Truck traffic concerns nix sand pit plans

This map shows the location of the proposed Jenkins sand pit, which, if granted approval, would be operational for up to 10 years. The photo at right shows the tract of land destined for the pit from McMullen Road in Milton. (Map courtesy of Town of Milton; labels by Courtney Lamdin. Below right photo by Courtney Lamdin)

This map shows the location of the proposed Jenkins sand pit. The photo at right shows the tract of land that was destined for the pit from McMullen Road in Milton. (Map courtesy of Town of Milton; labels by Courtney Lamdin. Below right photo by Courtney Lamdin)

John Hemsted can rest easier knowing the sand pit proposed in his neighborhood was denied this month.

A Milton Development Review Board majority voted against the eight-to-10-year permit application for J&M Sand pit, sited for a 78-acre at 297 McMullen Rd. owned by the Jenkins trust.

Only Bruce Jenkins, not a relation to the applicants, voted in favor, the April 9 decision shows.

Hemsted was easily the loudest voice of opposition, rallying against the project at its Feb. 26 hearing.

“It really seemed as though the DRB wasn’t necessarily taking in what we were saying,” Hemsted said of the hearing. “The decision says it all – they did listen to us.”

The DRB recognized some of Hemsted and his neighbors’ concerns over the pit’s consistency with the residential neighborhoods on East and McMullen roads and on Winter Lane, particularly the heavy truck traffic.

In the decision, the DRB wrote the expected monthly 400 truck trips would adversely impact roads and the area’s character.

Mineral extraction is permitted conditionally in the R5 district, and the town’s comprehensive plan says the East Milton Planning Area is suitable for this type of development, but the DRB decided the town’s paving plan couldn’t keep up with potential road damage, Town Planner Jake Hemmerick said.

That’s even with additional restrictions suggested by town staff, barring sand truck travel on East Road, Railroad Street and Middle Road.

In reviewing the application, the town’s Public Works department didn’t request a bond for road upkeep, even though it has precedent for doing so, even for the same parcel. In 1999, then-applicant Munson Earth Moving was subject to a bond to cover these impacts, but Hemmerick doesn’t believe a permit was ever pulled, so it was never paid.

“The [1999 permit] was an approval for a two-year period, so much more limited in scope,” Hemmerick compared. “They were two different applications, more than 16 years apart.”

Applicant Paul Jarvis was disappointed in the result.

“We really don’t think anybody would have been unhappy with us had we been given the permit,” he said.

At the hearing, project engineer Scott Homstead said he felt residents overstated traffic impacts, and Jarvis, who also operates a pit on Sanderson Road, said J&M has always been a good neighbor.

Hemmerick said the DRB could have approved the permit with additional conditions, particularly to address another reason detailed in the denial: the existence of a residence on the same lot. A mixed-use planned unit development isn’t allowed in R5, he said.

Homstead told the DRB that J&M planned to apply for a subdivision, but Hemmerick thinks that issue was secondary to public safety and preservation of infrastructure.

“[The DRB] really thought the use as it was proposed was too intense,” he said.

Hemmerick’s staff report recommended the DRB approve the project with conditions but said that’s based only on application materials and not evidence and testimony heard at the hearings.

“That can change how an application is viewed and could alter the proposal a little bit,” he said. “The DRB always reviews the right to approve or deny an application, and the staff’s recommendation is just that.”

Hemsted urged Miltonians to pay attention to projects proposed in their neighborhoods.

“[The DRB] did a very thorough process,” he said. “In the end, they made the right decision, and I’m very happy.”

Jarvis has 30 days from the denial to appeal to the Vermont Superior Court – Environmental Division. Reached last week, he said J&M is reviewing its options.

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