Digging in: Gen. Stannard House Committee preps for archaeological review

The Gen. Stannard House property will soon undergo a study conducted by the University of Vermont’s Consulting Archaeology Program. The property has been a well known Native American site for the past 50 years. (File photo by Tom Marble)

Even before it became the site of Gen. George Stannard’s Civil War-era home, the plot of land off Route 7 in Milton and the surrounding area was steeped in American history. 

The parcel situated in front of Gardener’s Supply, as well as land on the other side of road, has been a known Native American site for 50 years, said Scott Dillon, a survey archaeologist with the Vt. Division for Historic Preservation.

Because artifacts like spear points, fire hearth features and chips from stone tools dating back thousands of years have been unearthed there, according to the University of Vermont’s consulting archaeology program director John Crock, the committee is laying plans to move forward with an archaeological study to meet Act 250 historic preservation requirements.

“Typically, what we do is surveys of areas deemed archeology sensitive by the state. We’ve done a fair amount of archaeology around that area,” Crock said.

In the next couple weeks, Crock will return to the familiar site. He and a team of UVM students will conduct the survey with assistance from the state.

“We’ll start off with test kits every five or 10 meters across the area and look for some indication of anything below the surface,” he said.

The process is expected to take up to two days, and once it gets started, Crock said he expects it to move quickly.

Should anything of archaeological value be found, both Dillon and Crock said the permitting process won’t necessarily be stalled, but the state, town and committee would have to figure out the best way to work around sensitive areas.

“The state has to answer the question, ‘Can this be avoided?’” Crock said. “The ultimate goal is not too dig things up but rather preserve.”

The study is part of the committee’s larger effort to eventually move the general’s home to town property on Bombardier Road while also making it accessible and sustainable in the meantime at its current location.

Right now, the committee is having the survey done with the aim of getting approval for an access road that would encompass approximately 150 feet of Route 7 frontage as well as 80 feet of in-road, committee co-chairman Bill Kaigle said.

Act 250 permitting also deals with wastewater – another restoration aspect the committee is working toward completing. Its goal is to install a 1,000-gallon holding tank on the property.

“Connecting to the town sewer, because of where [the house] is positioned on the property, is expensive,” Kaigle said.

The committee is tackling the wastewater requirements from both the state and the town concurrently, Kaigle said. Before anything can move forward, the GSHC needs Milton’s wastewater superintendent approval.

The town’s development review board will also have to approve any plans for additions or renovations on the property or in the home.

If the plan to move the structure doesn’t come to fruition, Kaigle said, it would still be beneficial to comply with Act 250 should the committee want move forward with other updates.

“To do anything to house, including subdividing and pulling up the back garage, Act 250 wants you to have these permits in place,” Kaigle said. “We won’t have to go back before the state and the town, which is a big deal because things change. Regulations change, and nothing get easier.”

Before the committee submits its Act 250 forms for review, Kaigle said he plans to get some help from town employees to finish completing the documents.