Combined Notice Of Finding Of No Significant Impact And Notice Of Intent To Request Release Of Funds And Final Notice And Public Explanation Of A Proposed Activity Near A Wetland | General Notices | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

FINAL NOTICE AND PUBLIC EXPLANATION OF A PROPOSED ACTIVITY NEAR A WETLAND

This is to give notice that the Town of Colchester, Vermont (the Town) and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (Agency) have conducted an evaluation as required by Executive Order 11990, in accordance with HUD regulations at 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C Procedures for Making Determinations on Wetlands Protection. The activity is funded under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) (administered by the Vermont Community Development Program) under Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (PL 93-383), the National Affordable Housing Act, as amended and HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds under Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, as amended, and National Housing Trust Funds. The proposed project, known as Stuart Avenue Apartments, is located at 242 Severance Road, Colchester, Vermont and will provide approximately 36 new affordable apartments. It is a small part of a large, mixed-use residential and commercial development known as the Severance Road Planned Unit Development in the Severance Road Designated Growth Center.

The proposed Stuart Avenue Apartments project will be accessed by future roads Shea Drive and Stuart Avenue, and adjacent bike paths, all of which have impacts to the Class II wetland and buffer, including beneficial impacts. The Class II wetland is approximately 1 acre in size, has a 50 foot adjacent buffer zone, and contains open water of which is a man-made pond. The property has been visited by Brock Freyer, District Wetlands Ecologist of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation on January 5, 2018, after it had been delineated by Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) on May 20, 2014. By using sedimentation and erosion control measures during construction, it has been determined that the Stuart Avenue Apartments project itself will not impact the wetland or buffer.

The Agency and the Town of Colchester have considered alternatives and mitigation measures to the proposed project to minimize adverse impacts and to preserve natural and beneficial values of the nearby wetland. Alternatives considered included the following: Alternative sites for the affordable housing project in Colchester outside of the Severance Road Growth Center may be available, but the environmental impact, cost of acquisition and construction and availability of utilities were all negative factors when compared to the proposed project. Alternative sites within the master development were available, though none provided any advantage over another in terms of environmental impact. Also, the Town obtained State New Town Center designation and Growth Center designation for Severance Corners in order to help facilitate the development of this area, including for affordable housing.

The Agency and the Town of Colchester have reevaluated the alternatives to the proposed work near the wetland and have determined that there is no practicable alternative. Environmental files that document compliance with steps 3 through 6 of Executive Order 11990, are available for public inspection, review and copying upon request at the times and location delineated in the last paragraph of this notice for receipt of comments.

There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities near wetlands and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about wetlands can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place near wetlands, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk.

Written comments must be received by the Town of Colchester, 781 Blakely Road,, Colchester, Vermont 05446 Attention: Mr. Aaron Frank, Town Manager, or via email at afrank@colchestervt.gov or by the Agency, c/o Environmental Officer, Department of Housing and Community Development, National Life Building, 6th floor, One National Life Drive, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 or via email at James.Brady@vermont.gov, on or before April 14, 2021. A description of the project may be requested via email at James.Brady@vermont.gov.