Swampscott Settles Long-Standing Quarry Blasting Dispute

SWAMPSCOTT, MA — Swampscott has settled a long-standing dispute with Holcim US (aka Aggregate Industries) that included a federal lawsuit filed over blasting restrictions the town had hoped to impose as part of an annual permit.

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The Select Board had repeatedly extended the previous permit amid often-contentious arguments — both legally and publicly during open meetings — with Holcim representatives, who said the proposed restrictions went “too far” and were “unlawful and significantly hamper (the company’s) ability to use its property.”

But Fitzgerald last week hailed the agreement as the beginning of a new partnership with the town and credited Holcim officials for agreeing to limit the number of blasts per year to 50 and limit the types of vibrations he said are “the most impactful human annoyance.”

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“We have agreed to a permit that includes a number of changes that ultimately, I believe, reflect a standard of care that will help Swampscott move forward with a relationship with Holcim, or Aggregate, that will help move things in a better direction,” he told the Select Board.

Fitzgerald credited the Earth Removal Advisory Committee and the mediation judge for helping work through the negotiations that he said will benefit residents closest to the quarry.

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“This is the most contextual permit in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Fitzgerald said. “There are 200 quarries in Massachusetts. This provides the town of Swampscott with a real standard of care that should help balance the need to support a busy industrial operation with the regulatory oversight that would be prudent for this type of operation.”

Select Board Chair MaryEllen Fletcher also credited Select Board member David Grishman and former Select Board member Peter Spellios for their contributions to resolving the dispute that dates back to the 2021-22 proposed permit.

“I do think this reflects a partnership,” Fitzgerald said. “We have every reason to believe that this relationship can get better.”

The annual permit as part of the settlement goes until June 30, 2025.

(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at Scott.Souza@Patch.com. Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)

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