Logging delayed at Brox land

Environmental concerns raised by conservation group

MILFORD – Logging at the Brox property has been postponed to answer concerns of the Conservation Commission and state Department of Environmental Services.

The clear-cutting of 25 acres is to prepare the area for a major gravel operation that is opposed by some abutters and Brox Environmental Citizens, which maintains that endangered and threatened reptile species will be harmed.

As of Monday, April 10, there was no scheduled start date for the three- to five-day logging operation, Town Administrator Mark Bender said at a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Conservation Commission last week. He said the commission has asked for the logging to be done in smaller increments and had requested that trucks use Heron Pond Road.

But Heron Pond isn’t a good option, he said, because of the number of vehicles.

The plan calls for trucks to use the gravel service road and Perry Road. Signs will be posted, he said, and drivers will be trained to identify any rare, threatened and endangered species.

Engineer Chad Branon, of Fieldstone Land Consultants, gave a long, detailed slide presentation about the plans and talked about a 48-inch reinforced concrete culvert that would go under the access road to funnel species away from work zone and into a conservation area. He said a second wildlife crossing is also a possibility.

The commission, he said, had asked for an inventory of threatened and endangered species during prime breeding season, “but we don’t see the need. We clearly understand this is a sensitive area and species are on the site.”

He also argued against a Conservation Commission proposal for a rigid “wildlife-friendly” fence instead of silt fencing, calling it cost-prohibitive.

Silt fencing is available, easy to install, inexpensive, and poses no harm to threatened and endangered species, and it will be removed at the end of the project, he said.

During the public part of the meeting, abutter Steve Takacs asked about noise abatement, saying Heron Pond Road acts like a funnel for truck noise.

Board Chairman Christopher Beer agreed the noise will be annoying.

“Realistically … it is going to be noisy,” he said. Milford has no noise ordinance.

Suzanne Fournier, of Brox Environmental Citizens, argued with Beer after she told him Milford’s gravel and earth removal ordinance covers noise. He said town ordinances don’t apply to town projects. It isn’t a commercial operation, he said, using the example of the town ambulance building, which didn’t have to follow town frontage restrictions.

“You can argue until you’re blue in the face,” Fournier said. “It doesn’t make it true.”

“That’s your opinion,” Beer said. “It’s not the opinion this board shares or the town shares.”

Fournier replied that the town may end up in court over issues of noise, fumes and dust.

During the public comment part of the meeting, Deb Garg, of Ches-Mae Lane, said the gravel operation will be in her backyard and the noise and dust will be terrible.

Bender said Northeast Sand and Gravel will be applying water for dust control.

A final plan will be reviewed at a meeting of the selectmen.

The April 4 joint meeting lasted more than 2 1/2 hours, and was the second meeting of the board and the commission to discuss the logging and gravel operation.

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