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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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Harrisville couple settles with now-defunct mill over alleged house-shaking


HARRISVILLE — A Harrisville couple who sued a now-shuttered mill next door, charging that it caused their home to shake, has settled the matter out of court.

“It’s done,” said Watertown attorney David P. Antonucci, who was representing Joel and Sandy Chambers. “We are satisfied with the settlement.”

A stipulation of discontinuance was filed recently in the Lewis County clerk’s office, but terms of the monetary settlement with Harrisville Dry Kiln, which was closed by parent company Bestway Enterprises Inc. last summer, were not released.

Mr. Antonucci, on the Chambers’ behalf, in August 2011 filed a state Supreme Court lawsuit claiming the couple suffered noise and vibration from the HDK sawmill, destroying peaceful enjoyment of the property off Maple Avenue and damaging their home.

Judge Charles C. Merrell initially denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to close operations at the plant temporarily, but the suit, seeking relief from alleged hardships and $250,000 in damages, continued.

Then came the closure of the mill, which had employed nearly 30 workers. The move was categorized as purely financial, with Bestway, a lumber supply company, wanting to focus on its core facilities.

While that was a hit to the local economy, it did ultimately advance negotiations in the lawsuit, as the focus was solely on the amount of damages rather than an injunction to stop the mill’s operation, Mr. Antonucci said.

“Once the mill closed, everything changed,” he said.

With the sawmill no longer in operation, the issues the couple cited also have apparently been rectified, Mr. Antonucci said.

“The house is no longer shaking, to my knowledge,” he said.

The plant’s legal defense has included the idea that other factors, such as proximity to Fort Drum, may cause vibrations.

However, Mr. and Mrs. Chambers disputed that notion, claiming the phenomenon occurred on and off during regular operating hours at the mill. Mr. Antonucci said the Fort Drum connection was never substantiated.

Paragon Laminated Wood Products, Lakeville, New Brunswick, started up the dry kiln plant in October 1998, and Bestway took over its operation in August 1999. A sawmill was added in 2006.

The couple, who bought the semi-secluded residence in 2002 as a retirement refuge, didn’t report the vibrations immediately after the sawmill went on-line, but then made some attempts to work things out with the mill and other local officials before taking legal action.

Following HDK’s closure, Bestway worked with local and state officials throughout the summer and fall to try to secure a turnkey buyer. However, those efforts were unsuccessful, and most of the equipment and other property was sold off in an auction in October.

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