Wolfger Schneider, Alex Bunten, Lewis Mudge, Debra Kassabian

Better, not bigger

To the editor:

When Planning Commission Chair Peter Joslin notes that “The town has to grow,” I wonder if he ever studied the history of growth and what long-term effects result from going down the path of ever more and more growth? I would suggest to those who believe that growth is good read Better not Bigger to become aware of the eventual results of their proposal for more growth.

I experienced the results of extreme growth having lived in the New Town of Columbia, Maryland, from its inception to its eventual build-out of 100,000 people 40 years later, all on 14,000 acres, less than half of Charlotte’s acreage. At first there were old dairy farms and 3-acre zoning. Then came a development proposal for 14,000 acres to be the only compact city to be built in the small Howard County, located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Then came 1-acre zoning followed by the relaxing of density limits surrounding the New Town. Then came suburban sprawl and when “build-out” had been reached came the expansion of the water-sewer district, infill development and on and on. In 50 years, the county grew from 60,000 to over 300,000. The result: traffic congestion, noise, bad air, and a more and more unpleasant place to live.

Yes, I am one of those retiree immigrants to Vermont, my favorite state. There are more beautiful spots on this earth, but they are being rapidly desecrated by an overflow of humanity because of their former beauty and good weather (think California, Colorado and Florida). Vermont’s guard against being overrun has been its long and cold winter, that is now slowly moderating. If we want to preserve what we have, we will have to make Vermont not bigger, but better along the lines advocated by betternotbiggerVT.org.

Wolfger Schneider

Clark’s Kwiniaska in East Charlotte

To the editor:

Regarding Chea Evans’s recent article, “LURs wend their way to the ballot; budget has to budge a bit” (January 14), I take issue with the highlighting of Mr. Hinsdale’s complaint about senior housing in town.

Hinsdale claims he just wants to save the elderly from moving away by building a seniors’ utopia in a rural hamlet with few services. What a lovely thing to do. But he can already do that. And he hasn’t.

He just lets the historic property slowly slip into a corner slum with half-cut trees, peeling siding, a dilapidated barn, the works. Add to that the falling down house behind Spear’s and sure, we’d like it to look a little nicer in East Charlotte Village. But it could be done at any moment with our current land use regs.

So why is he leading the charge, with help from Carrie Spear, to change our Town Plan and Land Use Regulations?

It’s because he wants to throw 10-12 residential plots on 1 acre back there, very similar to the debacle going on at Kwiniaska in Shelburne. And lord only knows what kind of deal Carrie Spear struck with David Fassler to buy her store.

The fun catch for our little town is the Planning Commission are only pushing for this change of 5 acres to 1 acre for residential development in the East Charlotte Commercial District. Not in West Charlotte. Why? Because it would have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing there.

So the Planning Commission thinks that after some poorly attended public hearings (are we in a pandemic?) they can slip this onto the ballot and give Hinsdale and Fassler a mandate to build, build, build.

It’s developer-driven, regulation overreach that makes me a little queasy.

Adding to queasiness is a pretty clear conflict of interest case with Selectboard members Carrie Spear and Frank Tenney, both owning property in the area under consideration. Neither thought it prudent to recuse themselves from the vote to put these changes on the ballot.

I encourage The News and your readers reference page 19-27 of the Vermont Selectboard Handbook on Conflicts of Interest. Maybe even the Selectboard will read it themselves if they value public trust in their decisions.

Alex Bunten

Mudge running for Selectboard

To the editor:

My name is Lewis Mudge and I am running for the two year seat on Charlotte’s Selectboard. I have spent most of my career in Africa, where, for the last decade, I have documented some of the world’s worst crimes. Documenting human rights abuses and crimes against humanity across war zones can reinforce some key truths and drive home what is important.

I have entered a new phase of my career and when my wife and I decided to move to Vermont, we set out to choose a community that reflected our values: community, fellowship, safety and space. In early 2017, my wife flew from our home in Kenya to view what would become our house on Greenbush. It was her first time in Charlotte and she signed the paperwork straight away before flying straight back to Africa. She discovered what I already knew: a uniquely special place where our young family could thrive. We have lived in Charlotte now for four years. That time has confirmed that this is where we want to raise our children and contribute to the community.

I am running for a seat on the Selectboard to help the town thrive. With a family actively engaged at the Congregational Church and two kids at CCS (and a third starting kindergarten soon), I want to ensure that the town has the representation that reflects a community that has its eyes on the future while never forgetting its past. I have the time, energy, and commitment to support the community. While I will keep a professional eye towards Africa, a change in my work assignments means that I will be working from home and will only be traveling overseas occasionally.

The Selectboard can manage big decisions that affect the way we live. One of the best parts of this town is the civilized way our fellow Charlotters disagree and challenge one another at town meetings…even during this new time of Zoom calls.

I put myself forward as a candidate for Selectboard with skills I can bring to the table. I have management and financial experience that will be relevant to the town. I will support development plans that are in line with Charlotte’s vision. I strongly feel that we must develop on our own terms, in keeping with the spirit of why we all live here in the first place: open spaces, access to incredible nature, and a genuine sense of community.

I want Charlotte to remain a place that young families, like my own, want to move to. Despite our disagreements about development zones, recreation centers, or septic policy, I think we can all agree on one thing: this is still one of the best corners of the world to raise a family.

Most importantly, if I were elected, I can promise Charlotters this: In me you will have a transparent and approachable Selectboard member. I will be on call, 24/7, to respond to your concerns. That’s a promise I hope to be held to.

I’ve fought for pro-democracy activists in the Congo, journalists in Burundi, and against police brutality in the Central African Republic. In what seem to be turbulent times back home, nothing gives me more hope than active participation in the democratic process. I have a vested interest in making sure our town succeeds and thrives. Over the next month I’ll be making my case for the Selectboard and I’d be honored to have your vote.

Lewis Mudge

Parking at the Red Onion

To Charlotte residents:

Thank you for the warm welcome and support you have given to The Red Onion!

We want to remind the community that parking to access our building is in the lower gravel parking lot. You can then access The Red Onion and our other tenants by the stairs or walking around to the front. The Charlotte Planning Commission only approved one ADA space next to the ramp to access our building’s upper entry. There is no other parking available at the front of the building. We don’t want the new interim zoning administrator to be instructed to issue any zoning violations to us due to parking in front of the building.

The gravel space at the front of our building is there for emergency vehicles to access the building and access the ADA ramp. We utilized this front space to build out the upper floors for construction and supply delivery vehicles. This summer will bring enhanced landscaping, signage and easier access for those with disabilities.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Debra Kassabian