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Kent Passes Soil Removal & Excavation Law

By Holly Crocco

It’s been a long time coming, but the Kent Town Board recently approved a new chapter of local law regarding soil removal and excavation.

For the past year, stakeholders have been drafting an amendment to Kent town code to address the excavation of – and sale or exchange of – topsoil, sand, gravel, rock or other Earth substances. This action was prompted after a plan to build a truck stop in town caused a firestorm response from residents when it was learned that the proposal would have allowed the developer to essentially mine part of the property and remove and sell the excavated material off-site.

Prior to the unanimous approval at the Dec. 5 town board meeting, Henry Boyd from the Carmel-Kent Chamber of Commerce urged lawmakers to finally approve the law and protect the town’s landscape.

“We like our town kind of the way it is, and if you can vote on it, the sooner the better,” he said. “The Town of Kent will be behind you 100 percent if you get this going.”

The updated code clarifies requirements ensuring that excavation is conducted in a manner that will protect residential and local business areas and the value of land from potential adverse impacts. The code also limits the amount of excavation to the minimum required for site preparation, and avoids the creation of a disturbed, barren area of land inconsistent with the town’s natural environment.

In addition, it prevents adverse effects of disturbed land such as erosion and pollution.

During a prior meeting, Bruce Barber, the town’s environmental consultant, clarified that the code prohibits mining where rocks are excavated and removed. “The goal is not to limit profit, but to create a threshold of how much rock is processed and removed, versus processing and reusing the material on the site,” he said.

Processing, for example, could mean grinding down rocks to use as the foundation for a new house.

According to Barber, the previous code had a loophole in which the developer followed the rules in place at the time and was able to get site plan approval because the planning board didn’t have the tools that are now in today’s code.

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