NEWFANE — With rising gravel and sand costs, the Select Board is seeking voter support to go ahead with a plan to buy property to use as a gravel pit.
Board Vice Chairwoman Ann Golob said when prices jumped up by about 54 percent last year, the board started discussing the prospect. She credited board member Mike Fitzpatrick with seeing potential in property owned by Guilford businessman Paul Belogour, who owns the Reformer’s parent company Vermont News & Media.
The town is holding a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the NewBrook Fire House to vote from the floor on purchasing 21 acres at Radway Hill Road and River Road for $450,000. Residents will be asked to vote on two articles that would allow the Select Board to buy the land, and borrow funds to cover the purchase and associated costs.
Golob said the board started exploring the project in October and an engineer was hired.
“Based on a report by Savoy Engineering that analyzed the composition of the gravel and sand on two-thirds of the site, there is sufficient material to meet the town’s gravel needs for at least 30 years,” states a news release from the town. “The available sand at the site would last even longer. The analysis was done on only 13 of the 21 acres and based on visual examination, the additional 8 acres have a similar composition. Therefore, the town can anticipate using the pit for several decades.”
Fitzpatrick said the town could have purchased the land for $134,000 before Belogour bought it and he arranged the deal with Belogour’s partner Dan Systo with the mindset that if the property would be developed for housing as was the plan, the town wouldn’t have been able to use it as a gravel pit and about eight parcels could be sold for about $60,000 each.
Newfane is still estimated to save about $2.1 million over 10 years with the purchase. Fitzpatrick, who sold the town gravel and sand since the early 1980s until running out of sand last year, said he believes the savings will be a lot higher.
Scarcity of gravel and sand is being experienced by many Vermont communities, states the news release. Because development is expanding worldwide, Golob said, it’s becoming an issue everywhere.
No other potential sites were identified by the town, Newfane Road Foreman Jay Wilson said after a presentation held Nov. 15 during part of the regular board meeting. The presentation can be found on newfanevt.org and will be shown again at the special meeting.
Prices are anticipated to continue to increase, according to the presentation. Fitzpatrick said purchasing the property now will ensure the town has the materials it needs at a price that’s not continually increasing.
The vote will not be held by ballot unless requested at the meeting by at least seven residents and the meeting will not be on Zoom.
If the community approves the articles, the board plans to seek a loan up to $600,000 to be repaid over 10 years at about 2 percent interest. The board anticipates it will take about one year to secure an Act 250 permit through the state, and it will cost $75,000 to $100,000 for testing and hiring a consultant to oversee the project.
The news release says there’s no need for blasting of rock; the town will screen sand and crush gravel on an annual basis and truck it to the town garage for storage, and there won’t be “a constant stream of trucks or activity at the site.” Annual operating costs of the gravel pit are estimated to total about $70,000.
At the upcoming meeting, the board plans to answer any questions from residents and show photographs of the site.
“We hope residents will come out to learn more about the proposal and cast their vote,” Select Board Chairwoman Angela Litchfield-Sanborn said in the news release.
During the Nov. 15 meeting, neighboring property owner Thomas Ely said the presentation answered several of his concerns and he hopes residents will see the benefit of the project. The town is only expected to go to the property once a year to screen the sand and break up the gravel then the materials will be trucked to a shed to be constructed at the town garage, where it will be stored for use in the winter.
“It’s not going to be a constant source of harassment,” Golob told the Reformer, describing the mood at the meeting as being “overwhelmingly positive.”
The board directed those with questions to contact Town Administrative Assistant Wannetta Powling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-365-7772 ext. 4.