On shaky ground - Lewis County couple blames saw mill for their vibrating home
The Lewis County Village of Harrisville is a quiet community, quiet, that is, for most everyone except Joel and Sandy Chambers.
For the past seven years, their house has been shaking and they blame the lumber mill 200 yards away from their back porch.
"I plan on retiring here and living here. I can't live like this," Joel Chambers told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon. Sandy Chambers says the constant vibrations have taken a toll on her life. "Tore me up, mentally physically, tore me up because Iâ??m watching everything we have fall apart," she says.
The Chambers showed Kenyon and photographer Brian Erb around their property to witness the shaking. It was obvious that the home and everything in it was vibrating. The chain on a necklace hanging from a wall hook was shaking, while the blades on a ceiling fan would move up and down by a quarter inch. A container of water sitting on the kitchen table visibly rippled. Kenyon and Erb could hear a lamp rattling against a wall in the living room. The vibrations are visually documented in Kenyon's report.
The Chambers are suing the Bestway Enterprises, which owns the HDK lumber mill, along with the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), which owns the land. Both deny any responsibility for the shaking.
About seven years ago, the IDA helped fund the expansion of the sawmill with a state grant to create jobs. When the state realized that lumber harvested in New York was being processed in Canada, local officials saw an opportunity to expand the HDK plant.
The Chambers say the vibrations started in 2006 and have damaged the foundation of the home. Joel Chambers says the lumber mill has made their home unlivable and unsellable. "This house has been vibrating Monday through Friday for seven years. I'd like to see them buy us out so we can move and get out of here," he says.
In their court papers replying to the chamber's lawsuit, Bestway and the IDA deny the lumber mill is the cause of the vibrations. The Executive Director of the Lewis County IDA, .Rick Porter said he "can't comment... we're being sued."
A spokesperson for Bestway Lumber issued a statement saying, "We do not publically discuss ongoing litigation. In light of that, we will allow the attorneys and insurance companies to do their jobs. We look forward to the day when this case is dismissed and the matter resolved."
It appears the burden is on the Chambers to prove the lumber mill is causing the vibrations. Last November they hired Rickey Martin III, a licensed home inspector. In his report, Martin confirmed the vibrations, but as soon as the mill shut down for the day at 3:07 p.m., he wrote, "We walked the same path and found nothing to be vibrating."
"This is America, they should not be able to get away with what they're doing to my family," says Joel Chambers .