A tall asphalt silo that has been a source of neighborhood controversy and pending litigation will be dismantled over the summer, according to the terms of an agreement signed off on during a hearing before the Oak Bluffs Zoning Board of Appeals on March 21.
The proposal was offered by White Brothers-Lynch Construction corporation, operators of the asphalt plant at the Goodale Construction Company sand and gravel pit in Oak Bluffs, and will reduce the size and profile of the silo in question. The 72-foot silo was constructed in 2011 to replace a 42-foot tower, and shortly after began to draw concerns from neighbors about its height and an increase in air pollution.
In May of 2011, the case was brought before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which declined to review the project. But at the end of that year, newly-appointed Oak Bluffs building inspector Jim Dunn rejected a permit application from White-Lynch to operate the tower, and in April 2012 issued a cease-and-desist order for the silo.
White Brothers-Lynch appealed that decision in land court, and continued to operate the tower while the appeal was under consideration.
According to the terms of the new agreement, White Brothers-Lynch will be allowed to operate the tower from April 1 to June 28 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. After that point, White Brothers-Lynch must proceed with “reasonable speed” to remove the tower from its foundation by August 15. It will then be replaced with the older 42-foot tower.
The proposed agreement was set in motion after a meeting last month between Jerry Lynch, his attorney, and a group of neighbors at the Masonic Lodge in Oak Bluffs.
“It is not now and never has been Jerry’s intention to create or prolong a situation which would give rise to such reaction,” said ZBA member Derek Tipton, reading aloud from a letter addressed to Mr. Dunn by White Brothers-Lynch’s attorneys. “He always has been and intends to be a good neighbor.”
Oak Bluffs town attorney Michael Goldsmith said he has worked to put the words of the letter into a legal document for potential signing, but that the letter itself was “between the principal parties.”
“The proposal didn’t come from me or anyone on the [zoning] board,” he said. “I would say is it’s ending all the litigation,” Mr. Goldsmith continued.
Doug Reece of Little Pond Road, one of a group of neighbors who attended the meeting to voice concerns over the tower, said the proposal was “a nice surprise to all of us.”
Other residents from the Iron Hill and Little Pond areas seconded the sentiment, but continued to express concern about air pollution, raising the possibility of using low-emission, eco-friendly asphalt in the pit.
“I hear all your comments on the emissions but there’s no way the town ZBA is going to force a business owner to buy a certain type of equipment,” ZBA chair Kris Chvatal said. “We have absolutely no business even talking about it, recommending purchases for a business owner . . . that’s no longer a zoning issue.”