Town talks gravel-pit 'beeping,' I-91 impacts
DUMMERSTON -- It's the beeping that Kelly McCue can't stand.
As a resident of the Poplar Commons development in Dummerston, McCue was among those who participated in negotiations regarding noise, blasting and other issues at the town's new gravel pit nearby.
However, about five months after the state granted permission for that pit, McCue and other Poplar Commons homeowners are concerned that those working in the pit are not holding up their end of the bargain.
Specifically, incessant back-up alarms on heavy equipment make McCue "feel like I have an ICU in my yard," she told Selectboard members this week.
"Just get rid of the beeping, because it really is driving us crazy," McCue said.
With road-gravel supplies dwindling, the towns of Dummerston and Putney signed a deal with Vernon-based Renaud Gravel to open a new pit near Hidden Acres Campground off Route 5.
The towns and Renaud will share gravel from that site.
Plans also call for the existing pit, 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. Act 250 permits from the state came in May.
At an Act 250 hearing earlier this year, pit developers were lauded for working with nearby residents to address their concerns. But McCue now says truck noise is exceeding allowable standards, and she brought Act 250 documents to Wednesday's Selectboard meeting to prove her point.
"I don't want to hear that. And according to this, I don't have to," McCue said. "And that's it. Other than that, we're happy."
Lee Chamberlin, Dummerston's road foreman, said he expects to soon install on town equipment a new backup alarm that emits loud alerts only when it nears another object.
"We're going to start with the loader, to see how it works," Chamberlin said.
But he offered two caveats: First, he maintains it is not town-owned equipment that is disturbing Poplar Commons residents.
"Where I have to do a better job is when a contractor comes in, and letting them know what our policies are," Chamberlin said. "Because it wasn't our loader that was making noise."
Also, Chamberlin said work on access roads -- rather than work in the gravel pit -- is more likely to spur complaints.
"All that work is closer to your property," Chamberlin told McCue. "That's where I think we're going to generate the most noise."
McCue also complained that a helicopter has been flying over her home on the way to the gravel-pit site. Selectboard Chairman Zeke Goodband said he would make a call to inquire about that issue.
In other Selectboard business this week, officials discussed the possible impacts of a bridge-replacement project on Interstate 91 over the West River and Route 30. That project is just beginning and is expected to last through 2015.
Lew Sorenson, a Dummerston representative on Windham Regional Commission, said he believes "the state and the contractor are doing a good job in terms of public relations -- letting the public know about traffic delays and closures and work as it goes on."
Project administrators have said they expect closures of Route 30 to be few and far between. But Sorenson said he remains concerned that, when traffic is restricted in any way, drivers will use Upper Dummerston Road and/or East-West Road as alternate routes.
"The state, it's my understanding, has agreed to provide some financial assistance to Brattleboro and Dummerston for any repair work that is needed (as a result of the I-91 project) on Upper Dummerston Road. I haven't heard that about East-West Road," Sorenson said.
He noted that a relatively short portion of Upper Dummerston Road is in Dummerston. So any financial assistance is "not going to be anything that you can do a lot with," Sorenson said.
"But I think that, if we keep track of any damage, it will be pretty easy to make the case that the state, if not the contractor, should take care of it," he said.
Sorenson also echoed others in calling for a police presence to help alleviate traffic-related issues on secondary roads during the I-91 project.
"It would be good to have some additional law enforcement on those roads during increased traffic times once we determine what the patterns are," he said. "And Windham Regional Commission will be available to help with traffic counts on that."
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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