Health Center talks derail PC meeting once again

The Planning Commission meeting on the 15th was supposed to cover a proposed sketch plan, but once again got sidetracked with talks of the proposed Charlotte Family Health Center.

As the meeting opened to comments from the public, neighbors of the proposed health center site, Jeanne and René Kaczka-Valliere, took the chance to raise personal objections. Commission chair, Peter Joslin, stated that comments about the health center would not factor into deliberation saying, “the health center is not on the agenda and the hearing is closed, so we’re not taking any testimony on the health center.” Jeanne rebutted, “we understand the hearing is closed, we would just like to take an opportunity to address the board regarding the health center.”

Jeanne and René Kaczka-Valliere moved into their property eight years ago and have put “considerable time, love, energy, sweat, and equity into building up the property.” Jeanne believes everything about this development disproportionately impacts their family. She voiced her appreciation for the quaint feel of the previous Charlotte Health Center, but noted, “this development is not that small doctor’s office.”

René made it clear that they are not opposed to commercial development on the neighboring parcel but do not feel they have been responded to in a thoughtful way regarding their privacy. They fear the size of the project and the lack of privacy their residence will have due to parking lot development.

The meeting then moved to begin a sketch plan review of a proposed single residence at 1033 Converse Bay Rd., but due to a mix up in applicants and representatives, the review will be pushed to the August 5 meeting.

Bill Stuono of the planning commission brought up reopening the health center hearing after learning about stormwater issues with storm drains on Ferry Road at a Select Board meeting. Peter Joslin said, “the stormwater issue is a town issue. It’s up to the town to fix it, so I don’t think it should hinder the development.” Other commission members agreed, finding no reason to reopen the hearing.

Kyra Wegman understood the argument that the stormwater issue is a town fix, but said, “if there is a change in our knowledge of how the current stormwater plan on Ferry and Greenbush is working, then that affects how we assess the quality of the stormwater plan for the health center.” Wegman spoke to the importance of integrating neighbors’ concerns with development in a small town like Charlotte, saying she doesn’t want people to “feel like they’ve been railroaded over to get development through.”

Speculation around the health center and the Vermont Commons School were halted to focus on the agenda and finish out the meeting.

The commission held a special meeting on Tuesday to go into private deliberation over the Charlotte Family Health Center and Vermont Commons School.

Nick Bishop, is a student at the University of Vermont and a reporter for the Community News Service, a student-powered partnership with local community newspapers.