Poultney couple sues quarry companies


BURLINGTON – A Poultney family, who claims their life was disrupted when workers began blasting at an old slate quarry across from their home, has filed a federal lawsuit against two Granville, New York companies and a resident. Jeffrey and Kristin Silverman filed the 3-count lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Burlington against Hilltop Slate Inc., K-D-Stone Inc., and Jeffrey Dunster, also of Granville.

The Silvermans  maintain their home now has no value and they are unable to sell it. The Silvermans, who also have two children, have requested a permanent injunction blocking the defendants from blasting for slate within 200 feet of their home at 1276 York Street Extension.

The lawsuit reports Hilltop had mineral rights to the quarry and had operated it between June 2017 and January.  Hilltop leased the rights or transferred the rights to mine the quarry to Dunster and/or K-D Stone Inc., the lawsuit claims.

 Jeffrey Dunster's father, Nelson Dunster, president of K-D Stone, and Daniel Boone, the chief executive officer of Hilltop, both said they were unaware of the lawsuit when contacted by the Rutland Herald. When told of the allegations, they both disputed the claims and said they would fight the lawsuit, which they maintained was frivolous. Dunster and Boone both said the Silvermans should be directing any complaints to the real estate agent who sold them the property across from the quarry and promised them that slate would never be mined. Boone said the Silverman property is surrounded by quarries on all sides and they have been active. 

The Silvermans are requesting $150,000 for claims of negligence and $150,000 for being a nuisance.  They also seek three times the value for their home due to the third claim — gross negligence, according to the lawsuit filed by Burlington lawyer A.J. LaRosa.

The family bought the house in 2009 and the home inspection showed no structural issues with the basement walls or foundation, the lawsuit said.  The report indicated any cracking was consistent with the age of the home.

Hilltop began blasting in August 2017 at the quarry, which had not been used since the 1950s, the family said.  Phone conversations were difficult to impossible during blasting, the lawsuit said.  It added the family also could feel shockwaves within their home, which also rattled. Blasting knocked pictures off the walls, according to the Silvermans' account in the court filing.

The family reported it had no problems with well water from 2009 to mid-2017.  Once blasting started, however, well water turned brown, pressure dropped and the water filter collected a thick red sludge, the lawsuit said.  The family said it had to change or clean the filter up to three times a day.

The lawsuit noted that once blasting began, damage was reported to the walls. Basement walls bowed inward and some cracks also were reported, the family said. Cracks were reported on York Street Extension near the Silverman home and the town of Poultney later issued a cease and desist letter, stating the blasting was endangering the highway, court papers show.

Hilltop has said the stoppage is only temporary, but the Silvermans said in court papers they have noticed in the meantime that the water well has returned to normal.

The Rutland Herald reported last month that the Silvermans thought the home was in a perfect location to raise their family.  Jeffrey Silverman works at Hubbardton Forge and Kristin’s family is in nearby Hampton, New York. She is a kindergarten teacher at Mary J. Tanner School in Granville, New York.

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