Cavendish Selectboard stifles quarry discussion at meeting

Cavendish Selectboard meeting Jan. 13, 2020.
Cavendish Selectboard meeting Jan. 13, 2020. Photo by Sharon Huntley

CAVENDISH, Vt. – The Jan. 13 Cavendish Selectboard meeting covered topics including ash borer concerns, Universal Stone Church maintenance, budgeting and a town meeting resolution, and cut short discussion on the Tierney Road quarry.

Cavendish resident and landscape architect Tim Calabrese asked the Cavendish Selectboard to consider increasing the budget in the coming years for ash tree removal that may be necessary. The Emerald Ash Borer was recently discovered in Londonderry. Calabrese recommended first doing an inventory of ash trees throughout the town and find out the cost to remove them. The Town Manager Brenden McNamara thought there were likely thousands of ash trees and agreed to increase funds in the budget for the project.

The Selectboard approved a Memo of Understanding regarding the Universal Stone Church that had been submitted by Cavendish Historical Society president Margo Caulfield. The Historical Society along with Ignat Solzhenitsyn of the Solzhenitsyn Center will have work done to the church to develop a Soltzhenitsyn exhibit as well as a museum site. They are asking the town to incur basic costs for the building, including insurance, internet, electric, lawn maintenance, and snowplowing. The Cavendish Historical Society and Soltzhenitsyn Center has secured funding through a sister Soltzhenitsyn exhibit in Russia for the renovation but are asking the town, who owns the historic building, to supervise the construction as well as provide those basic services.

McNamara agreed, saying it would be in the best interests of the town and would be another attraction for the town, rather than having the historic building be vacant. The exhibit and museum will only be open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

The Tierney Road quarry issue once again came to light during the meeting when Tierney Road resident Mike Harrington addressed the Selectboard in an effort to enter the latest details of the issue into the public record. His remarks concerned the ongoing battle between neighbors over a proposed quarry at the end of Tierney Road.

After speaking just over a minute, Selectboard member Mike Ripley interrupted Harrington, citing adherence to Roberts Rules of Order, which govern procedures in town, educational, and other society meetings. “We’ve been breaking rules of order… of mentioning, attacking, bringing up other peoples’ names. It gets to the point where it’s almost childish…” He went on to say that the issue has nothing to do with the town right now because it’s being decided in the courts.

Harrington countered that if he could just read details into the public record, then he would do that. Ripley countered that it’s repetitive and irrelevant, asking the Selectboard not to entertain the comments.

After some continued back and forth, the Selectboard moved onto another topic and the seven Tierney Road residents in attendance left the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, board member Sandra Russo stated that, although she understood that the topic was not one for the Selectboard to decide, she felt that the Selectboard should have given Harrington 10 minutes or so. “It’s not business for the town but felt uncomfortable not giving them an opportunity to talk,” she said.

McNamara read a letter from the Cavendish Conservation Community Association, which outlined their stance on the issue and recommended that all parties involved come together to “form a legally binding agreement about the parameters of the operation which would then be enforceable.” The full letter is also available through the town office.

The Selectboard also agreed to put the topic of Rules of Order at the next meeting.

The town budget will be impacted with a refinancing of $250,000 town note to remedy the deficit from a tax miscalculation last year with a loan with yearly payments of $35,714, spread out over seven years, leading to payment in full after that time. The final budget is anticipated to be complete by next week.

Board member Stuart Lindberg put forth a resolution to the Selectboard and asked that it be included as a topic at the Cavendish Town Meeting in March.

The resolution is for “defense of the right to keep and bear arms.” The full resolution is available through the town office. Lindberg said that it would serve as a declaration to our Representatives in the Legislature. “It’s for the record and for posterity,” he said.

The Selectboard adopted the resolution with Ripley saying it would make good discussion among the citizens of Cavendish.

The next Cavendish Selectboard meeting is Monday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cavendish Town Office.

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