Gravel pit imperils Plymouth properties
We are the residents of the Hawk Mountain Resort community in Plymouth. Our homes sit adjacent to a proposed gravel extraction project currently before the Act 250 District Commission. We live here and own property here. Our existence is real and cannot be dismissed as seasonal, minimal or irrelevant. We are a community of more than 600 people, and we will not tolerate our community being destroyed.
The commission has heard significant concerns regarding the dramatic environmental and economic impacts of a gravel pit on the Hawk Mountain community and the town of Plymouth. The resort is still recovering from the worst recession in 80 years, a mild winter and the flood damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene. After confronting these devastating challenges, it would be a travesty to see the viability of the resort and the fate of its employees, who provide services to our homes and the resort’s infrastructure, put in question by the permitting of this gravel pit.
Over the 40 years since the development of Hawk Mountain Resort, thousands of families, like ourselves, from around the country and the world have built, bought or rented Hawk homes to enjoy the natural beauty of the area typical of, but so unique to, Vermont. Locating a gravel pit only a few hundred yards from Hawk’s cherished rural tranquility would be a game-changing event for our community and the entire area.
As the largest community of property owners in Plymouth, we have grave concerns about the possibility of a gravel and sand pit moving next door, with its accompanying noise, dust pollution and truck traffic on Route 100, and the consequent effect on our property values and viability of Hawk Mountain Resort. The consequences of such a devaluation of Hawk properties would also negatively affect the overall grand list, to the detriment of all landowners and residents of Plymouth. Today our community of over 300 private properties pays real estate taxes that account for more than 30 percent of Plymouth’s total tax revenue and requires negligible services from the town.
We are actively participating in the Act 250 hearing process and are compelled by the presentations of ecologists and engineers, who make the case for the negative environmental impacts this project would generate. There are noteworthy concerns as to the threat to wildlife and wetlands, as well as harmful effects of water pollution and soil erosion.
The Act 250 commissioners are required to ensure that a project “will not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetic, scenic beauty, historic sites or rare and irreplaceable natural areas” and will not imperil necessary wildlife habitat or endangered species in the immediate area. We argue it is impossible to carry out this project, nestled between a river, a pond, a major highway and one of the largest riparian watersheds in the state, without serious adverse effects.
We call upon the Act 250 District Commission to deny this request. We cannot stand by and watch our community and the town of Plymouth become irreversibly damaged for the short-term financial gain of one individual.
Clay Gray is president of the Salt Ash Owners Association.