Hinsdale-Preston conservation easement update

Photo contributed

Matt Krasnow’s reservations about the lack of an adequate process for development of the Hinsdale-Preston conservation easement was addressed at the Selectboard meeting on Dec. 12. He maintained that there were provisions in the easement document that were unsatisfactory and he sought to have the approval delayed while it was further refined and discussed in public. He said this trail was not popular with neighbors, traversed an active wildlife corridor and took money and energy away from more pressing trail projects such as the ongoing Town Link Trail in West Charlotte.

Kate Lampton of Vermont Land Trust said the easement was a condition to be met within the conservation easement itself. The conservation easement is expected to close in early February. No Town funds were or will be expended for the trail easement as it was a donation to the Town by Clark Hinsdale, the seller. Furthermore, in accordance with the process for approving expenditure of funds from the Charlotte Conservation Fund, there were reviews by the Charlotte Land Trust, Conservation Commission, and Recreation and Trails Committees before their recommendations went to the Selectboard. After the above reviews, a grant application to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) was presented to and approved by the Selectboard on June 13, 2016. This opened the way to formally approach the VHCB that would provide $356,000 towards the closure of the deal. After grant application approval, the principal parties to the agreement met with the neighbors and discussed the two proposed trail routings.

Because the land covered by the trail easement was a gift to the Town, exclusive control of its use or not use is assigned to the Selectboard and its committees. Accordingly, the Selectboard has the final decision on all aspects of that trail.

Krasnow’s attempt to open further discussion would put at risk the approval of the VHCP and potentially delay it more than a year. Since the VHCB approval is conditioned on the closing of the agreements, the Selectboard decided to let the conditions be negotiated between the parties’ attorneys and to let the process run its normal course.

Other matters
Vermont State Police Sargent Matt Daley gave his semi-annual report, pointing out that the Route 7 reconstruction had affected traffic patterns with additional drive times on the town’s north-south arteries. He noted that there was speeding that might be reduced by additional speed limit signage, particularly on Spear Street. While there has been a recent spate of robberies in the past month, he pointed out that Charlotte has not suffered any more incidents than surrounding areas.

Under administrative actions, the board appointed Matthew Burke to the Energy Committee for the term ending in April 2019. It went on to approve a letter of support for an Ahead of the Storm construction grant providing erosion control in the Park and Wildlife Refuge.

Finally, it was moved and passed “To have the town attorney appeal the decision of PACIF not to provide coverage regarding the Arthaud claim (Thompson’s Point Lot 120/121).” The assessment of PACIF (Property and Casualty Intermunicipal Fund is the insurer for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns), after investigating the potential claim, stated that they would deny coverage, but that this decision could be appealed.