Thursday November 8, 2012

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

POWNAL -- A gravel bed that predates the state’s land use law but had to seek a permit when it expanded its operations has won state approval and must abide by a number of conditions to control dust and noise.

The land use permit was issued for the Hart Gravel Bank on Oct. 30, according to a letter sent to the Select Board last week from Joan Goodrich, chairwoman of the District 8 Commission for Act 250. The gravel bed is off Route 7 near the Southern Vermont Energy Park in Pownal and has been in operation for some 60 years. It provided gravel material for the reconstruction of Route 7 and construction of the former Green Mountain Race Track in the 1960s.

The bed was created in 1950, before Act 250 went into effect, and was "grandfathered" for a time, but in recent years the amount of material being removed per year has increased, prompting local and state regulators to call for a permit. Hart is now allowed to produced 200,000 cubic yards of material per year.

Some of the conditions the District 8 Commission set were:

* The state will be allowed access to the property to ascertain compliance with the permit.

* Water shall be sprayed on the crusher and screener and conveyor belts to keep dust under control. Precautions must also be taken to keep dust down from other sources such as open piles and haul roads.


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* The crusher/screener hours of operation will be limited to weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hauling is allowed during weekdays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These are not allowed on holidays.

* An amendment to the permit must be sought and granted before material can be taken from the east side of a brook that bisects the gravel bed property.

* Phase I reclamation on the "top end" of the bed must be done by Aug. 15, 2013, which includes grading, seeding, and mulch. Reclamation on other excavation sections must also be done within the calendar year of the excavations. Another condition also calls for the company to post a financial guarantee for $30,000, which can be from a loan, escrow arrangement, or bond, which remains in effect until the District 8 Commission is satisfied as to reclamation efforts.

* Hart Gravel Bank must file a plan to revegetate the slope behind the Tornabene property, which abuts the gravel bed.

* A "rumble zone" must be installed by the entrance to Route 7 to shake material off trucks, and the access road must be swept daily to keep dirt off Route 7.

* The permit expires in 2033 provide reclamation has been done.

According to Hart Gravel Bank’s application, the site itself is 132 acres, of which 58 are being used. The site has two crushers and no buildings. In 1950, when it was opened, the bed was producing 25,500 cubic yards of material per year. That went up to 60,000 in the 1960s when the track and Route 7 were being constructed, and in 2009, 120,000 cubic yards were extracted from the bed, enough to trigger an Act 250 application requirement.