The town's building inspector Monday ordered Lafarge North America to "cease and desist" blasting at a rock quarry on Tuscarora Road after residents complained that the explosions have cracked foundations of nearby manufactured houses and sent clouds of dust over the housing park.
The order from the town's building inspector, Charles E. Haseley, cited Lafarge for violating town codes and an excavation permit issued by the town.
Haseley, in a letter accompanying the order, said that the quarry's "practices have caused adverse effects on people living in the vicinity by creating dust posting a health hazard" and that "the nuisance of noise and vibrations" have caused foundation damage.
The quarry's general manager, William E. Poole, said that he was "disappointed" in the town's action and that the company may have to lay off 12 full-time employees at the end of the week if it is not able to resume blasting. The quarry now employs 18 workers.
"We're not doing anything illegal," Poole said.
The quarry has been operating within limits set by its permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but residents of Tuscarora Village Mobile Home Park on Tuscarora Road have complained to local and state officials that the blasting has caused cracks and other damage to their homes.
A Tuscarora Village resident filed a police report with the town contending that she was injured when she fell in her shower during a blast Friday afternoon.
"All this could be avoided, be cause nobody wants to stop any business," said Town Supervisor Steven C. Richards. "Now that there's been an injury attributed to that blast, I have to take immediate action."
Richards said he wants Lafarge to fund an independent study to determine whether the blasts are causing a hazard.
Lafarge agreed earlier this month to change the way it blasts rock in the quarry in an attempt to reduce the impact on nearby residents. However, Richards and Tuscarora Village homeowners have said vibrations from the blasts have continued to affect residents.
DEC spokeswoman Megan Gollwitzer said the state agency also has asked Lafarge to "cease blasting operations until appropriate alternatives can be evaluated." Gollwitzer said that the DEC has monitored air and ground vibrations during recent blasts and has found they are within the quarry's permit levels.
Gollwitzer said recent blasts may have been more noticeable to residents because the operations are reaching the side of the quarry near residential areas.
The quarry has been located on Tuscarora Road for more than 50 years.
The 8-year-old manufactured housing park is slated to add 81 prefabricated homes if it receives approval from the Town Board to move to a second phase. Richards has said he wants complaints about the park addressed before it expands.