DES hearing for Dalton Drag is July 16


July 08, 2009
DALTON — In response to public outcry, the Department of Environmental Services (DES) has announced it will hold a public hearing on July 16 on the dredge and fill application of Dalton Valley Drag LLC. The dredge and fill application was filed with the Wetlands Bureau for a permit that will impact 1,920 square feet on Douglas Drive in Dalton. The hearing will take place at the Dalton Town Hall at 7 p.m.

That property, which houses a gravel pit operation —Chick's Sand and Gravel — and is owned by Douglas "Chick" Ingerson, has raised controversy among its neighbors in Bethlehem, Littleton and Dalton. Mr. Ingerson has plans to site a competitive drag racing strip on a portion of the 2,000-acre property that sits near the town lines of Dalton, Bethlehem, Littleton and Whitefield, and is positioned geographically between Mann's Hill and Forest Lake. The entrance to his gravel pit is on Route 116 in Bethlehem.

Mr. Ingerson's plans include using around 12 acres to construct the lit, eighth-mile drag racing strip, which would measure a total of a quarter-mile due to the eighth-mile extension needed for a cool down surface for the high speed cars.

The issue of Mr. Ingerson's proposed development has been a contentious one since Dalton has no zoning. Without regulations in place, neighbors have been able to have almost no say in the process until now. No public hearings were required, but DES scheduled their session after neighbors and concerned residents in the neighboring towns launched and email and telephone campaign citing the regional impact of the project.

Dalton's conservation commission visited the site of the proposed drag strip in December. Main concerns raised at that time included the environmental impact of adding parking and recreational racing on the wetlands that feed the Alder Brook watershed and the Ammonoosuc River. Neighbors have also expressed concern at meetings of the Dalton selectmen that light and noise, as well as traffic could affect residents of at least three of the towns.

Because of the small amount of land Mr. Ingerson addresses in his application, DES considers his project a "minimum impact." Mr. Ingerson has said that drainage flows would not exceed what is on the site and would not adversely impact abutters.

Mr. Ingerson also told the conservation commission in December, that in addition to the track itself, which could provide an economic boost to the area, he plans to build seating for 1,000 people and parking for about 500 cars.

At the July 16 hearing, details of the dredge and fill project will be presented. Plans are on file at the DES Wetlands Bureau office, 29, Hazen Drive, Concord and may be examined with an appointment by any interested party between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Bureau will also accept written comments regarding the application prior to the hearing at PO Box 95, Concord, NH 03302-0095, reference file 2008-02621.

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