Town manager's statement about the salt shed

Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd gave this statement to the Select Board at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday

"The town began construction on the new salt/sand shed prior to receiving the wetlands permit. The project is located entirely within what was previously a paved parking lot. No wetlands were proposed to be disturbed, only existing pavement within a wetlands buffer area. Approximately, 40 percent of the proposed structure is outside the buffer. Our wetlands specialist, a former employee of the wetlands division, believed that a permit would be fairly straightforward and prepared an application in strict conformance with the wetlands rules. We began conversation with the wetlands division in May 2017. The process moved very slowly through August into September. Anticipating construction to begin in late September, we had several discussions with state officials and employees regarding our concern for the lengthy wetlands permit process. We had hoped to have access to the salt/sand shed prior to winter weather to mitigate long-standing issues at our current facility (outdoor storage of sand, plows and the like). In September, we were told that the technical review would begin soon. We thought a draft permit was imminent. Unfortunately, it was not.

We had very competitive bids for the work. The contractors were making expenditures in preparation for the work. We had a very tight time line in which to complete the job. Had we not moved forward, we would have lost the contractors, the competitive pricing, and set the entire project back several months, most likely resulting in higher costs. As it was, we were projecting a $60,000 to $75,000 savings based on the bids. I didn't take the decision lightly, but I concluded that we must begin construction anticipating that the permit would issue soon. Unfortunately, it did not. I accept full responsibility for my decision. I made it on my own volition without Board knowledge or consent. I apologize to the board and the community.

We constructed the shed in conformance with proposed permit conditions mitigating any impacts on the wetlands; we have not stored any salt or sand on site and will not do so until we are certain of compliance with all of the conditions in the recently issued permit. It is important to note that the project actually reduces paved surface and creates an additional buffer that should prevent any damage to the wetlands. The wetlands permit was issued on Jan. 3, 2018. It institutes performance standards and a monitoring program to ensure water quality standards are met. We have implemented the required monitoring plan and will comply with all of the permit conditions."


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