Cavendish SB mulls alternate town garage site


select board
Cavendish seal. Photo from the municipal website.

CAVENDISH, Vt. – The Cavendish Select Board held its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. The bulk of the meeting was devoted to accepting resident input about the location of the new town garage. The former town garage at 1932 Main St. has had to be demolished following a fire.

Resident Rolf van Schaik led off by thanking the town manager and assistant town manager for their time and effort spent on the subject, but urging in persuasive terms

for the new town garage to be located in the sand pit [on Route 131 across from the treatment plant]. He outlined the positives, including nearby existing salt and sand storage, utilities, good solar power potential and a protected location. The negative aspect is primarily access onto the busy highway, which could be addressed with a lowered speed limit, flashing light and caution signs, said van Schaik. He said the present town garage site is undesirable on several points.

Resident Steven Plunkard spoke in support of van Schaik’s position, commenting that the long-term aspect of the town garage location should be considered, especially the impact on property values. He asked, what would be in the best interest of the town – would a metal building in the middle of the village be the best option? He said this is a “historic opportunity” to do something positive for the village.

Resident Wendy Regier spoke to support van Schaik and Plunkard as representing community input.

The board members’ initial reaction was twofold: first, that time is of the essence in order for site prep to be done before winter, and that several sites have already been considered in detail and rejected, with the input of the road crew.

As the board moved deeper into the topic, there was discussion about renting portable buildings over the winter, the feasibility of a sewer hookup at the sandpit, and the possibility of selling the old site to a developer, with a deed restriction in the absence of a zoning ordinance.

Van Schaik cautioned against letting “incidentals” distract from long-term considerations.

Town Manager Brendan McNamara acknowledged that both sites have benefits, but the time line favors the current site. The ideal situation is to have everything in one place, he said, but there are “many unknowns,” including available space and sight lines that need professional analysis. He stated that the contractual obligations for the new building and the structure itself are “transferable” to a new site. He asked for the board’s permission to investigate the sand pit further, which he will do next week. The board approved his request by consensus.

The question was raised, why is this coming up so late in the process? Van Schaik said he had only just learned of the decision to reuse the town garage site. Former town manager Richard Svec, who was also present, commented on the apparent lack of transparency prior to a bond vote and feels that the townspeople don’t feel well informed. Select Board member Mike Ripley objected, stating that people can come to meetings, read the minutes online, and view the video footage.

Moving on in the agenda, the Town Manager summarized the road crossing agreement on Quent Phelan Road with Coolidge Solar I. The solar developer will compensate the town $7,500 and the road will be closed during the project, with proper notifications. It was moved, seconded and passed to approve the agreement.

Lister Diane McNamara reported on a hearing Sept. 14 at the town offices regarding property assessment appeals by Castle Hill and Cavendish Pointe Condominiums. They appealed to the listers in May 2016 and the listers reduced the value of those units to conform to the town CLA, which reduced the Grand List by $1.9 million. The condos appealed to the local Board of Civil Authority, who supported the listers. The condos then appealed to the state, resulting in the upcoming hearing. If the state finds for the appellants, the tax rate will go up as tax revenue declines. She remarked that townwide reappraisal began in July this year. A contractor was hired at $100,000. She commented that reassessment has become more complicated and requires trained personnel. She will ask for more money when budget discussions begin in January, to hire out listing services.

The board moved, seconded and approved postponing the construction of the aeration system until next season, to be completed Sepember 2018.

Town Manager McNamara updated the board on ongoing projects. He completed site visits with 21 contractors for bridge projects on East Road and Greenbush Road. Bids are due Oct. 10, to be awarded at the Select Board meeting Nov. 15. The bridges are to be replaced with precast box culverts.

Following up on last month’s complaint about rats at North Country Condominiums, McNamara said he and Health Officer Doris Eddy made a site inspection and concluded that the building itself does not appear to be attracting rats but an adjacent chicken yard may be. In any case, McNamara said, the complaint may be a civil matter.

McNamara mentioned a leaking water main valve on Maple Street. Valves that appear on the drawings aren’t there, he said, and at present the leaky valve can’t be replaced without shutting off the water to Proctorsville. Additional valves need to be installed to isolate the leaky valve, which will correct the problem, he said.

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