Members of the Fayston Select Board heard from frustrated members of the Farm Road who expressed their dissatisfaction with the maintenance of the road regarding issues associated with stormwater runoff and erosion control.
Farm Road resident Susie Chapin, who is currently suing the town and a neighbor over what she said was over $100,000 worth of damage to her property as a result of runoff, told town officials this week that she hadn’t experienced any issues until December 2008.
In her presentation to the select board on March 22, Chapin said that since the excavation and clearing of several acres by a neighbor on his property (located uphill from hers) her property and those directly above her have incurred damage due to heavy stormwater runoff.
“We’ve been there 11 years. Prior to May 2009 there was no issue with Farm Road; since December 2008 there have been nine repairs in 27 months. As a taxpayer I’m sick of it; the town is not addressing the real issue, where the damage is coming from,” Chapin said.
Chapin also questioned the logging activities on Stagecoach Road, calling attention to road damage by heavy machinery as a result. Town officials said logging was permitted all year round, per conditions included in the Act 250 permits.
In addition, Chapin said the neighbor in question moved a town culvert without first seeking select board permission, changing the direction of the water flow. The neighbor was granted an Act 250 permit to complete excavation work, which supersedes the authority of the town.
Select board member Jared Cadwell said that there is water flowing off the property in a couple of directions, and called attention to a significant blockage of one of the larger culverts above the Farm Road.
In addition, Cadwell cited extreme rainfall and extraordinary weather events that have washed out roads and caused water to come across land that is completely forested.
Chapin’s neighbor, Andree Falardeau, said that since 2009 there have been several incidents that have caused damage to her driveway, causing it to rupture and erode. Falardeau said that she knows her culvert and ditching is adequate, despite town officials’ claim that it was not.
Select board member Ed Read said that Falardeau’s experience with erosion caused by heavy rains is “not unique.” Read suggested that her culvert was blocked with snow and ice, causing the water to flow over the driveway. Cadwell and Read said that a possible solution would be to dig the ditch deeper in order to divert the excess water.
Chapin said that, according to her engineer’s plan, her property is now unbuildable as a result of water damage. She has contacted the District 5 Act 250 commission to inquire about permit requirements, in addition to contacting the governor’s office and the Agency of Natural Resources in an effort to resolve the issue.
“The town was responsible to do something about the moved culvert; any attempts to send letters were unanswered, and they turn their cheek,” she said.
Cadwell said, “Where the problem is, because we’re being sued, it stymies our efforts to engage the landowner on what to do next.”
Read said, “If a permit came through Act 250 and potential parts of that permit aren’t being adhered to, my assumption is that’s where it should come from.”