Fitzwilliam voters reject Rindge company’s quarrying proposal
Wesley Whitham, an abutter of the Webb Hill Quarry in Fitzwilliam, second from the left, urged voters to reject a petition warrant article calling for quarry reclamation. Kim J. Olson of Rindge, pictured behind Whitham, was at the polls on March 12 on behalf of her Fitzwilliam Granite Company. Courtesy photo Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
FITZWILLIAM — The Olsons of Rindge have hit another roadblock in their quest to reopen the Webb Hill Quarry in Fitzwilliam, after Fitzwilliam voters overwhelmingly defeated a petition warrant article that would have allowed for the collection and sale of previously quarried granite in the town’s residential district.
By a vote of 455 to 129 at the Fitzwilliam polls on March 12, voters rejected a petitioned ballot submitted by Aaron E. Olson and his wife, Kim J. Olson, that called for making quarry reclamation a new and permitted use within Fitzwilliam’s rural/residential district. The petition defined quarry reclamation as reclaiming quarry grounds through collecting, transporting, donating or reselling previously quarried stone.
Town officials say the Olsons and their Fitzwilliam Granite Company can still file an application with the town of Fitzwilliam for the required variances and a site plan review to reopen the quarry, but the couple has yet to do so.
Drew Biemer, a consultant for Fitzwilliam Granite Company, wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Monday, “Fitzwilliam Granite Company is not prepared to issue a statement regarding quarry reclamation or warrant Article 3 at this time. We are reviewing all possible options and deciding whether or not to move forward with the project. Once that decision is made, we will issue a more complete statement outlining future plans.”
According to a corporation filing with the N.H. Secretary of State’s Office, Fitzwilliam Granite Company, which is registered to Kim J. Olson, began in July 2012 for the purpose of selling dimension granite. The Webb Hill Quarry was once owned by Aaron E. Olson’s father and has since been inherited by his sons.
In April 2012, news broke that the N.H. Bureau of Securities is investigating all of Aaron E. Olson’s investment-related practices, including his financial firm KMO Associates of Fitchburg, Mass. That investigation is ongoing, said Kevin Moquin , auditor with the state Bureau of Securities, on Monday.
Abutters of the Webb Hill Quarry have raised questions about KMO’s legal troubles and the Olsons’ ability to finance a quarrying operation. KMO is named in two pending lawsuits that allege Aaron E. Olson was running a fraudulent investment scheme, in which multiple investors lost thousands and in some cases millions of dollars.
Outside the Fitzwilliam Town Hall on March 12, Wesley Whitham, an abutter of the Webb Hill Quarry, urged people to “Vote no on 3” and reject the Olsons’ petition warrant article. Whitham is one of more than 20 residents who are a part of a concerned citizens group, which formed earlier this year, opposed to reopening the quarry.
Whitham told the Ledger-Transcript by phone Saturday that he stood outside the polls for seven hours picketing in the rain and that his wife and three daughters joined him for about four hours. “We had so many people say, ‘We saw you guys out there and that made us come vote,’” Whitham said of the citizen’s group’s efforts. “It was worth it. I believe this battle was won.”
Whitham said he and his family made 10 signs, seven of which were double-sided and bared sayings such as, “Don’t take Fitzwilliam for granite,” “Residential not industrial,” “800 feet from homes,” “Reclaimed by nature” and “2/3 of a mile from Emerson School.”
Terry Silverman — who recused himself from the Planning Board on quarry-related matters — told the Ledger-Transcript last month that the petition warrant article, had it passed, would have undermined long-standing zoning regulations.
Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.