Property owner defends filled 'tire wall' on her land


ROCKINGHAM -- The owner of the property containing the so-called "tire wall" that has generated controversy throughout town has filled the tires with material to prevent them from becoming cesspools of bugs and bacteria and hopes the issue is closed.

Sheila Quelch, of 64 Golden Hill Road, said she removed 450 tires from her land and filled and covered the stacks of the remaining ones with fill supplied by the Rockingham Highway Department from its garage on Blake Street. She was careful to ensure the top tires of each row are exposed as required.

Quelch told the Reformer she had gotten a permit from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources about two years ago to build a retaining wall out of whole tires and soon collected several hundred. She said floodwaters created by Tropical Storm Irene surged into her horse's living area and its accumulation caused the animal's hooves to start to decay. She told the Reformer she got permission to construct the tire wall in order to create a way to divert gushing water into a ditch in case an Irene-like event ever happens again.

"When (Tropical Storm) Irene came, all the water from the hill came down," she said walking up to her Belgian horse. "Her hooves look really good now, but they were rotting away. That's why this happened. ... The purpose of the tire wall is keep my horse's hooves from rotting, to keep them dry."

Despite the permit from the state, several nearby residents complained to the town that the tire wall was an eyesore that posed potential health hazards. The concerns resulted in the Rockingham Selectboard members dedicating themselves to resolving the issue. Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns II told the Reformer the fill was leftover town-owned ditching material and came at no more cost to taxpayers than if it had been delivered to any other town resident. He said anyone can get town material by applying for a permit to fill. Quelch explained the state gave her the permit for the tire wall and extended her deadline after she was unable to meet it because of weather conditions.

Stearns told the Reformer on Friday the issue -- as far as the town is concerned -- has been resolved. He said a state inspector will visit Quelch's property on May 20, 2015, to see if any additional fill is needed.

Quelch said she has not counted all the tires on her acre-and-a-half of property, but doubts she has the 900 to 1,200 she is suspected of having. She declined to say where she got the tires, but said the wall is a safe way of recycling them.

Several tractor tires are lined along a portion of her horse's roped-off living space. A separate wall of smaller tires is on the opposite side of a walking path and curls toward the edge of her property. Quelch filled the tractor tires and the smaller ones, while covering all the smaller tires except the top ones of each stack. She has layered horse manure on some of the smaller tires and said she plans to use it as compost when she plant perennials.

"It's great fertilizer," she said. "I have not bothered anybody. I am trying to improve my property."

Quelch said officials at the state level commended her for approaching them for permission for the tire wall and told her they wish more people would do so. She said Stearns was very accommodating and she also expressed her gratitude for the delivery of the town-owned ditching material.

Domenic Poli can be reached at, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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