Carver: Public interest group and residents pursue legal challenges to stop SLT’s destructive mining operation

  Katherine Harrelson  archeological site

State, local officials stand by, town issues more permits and approvals

Carver Earth Removal Committee violates its own Bylaws, rubber-stamps second incomplete, defective permit application in 2021 so SLT can expand

Carver Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, MassDEP refuse to enforce the law

For over two years, the public has raised awareness about the environmental destruction and public health impacts of the SLT Construction mining operation on Spring Street in Carver. In March, 2023, according to public information, SLT Construction and its contractor AGT Trucking are some of the companies under investigation by the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General. In the meantime, This egregious operation has been harming neighbors and the environment since SLT starting operating the site in 2018. It is profiled in the report Sand Wars in Cranberry Country: An investigation into the money, politics and corruption behind sand mining and its silent environmental crisis in Southeastern Massachusetts.

For people living next to SLT’s mining site, their lives are intolerable. Dust, noise, vibration, constant truck traffic, logging, operation of sand and gravel processing equipment impacts their daily lives. Excavation, loading tractor trailers, rock crushing and sorting cause excessive noise and vibrations that makes their homes shake. They are exposed to constant dust covering their homes. Why is a mining operation allowed prevent residents from enjoying their homes and private property in a residential neighborhood?

January 2022, High Street, Carver. Dust from SLT mining.

Residents’ 2021 zoning lawsuit against Carver and SLT

The residents’ 2021 lawsuit challenges the Carver Earth Removal Committee’s November 2021 earth removal permit under the Carver bylaw to SLT Construction to expand its mining operation on Spring Street in Carver. Left with no choice but to seek relief from the court because the town and state refuse to act, in 2022, residents sued the Carver Earth Removal Committee and SLT to try to stop a second earth removal permit. The mining has gone ahead anyway.

On May 12, 2023, the plaintiffs filed their Motion for a Judgment on the Pleadings, the next step in the appeal of the 2021 permit. The legal memo is below and says the permit application “lacked information required by the Bylaw”, the ERC failed to provide proper written notice of the public hearing, and violated “fundamental due process by refusing to allow the public to provide comments prior to taking a vote on the application.”

Read the 2022 hydrologist report here:

Drone photos show Rickets Pond is drying up. In over 40 years, this has never happened according to local residents.

Strip mining and earth removal occurring on Spring Street near Rickett’s Pond in Carver, MA. SLT is mining under the ruse of creating “Rickets Pond Business Park.”


SLT leveled the highest hill in Carver, clear-cutting forests and altering drainage patterns, stormwater flow and groundwater infiltration rates. The site is in the Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer. Forests, vegetation and sand and gravel filter and protect our water. SLT has permanently removed the filtration and protection of the drinking water supply for 200,000 people – present and future generations.

Partial SLT Mining Site Timeline

2015

The Town of Carver rezones the area as the “Spring Street Innovation District” on the recommendation of the Town Planner and Town Manager who promise the land will be used for an “innovative business park.”

2018

SLT makes a deal to buy the land from MassDOT. SLT and MassDOT start industrial clearing, logging, commercial sand and gravel mining operation that is continuing as of 2023. The Carver Earth Removal Committee grants earth removal permits even though the applications are incomplete. The permits do not have mandatory conditions. The public hearing in 2021 was a “sham” according to Superior Court Judge Sullivan. The files on the 2021 sham permit are here. The state “MEPA” office signs of on the project and does not do even minimal due diligence to require SLT and MassDOT to conduct a proper environmental impact study. The MEPA Certificate is a sham. See that here.

This is a commercial mining operation, not an innovative business park. The Zoning Board of Appeals, Earth Removal Committee, Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commission, and Board of Health have all allowed commercial sand and gravel mining and processing – a quarry – to operate with impunity.

2021

Save the Pine Barrens seeks enforcement of the Bylaw to stop violations. Building Inspector refuses. Appealed to ZBA. Following a sham hearing before the Carver ZBA, the denial is appealed to court. In late 2023, the residents decided to dismiss the case and pursue other options.

In November, the Carver Earth Removal Committee issues second sham permit to SLT to expand on to the land of Mary McGrath/Marob Trust.

2022

January: High Street residents sue SLT and Earth Removal Committee in Superior Court over the second sham permit issued to Mary McGrath/Marob Trust. SLT starts mining to remove more sand and gravel.

A February 3, 2022 expert hydrologist report concluded SLT’s mining operation threatens public and private drinking water wells and adjacent wetland resources and the Carver Conservation Commission is allowing violations to happen.

February: Earth Removal Committee joins SLT and opposes residents lawsuit challenging the Earth Removal Permit. SLT and Earth Removal Committee move to dismiss residents’ lawsuit for lack of legal standing saying they are not “harmed”.

April: SLT files for site plan review and special permits with the Carver Planning Board for office and warehouse buildings — not the self-storage units identified in the MEPA Certificate.

Here’s what the “Innovative” Business Park looks like so far: more warehouses and offices.

April 5: Drone video shows SLT digging up stumps at the Spring Street site. In early 2022, a huge pile of stumps that had been removed during the excavation on the site were clearly obvious to everyone driving on Route 44. Suddenly they were gone. On April 5, 2022 it looks like they were dug up. This video also shows SLT excavated into the ground water in three places. The “stormwater basin” near Spring Street is full of silt.

May 24: Carver Planning Board describes in detail all the violations they saw on their site visit at SLT — and they still grant a 2 year extension of the subdivision approval. Peter Opachinski of SLT explains on video how they “plan” to start excavation in Plympton. Maps show SLT is already mining in Plympton.

SLT has sold three lots in the subdivision. The new owners want permits from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission. The entire 27-acre subdivision site violates the zoning law because earth removal is prohibited in this zoning district.

June 27: Carver Planning Board hearing on 3 new lots in SLT subdivision. Should they get approved even though the are many legal questions about the mining operation and an expert says the project threatens drinking water and wetlands?

July 19: Carver Zoning Board of Appeals: final day of public hearing on Save the Pine Barrens request for enforcement of the Zoning Bylaw. The Zoning Bylaw makes it illegal to mine in the SSID zoning district where SLT’s mine is being conducted. On July 19, 2022, the ZBA refused to do its job, saying it lacked “subject matter jurisdiction” over zoning violations. The ZBA’s contorted legal argument is contrary to established law and wrong. STPB appealed the erroneous decision. See the Complaint here:

September, 2022: Town of Plympton issues a cease and desist to SLT Construction to stop unpermitted earth removal on the Plympton portion of the site.

Fall, 2022: Carver Planning Board denies site plan review and special permit for Lot 3 on SLT’s plans. SLT sues the Planning Board. The appeal is pending. The Carver Conservation Commission issues a wetlands permit for Lot 3 to put structures in the wetlands. Save the Pine Barrens and 10 Residents appeal the Conservation Commission’s permit to MassDEP. The appeal is pending.

2023

Spring, 2023:

SLT applies to the Town of Plympton for an earth removal permit. Following a public hearing, the Town Selectboard says it needs more information. SLT has not acted further on the permit.

SLT applies to MassDEP for an asphalt, brick and concrete “recycling facility” on the Plympton portion of the land.

July 21, 2023: MassDEP asks SLT for more information before it acts on the permit. See MassDEP’s letter here.

November 14, 2023: SLT Construction files an appeal with the Plympton Zoning Board of Appeals. SLT has expanded its operations over the border into Plympton. Plympton issued a cease and desist, then withdrew it. SLT is seeking permission from Plympton to operate a “materials processing facility.” See the appeal here.

July 20. Superior Court Judge Sullivan calls the Earth Removal Committee public hearing on November 17, 2021 a “SHAM.” This is the hearing where the ERC granted SLT a permit to expand mining on the north side of Rickets Pond on to the land of Mary McGrath of Marob Trust.

September 22. Superior Court Judge Sullivan denied SLT’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint appealing the November 2021 earth removal permit. Judge’s written decision says:

“The Earth Removal Bylaw is “clearly intended to protect citizens of Carver, such as the plaintiffs, from detrimental effects of earth removal…Plaintiffs have raised concerns regarding their safety and general welfare. The concerns raised are not speculative, as the plaintiffs allege that they have been experiencing the detrimental effects of the earth removal operations since it began, which the plaintiffs have established by way of affidavits.”

2023

May 12. In the next step in the process of appealing the ERC’s 2021 permit to Marob Trust/SLT to expand on the north side of Rickets Pond, Plaintiffs file the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Read their Memorandum and Motion to the Court here.

1 thought on “Carver: Public interest group and residents pursue legal challenges to stop SLT’s destructive mining operation

  1. […] Engineering did the plans. BEWARE! This company is also the one that is doing the work on the SLT strip mine on Route 44 that is emitting dust into Rickets Pond and all over the neighborhood. An expert report concludes this threatens public […]

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