Photo: Susan Klein

Scott Sainsbury and Pat Cox are appealing Moretown’s plans to construct a replacement bridge on Spillway Road.

The Moretown Select Board will hold a special meeting this Thursday, June 7, at 6 p.m. to address their notice of intent to appeal the reconstruction plans that Scott Sainsbury and Pat Cox (collectively, the “Sainsburys”) submitted this past Monday, June 4.

The original bridge that connects their property to Spillway Road (and then Route 100B) was destroyed during Tropical Storm Irene last August. Last fall a temporary replacement bridge was constructed on the site while plans for the permanent bridge were finalized.

Construction was set to move forward on the proposed steel truss structure, which will cost the town an estimated $733,000, until the Sainsbury’s letter argued that the minutes from a select board meeting in April incorrectly indicated that they had agreed to the proposed plans, which they have not.

The town has been working on plans for rebuilding the bridge ever since it was destroyed due to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, leaving the Sainsburys without vehicular access to their home.

The proposed permanent bridge will be one foot lower to the ground than the temporary structure was but one foot higher than the original. Plans call for it to be located 20 to 40 feet closer to Moretown Village (south on Route 100B)  than the original, and its abutments will be out of the water in order to accommodate more space for water.

According to the Sainsburys’ notice of intent to appeal, during the discussion that took place that evening in April, the select board chairperson “orally assured Mr. Sainsbury that a landscaping plan of commensurate appeal and value would be installed as part of the project,” yet the couple maintains that they have yet to see such a plan.

In their letter, the Sainsburys outline three major concerns with the most recent bridge plans. Their first and foremost concern is the preservation of the over-100-year-old willow trees on their property. In the past, members of the select board have categorized this concern as an independent landscaping detail and select board member Michelle Beard has stated that “paying town money to landscape would be upsetting to a lot of people in town.”

“Preservation of the trees is more than mere ‘landscaping,’ as it is referred to in the recent select board meeting,” the Sainsbury’s attorney Heather N. Jarvis wrote in the June 4 letter. The Sainsburys argue that the trees provide shade that helps maintain a healthy low temperature for aquatic and plant life, and that their roots help prevent erosion and increased sediment in the river.

The Sainsburys’ second concern is that, according to the proposed plan, the road connected to the bridge is not graded properly to account for water runoff. Their outdoor riding arena lies adjacent to the new connecting road and attorney Jarvis wrote in the letter that “it is unacceptable for runoff to be channeled into the arena. It seems as though a slightly longer connecting road would allow more room to properly manage runoff to downstream of the water and bridge.”

Lastly, the Sainsburys’ letter notes that during the construction of the temporary bridge, the contractor used their outdoor riding arena for parking and storing their equipment and materials. As they use their riding arena for commercial purposes, the Sainsburys argue that “if contractors propose to use the area for their bridge construction work, they need to include rental of the space in their bids.”

“Although they do not wish to delay bridge construction,” Jarvis wrote in the notice of intent, “without these concerns adequately addressed—in writing and included in the bidding and construction processes—Mr. Sainsbury and Mrs. Cox will be forced to appeal the construction of the bridge and road.”