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Moretown officials investigate road damage

 

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12/07/2006 

By Erin Post

Moretown officials are looking into whether compensation is merited from road damage, which they argue is due to a steady stream of trucks hauling heavy equipment and material from illegal blasting.

Documentation of damage, dating back to the week of October 9, and witness statements are being sent to an insurance company for review, said select board member Stephanie Venema recently.

A letter and photos of damage have also been sent to Kingsbury Construction Company.

Town officials contend that Kingsbury trucks traveling back and forth on Village Hill, carrying equipment and excavated material from a property owned by Shane Elwell on the Hathaway Road, caused some pavement on Moretown Mountain Road and Village Hill Road to crack and fragment.

This is after the town spent over $1,500 this fall repairing the roads in question, officials have said.

The town also plans to look into whether companies contracted by Kingsbury had the necessary overload permits.

Elwell was issued a court injunction to cease activity at the site on October 14, after area residents complained of heavy truck traffic that continued even after the town's zoning administrator issued a notice of violation to Elwell for blasting and excavating without a permit.

The notice required Elwell to apply for a permit within seven days or end the activity.

When truck traffic increased in the days following the notice being delivered, town officials sought the court injunction requiring the blasting to stop and erosion control methods to be implemented.

Town officials cited concerns about public safety, with some residents reporting over 25 trucks traveling past their homes in one day.

Elwell has said that he was preparing the site for a house, to be constructed months or years into the future, and didn't realize he needed a permit for blasting and excavating.

Shortly after the injunction was issued, he said he had installed hay bales and silt fences for erosion control and did not plan to file for a permit. Officials at a recent select board meeting said an application from Elwell has not been received.

At the board's November 21 meeting, Moretown zoning administrator Sheila Getzinger questioned whether issuing a permit for a house, if Elwell did apply for one, would mean blasting and excavating could continue at the same rate.

"Our ordinance doesn't really allow any limitation on site prep to build a house," she said.

In the meantime the town plans to wait for communication from the insurance company and from the state.

Attorney Ronald Shems said the town requested he notify Act 250 officials of the case.

Ed Stanak, Act 250 district coordinator, said this week he is currently in communication with Elwell's lawyer. At issue is whether the activity at the site, which encompasses more than 10 acres, was commercial in purpose, thereby triggering Act 250 review.

He said the next step will be for the district commission staff to issue a jurisdictional ruling, taking into account photos and an investigator's report.

In general, residents who are found to violate Act 250 requirements may face financial penalties. Another option is to voluntarily comply with the law, and seek the necessary permits, Stanak said, in which case the board may decide to waive the fines.

According to the law, the landowner has the right to appeal a jurisdictional ruling to the Vermont Environmental Board.

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