Town of Halifax
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Questions/Comments Relating to Application for Conditional Use Permit
Denison Lumber/Ashfield Stone Proposed Quarry Project
May 30, 2015
In discussion of the June 9th public hearing on the Denison Lumber Co. Inc. application for Zoning Permit Conditional Use, the Town of Halifax Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) determined that it was appropriate and useful to provide the applicant with comments and a list of questions. The application package is not complete. It does not clearly communicate important information about the project and it’s impacts on the Town of Halifax and the surrounding property owners
The applicant will have some time to address the questions below and to prepare information not provided in the application package. We hope this will facilitate a productive use of the public hearing in the examination this project.
This list of questions is not to be considered as an final list of questions.
The first section below is to identify the sections of the Zoning Regulations and Town Plan that apply to this project. In the application package, there is only reference to section 405 of the Zoning Regulations, however as stated in the Zoning (Section 203 (3a)), sections of the Town Plan also apply.
The second section below presents questions and /or comments that the applicant needs to address so that the Zoning Board can understand the project and its impacts on the Town of Halifax, the abutting property owners, the natural environment and wildlife.
Relevant Sections of the Zoning Regulations, Town Plan
Intent – Zoning Regulations section 101
General Conditional Use Standards – Zoning Regulations section 203 (3a)
Specific Conditional Use Standards – Zoning Regulations section 203 (3b)
Purpose of Conservation District – Zoning Regulations section 308 (2)
General Performance Standards – Zoning Regulations section 405
Earth/Mineral Extraction – Zoning Regulations section 501
Goals of the Town Plan – Town Plan
Conservation District – Town Plan
Conservation District Recommendations – Town Plan
Questions about the Proposed Project
The application package should present both explanations and information to make the project transparent and easily understood by the Zoning Board. The following questions, some general and some specific, are presented to assist in gathering information.
In terms of the town’s infrastructure, what will be the impact of the truck traffic on the road infrastructure (roads, culverts and bridges) given the frequency of stone transport over the duration of the project?
In terms of potential impacts what is the cost of potential repairs and what impact will this have on the Town’s budget and tax rates?
Given the proposed route for the trucks hauling stone, there are safety concerns, especially on Stark Mountain Road. How are these to be addressed?
Will the Town be required to make improvements to TH52 as a result of this project being permitted?
The existing haul road is passable for loaded logging trucks and the construction of the new section of road will be adequate to permit passage of stone-loaded flatbed trucks. These trucks have a higher ground clearance than vehicles used within the town by emergency personnel. Will the road be made passable for emergency vehicles and emergency responders’ personal vehicles with ground clearance less than that of trucks?
In terms of the impacts of this project on the character of the conservation district, is the project in conformance with the purpose of the Conservation District as defined by the purpose of the district as stated in the Zoning Regulations and in the Town Plan? For example, see the Halifax Town Plan states (see pg. 21, “Conservation District Recommendations,” item #1), “These lands are appropriate for low-intensity recreation, forestry, wildlife habitat, agriculture, hunting, and other open space uses. Development, which creates significant amount of traffic or noise, or which otherwise has an adverse impact on the environment, is undesirable.”
What measures will be taken to prevent undue adverse impacts (polluting water, emissions of fumes, dust, noise and vibration) on the surrounding property owners?
The expected impacts of noise are defined in a two noise studies. In layman’s terms, what is 49 decibels at the nearest neighbors house?
The noise study does not address the truck noise at the residence on TH52 near the intersection with Highway #2. or for residences along the travel route. What will be the level of truck braking and acceleration noise at this location? What will be the level of noise along the travel route?
The Noise Assessment of April 2014 (exhibit 13) delineates two areas of concentrated loud noise. The area to the south has a truck producing 65dBA, which does not match the decibel levels shown in Appendix A, Table A2. That table indicates a 109-114 dBA range for a heavy truck accelerating to 20 mph. Why this discrepancy?
The noise study was done with full vegetation cover at the site (no tree clearing) and with leaves on the trees. What would the noise levels be at the property line and at nearest residences during full quarry operation with the site cleared and full foliage, and with the site cleared but no leaves on the trees?
Excavators with compressor-run jackhammers are commonly used at some quarries. Are there plans to use such equipment at this proposed quarry? If so, what is the noise level?
Assuming the Town Truck shown in exhibit 16 will not be used to haul stone, what truck will be used to haul the stone and what noise level they will create when braking and accelerating? In the application there is reference to a flatbed truck. Why not provide a picture of this type of vehicle?
What is the size and gross weight (GVWR) of the truck with and without load?
What is the level of emissions from the trucks, in particular for residents on the truck route?
A maximum of four employees at the site is stated in the cover letter in the application package. Will employees need to leave the site frequently during the day or will there be just one arrival and departure per day per employee?
The dates of operation are give as April 1 to November 30. During mud season, when the roads are posted, will the proposed quarry be in operation? Who determines when the roads are traversable for both employee vehicles, moving equipment and trucks hauling stone?
In exhibit 18, the memo states that rock saw at the site will not operate with the hand rock drill. Therefore, the level of noise is driven by the one generator. Will operations on site be as anticipated?
How effective will the final grading plan be in mitigating the expected sound levels? Given that the anticipated sound levels during quarry operation will be considerably higher than the current norm for that environment, can sound levels be mitigated so that they are very faint?
How much schist dust will be generated? How will this dust be managed?
Will any of the schist dust be trucked offsite?
At 430 meters, does the site provide significant recharge to aquifers?
Is there any information about whether the schist quarry will have an impact on ground water/aquifer water quality?
In a highwater event, water runoff to the Green River would feed into the Greenfield public water supply. Is this a public water supply concern?
Is there any proposed maintenance for the ponds when the proposed quarry is not in operation and after the final closing of the quarry (i.e., dredging, filtering)?
Will there be runoff that will make its way down to the north from road construction and site operation approximately 500 feet to Deer Park Brook?
Will there be any regularly scheduled site monitoring, maintenance, or visits during those months of the year when the quarry is not in operation?
What type of site and/or access road security is planned to forestall unauthorized access during periods when the quarry is not active?
Plan Sheet C-7 shows the Extraction Limits. Where are the documents for the reclamation plan?
Is the proposed $10,000 escrow amount sufficient for reclamation? How was this figure calculated?
In the Natural Resource Assessment (Exhibit 8) there is discussion of how the project will avoid direct impacts on bear, deer and moose habitat. What will be the impacts of the project on the habitat for the range of fauna and flora in the Conservation District?
As stated in the introduction, relevant portions of the Zoning Regulations and of the Town Plan are not referenced in the applicant’s application package. For example, the Halifax Town Plan (pg. 5, #16) states that one of its goals is “To discourage uncoordinated or incompatible development that may jeopardize or overburden public or private investment, or damage the town’s resources, rural character, and overall quality of life.” Why have these relevant sections not been addressed in the application package?