Affordable housing issues discussed at July Selectboard meeting

The Town of Charlotte, VT

The July 23 Selectboard meeting was a lengthy one, with over an hour of discussion dedicated to the issue of affordable housing. The town agreement with Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, as well as the town’s hazardous waste ordinance, were also big-ticket items.  

Members of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Grant Program presented the Selectboard with updates to their policies and procedures, which Selectmen Lane Morrison said had improved greatly.

Major questions of the night revolved around how to determine the number of affordable housing units in Charlotte as well as whether senior housing could be included in the scope of the grant. The standards for affordable housing in a given area are determined each year by the federal government.

Selectwoman Carrie Spear was unusually outspoken during this portion of the meeting, sharing a wide variety of ideas to help create affordable housing solutions in both East and West Charlotte.

“We want to inspire people to move up,” Spear said, pointing out that Charlotte is expected to grow by 1,000 residents by 2050. “That’s 31 people per year.”

Spear expressed her hopes for the grant program to set up 10-, 20- and 30-year plans for the town to achieve. Among Spear’s list of ideas were a 6.75-acre trailer park to accommodate seven to 10 mobile homes in East Charlotte and additional senior housing behind the Grange. Spear also said she would like to see a daycare built in East Charlotte, along with several solar fields.

According to members of the grant program, the town cannot dictate that certain number of units be built per year unless it wants to actively invest in creating affordable properties itself.

The decision to approve the program’s updated policies was ultimately postponed pending further discussion and questions from the board. 

Public comment for the evening implored the Selectboard to look for solutions concerning off-leash dogs at Whiskey Bay. Under the current town ordinance, dogs at Whiskey Bay beach do not have to be leashed on land as long as they are “under control.” Without changes made to the actual ordinance, there is very little for Canine Control Officer Cali Griswold to enforce. 

Ajat Tariyal and Jeff Giknis were approved by the Selectboard to the Trails Committee and Recreation Committee respectively. Both of their terms will end in April 2020. The Selectboard also approved the Bike for Multiple Sclerosis event on August 4.

A contract from Tech Group Incorporated of South Burlington was approved by the Selectboard for computer network services at the Charlotte Town Office. Tech Group Inc. will also replace the town office server.

Amendments to the Selectboard agreement with CVFRS, as well as the hazardous waste material ordinance, took up the remainder of the meeting.

Certain aspects of the Fire and Rescue Services agreement, such as surplus cost, will be revisited at the next Selectboard meeting. The hazardous waste material ordinance was amended for changes in language that will allow the fire department to fine responsible parties for hazardous waste issues that they respond to.

The Selectboard approved $9,335.25 from the Capital Reserve Fund to for Fire and Rescue to purchase gas meters in fiscal year 2019. These gas meters will be used to determine dangerous levels of carbon dioxide at fires and similar situations. The board also approved the retirement of air packs and a 1982 tanker truck.