Logging ready to begin on Brox property

Officials plan to start before wildlife breeding underway

MILFORD – Town officials say they will start cutting trees on the Brox property soon, before vulnerable animal species start to breed, but some say it’s already too late in the year.

Cutting of 25 acres would prepare the area for a major gravel removal operation approved by voters last year, although the plans remain controversial because of endangered species on the property.

At the selectmen’s March 27 meeting, Brox Environmental Citizens coordinator Suzanne Fournier said the town should wait until it receives its alteration of terrain permit from the state Department of Environmental Resources for the gravel operation.

“Spring is here; wood frogs are already heading for vernal pools,” said Fournier, who said that after April ,1 birds begin selecting breeding areas. The town “is putting a lot of wildlife at risk,” she said.

The Planning Board and Conservation Commission are reviewing the gravel removal plans and were scheduled to have a joint meeting April 4, a continuation of their March 7 joint meeting.

“It’s been a long journey to get to this point,” selectmen’s Chairman Fougere said at the board’s March 27 meeting, when a few other residents questioned the plans.

Robert Gott, of Brookview Court, said the roughly $100,000 yearly revenue works out to only 15 cents on the tax rate.

“The value is in the gravel,” Mark Fougere said.

Voters last year gave the town the go-ahead for the gravel operation, and if the earth materials aren’t removed and Milford eventually builds a school or some other town facility on the land, he said, they would be building it on top of vaulable sand and gravel.

About 635,000 cubic yards of material could be extracted from the logged area, with 175,000 for town uses. Revenue from the sale of earth materials depends on a fluctuating market, but it could be between $780,000 and $1 million, with the project lasting about six years, selectmen have said.

Officials hope selling the gravel will recoup some of the cost of the $1.4 million purchase of the 270 acres in 2000.

“It’s been a long journey to get to this point,” Fougere said.

Seventeen acres of the old gravel pit’s floor will be restored and material added to raise it and make it more useful for whatever the town ultimately decideds to do with it, he said.

There was some confusion about whether the town needs a state wetlands permit.

“I want to stop having environmental debates at every meeting,” board Vice Chairman Kevin Federico said. “Let’s find out. … With so many eyes on this, I’d rather have us follow all the rules and regulations.”

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