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Keep 100B quarry free

02/14/2008

By Pat Cox

As a society, we don't impose industrial facilities on residential communities unless they are needed.

We don't build landfills everywhere. Nor cement plants, airports and hospitals.

One can only imagine what Waitsfield would say if views from Warren Loop Road featured a 17-acre pit with toxic dust, sounds of explosions and grinding of rock crushing emanating from it and filling The Valley for the next 30 years. Those communities won't allow water trucks on their roads, house lights above prescribed altitudes, or other activities that impact the character/value of their towns. They are willing to accept the cost of extra distance traveled for the acquisition of some goods and services in exchange for the quality of their community. They have the right to do that. Why should Moretown be different?

Our community supports the landfill that serves The Valley. We deal with all the traffic that comes to The Valley either on Routes 100 or 100B. We have our part of the river affected by pollution from upstream sources in The Valley.

All Moretown has said to Rich Rivers (through its DRB, Select Board, School Board and many citizens) is, "Pre-existing regulations in Moretown preclude the quarry you are proposing, especially in this scenic and residential area. These regulations were authored and approved by our citizens. They define how we agree our community is to be developed. We will travel a few miles to gather crushed rock from the numerous existing quarries in Washington County. Your project is not needed. It will be detrimental to our community. It will negatively impact lives of surrounding residents. It will be disruptive to recreational use of the highly valued 100B corridor. It will be dangerous to children at our school. It will be contrary to everything we as a community are doing to improve the 100B corridor and Moretown Village. It will ruin beautiful views -- vistas featured in Vermont Magazine as some of the most scenic in Vermont. It will not generate jobs or tax income for the community to offset its disruption and destruction."

All the Act 250 Commission said was, "While we rarely find evidence sufficient enough to deny projects outright (<5% of applications), we deny this project. It is unable to comply with the regulations and Town Plan of Moretown, and/or the State's Act 250 criteria."

The judge at the Vermont Environment Court is doing everything he can to ensure that the project is fully evaluated. Like the evaluators before him, he is giving the developer opportunities to fill in the blanks in its proposal. No doubt, he, like the Moretown DRB and Act 250 commission, doesn't wish there to be any question that their proceedings were fair in every way so that his decisions will stick. He hasn't even begun testimony in this case. He hasn't said that the quarry should be approved. He hasn't overturned the findings of his fellow citizens. He is doing diligence.

So let's not get ahead of ourselves implying that the quarry has won. Let's join together as like-minded communities that love the Mad River Valley and respect the right of our citizens to determine the make-up of their communities. Let our public officials know that we continue to be against approval of the proposed blight on the beauty and serenity of the Mad River Valley. And contribute to the Mad River Neighborhood Association (www.mrnavt.org) that is leading the legal fight against the quarry.

Cox lives in Moretown.
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