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Candia Sand & Gravel files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

CANDIA - After years of being unable to work on its Candia properties due to zoning ordinances and court orders, a local quarry business has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Candia Sand & Gravel, a holding company under the operating company Raymond Sand & Gravel, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the New Hampshire Bankruptcy Court on March 21. Court records indicated that the company holds $800,000 in assets with $2,410,924 in liabilities.

"We filed for protection to try to keep our property and try to work something out. It's very sad," said owner Kevin Cole. "I think it's pretty sad that the Town of Candia won't let anybody do anything with that property. They put a mom-and-pop (company) out of business because they don't want anything to happen in their town. . I just hate to walk away from what I've worked for all my life."

Raymond Sand & Gravel's property crosses the town line from Raymond into Candia. Most of the land on Route 27 is zoned commercial, except for a handful of residential lots which include Raymond Sand & Gravel's property.

A court ordered Raymond Sand & Gravel to shut down its Candia operations in 2003 due to the zoning issue. Cole and his company have been attempting to settle the issue with the town and the courts ever since, in particular after their Raymond property ran out of materials several years ago, but a number of meetings before town boards proved fruitless.

The planning and zoning boards have been in opposition to Raymond Sand & Gravel's efforts to begin blasting at the Candia site in part due to the outstanding orders from the 2003 Rockingham County Superior Court case, along with related cases from 2002, 2005 and 2006, and an additional 2003 case from the same court which members of the board argue had been unfulfilled or even violated. Back taxes owed to the town are another outstanding issue.

Raymond Sand & Gravel appeared before the Candia Zoning Board of Adjustment in October of 2012 to request a variance to blast on the properties, but the scheduled public hearing was never opened.

After a tense exchange, a motion passed to defer any consideration of the application at all until Raymond Sand & Gravel could prove they were in compliance with the court's orders.

Cole and his family and supporters placed a petition warrant article on Candia's ballot earlier this year that would have "allowed for rock quarrying, excavation and other commercial uses permitted in the commercial district, which may provide the Town with more tax revenue." The article was defeated on March 12 by a 617-476 vote.

Cole has argued that rezoning the lot would be a boon to the local economy, allowing shipment of resources locally, saving transportation costs.

"We're just trying to create jobs for the area, and (the town government of) Candia just seems to stop us every time we try to do something," Cole said before the election. "We're not in a residential area. We're a business on Route 101, and that's where business should be as far as I'm concerned. . The only thing that's stopping us is an imaginary line, which is the town line. If all the property was in Raymond we'd still be crushing."

Cole stated that the next step would likely be a conceptual sub-division plan for workforce housing which he would pitch to the town. Otherwise, Cole says he's running out of options.

"It's the only thing I can do at this point, if they want to work with us," he said. "I don't know how else to do it. I've tried it through the courts, I've tried it through zoning, I've tried it through all their boards, a warrant, I've tried it through every way I can think of."

Cole noted that they would still have to move a significant amount of rock in order to develop the property.

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