Little progress reported in Act 250 proceeding on gravel quarry

HALIFAX — Act 250 proceedings are inching along in Halifax, where a Massachusetts-based stone company has proposed a quarry site within the Halifax Conservation District.

The proceedings, meant for “reviewing and managing the environmental, social, and fiscal consequences of major subdivisions and developments in Vermont,” began in September.

A second all-day hearing was held on March 6 and a recess order was issued, leaving plans for development in the air.

On Dec. 20, 2013, a Springfield-based consulting firm submitted an assessment of the potential impact of the quarry to the area's natural resources on behalf of Denison Lumber Company.

Act 250 requires projects to leave natural streams unchanged as much as possible. The document reported little stream disturbance in the proposed project.

The proposed access road would impact two Class III wetlands, a Vermont classification designating a minor wetland, but would not violate any statutes which protect only Class II-I wetlands.

The report states that “the project has been designed to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands, significant or otherwise.”

According to this document, the project would not violate any endangered or rare habitat areas.

Dr. Sue Kelly leads the Halifax Conservation Group, dedicated to safeguarding Halifax from negative environmental impact.

The group is against the quarry project due to its perceived negative impact on the Conservation District. Local residents and artists have supported the actions of this group through artwork and public announcements.

The most recent recess occurred when engineers hired by the group found issue with the current plan, making it impossible to close the hearing. Such problems included the reclamation plan at the end of the quarry's lifetime, inconclusive noise engineering results, and insufficient details on what types of vehicles will be used for the stone's transport.

Ashfield Stone is a small family-owned business located in Shelburne Falls, Mass. The company began when Jerry Pratt began splitting stone in his backyard to use for household purposes.

In 1988, the company received a permit to open a quarry on the Pratt's land, and several years later were commissioned to provide stone for the entry hall floor for the Davis Art Museum at Wellesley College.

“A little [stone] will go a long way,” says Johanna Pratt, when describing the small-scale stone masonry of their company.

Proceedings with the Act 250 Hearing will continue at a date determined by the committee.

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