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New gravel pit proposed for Route 116 in Middlebury

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By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — A New Hampshire family is seeking permission from the town of Middlebury to establish a 16-acre gravel pit on land off Route 116 near its intersection with Quarry Road.

The Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) is tentatively scheduled to hold its first hearing on the project on Sept. 22. Middlebury Town Planner Fred Dunnington said the DRB will consider, among other things, the proposed gravel pit’s proximity to the nearby Lindale Mobile Home Park; its potential impact on the town’s underground water supply; and the increase in truck traffic, excavation dust and noise the project would generate.

Ronald and Susan Fenn of Danville, N.H., are proposing the project. They own the 70-acre parcel on which the new pit would be located. Ronald Fenn was born and raised in Middlebury.

Susan Fenn said her husband’s family has owned the 70 acres off Route 116 for more than a century. They have now decided to develop a portion of it.

“We know there is gravel in there,” Fenn said of recent engineering studies at the site.

The Fenns have submitted a project narrative indicating the gravel pit site contains approximately 660,000 cubic yards of material. Plans call for an average of 35,000 cubic yards to be removed annually during the next 30 years. The Fenns said there are no plans to do any blasting or crushing at the proposed pit. The couple plans to lease or sell the pit property to an entity that would operate the business.

Excavation of the 16-acre pit would occur in four phases. Topsoil from each new phase would be set aside to reclaim the site of the preceding phase, according to the project narrative.

Plans call for an access road to be built to the pit from Route 116, at a spot roughly 120 feet north of the intersection with Quarry Road. Sight distance at the road entrance is expected to extend 515 feet to the south and 390 feet to the north on Route 116.

Developers are projecting the pit would generate between 2,500 and 3,000 truck trips per year.

“We do not anticipate at this time the need to exceed a daily peak of 30 truck trips,” the narrative states.

A “vegetative buffer of 50 feet” would be maintained between the project site and all property lines, according to the project narrative.

“The general direction of the phasing will allow for the existing vegetation and the face of the gravel pit wall to screen the active phase from the adjacent mobile home park and Route 116,” the narrative reads. “The closest point from the gravel pit to the adjacent mobile home park is 900 feet.”

Addison County Community Trust (ACCT) currently owns an operates the Lindale Mobile Home Park. Terry McKnight, executive director of the ACCT, said his organization will closely monitor the gravel pit proposal.

“We would want to work with the proposal to try to ensure that our homeowners are protected from noise and any kind of pollution that would affect their quality of life,” McKnight said on Tuesday.

The applicants also note a potential impact on wildlife, as the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has depicted a “deer wintering area” in the vicinity of the proposed pit. The Fenns said the pit would be shut down from Dec. 15 to April 15, a period they identify as the “typical” deer wintering season. They also said other suitable land on their property could be dedicated as an alternative deer wintering area.

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