to 50 and limit the types of vibrations he said are “the most serious nuisances to humans.”

“We have approved a permit that includes a number of changes that ultimately, I believe, reflect a standard of care that will help Swampscott build a relationship with Holcim or Aggregate that will help move things in a better direction,” he told the Select Board.

Fitzgerald thanked the Earth Removal Advisory Committee and the arbitrator for their help in the negotiations, which he said will benefit residents living near the quarry.

“This is the most contextual permit in the entire state of Massachusetts,” Fitzgerald said. “There are 200 quarries in Massachusetts. This provides the Town of Swampscott with a real standard of care that should help balance the need to support a busy industrial operation with the regulatory oversight that would make sense for this type of operation.”

Select Board Chair MaryEllen Fletcher also recognized Select Board member David Grishman and former Select Board member Peter Spellios for their contributions to resolving the dispute stemming from the proposed 2021-22 authorization.

“I think this reflects a partnership,” Fitzgerald said. “We have every reason to believe that this relationship can get even better.”

The annual permit under the agreement is valid until June 30, 2025.

(Scott Souza is Patch’s field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)

By Aurora