Board OKs Brox gravel excavator

Merrimack company expected to remove 635K cubic yards

MILFORD – Selectmen voted unanimously last week to have the town administrator sign a con­tract with Northeast Sand and Gravel of Merrimack to excavate earth material at the Brox property.

The company is expect­ed to remove 635,000 cubic yards at $1.45 a cubic yard from about 38 acres in the area south of Heron Pond Road. A warrant article passed by voters in March allows the town to exca­vate about 44 acres.

Two state-endangered reptiles are said to be on the property, and the chairwoman of the Con­servation Commission told selectmen last week that the excavation firm should learn first how en­dangered species are us­ing the property. Audrey Fraizer also said there should be a heavy silt fence to keep the reptiles, the Blanding’s turtle and the Eastern hog-nosed snake, away from the work area, and there should be a biologist onsite.

Fraizer told the board she is disappointed her commission and the Plan­ning Board weren’t con­sulted about the plans, and asked selectmen to hold off finalizing the con­tract until they can review them.

Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Fougere told her, however, they will start to review plans to protect the wildlife now that the town has a contract.

Brox Environmental Citizens founder Suzanne Fournier warned select­men that the town would be violating state law if any animals are harmed.

"I suggest you take a se­rious look at the Endan­gered Species Act," she said.

Town Administrator Mark Bender said he and the board are comfortable with the chosen contrac­tor.

"We felt Northeast indi­cated a good understand­ing of the issues associ­ated with the area and sensitive to the mainte­nance and protection of the area," he said.

The company operates a gravel pit in Wilton that is over an aquifer, he said, and no problems have been reported.

The Planning Board and Conservation Commission will review the plans, al­though under state law, their role is only advisory when dealing with town or school projects.

Janet Langdell, the Planning Board’s vice chairman, told selectmen she hopes they have done "a lot of proactive work" in consultation with the Conservation Commis­sion and the town’s con­servation coordinator.

The commission and Brox Environmental Citi­zens base their positions on a natural resource in­ventory commissioned last year that says the town-owned property is rich in natural resources and should be preserved.

Under terms of the agreement with North­east Sand and Gravel, the company will operate between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays, with loading of trucks only done from 6-7 a.m. to keep the noise down, Bender said. There will be periodic inspec­tions by town staff.

Access will be through Perry Road. The company will be in charge of road maintenance and will re­store the area in 15-acre segments.

The area will be closed to the public during work­ing hours and the work will continue over a pe­riod of at least five years.

Plans are for the re­stored areas to be used for town facilities, except for 78 acres near Heron Pond that will be pre­served as open space.

Selectmen said the money will provide the town with badly needed revenue and will help make up for the $1.6 mil­lion the town paid for the Brox Corp.’s 270 acres 16 years ago.

In his letter to the town that accompanied North­east’s proposal, company owner Kevin Brown said he understands the sensi­tivity about conservation and wildlife.

"We will always work close with the town and neighbors to make sure their interests are in the forefront of our minds at all time," he wrote.

The term "state en­dangered" refers to na­tive species whose pros­pects for survival in New Hampshire are in dan­ger because of "a loss or change in habitat, over-exploitation, predation, competition, disease, disturbance or contami­nation," according to the Fish and Game Depart­ment.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.