Developer’s plan to raze Morrisville hill stirs controversy in community

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:20 PM EDT
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MORRISVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - A Morrisville developer’s plans to raze a hill and sell the gravel that creates is stirring up controversy in nearby communities, where people say they want to save the mountain.

“This is certainly shocking to remove an entire mountain on a farm landscape in order to put in warehouses. That’s a shock. It’s a shock to our community,” said Thea Alvin of Morrisville.

Alvin says living in Morrisville in recent years has meant getting familiar with development.

“I’m completely surrounded by new buildings and new structures that are more or less undisclosed what they’ll look like, where they’ll be, what they’ll be doing, what the impact is,” Alvin said.

The latest cause for her concern is a plan to raze a hill in a proposed industrial park and sell the gravel it creates.

According to plans submitted to the town, once the 12-acre hill is level, the property could contain up to 20 possible structures. The developers say it’s a standard cut-and-fill project.

“The project is aligned to the town plan, which at some point about 10 years ago, they designated this land industrial. It’s down across from the airport, so it complements the airport. There’s a growth that’s been going on and the town made the plan for that area to be the next point,” developer Garrett Hirchak said.

Alvin says it would be a major change in her surroundings and the Vermont landscape she treasures.

“Traffic, water, air: all the things. So, we’re very concerned-- all the residents in this area-- about where this is going and where it will take our small little town,” she said.

“We’re conserving the agricultural land,” Hirchak said. “We’ve gone through and delineated all the wetlands on the property, wildlife habitat.”

Alvin is taking the fight online where she started the hashtag #SaveTheMountain and a petition that now has more than 2,000 signatures.

Developers say they understand the concerns but they say the project isn’t as negative as it’s being made out to be.

“It is a large rock outcrop that we, that nobody’s trying to say it’s not, but it is incidental to the development of the whole 86-acre industrial park,” said James Mahoney, Hirchak’s lawyer.

“It’s a small component of the overall project, utilizing that material actually on site to create our roads, wastewater and all that is an additional benefit,” Hirchak said.

The Act 250 permitting process is still ongoing. A site visit is scheduled for Wednesday night and there is a public hearing on Thursday.