STAMFORD, Vt. -- A $40,000 fine has been imposed on a Stamford family that a Superior Court judge found to be in violation of Act 250 protocols related to storm water runoff on a 157-acre parcel of land.
Judge Katherine Hayes issued the decision on Aug. 2 in Bennington Superior Court Civil Division. She wrote that a significant amount of work was done by the landowners involving soil removal that led to water runoff requiring storm water discharge permits through Act 250, the state's land use law. She said these permits were never granted or sought by the landowners.
According to Hayes, the land is owned by Nelson J. Dunn Jr. and Joni Dunn, his wife. They live in North Adams, Mass., but have owned the Stamford property since 1984. She wrote that in 2005, Nelson Dunn applied to the Stamford zoning authorities for a permit to "restore pastures and fields of farm land by clearing, cutting, stumping, and selling excess soil products." Hayes wrote that the permit was initially denied by the town's zoning administrator, but later granted on appeal to the town.
According to the permit, Hayes wrote, Nelson Dunn accepted responsibility for obtaining additional necessary permits. "He did not acquire any additional permits beyond the zoning permit," wrote Hayes.
Hayes said about 50 acres total in topsoil was removed with the help of John D. Dunn, Nelson and Joni Dunn's son. The excavated material was sold to Yankee Atomic Electric and
Hayes wrote that in 2009, John Wakefield, a permit compliance officer for the Natural Resources Board, investigated Dunn's activities based on a citizen's complaint. Hayes wrote that Nelson Dunn told Wakefield he was not removing material from the site but was clearing it for cattle grazing. The cost of Wakefield's investigation was $2,786.
In 2010, according to Hayes, Dan Mason, a storm water compliance specialist for the Agency of Natural Resources, inspected the Dunn property and found a great deal of sediment running from the site into the Hoosic River about four-tenths of a mile away. The cost of Mason's investigation was $2,263.
Hayes wrote that at a May 22 court hearing, Nelson Dunn and John Dunn took responsibility for their actions, with the elder Dunn saying he'd persuaded the younger to go along with the activity. Hayes wrote that Nelson Dunn said he'd suffered a work-related injury in 2005 that impaired his judgment. He said Joni Dunn bears little responsibility for the activity.
Hayes wrote that Nelson Dunn and Joni Dunn were fined $10,000 and are jointly responsible, while Nelson Dunn was fined an extra $15,000.
Both are also liable for $2,786 from Wakefield's investigations. Nelson Dunn is also liable for $10,000 for not having storm water permits, while he and John Dunn are both liable for $2,260 stemming from the Mason's investigations for the state.
Nelson and Joni Dunn also have 60 days from Aug. 2 to file for a storm water discharge permit and 90 days to file for an Act 250 permit. Nelson Dunn must also cooperate with restoration efforts.