Route 116 gravel pit plan rejected
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) on Wednesday denied the Fenn family’s proposal to locate a 16-acre gravel pit on a portion of a 70-acre parcel off Route 116, around 180 feet north of its intersection with Quarry Road.
In its 13-page decision, the DRB concluded the Fenn proposal failed to comply with eight different sections of Middlebury’s zoning and subdivision regulations, including those pertaining to test wells for soil, sand or gravel removal; buffers; noise; aquifer protection areas; access limitations on principal town and state highways; town plan conformance; undue, adverse effect on aesthetics; and undue, adverse effect on the neighborhood.
The decision was endorsed by DRB members Ted Davis, Skip Brush, Pat Berry and Adam Portz. Voting in opposition were members Gary Baker and Scott Foster, while member Lewis Holmes did not participate in the decision.
It’s a verdict that came after 11 public hearings spanning two years in the town’s evaluation of a project that many area residents living on Mead Lane, Butternut Ridge Drive, Drew Lane, Lindale Circle and Route 116 fought. They contended the pit would have violated local zoning laws; brought dust, toxic fumes and noise pollution to a residential area; and set up the potential for collisions between trucks entering/exiting the site and motorists and cyclists negotiating busy Route 116.
“We are pleased that a majority of the DRB sorted out the facts and enforced Middlebury’s zoning regulations,” Mead Lane resident Ron Kohn, a neighbor and opponent of the project, said of the decision.
Efforts to reach the applicants’ attorney, Mark G. Hall, were unsuccessful as the Addison Independent went to press. The applicants have the option of appealing the DRB’s denial, within 30 days, to the Vermont Environmental Court.
The Fenns proposed that the 16-acre pit be excavated in four, four-acre phases over 20-30 years, during which an estimated 660,000 cubic yards of material would be mined. Such a plan would have resulted in an average of 40 loaded truck trips per day, via a new access road off Route 116.
In its decision, the DRB concluded, among other things, that the proposed gravel pit would:
• “Disrupt the balanced diversity of uses currently in place and will disturb the essential character of the existing neighborhoods.” The board was not convinced that a series of berms proposed by the applicants would have “adequately mitigated” noise emanating from the project site.
• Raise “significant safety concerns that would need to be addressed were this project to proceed.” Those concerns centered on vehicles traveling in and out of the new pit access road off Route 116 just north of Quarry Road.
The decision also called into question the applicants’ assertion that the project would not affect the town’s groundwater reserves in the area. A required fourth test well was not drilled by the applicants, according to the decision.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]..