April 26, 2017
By Jackie Roman
GLOCESTER – The town of Glocester has dropped its lawsuit against one of its residents for allegedly using a pool permit as a pretext for running an earth removal operation despite several cease and desist notices.
After submitting a consent order on April 21, the two parties are now trying to come to a resolution outside of the courts.
The decision comes after a years-long debate with abutters of Grenga’s Hazelwood Road property, officials of the Glocester Building and Zoning department, and an investigation by the Department of Environmental Management.
Robert Kelman is one of the neighbors who complained about the sounds of heavy construction equipment piercing the air.
He described hearing the sound of hydraulic hammers before 7 a.m. with little rest until nightfall.
According to Kelman and Town Solicitor Timothy Kane, several abutters in the area submitted complaints about what they suspected was an illegal gravel operation.
The Valley Breeze & Observer tried to obtain records of these complaints from the Glocester Police Department, DEM, and various town officials but did not receive any documentation before press time.
On Sept. 23, 2016 Grenga received a cease and desist letter signed by building inspector Ken Johnson, according to court records.
The noise continued.
On Oct. 13 of that year, Grenga obtained a building permit from the town to remove soil and excavate for an in-ground 20 x 40 pool.
When Grenga wasn’t done building his pool by Jan. 31, 2017, he was issued another cease and desist letter by Johnson.
By Feb. 13 of this year town officials felt they had exhausted all other options – the town of Glocester filed a complaint against Robert and Shana Grenga, as well as a motion for the temporary abatement of earth removal.
In the counterclaim put together by the Grenga’s lawyer, it is argued that “counterclaim plaintiffs have, weather permitting, been removing soil and excavating in order to install their in-ground pool.” In the document filed Feb. 20, it also claims there is still “substantial work to be done.”
The Grengas also argued that the town’s zoning ordinance happens to allow “certain types of earth work, extraction, quarrying, removal of any soil.” And because of the town’s actions, they asked for damages in an unnamed amount.
According to records obtained from the Providence County Courthouse, the town acknowledged that Glocester residents are allowed to remove soil for the installation of an in-ground pool. However, the town still believes “that counterclaim plaintiffs have exceeded limits of excavation necessary to construct an in-ground pool.”
Now Grenga’s attorney, John Mancini of Mancini & Kelly, said Grenga is ready to move forward and comply with the conditions of his new soil and erosion plan.
“It’s our position that we don’t believe there’s been any violation here,” Mancini said.
The new plan went before the Conservation Commission on April 6 and the Planning Board on April 10.
The planning board passed a motion that approved Grenga’s plan under eight conditions: A wetlands permit must be obtained from the DEM; the plan must follow principals outlined in the town’s erosion and sediment control ordinance; the work is not to exceed 90 consecutive days; all deficiencies in the plan identified by the town engineer and planning board must be addressed; size of trucks is limited to tri-axle; hydraulic hammer use is limited; work is limited to completion of pool area; and there must be a defined maximum number of truck trips.
Now it is up to the town engineer to review this information and provide a final recommendation.
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