June 9 2016
Large Pile of Fill at Building 19 1/2 Site Causes Stir, Is Currently Being Moved
By: Rich Hosford
A large pile of dirt at a well-known Burlington location that will likely be under redevelopment soon has been causing a stir in town.
Neighbors and town officials have been wondering about a large mound of fill that appeared in the Building 19 ½ site late last year. Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heureux said the Planning Department was alerted by residents of the pile in January.
She said the planning staff and members of the Planning Board contacted Duffy Properties, the landowner, to explain that Burlington law states that a property owner must obtain a permit from the Board of Selectmen before bringing fill into town from another location.
“We requested that the pile of fill be removed,” she said in a written statement at the latest Planning Board meeting. “The property owner did not comply with our request.”
The reason for the law requiring approval from selectmen is to ensure all fill brought into town is clean. What normally happens is that the board looks to the Board of Health which requires tests be done at the point of origin before give its blessing.
“The Board of Health is very sensitive about bringing any fill into this town,” Board Vice Chair Edward Weiner, who has championed a cleanup of Burlington’s contaminated sites, said. “We have to be sure it is clean. I worked 27 years to clean up contamination in town.”
L’Heureux said the Planning Board contacted Duffy Properties again urging them to get a permit from the Board of Selectmen. She said an attorney for the company replied, stating the fill was “clean fill,” a statement that was repeated at the May 19th Planning Board meeting.
“Last week we learned that those assertions were false,” L’Heareux said during the June 2 meeting. “In fact the fill on this site came from several sites, one of which is partially contaminated and is also downgrade from a second contamination site. Both sites are owned by Duffy Properties. It is important to understand the it is not known if the fill on the site is contaminated. We simply cannot confirm whether it is clean or contaminated. No one can make that determination until extensive testing is performed.”
There has been progress since L’Heureux made that statement next week. After the Board of Health said the soil must be tested, an expensive process, or removed, the property owner relented and agreed to move the fill back to its points of origin.
“We said it needed to be tested, which would be expensive,” Weiner said. “They said they wanted to remove it and their consultant worked with Department of Environmental Protection and got permission to remove it.”
Weiner said nobody knew for sure whether the fill was contaminated or not since the tests were never done, but that his board was not going to take any chances.
“The Board of Health is not going to put this town in any danger whatsoever,” he said. “We’re not going to fool around. Either you test it or remove it.”
As of Thursday, June 9 a significant amount of the dirt and debris had been removed and tractor equipment was in place to continue the work.
L’Heureux said she is happy it is being removed but said the issue should have been cleared up before now.
“This has been a bone of contention since January and it should not have taken this long to get it resolved,” she said. “It was a concern for neighbors because nobody knew where it came from.”