Chester Selectboard makes appointments, revises cannabis board

CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester Selectboard met on Wednesday, April 19, primarily to appoint and reappoint members of the planning commission and the developmental review board (DRB), as well as to make revisions to the composition of Chester’s Cannabis Control Board.

Chester, Vt.

Before those topics could be addressed, however, several matters were discussed which had been topics in previous board meetings, the most notable of which was an update on the Julian quarry. Multiple residents expressed their frustration with the fact that the quarry continued to operate, despite alleged violations of Vermont’s Act 250 and the continued pollution of nearby waterways. The selectboard assured residents that they were working on the matter, while at the same time noting that the issue was now in the hands of the legal system, and that it therefore would be a “drawn out” process. “I don’t want to disappoint people and [say] that it’s all going to be fixed in a month or two,” said Selectboard Chair Arne Jonynas. “I could see this dragging on for a while…It’s in the legal system now, which means lawyers and courts.”

“To be clear,” interjected board member Arianna Knapp, “none of that means we’re not taking action…we have initiated the process with our legal counsel.”

The board then appointed Chester’s Town Clerk/Treasurer. Chester residents voted last year to make this an appointed, rather than elected, position. Deb Aldrich was appointed to the position, with the selectboard noting that she has worked for the town for 40 years, and thanking her for her service.

After then confirming the Vermont Journal as one of the Town of Chester’s papers of record, the board went on to conduct interviews for the three open positions on the planning commission, for which there were four interested parties. A major theme of these interviews was the applicant’s vision for Chester in the future, with an emphasis on how they would address Chester’s need for new housing while maintaining its distinctive town character. The board went into executive session for nearly an hour to deliberate the appointments, reemerging after conferring with Planning Commission Chair Hugh Quinn, and made their appointments. Tim Roper and Barry Pinske were reappointed to their positions on the commission for three years each, wile John Cummings was appointed to the remainder of a two-year term left vacant by selectboard member Peter Hudkins when he resigned due to the selectboard’s conflict of interest policy. Robert Greenfield was unopposed for his reappointment to the DRB.

The board then adopted the town’s local emergency management plan, and turned their attention to revising the composition of the town’s cannabis control board. When the board was put in place a year prior, it was composed of seven members, with Knapp as chair. In the interim, two members had stepped down “due to conflicts.” Knapp suggested that the cannabis control board be permanently reduced to five members, because, as she told the selectboard, “when you empaneled the commission, both the state and local towns believed that the towns would have an active role. As the state put everything into place, there was nothing left for the towns to do.” This, she argued, made a seven-member control board too large for its current function. The rest of the selectboard agreed, and approved a motion to reduce the cannabis control board to five members, including one selectboard member.

The Chester Selectboard is scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m., on the second floor of the Chester Town Hall.

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