After much debate Tuesday evening, the Shelburne Selectboard adopted two new municipal ordinances that regulate truck traffic on town roads and curtail the handling of hazardous materials.
Representatives from several local companies attended the public hearing, mostly in opposition to the new regulations which they considered as a threat to their business practices.
The ordinance regulating the storage, handling and distribution of hazardous substances passed with a 3-2 vote. It prohibits any person or entity from storing hazardous material within 1 kilometer (3,280 feet) from a residence, school, or waterway, and also prohibits all deposit, release, and disposal of hazardous materials within the town. It is intended to protect the health and safety of the community said Town Manager Joe Colangelo.
“To make a long story short, we all have an interest in avoiding things that go boom,” Colangelo said. “And also avoiding things that pollute or poison our natural resources and water supply.”
Several community members representing businesses including Shelburne Limestone, Lake Champlain Transportation Company, and the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association also spoke against the ordinance. Bruce Hartshorn, operations director at the Shelburne Shipyard, noted that the amount of boat fuel his company stores far surpasses the limit of the ordinance.
“We move over a hundred thousand gallons of product per season to the boating community,” Hartshorn said. “We can’t move our tanks from the water. We’ve been there for decades. We want to make the Selectboard aware of that situation.”
Vermont Railway issued a statement on Tuesday expressing concern that the inclusion of railcar storage in the ordinance “is intended to improperly restrict the lawful activities of the railroad.”
Selectboard member Colleen Parker spoke in favor of the ordinance. “This can only lead to increased safety. The town should be responsible,” she said. “But we have to start somewhere. I feel very strongly about putting something on paper, and we can move from there.”
The hazardous materials ordinance passed with an effective date in 60 days giving businesses time to adjust.
The second ordinance regulating truck traffic passed with a 5-0 vote. The measure would prohibit trucks heavier than 24,000 lbs. from traveling on town roads to better preserve the roads. Exemptions apply to emergency vehicles, trucks housed by businesses located on those roads, and trucks delivering to properties on those roads.
Representatives of area companies that use trucks for transportation said they are worried the ordinance would put them out of business. Selectboard Chair Gary von Stange assured them that they would most likely fall under the exemptions.
The final version of the ordinance allows for a permitting system whereby companies can apply to transport more weight than the ordinance allows.
“Our goal is not to impact you,” von Stange told the business owners. “Our goal is to save the roads.”
At the same meeting the Selectboard also voted to amend the Stop Sign Ordinance to keep the current two-way traffic flow and two-way stop-sign system at the Bay Road underpass. Road paving and striping is expected to happen in the next several weeks.