By PHIL NOBILE
More than four years after a local West Harrison quarry was deemed to be operating illegally, little to no progress in the legal proceedings has caused the quarry’s neighbors to speak out to town officials about continued quality of life concerns.
At the March 6 Town Council meeting, West Harrison residents Glenn and Vanessa Daher addressed the council about the litigation process at the Lake Street Granite Quarry, which was found to be operating illegally and without a permit in January 2010. The residents argue that, despite the quarry’s excavation belts being shut down with a 2009 stop work order, quality of life problems continue as the property still accepts landfill and operates generally.
“We’re not going away,” Vanessa Daher, who has lived in her Old Lake Street home with her husband since the late 1990s, said. “Although it has been in appeals for more than four years, we wanted to tell the Town Council we haven’t forgotten about this.”
According to Daher and other residents surrounding the quarry, excavation belts to break down rock and glass would disrupt quality of life daily, including multiple nighttime incidents in which the quarry operated as late as 3 a.m.
In October 2009, after extensive complaints from nearby neighbors, the town issued a stop work order on the quarry after it was found that quarry president Lawrence Barrego never had a permit in accordance with Chapter 133 of the town code, which deals with excavating and the required permits in order to do so. Town Judge Albert Lorenzo said the company was not allowed to excavate on their property further.
Barrego argued the company was grandfathered in before the town code was adopted in 1923; Lake Street Granite began operation in 1922.
But the Town Council found Barrego’s business was subject to the town code after a lack of sufficient evidence was provided to prove the business existed before the town code was implemented, leading to the original stop work order. Barrego appealed the town’s decision, and the lawsuit sits in state appellate court.
The stop work order, however, only concerned the excavation belts at Barrego’s quarry. He is still allowed to operate the rest of the quarry’s functions—as a site for designated dumping of construction materials and waste— which is causing neighbors to continue expressing their desire to have the business shut down for good.
Sam Fanelli, another West Harrison resident who has lived near the quarry since 1989, was one of the original town residents who asked for the quarry to be shut down.
“[Barrego] claims he has the right and is exempt from all of these old town laws, and he’s not. It was ruled he must abide by the town,” Fanelli said. “He thinks he can do what he wants.”
While Fanelli expressed frustration toward Barrego and the process as a whole, he said he believed that the town’s “hands are tied,” and added that the legal process was simply running its course.
“The town has done what they can to protect us, and they can’t make another step forward right now,” Fanelli said. “I understand the court systems and that it may take years to settle all of this.”
Multiple calls to Town Attorney Frank Allegretti were not returned as of press time. Councilman Stephen Malfitano, a Republican, declined comment on an active matter in litigation.