The Charlotte News
Let’s keep the Charlotte Family Health Center in Charlotte!
I am distressed to see the change from a positive, supportive process to a negative approach that may block the development of a new home for the Charlotte Family Health Center.
What’s going on? Why aren’t our elected and appointed officials doing everything they can to resolve issues that may remain, rather than setting up roadblocks and unnecessarily delaying the process?
Wetlands are important, but there are ways to mitigate impacts on them. We as a community made the decision 30 years ago to establish that section of Ferry Road as the center of town by siting the Town Hall, and then the Library, on even lower ground than the LeBoeuf property under discussion. We made the decision to make that area one of the very few available in town for commercial uses. We should be applauding the effort and investment needed to remove the existing, overgrown building with an attractive new Health Center. We all have a responsibility to make this work for the health of this community.
The history of Charlotte-based health care goes at least as far back as the 1940s, when Dr. Ed Crane’s office was in his home on Greenbush Road. My first summer job in the 50s was cleaning that office! He then moved to a larger space on Old Route 7, where eventually Dr. Richard Bernstein—known as Bunky to all—established the Charlotte Family Health Center. The center later moved to its more recent site on Depot Hill and now is temporarily located in Shelburne. I am so hopeful that it will soon be permitted to return to a new home in Charlotte and ask all involved to help make this happen.
I give strong support for the relocation of Charlotte Family Health Center in the West Village. The Health Center application meets all municipal and state requirements for approval and provides a needed community resource. It seems some would hold them to a standard higher than other applications via a mechanism that has no regulatory foundation.
My family have had the good fortune to be patients at the Charlotte Family Health Center since 1999. Whether by appointment in advance or an emergency visit (which I have heard some call ‘walk in clinic’ using the term pejoratively), we have always been accommodated: The name says it all. Family Health Center: Whether you are young, old or middle-aged the Health Center is there for all Charlotte residents.
The Vermont Brand is compact settlements surrounded by productive open farmland. Charlotte could be the quintessential (picture book) example of that Brand. The Health Center is the sort of land use in our West Village Center that should be given the red-carpet treatment, once requirements have been met. The regulations are clear cut, there is no room for “may.” Saying something may have a negative impact is not a valid reason for denial. Such statements should hold no weight in any zoning or planning decision. We are all entitled to our own opinions; we are not entitled to our own facts.
The Town Plan states many things. I have pulled out a few that are germane to this application:
- The Town will encourage through its regulations and policies the development of a more economically active town center with business services to fulfill local needs.
- Village Planning Areas are compact areas of mixed-use activities that maintain the character of a Vermont village. This type of Planning Area is intended to serve its local surroundings as a place where people can live, work, shop and recreate.
- The top declared goals of Charlotte citizens for the West Village were to; 1. Maintain historic village character, 2. Minimize traffic impact on safety and quiet, 3. Preserve views, and 4. Encourage multi-use, small-scale commercial/professional development.
- The Town encourages the retention and creation of businesses and non-profit organizations that provide the services and community resources that reflect the values and aspirations of its residents.
- Key Planning Considerations: 1. Charlotte’s population is aging. Additional health care, emergency response, transportation and in-home support services will be needed to assist an aging population.
History tells us that the existence of healers is one of the bellwethers of civilization. Today those healers are called health care professionals. The muddled debate and inaccurate statements by those in opposition to this vital resource is not only embarrassing, it begs the question; is Charlotte civilized enough to welcome the “healers” in their chosen location? Let’s be civilized and get this new facility built and opened as soon as possible! Who wants to adjudicate at the ribbon cutting?
Letter to the editor
Nick Bishop’s article on the Charlotte Family Health Center’s move back to Charlotte contains at least one inaccuracy. Because of inadequacies in their former office space, the Health Center decided to move to Shelburne. At that point the building went on the real estate market. They did not decide to move to Shelburne because the building went up for sale.