Tuesday May 21, 2013

DUMMERSTON -- After years of work, officials in Dummerston and Putney have received approval to tap into a new gravel source that is expected to serve both towns for decades.

The state District 2 Environmental Commission has granted land-use permits allowing for development of a new gravel pit off Route 5 in Dummerston along with expansion of an existing, adjoining pit.

There are restrictions on hours of operation, blasting, noise and dust. But, in granting the Act 250 permit, commission members found that pit operations "will not cause or result in a detriment to public health, safety or general welfare."

With road-gravel supplies running low, the two towns signed a deal with Vernon-based Renaud Gravel Inc. to open a new pit near Hidden Acres Campground. Dummerston, Putney and Renaud will share gravel from the site.

The proposal also calls for the existing pit, which is owned by SB Lands Partnership, to continue to operate for several years while expanding toward the Renaud property.

Dummerston Development Review Board approved the projects last year. So the state’s Act 250 permits were the final hurdle remaining before construction could begin.

At an Act 250 hearing in late January, commission Chairman Michael Bernhardt praised the applicants -- both the towns and the land owners -- for working with nearby residents to alleviate concerns about noise and blasting.

"This is a perfect example of when the parties do their homework," Bernhardt said at the time.


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But the commission’s approvals still took nearly four months, in part because the applicants had to obtain a storm-water permit from the state. That permit arrived last week.

And, as expected, the Act 250 approvals followed shortly after. The environmental commission set guidelines for the pits’ operations, including:

-- Operators must ensure that "reasonable precautions are taken at all times" to control dust.

That includes "haul roads, traffic areas, storage piles, exposed surfaces and any site operations such as drilling, blasting, crushing and processing of materials," commissioners wrote. "This shall include the application of water or calcium chloride as necessary to the haul roads, traffic areas and storage piles and the covering of all trucks entering, exiting or operating at the site that are loaded with materials that may generate fugitive dust."

-- The towns also cannot operate a crushing plant at the site "with a maximum rated capacity ... of greater than 150 tons per hour" without separate state approvals.

-- Erosion and sediment must be controlled.

"All erosion-control devices shall be periodically cleaned, replaced and maintained until vegetation is permanently established on all slopes and disturbed areas," the commission’s order says.

-- Blasting is limited to six weeks per year and must happen between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pre-blasting surveys and 48-hour notifications are required for certain nearby properties and also for a Vermont Agency of Transportation facility on Route 5.

-- The pits can operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday year-round. Also, operations are allowed on 10 "floating" Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon between March 1 and Nov. 30.

"The gravel pit shall also operate up to 10 days each year for emergencies at any time of the day and on any day of the week," officials wrote.

-- Trucks are limited to 100 round trips daily.

Access to the new pit will be through the ABF Trucking facility on Route 5, a site that’s also owned by Renaud. The commission found that the project "will not cause unreasonable congestion or unsafe conditions with respect to transportation."

-- Noise from gravel operations -- including trucking but excluding blasting -- cannot exceed 55 decibels "at any residences and areas of frequent use" near the pits.

-- The towns and gravel-pit landowners also are required to give the environmental commission project updates by May 1 each year "to document compliance with all permit conditions ... as well as progress on reclamation on both gravel pits."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.