The District 5 Environmental Commission wants clarification on several aspects of True North Wilderness Program’s application to run its program in Waitsfield.
Among the specifics requested are Vermont Agency of Natural Resources wildlife maps showing deer wintering areas and bear habitat as well as regional and statewide maps of critical wildlife habitat and an explanation of how the project complies with Waitsfield’s Town Plan.
Act 250 hearings on the project got underway last month. On August 10, the District 5 commissioners issued party status determinations along with a lengthy list of clarifications needed for the project.
True North Wilderness is seeking permits to operate its wilderness therapy program for teens and young adults on a 25-acre parcel of land located off Dana Hill Road. That parcel abuts the Howe Block of the Camel’s Hump state forest where True North also operates.
True North is seeking state permits for already constructed tent platforms, one yome and two composting toilets, as well as a permit for a third not-yet-built composting toilet plus a drilled well, water storage tank and piping.
In the August 10 memo, commissioners asked True North to address the issue of preventing trespass onto adjoining properties and to submit a site plan that accurately depicts the residence and driveway of adjoining landowner Kinny Perot. The memo also requests clarification on the maximum number of students and counselors who will be on site at any time, as well as the maximum number of consecutive days students and staff will overnight on the land, which days of the week students and staff will be present, proposed uses of the yome and whether such uses are daily.
At the July hearing on the application, True North owners Madhuri Barefoot and Tyler Maves said they would have a maximum of 24 students and 8 counselors on the property at any one time.
The Act 250 commissioners also requested a better description of the “cat holes” that campers and staff will use for human waste when not camping on the platforms with the composting toilets. Maves and Barefoot were asked to detail whether a 100- or 200-foot buffer will be maintained between the “cat hole” waste pits and a stream on the property.
The commissioners also requested a reclamation plan specifically for the existing disturbed
areas, including but not limited to the areas surrounding the existing tent platform(s) and for areas where a tent platform has been or will be installed, as well as the location(s) where tent platforms have been or will be removed; the areas surrounding the vault toilets (both those currently extant and those to be installed); and, with “sufficient and appropriate details to be suitable for use on any area(s) that exhibit erosion potential, and/or the potential for increasing risk(s) of erosion, currently, or in the future.” Additionally, commissioners requested an erosion control plan for the third toilet and for the relocation of the tent sites.
True North was asked to stipulate to the days of the week during which the project will be accessed via Dana Hill Road and the number of vehicles required and also to detail all alternative accesses to the parcel and when they will be used. The commissioners also asked True North to explain how often students will walk up Dana Hill Road and asked the company to provide a comparison of True North traffic on Dana Hill to the current total traffic volume on the road.
The memo also requests that True North propose, and depict on the revised site
plan, suitable visual screening between the yome area (including the toilet) and the Perot
property. Perot was granted party status in the Act 250 hearings under 2 of the 10 Act 250 review criteria. Her party status is for Criteria 4 (erosion) and Criteria 10 (conformance with the Town Plan).