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A decision on whether True North Wilderness Program requires a full Act 250 review is expected from the District 5 Environmental Commission this week. The question of whether to hold the full hearings depends on whether the commission determines that substantive issues have been raised regarding the proposed use.
True North Wilderness Program runs a wilderness therapy program for adolescents and teens. The company is based in Waitsfield and operates on state and private land in Waitsfield as well as on state land in Roxbury. The company is owned and operated by Madhuri Barefoot and her husband Ty Maves.
They are seeking an Act 250 permit for their Waitsfield operations which take place on land Barefoot’s parents own on Dana Hill and on the Howe Block of the Camel’s Hump State Forest. They have been in operation in that location for five years. Last December, they received a conditional use zoning permit for their operation. The Act 250 application is for up to 14 students and six staff members.
True North is concurrently pursuing a conditional use permit from the Fayston Development Review Board to place 12 permanent campsites on 651 acres off Bassett Road. That facility would include 12 composting toilets and 24 yurts and host up to 42 campers and 16 staffers. Plans also call for three permanent buildings. That project will also need Act 250 approval.
In February, the District 5 Environmental Commission issued a proposed permit for True North Wilderness Program, without holding public hearings to review the project under the 10 regular Act 250 review criteria.
Requests for full Act 250 hearings for True North Wilderness Program were submitted to the District 5 Environmental Commission by adjoining landowners Russ Chalom and Kinny Perot. The Agency of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Department filed comments as well.
In response to the requests for full hearings, attorneys for True North filed arguments claiming that Perot had not shown substantive issues and further argue that Perot’s concerns were addressed in a revised Act 250 application.
Perot’s attorney countered those claims arguing that they amount to more than clerical concerns and are in fact substantive, dealing with wastewater and other licensing/permitting issues.