Stuart A. Hurd | All About Town: Reorganization, solar amendment & PFOAs

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At its first meeting in April, the Select Board re-elected Tom Jacobs as Chair and elected Michael Keane as Vice Chair. Jeanne Connor and Jeannie Jenkins took their seats at the Board. The Board adopted an amendment to the Town Plan regarding "solar electricity generation and transmission siting". The amendment specifically refers to facilities that equal or exceed 150kW. It provides guidance on siting, benefits, impacts, and decommissioning. It outlines those facilities that are considered to be in preferred areas and provides guidance to those areas where siting would be prohibited. It takes effect immediately upon passage. A copy may be obtained at the Town offices or from the Town's website.

PFOA contamination continues to be an issue. The area within Bennington and North Bennington where wells were found to be impacted by this compound continues to grow. The State has now expanded the area for testing south from Vail Road to Old Bennington and east of Route 7 to the Houghton Lane, Michaels Drive and Apple Hill areas. The monitoring wells at the former Houghton Lane landfill were found to be impacted. For those impacted, bottled water will continue to be provided. Currently Saint-Gobain is installing point of contact carbon filter systems in impacted homes. These filter systems have been found to be very successful in removing the compound from drinking water. If you are in the areas affected and wish to have your well tested, contact 802-828-1038. The State will assist you. A public informational meeting is scheduled for April 18 at 6 pm in Bennington College's Greenwall Auditorium located in the Visual and Performing Arts Center at the College. The Town of Bennington and the North Bennington Water System are cooperating in an engineering study to determine the feasibility and the cost to provide municipal water to the affected areas.

PFOA exists in the blood of humans and animals worldwide. The current science tells us that background levels in the blood range from 2 to 5 parts per billion. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Vermont Department of Health (DOH) with cooperation from Southwestern Vermont Medical Center have scheduled a blood draw at the Vermont Health Department at 324 Main Street on Friday April 29, Saturday April 30, Wednesday May 4, Thursday May 5, Wednesday May 11, and Thursday May 12. These tests are offered at no cost to eligible individuals by appointment only. Registration can be completed online at: htttp:survey.healthvermont.gov/s3/PFOA-Blood-Draw-Registration.

One may contact the Vermont Department of Health at 802-863-7281.

Beyond this, the state will continue to investigate PFOA, to get a better handle on its properties and characteristics. It will attempt to identify all potentially responsible parties to determine financial responsibility. The parties are moving at an aggressive rate to finish the work and return those impacted to a life with safe drinking water and confidence in a healthy future.

In other news, the town hopes to begin its seasonal paving in June this year using excess funds from the current budget (due to the mild winter) and the approved funds from next year's budget. The very competitive bid for paving in place may allow us to pave 15 miles of road this year. The list of projects is under review and may be impacted by the decision to extend municipal water into PFOA impacted areas.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.

Stuart Hurd is Bennington's town manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues.


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