Carrara postpones gravel pit expansion

EAST MIDDLEBURY — J.P. Carrara & Sons has indefinitely postponed a previously planned expansion of its East Middlebury gravel pit, citing the sluggish economy as the main reason.
“In light of the continued uncertainty with the economy, and a cost-benefit analysis of going forward with our proposed project to extend our gravel pit operations in East Middlebury, we have decided that we are not going to pursue an ACT 250 permit at this time,” said J.P. Carrara Property Manager and Development Director Bill Townsend in an email earlier this month to town officials and neighbors of the pit off the east side of School House Hill Road.
In the summer of 2007 Carrara proposed to extend its existing 20.4-acre gravel pit by more than eight acres onto an abutting property it owns to the east. The balance of the land, 30.5 acres, was to remain undisturbed woods.
Area residents voiced concerns that the pit expansion could add more truck traffic, noise, dust and exhaust fumes to the neighborhood. But Carrara officials, neighbors and environmental experts vetted by both sides worked collaboratively to produce a plan that earned a conditional use permit from the DRB in November 2009.
The next step called for Carrara to apply an Act 250 permit. But that won’t happen, at least for now.
“The longer we thought about it, and the more time went by, it didn’t make sense,” Townsend said in a phone interview last week.
Townsend also noted there are still a few years worth of material left within the original pit contours.
Middlebury Development Review Board Administrator Ted Dunakin confirmed that Carrara’s local permit will remain good for an indefinite period of time, providing the company makes no substantial changes to project plans.
That’s because the project was evaluated under the town’s previous zoning and subdivision regulations, which were in effect until 2008. If the project had been permitted under the new regulations, Carrara’s would have had only two years to initiate the project, after which time it would have had to reapply, Dunakin said.
If Carrara decides to move forward again, Townsend said the company would almost certainly work within the guidelines of its existing local permit.
“I can’t envision a scenario … where we would be wanting to change the scope of the project,” he said.
Susan Shashok was among the many East Middlebury residents who keenly followed the Carrara gravel pit application. As an entrepreneur herself, she sympathizes with the company’s need to rein in plans due to economic conditions. As a resident, she acknowledged the tabling of the pit expansion benefits her neighborhood, at least temporarily.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens next,” Shashok said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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