Northfield residents express concern over Lane buyout

  • The Northfield Zoning Board of Appeals discusses whether to renew Lane Construction’s permit to mine sand and gravel in a residential area. The board voted unanimously in favor of renewal Thursday. Recorder Staff/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Rosalind Tufts of Northfield speaks during the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing Thursday about her concerns regarding Lane Construction's sale to Salini Impregilo. Samantha Via, at left, represented Lane Construction during the hearing. Recorder Staff/SHELBY ASHLINE

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/17/2016 11:10:59 PM

NORTHFIELD — While Lane Construction sought to renew its special permit to mine sand and gravel within a residential area at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Thursday night, some town residents turned out to express concern over Lane’s recent sale.

In mid-January, Lane was bought by Salini Impregilo, an industrial group operating out of Milan, Italy, that specializes in the construction of complex infrastructure projects around the world. The sale sparked concern from townspeople, who worry about what might happen to Lane’s Northfield plant under the direction of new owners.

“I’m not satisfied because they’re beholden to their investors,” said Rosalind Tufts, who says she is the only abutter on the east side of the plant.

However, Samantha Via, environmental coordinator at Lane, said that the buyout will not affect the business’ decisions.

“We still have all the say, especially for what goes on in Northfield,” Via said. “We still operate the same way — we just have another tier.”

Via explained that the sale was a financial strategy.

“We now have the means, because we’re owned by a large conglomerate, to go after large projects as a general contractor,” she said. “It’s giving us the opportunity to bid on multi-million dollar projects.”

However, Via clarified that such financial backing is primarily useful to Lane’s plants in Virginia and Florida, where large developments are more common.

“We have a financial security blanket behind us now,” Via added.

The issue of new ownership did not concern members of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Even though the company is a subsidiary, they agreed, there is no reason why a subsidiary can’t file a permit.

“I don’t have any concerns about the ownership change. That happens all the time,” said board member Shawn Foster. “I can’t imagine a big conglomerate is going to come to Northfield.”

The board ruled in favor of renewing Lane’s permit for another three years, a permit which has been the same since May 1990. The permit dictates that Lane operate from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., not have more than five acres open to mining at a time and not operate in wetland areas.

However, Lane is also looking to expand. The company submitted an application in early May for a special permit to expand the existing gravel pit to the north, into a lot owned by William and Joyce Roberts.

Some residents, like Tufts, came prepared to talk about the issue.

“The people that are getting the real harm live across the river,” Tufts said in a phone interview prior to the board meeting. She explained that noise from the plant is a serious problem where she lives.

“(Northfield) cannot thrive, in my opinion, if there are noise problems,” Tufts said.

July 14 public hearing

The board will hold two hearings next month. At the first, currently scheduled for July 14, board members and the public will hear details of the proposal from Lane. Then the board will review the proposed mining site in person on July 16, and have another public hearing to come to a decision on July 21.

There was discussion of having the review of the site, called a walkabout, be open to the public as well.


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