By St. Albans Messenger Staff - Thursday, September 18, 2003 Edition

FAIRFAX-The District 6 Environmental Commission has decided that the soils within a 35-acre site planned for development in here by John Workman and David Modica constitute primary agricultural soils under Act 250 criteria.

In an unusual move, the commission held a deliberative session immediately following the public hearing at Bellows Free Academy-Fairfax on the project Sept. 12.

In a hearing recess report issued on Monday, the commission stated that "since the project destroys all of these soils it will be necessary to respond to the four sub criteria of 9(B) in order to receive an affirmative finding under this criteria. However, you may also want to consider off-site mitigation..."

Mitigation means the conservation in perpetuity of agricultural soils located elsewhere that are bought by the developers as a trade-off for land used in an approved project. It has been determined that 22 acres of the 35 acre tract contains agricultural soils as defined by Act 250.

Sam Ruggiano of Cross Consulting Engineers has estimated that mitigation could cost as much as $125,000. That cost would be reflected in the cost of the housing units planned as part of the project.

The land to be developed lies directly within the designated growth center of Fairfax and its proposed usage fits with the Town Plan.

Phase one of the project calls for 14 single-family lots and a 47 unit building designed for elderly housing with below ground parking.

Phase two would add 10 more single family homes, a village green, and a 61-space above ground parking lot. There are discussions to run a recreation path through the development.

At the public hearing, Ruggiano argued that the soil cannot be considered prime agricultural soit because the land only meets three of the six Act 250 criteria necessary to be deemed prime agricultural soil.

The project has been plagued by setbacks and delays for over three years.

Henry A. Raymond
September 19, 2003