The Charlotte News

Hazards from shared use of our roads by bicyclists and automobiles
At the Selectboard meeting of October 14, I presented a list of safety hazards that arise from the shared use of our roads by bicyclists and automobiles. A written version of this list, with detailed explanations, was previously delivered to Town Hall. The hazards included in this list are: Helmets are not compulsory in Charlotte, not even for children; rear-view mirrors are not compulsory ; bright clothing and/or flashing rear lights are not compulsory; for night-time riding, reflective stripes or a triangle on clothing are not required; during biking events (and especially during racing events) on selected roads, traffic remains open for cars on both lanes of the road; speed limits and speeds of cars are too high; there are no minimum age limits for children riding bicycles on the roads; self-steering cars are not forbidden; riding a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not forbidden; and bicyclists traveling on the roads of Charlotte are not required to carry identity documents and liability insurance.

Here I want to correct any misapprehensions that arose in the Oct. 14 meeting:
1) Vermont does not currently have a helmet law for bicyclists. A draft resolution was introduced in Montpelier last January and rests “in committee.” Don’t hold your breath.

2) With the increase in individual cycling and the encouragement of cycling events, surely safety is an issue worth attention, but I want to make it clear that I will not lead a bicycle-safety campaign. I gave up riding my bike in this town two decades ago, when riding just from my home to the post office proved to be too scary. Formulation of safety regulations should be the province of parents, expert bicyclists, and lawyers who know what is needed to make our roads safer and keep our town free from liability. Legal liability is likely something most people have not considered, but tort lawyers I talked to warned me that the absence of minimum safety standards put the town at risk.

Susan Ohanian

To the editor:
Readers may notice the Community News byline on a story in today’s issue of The Charlotte News. This is a new project in collaboration with the University of Vermont to train and educate student journalists. I’m writing to let people know about the project and thank this paper for collaborating.
In recent years, there has been a hollowing out of news coverage across the country. More than 20,000 reporters have lost their jobs. And there are 200 counties that have no local news coverage. Vermont still has a very strong local news, like this paper, so there is a great opportunity for our students to learn what can be.

As student journalist Carline Slack said: “I feel that there’s a huge sense of purpose that comes with being a reporter. I enjoy digging into a story and discovering little-known information. I find it super satisfying to be able to inform folks about relevant issues that affect them and their communities.”
And there is great student interest in journalism and reporting and story-telling in general. Hence we created this new program at UVM as a way to meet student interest and train a new generation of journalists and storytellers. Part of the reason for the decline in trust in journalism is that people no longer know their local reporter—because there is not one.

You can read more about the program at our website, Reporting and Documentary Storytelling or contact me.

In the meantime, if you see one of the student journalists, say hello and give them a “tip”—as writing local news starts with you!

Richard Watts
Co-Director, Reporting and Documentary Storytelling,
University of Vermont, Community News Service

Vote “Yes” on the amended Charlotte Town Plan

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, is voting day. Only one item is on the ballot, but it is an important one for Charlotters: the amended Town Plan.

The current Town Plan was adopted on Town Meeting Day, March 6, 2018, by an overwhelming majority. At that time the Planning Commission had already begun work on updating the Energy section of the Town Plan in order to become compliant with Act 174.

The Planning Commission, the Energy Committee, Town Planner Daryl Arminius and Emily Nosse-Leirer, senior planner at the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, worked on this update for almost two years and included numerous warned public meetings. When the Planning Commission completed the amended plan, two public hearings were held. The Planning Commission then voted unanimously to forward the proposed amended Town Plan to the Selectboard, which in turn held its required two hearings. The Selectboard made a number of minor changes, which were approved by the Planning Commission. Then the Selectboard voted in favor of putting the amended Town Plan on the ballot.

Act 174 establishes a new set of municipal and regional energy planning standards, which, if met, allow town plans to carry greater weight in the siting process for energy generation. This will give Charlotte “substantial deference” when alternative energy development is proposed. Per the State of Vermont, “substantial deference,” as defined by Act 174 and used in the Section 248 process, provides towns and regions a strong voice in determining where energy projects should, and should not, be sited.

A yes vote will provide the Town of Charlotte greater and more significant participation in land use development of alternative energy proposals. It will enhance land use planning in our town, protect the open spaces we cherish, support the siting of alternative energy where appropriate, and provide enhanced town and state energy goals and the guidance and strategies for attaining them. Assuming the town approves the amended Town Plan, it will then be certified by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

Voting will take place in the CCS multipurpose room from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Please vote—and please vote YES for the Charlotte amended Town Plan.

Peter Joslin
Chair of the Charlotte Planning Commission.