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 firstname.lastname@example.org.