Ferrisburgh selectboard talks tree-cutting, depot

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard updated ongoing disputes on Arnold Bay Road and Tuppers Crossing at its July 10 meeting.
The issue of the extensive tree cutting along the east side of Arnold Bay Road done in April 2017 by a company working for the Vorsteveld Farm has been a regular selectboard agenda item.  
Usually little news has been revealed publicly in recent months as the town and the Vorstevelds talk in private, including through mediation, about what the town maintains was illegal removal of shade trees in the public right of way and the farmers’ claim was simply improving their cropland’s drainage on their property. The town’s tree warden wrote the extent of the cutting could technically add up to $1 million in fines.
Some details emerged last week, however. First, selectboard Chairman Rick Ebel said the sides agreed in mediation to do a GPS study of the area, and that has to wait until the town highway crew completes ditching work along the road, probably in August. That timetable means the GPS study will not be completed until the fall.
Neighbor Julie Adams then said she had been following the issue through minutes, and believed, “It’s just unclear where things sit … about what I call the damage” to the road, which she added was “fully shaded by fully grown trees” on both sides before the cutting.
Ebel then described the different takes of the two sides.  
“The Vorstevelds’ position was they needed to take the trees out to have effective drainage,” he said, while the town’s position is that “certain types of trees” can be planted along the road and still permit the tile drainage system the farmers would like to install.
“We’re still in mediation,” Ebel said, adding, “We’ll be leaving this on the agenda as we have more updates to share.”
The board also more briefly discussed a court case involving the DeVos family trucking business and its plans to move its truck depot from the family-owned Kimball Brook Farm on Greenbush Road to an industrially zoned 9-acre lot on Tuppers Crossing. The business hopes to build an 8,000-square-foot building with parking to house and service empty trucks between runs.
The nearest properties to the site are homes, and neighbors objected to the project on safety, traffic and aesthetic grounds, and they appealed its September 2017 Ferrisburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment approval to Vermont Environmental Court.
Ebel said the court “has asked if the selectboard wanted to be involved in the proceedings” in an direct manner, and that he had talked it over with the zoning board members and the town’s attorney.
Ebel said they recommended the board stay on the sidelines, and board members voted unanimously in agreement not to become a party to the case.
“It’s in good hands, and we don’t need to be involved,” Ebel said.
Environmental Court cases typically take 18 months or more to conclude, meaning a decision might be rendered sometime early next year.

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