Early Notice and Public Review of a Proposed Activity in a Wetland – Yellow Barn Business Accelerator Project

To: All interested Agencies, including Groups and Individuals

This is to give notice that the Town of Hardwick has determined that the following proposed action under 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, is located in a wetland, and the Town of Hardwick will be identifying and evaluating practicable alternatives to locating the action in the wetland and the potential impacts on the wetland from the proposed action, 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 Protection of Wetlands.

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 to four tenant spaces of approximately 1,000 sq. ft. each.  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 proposed project(s) is located at 281 Vermont Route 15 West: Parcel 09011-00000 in Hardwick, Caledonia, County.

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.  Commenters are encouraged to offer alternative sites outside of the wetland, alternative methods to serve the same project purpose, and methods to minimize and mitigate impacts. 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 May 24, 2019:

 Town of Hardwick,

20 Church Street, Hardwick, VT 05843

Attention: Shaun Fielder, Town Manager  

A full description of the project may also be reviewed Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Town Manager’s Office.

Comments may also be submitted via email at shaun.fielder@hardwickvt.gov.

May 8, 2019