Review board hears Vermont Pure testimony

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(Host) The Randolph Development Review Board held a second public meeting last night on plans to expand the Vermont Pure Springs Company operation. The bottled water company says it needs to grow to accommodate increasing demand. Some Randolph residents say the company’s planned growth will hurt their way of life.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Employee) “We, the employees of Vermont Pure Springs .”

(Zind) Vermont Pure employees were among the 80 or so people who attended last night’s hearing at Vermont Technical College.

The company says it needs to expand the Randolph Center bottling plant and a nearby spring site in order to grow. Vermont Pure officials say the stakes are high for a town that recently saw the closure of the Ethan Allen Furniture plant. They’ve indicated that without approval of the expansion plans, the company could move out of town.

(Employee) “Let us not end up with another empty building and an even longer unemployment line.”

(Zind) The part of the plan drawing fire is an application to increase the number of eighteen-wheel tractor trailers hauling water out of the company’s main spring site, located on a nearby dirt road. Some residents say that more than doubling the number of tractor trailers travelling back and forth between the spring and the plant would alter the character of the rural area. They say under Vermont Pure’s plan, a truck would pass by every eighteen minutes between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. daily. Steve Springer lives near the spring site:

(Springer) “People no longer allow their children to be on that road when the big trucks are running. Neighbors do not walk on that road when the big trucks are running. Basically, Vermont Pure takes over the road when they run eighteen-wheelers on the road.”

(Zind) Springer say he’d be satisfied if the company agreed to run smaller milk tanker trucks instead of the tractor trailers. He says if Vermont Pure wants to expand, it should find other sources of water.

Tim Fallon is chief executive officer of Vermont Pure. Fallon says the company has compromised by making a number of changes in it’s permit application, including reducing the number of truck trips. But Fallon says the company needs to run bigger trucks especially during the summer season. Vermont Pure has also expressed a willingness to pay to widen and change the road to make it safer and quieter. And Fallon says Vermont Pure is having a hard time finding other water sources nearby.

(Fallon) “We look at water sources in and around this area. The thing that’s unfortunate about this is that it’s been such a public display from the neighbors that anybody that owns a spring site now has got dollar signs that they’re going to hold us hostage for. So we lose a lot of negotiating power in the surrounding area. So in some ways, they’re their own worst enemy by making it such a visible thing to potential people that could help them.”

(Zind) After two and a half hours of discussion, the Development Review Board decided to end the public hearing phase. The board is expected to make a decision on Vermont Pure’s applications in the near future.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Randolph Center.

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