Cavendish moves ahead with Junk Ordinance enforcement

CAVENDISH, Vt. – At their Aug. 9 meeting, the Cavendish Selectboard agreed to move forward with enforcement of the town’s Junk Ordinance, and looked at, and eventually approved, paving the parking area next to Cavendish Town Elementary School.

Cavendish’s Junk Ordinance, which was first adopted in 2006 but never really enforced, was again a topic before the board. After a lengthy discussion, board members agreed to move forward with the process with the intention of having an action plan in place by the spring.

Of primary concern is how to enforce the measure, including how to fairly and equitably identify those in violation, and how to provide proper notification and communication about the process to the community.

Town Manager Brendan McNamara led the discussion, saying there were a lot of steps to enforcement including lots of due diligence in terms of notification to all parties and appointing a committee to oversee the process. McNamara also stressed that the process would require that all town properties, “from Pratt Hill to Tarbell Hill and everybody in between” would all be evaluated so that they would not just be singling out four or five residents. He also said they would need to decide on how much time to allow for residents to address an issue with 30 days being too short a timeframe, and what financial ramifications there would be for those who don’t comply.

Board member Stephen Plunkard also felt there was a need to highlight the economic impact on neighbors that are next to properties in violation of the junk ordinance, saying that the devaluation to those properties could decrease by as much as $20,000. “This is a property rights issue,” he said.

According to Plunkard, other towns have 90 days to address violations and then face stiff penalties after that. He later said that they could search more about what other communities have done for enforcement by reaching out to Vermont League of Cities and Towns for advice.

Cavendish resident Dwayne Warren, who said he had been singled out in the past for junk ordinance violations and expected to brought into the issue again, said that it was very unfair how the process played out in the past, and he was targeted largely because his property is on Main Street.

Acting Chairman Mike Ripley said they would put the issue on agenda next month and advertise, suggesting they would publish notices in print and on the town’s website for residents to download.

Ripley said they would start planning for the spring and come up with an action plan for how the process will work. He also suggested that if a property owner works out a specific plan, they could be given more time as long as they’re working toward a goal.

When asked about how elderly residents or those who are sick are expected to comply, Ripley said that would be part of the plan.

Discussion turned to the question of paving the parking area that is next to CTES. McNamara told the board he had been approached by Two Rivers Supervisory Union Facilities Director Todd Parah saying the district would be paving the CTES parking lot and asked whether the board would like to pave the parking area adjacent to the school that is currently used for parking by CTES staff for a cost of $12,000. The town owns that parcel. The estimate includes sub layer work and drainage.

Board member Sandra Russo said she would be in favor of paving, especially if it improved safety, but thought it should be the school’s responsibility to cover the cost.

During the meeting, the board asked McNamara to discuss the cost coverage and any liability issues with Parah and said he could call a special meeting on the issue if needed.

As a follow up to the meeting, McNamara and the board had a special meeting on the issue and voted to approve paving the parking area, and pay the $12,000 cost.

For McNamara’s update on the ongoing Route 131 paving project, he said that discrepancies in the sidewalk versus road elevations has resulted in the need to replace many of the sidewalks in Cavendish village. He said that VTrans was addressing the issue and would have a plan to him at the end of the week. As of publication, he had not received their plan yet.

Addressing ongoing speeding issues on Depot Street, the board agreed to place a radar traffic sign on the street and said they would ask the sheriff to shift some of his hours to later in the day.

The next Cavendish Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m.

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