Helyn Strom-Henriksen, who is both the selectboard chair and current zoning administrator. said that she had talked with a lawyer from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns who had answered her questions about what limitations and responsibilities a current zoning administrator has related to decisions made by prior zoning administrators. According to a letter from the VLCT that Henriksen read from, statutory interested parties could appeal decisions made by the zoning administrator to the DRB if they did so within 15 days of the decision. She said that while she was working on creating a form that would thoroughly document decisions made by Readsboro’s zoning administrators, her understanding from what the lawyer had written was the absence of documentation of previous decisions does not inherently change their legal standing. “There is nothing that says there needs to be a beginning,middle,and end paper trail. I am creating that, but those decisions can still stand. The attorney has told us you will have a very tough time if you tried to change a decision that was made. We have asked Jason (Klump, previous zoning administrator) for this information. When it goes to the DRB that is when they can ask Jason. ”
Teddy Hopkins asked if specific questions about specific cases in Readsboro could be posed to the lawyers at VCLT, and Strom-Henriksen said that could be done, especially after information about old cases was consolidated. She said that in some cases, the relevant information was distributed over multiple files, and that she and town administrative assistant Rebecca Stone were working on bringing bits of information into one file, with the school property account number on each one.
Strom-Henriksen said that the confusing state of some of the records predated Klump’s time as the zoning administrator.
Strom-Henriksen also said that an entire cabinet shelf full of relevant documents had been discovered this past week. “Right now, my concentration is bringing the zoning into an organized unit that has a paper trail and accurate information in it. Once that is in place I can then review older files to ensure that no violation exists.” She also said that she had created a form that future zoning administrators could use, that required them to fill in crucial information that had not been recorded in the past.
Strom-Henriksen and Stone said that in cases where no permit could be found for known structures, letters had been sent and phone calls made, requesting either the production of a permit or an application, and that the individuals had been given deadlines and information about possible fines.
Whitman said that he was asking for action on the records, not on specific violations. “I think what I asked was misunderstood,” Whitman said. “I wasn’t asking that the zoning administrator change any old decisions. What I care about is the status of the records. Larry knows a lot. There are things that we know are not in the records. In one case no zoning application was found, and no site visit was found.” Whitman also said he thought that there was some confusion caused by the wearing of multiple hats. “All three of you people are selectboard members. If the ZA has reason has reason to believe that a zoning violation exists you don’t need complainants. The zoning administrator works for you. The SB should be ordering that the records are up to snuff.”
“Which I said we were doing,” said Strom-Henriksen.
Selectboard member David Marchegiani asked Larry Hopkins if he would take on the job of zoning administrator, since he seemed to be very familiar with the all the cases. Hopkins declined. “I won’t bail you out. It’s your responsibility,” he said.