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Deliberations for Ray Robert Excavation & Trucking Special Permit Set for Dec.
By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff
02:54PM / Monday, November 20, 2023
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DALTON, Mass. — The fate of Ray Robert Excavation & Trucking's request for a new special permit remains unclear. 
Last month the Planning Board voted to continue the public hearing to November and originally intended on making a decision during last Wednesday night's meeting, which was heavily attended by neighbors and other community member. 
However, due to additional revision requests to the permit, the board decided to push deliberations to Dec. 20 so that these changes can be reviewed. The board did vote to close the public hearing. 
Owner Ray Roberts has requested a new special permit to improve clarity and extend his operating and crushing hours. 
The new special permit would grant heavy industrial use in the Planned Industrial Development district.
On Wednesday, Roberts and his attorney John McLaughlin agreed to have a compliance review every year rather than every three years, per requests made by the Schnopp family and other abutting residents. 
They also requested adding language to the permit indicating that there are two separate businesses on the property. This would clarify that the operations of the trucking company are not bound by the work constraints of the hours of operation. 
Cathy and Greg Schnopp's attorney Alexandra Glover disagreed to adding this language as it has implications and is not "appropriate to mention" a business that has not come up before in the permit.  
"I think that's going to be a real complication. If this board at the end of the day starts sort of incorporating a reference or acknowledging something that certainly is not part of the application and it hasn't been part of his right," she said. 
A majority of the residents who attended Wednesday’s public hearing expressed their frustration with the noise on the property, and dust created by the crushing. 
The original permit request was to grant an increase in Saturday's hours of operation for earthen materials processing operations, i.e, screening, separating, and crushing, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. to 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. 
After hearing complaints from abutting residents and viewing the the Shnopp family's video showing how loud the noise is, Robert agreed to change his request for screening, separating, and crushing to 8 until 2 p.m. and to retain his request for Saturday hours of operations from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. for loading the trucks. 
"I don't have a problem with Ray running a business," resident Jeff McAdoo said. The problem, he said, was that Robert is not following the rules and whenever there is noise that can be heard after hours he blames it on someone else. 
McAdoo claimed that he heard heavy rocks being loaded into trucks at 5 a.m. just two days after the previous meeting. 
"I don't have a problem with the work, just be reasonable at the time. Follow the rules …That's all I'm concerned with. I just want somebody to make the man follow the rules because he doesn't and then he lies and blames other people and it just at some point needs to stop," McAdoo said. 
Robert disputed these claims saying he is not even up at 5 a.m. His daughter Bre backed up this statement saying he does not go to work until 6:45 a.m. or 7. 
Robert and his attorney also noted that the state Department Of Environmental Protection came down to measure the noise levels and deemed that it is in compliance with the department's noise regulations. 
The board recommended that Robert invest in cameras and have them pointed at his equipment so there is proof that operations are not taking place outside of the hours allotted by the special permit. 
During the meeting in October, McLaughlin and other attendees noted that neighbors knew it was an industrial district and still in industrial use when they purchased their properties, which was reflected in the price of their homes. 
On Wednesday, Barbara Collins said when she purchased her property in fall 1986, she was informed that it was abutting an industrial district but was also told no one was going to build or do anything on it because there are wetlands involved.
Although it is an industrial zone and Robert has a right to run his business it is also abutting a residential zone so he should be following the hour constraints set by the special permit, resident William Drosehn said. 
"As for the work that Mr. Robert is doing down there, I think it's great stuff because he's recycling materials. It’s a great opportunity for something that we usually used to throw away and stuff in a landfill, today is being used," Drosehn said. "So, the type of operation is commendable, but at the same time, as with everyone else, they have hours of operation." 
Drosehn also mentioned that he saw Robert working outside of business hours while painting his home, but he wasn't certain for how long.
Residents recommended that the board retain the hours of operation set by the current permit of 8 to 1 on Saturday. The permit allows his business to continue the manufacturing use as long as he abides by the lengthy conditions regarding hours of operations, noise limitations, environmental stipulations and boundary specifications.
The excavation and trucking company's 90-day extension for the current special permit remains in effect so that the work surrounding the new special permit request does not interfere with current operations.   
Comments made by residents during the October meeting here
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