Selectboard approves library addition, ambulance bond applications and more

The Town of Charlotte, VT

The Monday, April 22, Selectboard meeting continued to follow the approach adopted by the board to address financially related items first before dealing with what Chair Matt Krasnow described as “meatier subjects.”

Financial agenda items included approving the library and ambulance bond applications as amended, opening bids for playground reconstruction, approving a grant application for an EV charging station and selecting a contractor in the removal of ash trees.

Town Assistant Treasurer Christina Booher answered questions from the board about the bond applications in Town Treasurer Mary Mead’s absence. Krasnow explained he wanted to move forward with the bond applications by the May 6 submission deadline, saying, “In the interim we will get hard numbers … so that we’d have a better sense of the total cost of the project would be.” Later in the meeting Krasnow briefed the board on the progress made on the memorandum of understanding between the library and town. The committee tasked with drafting the MOU consists of two staff members from the library, one member from the library board and Selectboard members Krasnow and Louise McCarren.

A grant application for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station at Library with a 10 percent town match was approved after discussion about the estimated construction and ongoing maintenance costs and the designation of EV parking spot.  Energy Committee members spoke about the application, citing the Planning Commission’s support and its relationship to proposed updates to the town plan. During the discussion Selectboard Vice Chair Frank Tenney asked whether the designated EV parking slots were exclusively for electric vehicles or whether they could be used by non-EV vehicles as well. The collective response from the library and Energy Committee was that additional logistics would need to be determined.

The board approved Chris’s Lawn Care and Mini Excavating as the contractor to remove hazard ash trees on Lake Road, beginning “as soon as possible,” and approved closing Lake Road from Thompson’s Point Road to Centennial Lane with a 24-hour notice given to local fire and police.

The focus of the public comment part of the meeting was on speeding and road safety. Megan Price of Ferry Road again asked the board to consider lowering the speed limit on Ferry Road. Representative Mike Yantachka spoke in support of lowering speed limits in throughout Charlotte and provided a copy of the recommendations from a previous Charlotte Community Safety committee “that are still valid today.” He also noted that state money is available for the “Complete Streets efforts” and offered his help. Krasnow responded that the topic would be scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on May 13, noting the Vermont State Police will be present “to have a discussion about the town’s contracted additional hours … and to allow extra time to look at this globally.”

In recreation-related news, the board approved an application for a fundraising bicycle ride on September 21. The 12th annual Tour de Farms will have stops in Charlotte including at Adam’s Berry Farm, Philo Ridge Farm and Charlotte Village Winery. The board approved allowing the Town Beach to be used as a Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail site and including it in the trail guidebook.

Moving on, Planning Commission chair Peter Joslin opened discussion on the West Village parking agenda item saying, “It’s time to take another hard look at it. This came up initially by folks on the Selectboard.” He offered, “We don’t want to compromise the progress being made, we want to augment it.” Krasnow and board members agreed. The Selectboard motioned and approved establishing a nine-member West Charlotte Village Parking committee.

The bulk of the rest of the meeting was devoted to the continuation of the first public hearing for proposed amendments to the Town Plan. Town Administrator Dean Bloch reviewed his proposed changes as well as suggested changes from Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner Emily Nosse-Leirer, who was not in attendance. Several members of the Planning Commission and Energy Commission offered up comments and discussion related to some of the “non-binding” goals set forth in the proposed changes—especially when it came to the percentage of land use designated for alternative energy sources.

Selectboard member McCarren said, “The bottom line is this is ultimately about land use. We, the town of Charlotte, want to have a say in where alternative energy is sited.” Energy Committee John Quinney responded, “If Vermont is to reach its goals by 2050, here’s what Charlotte’s share looks like, and in some cases it’s made very visible with the amount of acreage needed to put into solar. It’s definitely aspirational.” To which McCarren replied, “I have a huge problem with obligations being assigned to the town. I think that it’s very short sighted.” She continued, “But let’s put that aside.  I support getting control over the land use piece of this.” The board then voted to continue the hearing on June 10.

The next Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 13.