Saturday October 13, 2012

DUMMERSTON -- After lengthy deliberations, the town’s Development Review Board has granted a 20-year permit for a new gravel pit.

Though state Act 250 clearance still is required, the board’s decision is a significant step forward for a plan that will provide both Dummerston and Putney with a much-needed, steady supply of gravel for decades.

While noting that the Dummerston Selectboard has not had time to review the decision as a group, Selectman Tom Bodett praised review-board members for doing "an outstanding job navigating a very complex application" for new gravel operations.

"We are pleased with their decision," Bodett said. "The town owes everyone involved with the project and all those living near it much appreciation."

Bodett has said the towns’ joint gravel supply is running critically low at the pit in Dummerston. So last year, officials signed a deal with Vernon-based Renaud Gravel Inc. to create a new pit near the towns’ current gravel operation.

The new pit would be situated on land owned by Renaud near Hidden Acres Campground off Route 5. Trucks would use the ABF Trucking facility -- also owned by Renaud -- to access the road.

The review board’s deliberations were made more complex by the fact that the towns’ gravel plans also include expansion of the current pit, which is owned by SB Lands Partnership.

Officials have said the expansion would allow excavation to continue at that pit for another five years.

The review board held hearings on those two projects in August and September. During those sessions, it appeared that Dummerston officials had modified the pit plans enough to satisfy residents of Poplar Commons, a nearby housing development.

The board’s decision on the SB Lands pit is pending. Its decision on the new Renaud pit came Friday in the form of a two-decade permit with an option for an additional decade with review-board approval and after a public hearing.

The board imposed several conditions, including:

-- Extracted material should be stockpiled at the pit "to minimize trucking."

In other words, gravel stockpiled at town garages will be hauled twice -- once to the garage and later to where it’s needed. But gravel stockpiled at the pit could be transported directly to where it’s needed.

-- Renaud pit operators should minimize the frequency of blasting, notify neighbors and coordinate blasting with the adjacent SB Lands pit.

-- A 6-foot-high security fence should be erected at the pit to "prevent unintended access on its southerly side from the rear of the ABF Trucking yard to I-91. The fence shall include an access-road gate secured during nonoperating hours."

-- The ABF Trucking entrance on Route 5 should be reduced to a maximum of 50 feet wide with raised gravel shoulders on each side and a stop sign at the property line.

-- Trucks hauling gravel to the Dummerston town garage "shall be minimized and distributed by using a one-way loop routing with returns to the site using a different route than when leaving the site."

-- The board set up a schedule for ongoing review of the permit. Reviews will happen at the one-year and two-year marks and every five years after that.

"The DRB at that time will hear from the applicant, towns, neighboring property owners, zoning administrator and interested parties listed in these findings," board members wrote.

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