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Effort To Reopen Plymouth Gravel Pit Ignites Controversy Among Residents

By Eric Francis

Standard Correspondent

PLYMOUTH – A controversial effort to reopen the Frog City Gravel Pit on Route 100 near the Hawk Mountain Resort development will get its first public airing as part of the Act 250 process with a site visit early next month that is open to interested parties.

The walk-thru of the pit will take place on the morning of Tuesday, April 10 beginning at 9:30 a.m. and then immediately afterwards the first of two hearings set by the District 3 Environmental Commission, which covers Plymouth for Act 250 purposes, will get underway at the Plymouth Town Offices.

The purpose of the first hearing is to iron out overarching issues like who will be granted preliminary “party status” as the environmental review moves forward and to determine who will be called as witnesses and/or “expert witnesses.”

Even once those people are identified, there will be no actual testimony on the issues involved until the second hearing which has been now been scheduled for the following Tuesday, April 17, also at the town offices and beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The fact that pit owner Ralph Michael is continuing with the Act 250 application came as a surprise to some opponents of the project who had thought the proposal to expand the commercial use of the pit, which was reopened on an emergency basis in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene to allow for repairs to devastated sections of Route 100 and surrounding roads, had perhaps been rendered moot after Michael withdrew an application that had been placed before the Plymouth Planning Commission.

“It’s not dead. He never withdrew from us,” noted Linda Matteson, the District 3 Coordinator, Wednesday morning, adding, “It’s a complete application with a noise study and everything.”

The Frog City Pit sits north of the Hawk Resort alongside the eight-acre “Duck Pond” and previously operated as a commercial gravel extraction operation for 30 years before shutting down nearly a decade ago.

The permit that Michaels, who serves as chairman of the Plymouth selectboard, filed asks that he be allowed to slightly alter his driveway and adjust some other access issues to make it easier for trucks to cross in front of his residence in order to drive to and from the pit which he wrote will operate from March to November, except for declared emergencies like Irene, and will involve a peak of about 33 truck trips a day when the gravel crushing operation is in full swing.

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