UDB passes in unified Select Board vote

selectboard
L to R Town manager David Pisha, Chairman Arne Jonyas, Heather Chase, Ben Whalen, Dan Cote, Lee Gustafson. Photo by Brandy Todt

 

CHESTER, Vt. – Although the fall festival isn’t until Sept. 15 – 17, the Chester Rotary came before the Select Board asking about usage of the Village green. The Common Road would be closed during the weekend from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The main parking will be at the Newsbank parking lot with overflow in areas nearby. The Rotary also asked if the town could look into a bus service for next year to help pedestrians that have trouble walking from the parking lot and from Depot St. to the green. The Select Board said they would need to look further into what it would detail for a short-term bus service and if the town could collaborate with The Current. The fall festival is growing every year and is becoming a Chester tradition that is far reaching and is helping drive the economy of Chester right before foliage time.

Among the board’s action for the night was the voting on the appointment procedure, which has been a drawn-out discussion. The board members voted to have the interviews take place in executive session, with the posted list of general questions to the candidate available to the public. Also the board will allow the public to submit comments to the board, in writing, prior to the interview.

As pre-determined from the previous Select Board meeting on Wednesday, March 1, the Unified Development Bylaws, UDB, was to be voted on by the board on Wednesday, March 15.

Legally, the Select Board fulfilled the requirement to have one public hearing, which was recessed twice, however a small group of citizens adamantly stated that they were under the impression there was going to be a second public hearing. The change to only one public hearing caused confusion and a false hope for the citizens to make additional comments.

The board was discussing if they should hold another public hearing or to push for a vote to adopt the UDB as they stand. How many public hearings are needed before the living document is beaten to death?

Chairman Arne Jonyas voiced he was not for another public hearing whereas Heather Chase indicated she would like to have another public hearing. New selectboard member Lee Gustafson stated that when he was running for election many people approached him saying that the UDB was taking too long and needed to move forward. Ben Whalen reminded the public that two weeks ago it was decided that the board was going to make a choice at the this meeting whether or not to vote to adopt the bylaws.

The Select Board was only accepting public comment on the board’s discussion to adopt the UDB or to hold a second hearing, not public opinion on the bylaws. Marilyn Mahusky, the ever-strong voice of direction, persisted to give her thoughts on the UDB even after Jonyas inquired if her comment related to the board’s current discussion. After some tense back and forth words between the two of them, she stepped away from the podium.

Even after Mahusky was asked to withhold her comment if it was unrelated to the board’s discussion, a few more townspeople approached the podium in an attempt to carry on the torch that she had lit.

Barre Pinske stepped forward and urged the board to make a vote that night. As well as advised the people on both sides of the UDB debate need to graciously accept the board’s vote. Randy Miles also requested the Select Board move the vote forward on the UDB.

Gustafson made motion to accept the document as is, Whalen second the motion and the UDB passes in a unified vote!

The UDB discussion has been like a galactic war causing a divide amongst the townspeople. However, do not forget that the UDB is a living, changeable document; the bylaws are not being encased in carbonite. Hopefully, Chester will lay aside their light sabers and learn to work together as neighbors rather than go to war like the Sith against the Jedi.

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