Copar, Westerly Granite file $10 million lawsuit against town of Westerly

April 5, 2013


Two quarries have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, The Westerly Sun reported.

According to the lawsuit, which Copar Quarries of Westerly Inc. and Westerly Granite issued on March 7 and amended on March 25, town employees conspired against the two companies by issuing unfounded violations and subjecting them to other unfair enforcement practices.

The lawsuit specifically points to the Town Council, Zoning Board of Review, Zoning Solicitor Jack Payne Jr., Town Solicitor Michelle Buck and other unnamed employees as the conspirators.

Among claims made in the lawsuit is one that states Payne and Buck directed former Zoning Officer Elizabeth Burdick to not issue a decision that would have been favorable to the two companies, instructing her to make a different decision.

The decision was on a revised notice of violation Burdick issued in November on a section of the quarry that nearby residents claim to have been abandoned.

The lawsuit also claims Buck and Payne tried to prevent Burdick from testifying before the board.

According to Burdick’s lawyer, she was intimidated, threatened and slandered by town employees and town officials during her employment. Douglas, Serra, Councilors Christopher Duhamel and Councilor Jack Carson said Burdick’s claims were investigated and found to be untrue.

Also in the suit is a claim that the town refused to release a copy of the separation agreement it entered into with Burdick, who resigned February 27.

The lawsuit also includes claims that the town engages in unlawful behavior and singled out Copar and Westerly Granite when the town appointed Robert Craven as special zoning officer. According to the lawsuit, these actions robbed the two companies of due process.

The Zoning Board of Review is set to conduct a hearing on Copar and Westerly Granite’s appeal of Burdick’s original cease-and-desist order issued in August.

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