Letters: Do we have to wait 20 years?

Editor of the Reformer:

I am writing in clarification to the Nov. 1 letter to the editor from an official with the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Mr. Scott Rogers referenced our name several times in his letter and gave the appearance that we and other abutting neighbors were responsible for the "clear cut" at mile marker 8 of the interstate. He is correct that we contacted the Dummerston office of AOT numerous times to report dead trees and fallen limbs. At one point, I contacted the AOT headquarters because there was no action taken by the Dummerston office.

Over a year ago we were visited by AOT employees who noted the presence of dead and dying trees but very little was done to address the problem. While the letter states "We take those concerns ... Very seriously" nothing was really done until earlier this year when a tree that should have been removed previously toppled and caused a chain reaction bringing down other trees and causing a few thousand dollars in damage. At the time, we pointed out additional trees that were dead or dying and were asked if we had a problem with the removal of some other trees behind our home to which we answered no. At no time did we picture that the AOT would "clear cut" virtually all the trees including perfectly healthy ones. While selective cutting would have been more complex, it was definitely possible.

I am guessing that the decision to act as they did was more an economic one than one respecting the environment or aesthetics. It is much cheaper to plow down all the trees, large and small, than to do selective cutting.

Mr. Rogers is correct regarding the noise issue; removal of the trees does not appreciably alter the level of noise most of the year and particularly between October and May given the lack of foliage. While we did bring the issue of dead and dying trees to the attention of AOT, I question whether any other abutting neighbors were contacted. I know that some of these property owners received no communication and felt their homes were not in danger, thus are very upset at the state action.

The bigger issue at this point relates to aesthetics. According an email we received from the Dummerston AOT office, there is no plan to plant or construct any screening between the I-91 roadway and the property line. When asked about plantings, a local AOT official responded "Mr. Greenblott, at this time the Agency has no intention of doing any replanting of this area, it is felt that after a couple of seasons new growth will come up and start filling in the open space as has happened with other areas that have received similar treatments in the past."

Given this response, it would seem that we are being asked to wait 20 years in hopes that nature will do something. Not exactly a solution to the aesthetics and privacy issues. There is a solution to this that would satisfy all abutting and non-abutting neighbors; plant rapid growth vegetation or construct a berm with vegetation.

Elliott Greenblott,

Brattleboro, Nov. 3


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