Private roads, open spaces, drainage help and, again, affordable housing policy

The Town of Charlotte, VT

The Charlotte Selectboard agenda on Monday, Aug. 27, opened with a joint meeting with the Planning Commission, and a lengthy discussion on the standards set for private roads and driveways in town ensued. 

The standards, set by the Planning Commission and Fire and Rescue back in 1997, have not been updated since their inception and are not legally binding. According to Fire Chief Dick St. George, many Charlotte properties do not meet the 1997 standards, which slows down emergency services when a truck or ambulance cannot turn around or get close enough to a property.

The Planning Commission expressed hopes that the Selectboard would help update the standards and enact them into ordinance. Potential updates would include the widening of access roads and enabling trucks to get within 100 feet of buildings. Selectboard member Lane Morrison asked whether a new ordinance would affect existing properties, but got no answer. 

The standards will be rewritten at the next meeting, following attorney counsel on whether the guidelines can become an ordinance.

Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz then provided the board with an update on improvements to the Charlotte Library and said capital plans for the construction should roll out soon. A budget and fundraising update from the library is expected sometime in October.

The board approved an open-space agreement with Remo and Donna Pizzagalli for a three-lot development. The agreement features 28 acres of land adjacent to Church Hill Road and 18.74 acres of land adjacent to McCabe’s Brook. The agreement will preserve the view from Route 7 and protect wetland.

The Selectboard then approved a request for technical assistance from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission to help with drainage problems at Lane’s Lane. Residents at Lane’s Lane have been dealing with the issue on their own until this point.

Board discussion once again focused on the subject of affordable housing, resuming discussion of the policies and procedures of the Charlotte Housing Trust Fund Grant Program. The original discussion on Aug. 17 was delayed when only three Selectboard members were present. However, the Selectboard remained hesitant to vote on any changes. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund has a current balance of $139,000. Funds have not been added to in recent years even though several successful projects were completed in the past.

Members of the grant program said that interest in the fund is at an all-time low due to current grant policies, such as the perpetual nature of affordability and repayment schedules. The Selectboard will seek input from the Chittenden County Regional Bank before approving any changes to the grant program.

Last, a decision was made to designate Selectboard Chair Lane Morrison as a representative to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns meeting in South Burlington.