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 IN A WETLAND


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

This is to give notice that the Town of Hardwick under Part 58 has 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 Floodplain Management and 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. The proposed project is located 281 Route 15 West in Hardwick, Caledonia County.  The project entails site work and construction on a commercial/industrial site along the Route 15 gateway to downtown Hardwick. The 4.7 acre site currently houses the former Greensboro Garage facility, a well-known adaptive reuse of a mid-19th century barn. The iconic “Yellow Barn” as it is known throughout the greater Hardwick area, is on the State historic register and will be retained and restored as part of the Yellow Barn business accelerator complex and will house up one or more tenants.  The existing Yellow Barn is outside of the wetland and wetland buffer.

Adjacent to, and west of, the Yellow Barn is an existing parking lot on which a new ~25,000 sq. foot footprint building is proposed.  The new building will expand lease space options for future business as part of the accelerator complex.  The new building will have the following impacts: permanent wetland impact area: 497 s.f.; temporary (during construction) wetland impact area: 2,122 s.f.; permanent buffer impact area:  16,266 s.f.; temporary (during construction) buffer impact area: 3,928 s.f.  Temporary impacts will involve a timber matt and fill placed over the impact zone to obtain access to the back side of the project.  Timbers and fill will be removed at completion of the job.

The impacted wetland is a class II wetland but not part of a wetlands complex.  The subject wetland is approximately 1.2 acres.  Most of the wetland is dominated by hydrophytic herbaceous vegetation and is best characterized as a Shallow Emergent Marsh natural community.  Approximately 30% is dominated by shrubs and is best characterized as an Alder Shrub Swamp community.  This shrub type is confined to the southern part of the wetland.  The wetland is located in the Lamoille River basin.  It includes a stream that feeds the Lamoille.  The wetland appears to be influenced by multiple hydrologic inputs.  A high water table appears to be present in the area and is evident in the northern part of the wetland.  The wetland obtains runoff from Route 15 as well as the impervious surfaces at the site of the former Greensboro Garage.  There is a stream which flows through the southern part of the wetland which likely floods this area of the wetland during high precipitation events.  Finally, during flood events, the stream and wetland may receive floodwaters from the Lamoille River, at least historically before the nearby dam was installed. The project area is mostly confined to the wetland buffer to the east of the wetland on historic fill.

 The Town of Hardwick has considered the following alternatives and mitigation measures to be taken to minimize adverse impacts and to restore and preserve natural and beneficial values:

  • Selecting an alternate location(s): A feasibility study completed in early 2018 concluded that the parcel at 281 Route 15 W was the optimal site for this project, and that other properties currently available for redevelopment of this scale and purpose has considerably more development constraints, including floodplains, wetlands, zoning restrictions, and lack of parking and truck circulation.
  • Reducing the building footprint: The project team did reduce the proposed building envelope by roughly 60% in order to accommodate wetlands, and concluded that further reductions to the building envelope would inhibit the site’s function as a business accelerator.
  • Obtaining a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA): The project team questioned the accuracy of the base flood elevations on the Town of Hardwick’s FEMA map and hired a surveyor to obtain a LOMA. The LOMA was issued on January 18, 2019 and removes a portion of the lot from the Special Flood Hazard Area. While a portion of the lot remains in the regulatory floodway, no development will take place there. The remaining portion of the Special Flood Hazard Area (100-year floodplain), is designed for parking vehicles, which is an acceptable use of the Special Flood Hazard Area in accordance with the Town of Hardwick’s Flood Hazard Regulations, and CFR 44 60.3, which establishes minimum development standards for the National Flood Insurance Program (of which the Town of Hardwick is a participant.)

A wetland permit from the State of Vermont was received for this project on August 14, 2019 and was recorded in the Town of Hardwick land records on August 20, 2019.

The Town of Hardwick has reevaluated the alternatives to building in the floodplain/wetland and has determined that it has 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 in 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 in wetlands, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk.

Written comments must be received by the Town of Hardwick at the following address on or before September 16, 2019 Town of Hardwick, 20 Church Street, Hardwick, VT 05843 and 802-472-6120, Attention:  Shaun Fielder, Town Manager.  A full description of the project may also be reviewed from Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the above address.  Comments may also be submitted via email at shaun.fielder@hardwickvt.gov.

COMBINED NOTICE OF FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT AND NOTICE OF INTENT TO REQUEST RELEASE OF FUNDS

September 9, 2019 Town of Hardwick,

Shaun Fielder, Town Manager

20 Church Street

Hardwick, VT 05843

802-472-6120

These notices shall satisfy two separate but related procedural requirements for activities to be undertaken by the Town of Hardwick.

Request for Release of Funds

 On or about September 25, 2019 the Town of Hardwick will submit a request to the Agency to release the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds under Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (PL93-383), the National Affordable Housing Act, as amended, to undertake a project known as Hardwick Yellow Barn Business Accelerator and Corporate Campus, for the purpose of sitework and construction of a roughly 40,000 sq. foot facility (a 25,000 sf. footprint with two stories) on a commercial/industrial site along the  Route 15 gateway to downtown Hardwick. The 4.7 acre site currently houses the former Greensboro Garage facility, a well-known adaptive reuse of a mid-19th century barn. The “Yellow Barn” as it is known throughout the greater Hardwick area, is on the State historic register and will be retained and restored. The project is located at 281 Route 15 West in Hardwick. The total estimated cost of the project is $8.7 million; including an anticipated $1 million in CDBG funding.

 Mitigation measures for this project include: compliance with the Section 106 Review that has been completed for a determination of “No Adverse Effect” to historic resources, wetland mitigation (detailed above), consultation with VT Fish & Wildlife prior to construction to ensure no impact to the federally threated Northern Long-Eared Bat, removal of a 275-gallon Above Ground Storage Tank, and the execution of a Corrective Action Plan to remove an old septic tank and replace soils from a potentially contaminated leach field.

Finding of No Significant Impact

 The Town of Hardwick has determined that the project will have no significant impact on the human environment. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required. Additional project information is contained in the Environmental Review Record (ERR) on file at the municipal office of the Town of Hardwick at 20 Church Street, and may be examined or copied Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Public Comments

Any individual, group, or agency may submit written comments on the ERR to the Town of Hardwick regarding the use of CDBG funds, Attn: Shaun Fielder, Town Manager, 20 Church Street, Hardwick, VT 05843. All comments received by September 24, 2019 will be considered by the Town of Hardwick and the Agency prior to authorizing the submission of a request for release of funds. Comments must specify which Notice they are addressing—the Finding of No Significant Impact or the Request for the Release of Funds.

Environmental Certification

 The Town of Hardwick is certifying to the Agency that the Town of Hardwick and Shaun Fielder, in his official capacity as Town Manager, consent to accept the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts if an action is brought to enforce responsibilities in relation to the environmental review process and that these responsibilities have been satisfied. The Agency’s approval of the certification satisfies its responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act and related laws and authorities and allows the Town of Hardwick to use CDBG funds.

Objections to Release of Funds

 The Agency will accept objections to its approval of the release of funds and acceptance of the Town of Hardwick’s certification for a period of fifteen days following the anticipated submission date or its actual receipt of the request (whichever is later) only if they are on one of the following bases: (a) the certification was not executed by the Certifying Officer, Shaun Fielder, Town Manager; (b) the Town has omitted a step or failed to make a decision or finding required by HUD regulations at 24 CFR part 58; (c) the grant recipient or other participants in the development process have committed funds, incurred costs or undertaken activities not authorized by 24 CFR Part 58 before approval of a release of funds by the Agency; or (d) another Federal agency acting pursuant to 40 CFR Part 1504 has submitted a written finding that the project is unsatisfactory from the standpoint of environmental quality.

Objections must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the required procedures (24 CFR Part 58, Sec. 58.76) and shall be addressed to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Department of Housing and Community Development, Attn: Environmental Officer, One National Life Drive, Davis Building, 6th Floor, Montpelier, Vermont 05620-0501. Potential objectors should contact the Agency to verify the last day of the objection period.