Violation may complicate gravel pit land buy in Londonderry

By Christopher Biddle
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With just two weeks before Londonderry voters will be asked if the town should spend $150,000 to buy a gravel pit south of the town’s transfer station, Londonderry Select Board members heard on Monday, Feb. 15 that an unresolved environmental violation could complicate the purchase.

GNAT image Londonderry SB 2 15

Select Board chair James Ameden, in foreground, listens to Steve Prouty, left, and Cathy Aragi as they discuss the need to address issues that could impact a gravel pit land purchase. Click photo to enlarge. Photo by Greater Northshire Access Television, which airs Londonderry meetings at

Board member Paul Gordon told the board that the Agency of Natural Resources had recently indicated that the town will have to address a violation before it will be able to take out sand and gravel deposits found there.

“There could be some issues in reclamation that may not have been done previously that the town could be responsible for, before extraction of the resources,” ” said Gordon.

He added he had hoped that ANR representatives would have been able to attend that night’s meeting, but he had not heard back from them.

Board member Cathy Aragi said that any discussion on Article 11, authorizing the purchase, should include additional costs and fees associated with that purchase.

“We have to find out if the property’s under violation or not,” said board chair Jim Ameden. “If it is, what’s the violation, and what is it going to take to get it out of violation.”

“I think we need to own it first. It’s that important enough a piece of land in my opinion,” said board member Steve Prouty. “I’m trying to protect the town of Londonderry from something down the road.”

“If we purchase it, we want to purchase it without any issues. They need to clear that up,” said Aragi. “If they’re selling us something at $150,000, it better be in good title, and it better be without any issues, because we’re paying top dollar for it, do you understand?”

“No I don’t understand,” said Prouty. “I don’t understand a thing you talk about sometimes.”

Ameden said that it’s up to the town to disclose to the voters what the violation might be, and how much it would cost before making the decision to purchase.

“I don’t know how we don’t disclose that to the voters,” he added.

Gordon said that he’d try to get a representative from ANR at the board’s special meeting on Feb. 29 – the night before Town Meeting Day.

Presentation of other articles addressed; paving bids come in

The board also discussed how several other articles will be presented at Town Meeting including having Larry Gubb and Josh Wengerd of the Londonderry Planning Commission speak about the $60,000 infrastructure article for rehabilitation of the Twitchell Building.

Gordon proposed explaining the use and importance of the Highway Equipment Reserve Fund, referring to a recent accident and totaling of one of the town trucks, as well as the replacement of a town grader in 2015. The proposed language stressed that the $100,000 appropriation “would not increase taxes as it has been approved the past two years.”

Kevin Beattie updated the board on his progress in working with Peru, Landgrove and Weston to find funding for a generator to be used at an emergency shelter at the Flood Brook School. The board discussed ways to split the $15,000 cost of the generator and Ameden thought that an equal four-way split was the best solution. Aragi moved to ask  Beattie, as acting Emergency Management director, to approach the Select Boards of Weston, Peru and Landgrove with a request to split the cost of the generator. The motion passed unanimously.

Road Superintendent Duane Hart cautioned that bids for the 2016 paving might not include estimates for a ‘chip seal’ needed on Winhall Station Road. Bids also included resurfacing fees for Crescent Street and Goodalevale Road. The board reviewed bids from Pike Industries, Fuller Sand and Gravel, Springfield Paving and Wilk Paving.

Pike industries came in with the lowest bid, at $84,150, but did not include the price for chip seal. All other bids included that cost. Fuller Sand and Gravel bid $128,120; Wilk Paving bid $142,887.70; and Springfield Paving came in at $146,499. Hart recommended that since prices are down due to low oil prices, the town should make a decision sooner rather than later.

Gordon told the board the town’s application has been approved for the municipal streetlight initiative from Efficiency Vermont. Gordon said that the switch to LED lights in Londonderry will save $9,500 a year, “which is nothing to sneeze at, not to mention the saving of electricity.”

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About the Author: Christopher Biddle is a journalist, radio DJ and lifelong Vermonter. He hosts the 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday Rewind show on 102.7 WEQX. In addition to The Chester Telegraph and The Mountain Times he has written for other local publications. His audio work includes stories for VPR and Slate Magazine's podcast network. He collects VHS tapes and knows how to use a chainsaw.

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