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Moretown officials approve agreement with landfill

October 5, 2006

By Erin Post

Moretown officials have approved an agreement with Moretown Landfill Inc. that conserves town-owned property and provides a location for a town garage.

By purchasing the conservation easement and ceding it to the state, the landfill fulfills a requirement to provide deer winter shelter in lieu of land they plan to develop.

The select board unanimously approved the agreement at their October 2 meeting after a brief executive session.

The agreement, now a public document, will be posted for 30 days, after which the town, the state of Vermont, and Moretown Landfill Inc. may officially sign the papers.

Tom Badowski, manager of Moretown Landfill Inc., said, "Projects we have developing at the landfill" are expected to have an impact on a recognized deeryard, requiring the company to mitigate the impact by "purchasing the development rights of a deeryard off property."

The construction of a stone and rock borrow area, land that will eventually likely become part of a cell to hold waste, necessitates the deeryard, Badowski said following the meeting.

After a series of negotiations with the Moretown Select Board, the landfill agreed to pay $101,250 for the development rights to 81 acres of property in the town forest located behind the Moretown Elementary School.

Those rights are to be turned over to Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources, with the intention of conserving the land as wildlife habitat.

The agreement also includes a purchase option for an additional 65 acres of town property. Moretown Landfill Inc. has until August 1, 2012, to exercise this option, at a cost of $81,250.

"We don't think we need all of it," Badowski said following the meeting, in reference to the second deeryard habitat. However, the purchase option allows the company to expand the easement if further development requires it.

Terms of the agreement restrict development of "residential, commercial, industrial, or mining activities" on the property to be conserved, including construction of roads, trails and utility lines.

Operation of motorized or mechanized vehicles on the protected property is restricted to "wildlife management and emergency purposes."

"There shall be no recreational use of other motorized or mechanized vehicles," the agreement reads, "including but not limited to mountain bikes, all terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and four-wheel-drive vehicles."

Existing trails for non-motorized pursuits such as walking and snowshoeing may be maintained but not upgraded, under terms of the agreement.

Select board co-chair John Hoogenboom said, following the meeting, that a stewardship plan in the works for the 175-acre town forest should fit with the conservation easement for a deeryard on part of the property.

"It's going to protect the land even more," he said.

In addition, the agreement allows Moretown to lease, for $1 per year, a roughly two-acre parcel located behind Moretown Landfill Inc.'s offices on Route 2.

The property now hosts a barn, Badowski said, but the agreement allows the town to move forward with plans for a town garage on the site.

If the agreement goes through as planned, Hoogenboom said the town garage committee and road foreman Craig Elwell would likely meet on-site to inspect the barn and decide how to proceed. He said the town will probably "need more space," and may add on to the structure.

A meeting between the select board and planning commission on October 16 at Moretown Elementary School is expected to provide a forum for public comment and questions on the agreement. The forest stewardship plan is also to be discussed.

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