Resignation leaves split in zoning, planning boards
by Margo Avakian
Aug 11, 2014 | 3395 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- The selectboard voted on Tuesday to accept John Brimmer’s resignation, effective August 1, from the planning commission.

Board member Edee Edwards made it clear that the board will try to find a new member who has a comprehensive interest in planning issues, as opposed to an interest in a single issue. Brimmer has not resigned from the zoning board of adjustment. This means that there will again be a split in membership of the two boards, an arrangement the town has tried before and discarded as unsatisfactory.

Edwards said the board feels that Brimmer’s experience with zoning issues makes revisiting the experiment worthwhile, calling it the “best way to take advantage of the resources available to the town.”

One factor in the decision is the assumption that the ZBA meets less often than the planning commission, requiring a lighter time commitment from its members. During discussion of the issue, it was noted that the two boards often need to deal with issues on the same evening. That has not happened in recent months, but was common during the past few years. Edwards will notify the planning commission of the selectboard’s decision.

In another planning-related issue, the upcoming Act 250 hearings on a proposed schist quarry, Edwards told the board that she has not gotten any response to her efforts to schedule a joint meeting of the planning commission and selectboard. Asked what she hoped to accomplish with a joint meeting, Edwards said it is necessary to discuss how well the application meets the town’s planning and zoning criteria. John LaFlamme, whose wife Sirean chairs the ZBA, told Edwards that he thinks the commissioners want to avoid forming, or appearing to form, an opinion on the quarry issue before it comes before them for local permitting. Edwards pointed out that the planning commission, like the selectboard, has party status in the Act 250 proceedings; both boards have a legitimate role to play in the process, as both town attorney Robert Fisher and John Bennett of the Windham Regional Commission have confirmed.

A brief road closure to replace a culvert triggered a discussion of how best to communicate information on closures to all who need to know. LaFlamme suggested using the VT Emergency Management email list to announce closures. Edwards favored routing all information through highway supervisor Bradley Rafus. Earl Holtz asked whether using the VT Alert system would be a good solution. LaFlamme said that system is not yet available for local communities. “They’re tooting their horn about it, but they’re still working the bugs out,” La Flamme said.

Edwards read from a July 21 letter informing the town that a staff specialist in the Public Service Department has recommended that the Public Service Board approve VTel’s application to set up a communications monopole on Jacksonville Stage Road. A lengthy consultation with her computer found no indication that the PSB has taken action on the issue.

The project to establish a cell service corridor along Route112 continues to creep forward. The Vermont Telecommunications Authority has sent documentation, including a lease agreement for the tower site, to the town for review by attorney Fisher. Once Fisher’s review is completed, a meeting can be set between the town and the project’s coordinators.

Holtz reported that “the ironworks are in place” on the Old County North bridge, but there has been a second delay in delivery of the deck. Delivery is now anticipated for August 8 or August 11. Holtz told the board of a quote for guardrails that is substantially lower than the (rejected) bids the town has received in the recent past. Holtz advised grabbing the offer.

Edwards reminded him of a provision in the purchasing policy requiring a bid process for projects of that scope. Holtz declared in no uncertain terms his familiarity with that clause and suggested that the monetary limit for no-bid purchases be raised.

In other business, the board signed the annual budget for VT Homeland Security and Emergency Management. They also approved hiring “temporary staff help” to assist the board of listers during Phyllis Evanuk’s illness.

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