Assistant position in the works, other Selectboard business

Correction: We incorrectly explained the plowing situation on Plouffe Lane and the parking on its nearby trails. The trails are owned by the town; the road is not a town highway. Gregg Beldock currently plows Plouffe Lane, in a fashion which creates a berm that blocks entry to the parking area at the Town’s parcel. The Selectboard hired Karol Halack to plow the Town’s driveway and parking area.

The Selectboard has been busy with Land Use Regulations (LUR) and public hearings, but they also got a lot of other stuff done over the past few weeks, with extra meetings scheduled to handle a variety of topics that include town budget issues for FY21-22, job descriptions for a new zoning administrator, and parking on Plouffe Lane.

In the wake of Zoning Administrator (ZA) Daniel Morgan’s departure last month, the Selectboard is moving forward with the process of reconfiguring staffing in the planning and zoning office in Town Hall. Conflicts arose during Morgan’s tenure on the job because his responsibilities as ZA overlapped with his clerical duties as the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s (ZBA) clerk, often resulting in his quasi-judiciary role as ZA butting up against the ZBA’s wishes.

The solution to those dueling positions is the creation of a new, 20-hour per week administrative assistant position. In addition to assisting the town planner and the zoning administrator, this town employee will also provide support to the town administrator. Responsibilities will include clerical work, scheduling, maintaining records, and staffing the front desk in the window at Town Hall, as well as serving as the town’s E-911 coordinator. Town Administrator Dean Bloch is going to research area pay for comparable positions, and the board will vote at the next meeting to finalize the salary and benefits before publicly posting the job.

There’s a new member of the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge Oversight Committee—Cathy Marshall lives near the park, which is colloquially known as the Demeter, and said during her few years living in Charlotte she has appreciated the beauty of the area’s wildlife and plant life.

Walking trails on Plouffe Lane, which are privately owned but accessible through an agreement with the town, have gotten heavier use during COVID-19. The parking situation, especially with the snow, has impeded Road Commissioner Jr Lewis from properly plowing the area. The Selectboard is going to work with Jim Carrol to arrange a snow threshold for plowing to make sure the parking lot is clear to allow access to rescue vehicles and make sure no one parks on the side of the road when using the trails.

The Charlotte Ferry has been closed since early January due to a lack of passengers. Concerns from the Charlotte Selectboard, the Essex, New York, town government, and many Charlotters prompted the board to send a letter to Lake Champlain Transportation, which operates the ferry. The purpose of the letter was to let the privately owned ferry company know that “this is a valuable asset to Charlotte,” McCarren said. Though the ferry can’t be compelled to remain in business, the Selectboard wanted to express its support for the ferry and its enthusiasm for a future return, which at the moment is not on the horizon.

An article will be presented on the March 2 ballot advising voters that Road Commissioner Jr Lewis will most likely be increasing the use of clear salt during inclement weather this winter. Though Lewis already has the authority to determine how much salt to use, Charlotte roads are traditionally treated mostly with sand in order to protect farms. Lewis said that when the temperatures raise and lower the way they have been this winter, roads can become icy. He said he wants to present to voters the idea that he would use clear salt on occasion, even though such a vote isn’t necessary for him to do so. He said he just wants to make sure that voters are aware that paved roads might occasionally be treated with only salt and to use the vote as an enthusiasm barometer for the idea.

Lot 41 on Thomspon’s Point has been in front of the Selectboard multiple times over the past year; there’s a dilapidated, 400-square-foot shed on the property that the owners, Jeff Price and Leena Ritchie, would like to tear down. The shed is on two lease lots, and the owners proposed last August that a boundary adjustment be made to increase their lot size so that the shed remains on their property; the other lot is not leased and is town land. They do not want to reconstruct the shed on their own property because they want to preserve two large trees, one of which would have to be moved in order to make room for the shed.

Lawyers for both the town and the Price/Ritchies have since decided that a boundary adjustment is not an ideal solution because it could trigger an Act 250 review by the state. The next step in the process would be a recommendation by the Selectboard to the Planning Commission to take a certain action. Planning Commission Chair Peter Joslin agreed during the Jan. 19 Selectboard meeting that he thought a boundary adjustment was not in the best interest of the town. The Selectboard had inadvertently approved a boundary adjustment at an earlier meeting, thinking they were approving the promotion of the boundary adjustment issue to the PC—they voted during the Jan. 19 meeting to refund permit application fees relating to that boundary adjustment.