The Town of Charlotte, VT

Monday’s Selectboard meeting opened with a public informational hearing for Tuesday’s vote on the amendment to the town plan. No one was present, so the board moved on to other agenda items.

Town IT and cyber security
TechGroup, a company contracted with the town of Charlotte for IT support and service, presented information on cyber security. Regarding recent stories about ransomware, Selectboard member Louise McCarren asked, “Why are towns having all these problems? Where are our weaknesses?” Brian Manning, director of managed services, reviewed the town’s current position and offered recommendations including security awareness training for town staff, upgrading half of town computers on legacy operating systems and clarifying IT policies and procedures.  The town currently implements a majority of network security best practices including local and offsite data backup. “However, security doesn’t equate to convenience,” said TechGroup President Steve Loyer.

West Charlotte Village sewer ordinances
The board moved on to reviewing proposed revisions to the wastewater disposal ordinances provided by the town attorney. West Charlotte Village Wastewater Planning Committee member Dave Marshall opened the discussion by noting the revisions “make the document more solid.” The largest revisions were to article 7, pollution abatement, and article 8, capacity for individual developments. Marshall said, “In my review this is the probably the most complete set of ordinances as far as content and legal input that I’ve seen of any municipality.”  Vice Chair Frank Tenney asked about adding adaptive reuse for prioritizing applications.

Resident Moe Harvey asked, “Is there a step where the town will vote on this?” Krasnow responded that “as far as the adoption process, the board has not discussed it.” He briefly mentioned a 45-day review and option to protest the ordinances (the process was mentioned at previous meetings). Planning Commission Chair Peter Joslin said, “For those who have strong opinions on [sewer] allocation, come and learn about it. This is where the all the dialogue happens.” No action was taken, and the board asked for a clean copy of the proposed changed to the ordinances and will continue the discussion at the December 9 meeting.

State Park Road trail
Co-Chair Margaret Russell represented the Trails Committee as the construction of the State Park Road Path was discussed among the Selectboard and interested members of the public. Residents Robert Mack and David Garbose spoke in favor of the volunteer effort. Mack said, “There needs to be a commitment in this timeframe,” noting the availability of volunteers may not be available later in the season. Garbose said, “The citizens have tasked our community to complete this trail. … You aren’t working well together.” He urged the Selectboard and Trails Committee to work together and to authorize the fund request saying, “24 hrs, $24,000, one community.”

Foster said “We are at a tipping point in the Trails Committee, people are losing interest.”  She asked the Selectboard if the committee could put the construction project out to bid with the idea of completing the project in the spring. “So we can have a plan,” she said.  Selectboard member Carrie Spear spoke about the evolution of the trails over the past twenty years, saying she supported the State Park Road trail but asked for a “better town discussion” on the other proposed trails.  Krasnow said “We’ve spent over $100,000 building out new trails. I think that’s an accomplishment is getting glossed over in the conversation.” He reiterated his support of using volunteer effort to clear the trail in November and “giving the winter to plan the project.” After a bit more discussion, the board motioned and approved the road commissioner to install three culverts and two culvert extensions along State Park Road. In addition, any material not donated, the funds will come from the Trails Committee budget.

Other business
The Selectboard heard from Mike Dunbar, owner of Charlotte Commons, regarding a request to possibly use the town land, formerly the flea market, for overflow parking. Selectboard Chair Matt Krasnow indicated it would be something “the Selectboard would entertain” and offered to continue the discussion on a future agenda.

Managing Director of Philo Ridge Farm Tad Cooke presented an application for a highway access permit (HAP) to move a driveway serving a new two-family dwelling on Hinesburg Road, as well as requests for ditching and proposed utility-pole configuration. Cooke noted the Vermont Land Trust has approved the driveway and septic mound on the conserved land parcel and the dwelling would be for farm employees. Residents Jeff and Tammy Hall and Selectboard member Carrie Spear raised concerns about sight lines and the potential for increased traffic out of the east driveway. “When you think about conserved land and land trust, you don’t expect some big mound system to be on it and major driveway in and out, when before it was a little was a farm path,” said Tammy Hall. The Selectboard motioned and approved the HAP-19-03 with amendments based on the town road and bridge standards.

Ditching and utilities were discussed next, and whether or not the lines are required to be buried. Krasnow asked Town Administrator Dean Bloch to find out more about the town’s legal standing with regards to the request and arranged to discuss it again at a future meeting.

In Selectboard updates, member Fritz Tegatz updated the board on the library addition expenditures to date. He also spoke about his recent inspection of bridges after last week’s Halloween storm, noting two experienced a washout of soil and rock and requested a second opinion on the bridge conditions. Krasnow publicly thanked Amos Behr for his work on the Conservation Commission.

FY21 budget requests
Budget requests from the Recreation Department and Energy Commission. The Recreation Department proposes to increase its budget to $123,085 from the previous year budget of $109,692. It includes a new facility usage fee charged by the Champlain Valley School District for the use of the Charlotte Central School for recreation activities. They also proposed transferring $40,000 into the Recreation Capital Fund, consistent with the previously discussed capital funding plan, according to the town administrator report.

Several members of the Energy Commission spoke about various energy projects and requested $7,720 for their FY21 budget.

The next Selectboard meeting is scheduled for November 25 at 6:00 p.m.