The development review board will soon decide whether to allow a farmer to operate a clean fill facility on his Middle Rd. property after neighbors expressed concern with the number of truck trips to and from the location.
Ted Beaudoin has operated the facility on his 262 Middle Rd. property since the 1990s, alongside his farm operation.
The Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation’s solid waste program permitted the property as a “categorical disposal facility” for landfilling clean wood, stumps, concrete and masonry. The fill site was originally intended to grow Beaudoin’s viable farmland, according to Michael Burris, Milton’s development review planner.
However, in 2014, a partnership with concrete giant S.D. Ireland led to an increase in the amount of fill brought to the site. With the large yellow trucks frequenting the farm came complaints from neighbors sent to the town manager, Don Turner.
“I’ve had one person tell me they’re going to get the whole town against me,” Beaudoin said.
Beaudoin and S.D. Ireland have since gone to the DRB to request permission to continue operating. Beaudoin said he’d be “a little upset” if the project doesn’t go through.
The Beaudoin fill site had been exempt from town rules and regulations since it was being used as agricultural land, Turner said. The transition into new zoning requirements implemented in late summer 2017 granted Milton the authority to regulate the site; prompted by neighbors’ concerns, the town looked into the property’s agricultural use exemption and its current operations.
Turner met with Beaudoin to share why the town was looking into the matter.
“I asked him, ‘You were running a farm operation, but this, today, clearly has grown well above and beyond an agricultural operation,’” Turner said. “He could not deny that, and he did not try to deny that.”
Turner said he has a good relationship with Beaudoin, and both he and Patrick O’Brien, S.D. Ireland general manager of construction, were “very open” in the discussion.
According to Beaudoin, S.D. Ireland has requested permission to continue filling the viable area for four years at a maximum rate of 60 truck visits per day. However, the landowner said he doesn’t foresee that much traffic.
“You can’t figure 60 truckloads a day when last month they had, I think, 549 [total] trucks,” he said. “That’s not 60 trucks a day; it’s a far cry from it.”
The DRB has voted on the project proposal, but the written decision can’t be made public until all members sign it and send it, certified, to Beaudoin, Burris said. If it’s approved, Beaudoin wants to continue his partnership with S.D. Ireland and finish filling the viable land.
His ultimate plan is to erect a solar array in the field behind his barn and to plant trees around the fill site, shielding it from view. He said the vegetation that will grow atop the site will make the area look like a continuation of the rolling hills that surround his home.
But Beaudoin still has some permitting hurdles, regardless of the DRB’s outcome: The district Act 250 board will host a hearing on the project in Milton on August 15.
Turner said the town has sought party status to the Act 250 process “to make sure that there’s clarity.” He emphasized the town’s intention to ensure the issue is “clearly vetted” and “handled the way it should be.”
“I don’t want anyone to think the town has got somebody in their target,” Turner said. “I just want to make sure to address people’s concerns when they raise them to this office.”
The site already received state attention in 2014, after – unbeknownst to S.D. Ireland, the Beaudoins or the town – soil with elevated levels of lead, arsenic and other chemical compounds had been transported there from an area near the Waterbury State Office Complex where a coal powerhouse once stood.
Turner was made privy to the presence of contaminated soil there when a Milton resident told him they saw Beaudoin’s property listed on a state directory of hazardous sites. Turner sought to learn more from the state to ensure the health and safety of the town.
Between July 25 and Aug. 21, 2014, S.D. Ireland transported fill from the Waterbury site and 11 other properties to the Beaudoin’s disposal facility, according to documents filed by the company. The fill contained bricks and material from an area near what was, until a 1927 flood, a coal-fired powerhouse.
On Aug. 21, 2014, Ross Environmental Associates informed the state it had discovered elevated chemical levels in the soil at the WSOC, according to a June 5, 2015 letter. Subsequently, S.D. Ireland was ordered to dig 18 test pits at the Middle Road fill site to check if the soil transported there contained contaminants.
Arsenic, lead and PAH compounds, in similar concentrations to those discovered at the WSOC, were detected in every composite sample or depth range tested. The contaminants were noted as posing a low risk to public health due to the fill site’s location and surface use, contaminant concentrations in the soil and the non-volatile nature of the contaminants.
As Ross Environmental noted, lead, arsenic and PAH compounds “are not particularly mobile in vadose-zone soils.” This means the contaminants are expected to rest where they are and not travel down into the water table. Additionally, the environmental group said the contaminants are pervasive in urban fill soils and naturally occurring at low concentrations.
In response to the discovery, the state had S.D. Ireland cover the fill site with geotextile membrane and two feet of clean soil, according to Beaudoin. The state covered the costs of the procedure and examined S. D. Ireland’s work after its completion, he said.
Beaudoin’s Act 250 permit discloses the presence of the soil but notes no more contaminated fill will be brought to the site.
Beaudoin is hopeful the fill can be completed and his solar array can be installed. “Should something happen to me it would help my wife with a little extra income.” He added, he believes and hopes the array could also help Milton School District save money by providing a credit per kilowatt-hour off of its electric bill.
For now, Beaudoin and S.D. Ireland, as well as their neighbors on Middle Road await the DRB’s decision on the property’s status as a fill site.