After discussing a potential violation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over working in the Mad River without a federal permit, the Waitsfield Select Board selected a repair scenario for the town’s covered bridge that could see the bridge re-opened in four to five weeks.
The board, at its October 3 meeting, continued its post-Irene flood recovery work, handling Corps of Engineers permitting issues, the damaged bridge and flood recovery efforts from a classroom at the Waitsfield Elementary School because the town offices were flooded as well.
Waitsfield, after consultation with Vermont Agency of Natural Resources stream alteration engineer Patrick Ross, several days after the August 28 flood, began gravel extraction and stream bank restoration in five sites along the Mad River.
That work has been ongoing above and below the covered bridge, upstream from the Lareau Farm, at the Lareau Swimhole and in the Mill Brook south of Mad River Massage. Last Friday, September 30, the town received notice from the Corps of Engineers that warned that a violation may be pending for the stream work.
After receipt of the notice, the town halted the work at the Lareau Swimhole pending some resolution of the water. The town also received notice that one of the vehicles working at the site was overweight and unregistered. VTrans notified the town that to continue accessing Route 100 from the south end of the Lareau Swimhole would require a permit to create access where there currently is none.
At this week’s select board meeting, board chair Kate Williams and Town Administrator Valerie Capels explained that there had been many phone calls back and forth between the state and the Corps to sort out the jurisdictional issues.
Capels and Williams said that they had been assured by the state that the permission granted by Ross (to Waitsfield and dozens of communities and property owners in Central Vermont) was legal and that the state has the authority, in emergency situations, to supply a permit that is, in effect, the necessary federal permit.
As of press time on October 5, the Corps of Engineers had not followed up its Friday notice of potential violation with an actual notice of violation.
In terms of the overweight/unregistered vehicle, the contractor has switched equipment and the gravel that is coming out of the river at the Lareau Swimhole is being stockpiled at the site rather than trucked south on Route 100 to the town-owned Tardy site across from the Purple Moon/Easy Street.
When questioned, board members said that they did not intend to crush the stockpiled gravel at the Tardy site and hence would not need a temporary gravel permit for that site. The need for installing silt fencing around that stockpiled gravel was discussed. The Tardy parcel is in the floodplain.
In other business handled at this week’s meeting, the board selected a repair plan for the town’s covered bridge. Faced with the choice of a 4- to 5-week temporary fix or a 12-week fix, the select board opted for the quick fix to get the bridge and the road open again. Both have been closed since the Mad River battered the bridge and abutments and sidewalk on August 28.
The board also voted against adopting interim flood hazard bylaws designed to ease the post-flooding permitting process after zoning administrator Susan Senning explained that the town’s attorney felt the proposed regulations created more, not less, red tape. She also explained that the town had the ability to waive zoning fees for people affected by the flood. The board voted to waive such fees, retroactive the day after the flood.