Board questions senator on shore act
by Jack Deming
Jun 06, 2014 | 5173 views | 0 0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON- The Shoreland Protection Act goes into effect on July 1, with the goal of preserving the waterlines and vegetation of Vermont’s lakes by balancing shoreland management with shoreland development in a responsible manner. At Wednesday night’s selectboard meeting, Sen. Bob Hartwell answered questions from the board as to what the new rules mean for the town, which features three lakes.

“We had something similar to this in Vermont in the early 1970s that expired shortly after we adopted Act 250,” said Hartwell. “The theory was that Act 250 would take care of this program and that was a mistake.”

The Shoreland Act stipulates that naturally vegetated areas within 100 feet of the mean water level must be maintained. This means all new development must occur behind the 100-foot area known as the woodland zone. All previous development will be grandfathered, and Agency of Natural Resources-approved permits will be required to develop that land further. According to Hartwell, both Maine and New Hampshire have adopted systems of protection for shoreland, and those states now have better water quality than Vermont.

In the act, towns are given the ability to conduct the issuance of shoreland permits and their enforcement. This would be done through the zoning office, and would streamline the process by placing it on a local level, according to Hartwell.

Board member Susie Haughwout asked if there was any difference between man-made and natural lakes in the act, as Wilmington has one man-made lake. Hartwell explained that the act covers all lakes 10 acres in size or more.

“The perception to some is that Lake Champlain has problems, but this act brings everyone else into the penalty box,” said board member Tom Fitzgerald. “Lake Raponda has a great homeowners society and so does Spruce Lake and that’s important because overseeing these regulations could be time-consuming.”

“Many feel that way,” said Hartwell. “And there are a lot of well organized lake associations that cover a lot of this. The ANR is prepared to provide resources and informational session to help towns get up to speed if necessary, and if there is an issue I need to help expedite, I’d be happy in helping to get it done.”

The town deferral process would not cost the town money, according to Hartwell, and the town can give the process back to ANR if they feel it is more work than they can handle. The board agreed to consult with new zoning administrator Craig Ohlson when making their decision.

In other action, the board voted to put a moratorium on appointing any new members to four town volunteer boards. The board decided that the roles and charge of the beautification, recreation, and trail committees, as well as the Memorial Hall Board, should be given a thorough look before new members are appointed. The decision was made in reaction to issues with membership numbers, as well as the possibility of combining the beautification committee, for example, with the Wilmington Works design committee.

The board also approved a plan to engage an attorney and engineer to approve the use of Sur-Pak on a sections of the Valley Trail from the Hermitage gatehouse to the downtown. John Gannon explained that the Wilmington Fund VT would pay for the costs involved. The goal is to make a modification in an Act 250 permit granted to the Hermitage, in order to allow the use of Sur-Pak on their land.

The selectboard also officially approved appointment of Ohlson as acting zoning administrator for six months, which is mandatory before a full-time appointment.
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