Plymouth continues discussion on Johnson Farm and Macawee Pond roads

The potential closure of Macawee Pond Road has been a hot discussion topic in Plymouth recently, as several property owners are forced to post their own signs and deal with drivers on their own. Photo provided

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – At the July 11, 2022 Plymouth Selectboard meeting, discussion continued on the possible ATV parking lot on Johnson Farm Road and the potential of closing Macawee Pond Road.

Ryan Palmer began the meeting by giving a presentation to the town on his candidacy for Windsor County Sheriff. He is an experienced police officer, currently employed to the Town of Ludlow. There are three candidates in the race for sheriff, and Palmer acknowledged that he is the most expensive, but that he has a lot more service to provide to the county.

Plymouth is still waiting for the closing contract to be finalized with Hawk Resort International, LLC on the remaining Hawk Properties known as the Valley Floor. With the original closing date of July 1, 2022 passed, the board has been trying to get in touch with the representing attorney Bill Meub to provide an update on the sale.

Board member Keith Cappellini said, “We signed a deal we were advised to take,” by their tax sale attorney Steve Ankuda as well as Meub. If the deal doesn’t close, the town has to go back to the original plan of putting the properties up for a tax sale.

Zoning Board and Planning Commission member Bruce Pauley felt the town should wait for the deal to go through to avoid paying for and planning a tax sale, which would run the risk of not selling off some of the properties or having to wait the year to see if the current owners come back with their current tax debts.

Cappellini then announced that he received confirmation that Plymouth’s Local Cannabis Control Board has been approved by the state. Cappellini previously designated three seats on the board: himself being the selectboard member, Mike Coleman volunteering to be the Zoning Board member, and one citizen, Terry Bascom, taking the remaining spot. The board will control retail sales applications with existing zoning regulations the town already has in place, such as the signage or location of a retail dispensary.

The selectboard discussed an ambulance contract, which has not been yet signed with Ludlow and had previously been partially covered by Woodstock. The board also discussed that it would be beneficial to use Josh Linton, constable, for additional first response services in the town. He currently works for the state 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and is offering back up services for Plymouth from 6 p.m. – 6 a.m. He and the town need to put a plan in place to determine how he would be dispatched from a 911 call, since the town doesn’t use much radio communication.

The selectboard also discussed the parking lot request off of Johnson Farm Road on the 60 acres of town property. The request originated from the ATV club, which has Plymouth and Reading resident members. Most feedback that the town has received from residents has been negative, not in favor of the project. The board said more people would need to come forward in favor of the proposal if the town is going to get it approved.

After a complaint, the town agreed they need to get someone to keep the website up to date. Community input was that the town needs someone that works for them to keep the site up to date with agendas, minutes, and other time sensitive information. Board chair Jay Kullman also expressed they need a selectboard clerk to take minutes, and that person might be able to manage the website. The board also wanted to note that any Facebook page for Plymouth is a group for discussion, not an official page for information from the town officials.

With the deadline for the decision on Macawee Pond Road closing in, residents voiced their concerns and opinions on the debate. Terry Bascom said that he walked the area and it was “very clear that there are several places of confusion.”

Bascom explained that the road looks like it bends to the left, which is actually the Fletcher’s “beautifully maintained” driveway. At that point, the road should go off to the right, which currently looks more like a trail or old logging road. There’s a drop off that goes down 10 to 15 feet, and a stream that comes across the road. People have been walking onto the Fletcher’s property to navigate around these obstacles, which over time will erode the area.

The piece of road that Mark and Tina Fletcher are looking for the town to give up is a little “spur” of what used to be driveway, which is located after the washout. It is no longer usable and is too narrow to be a turnaround location as the town has previously discussed.

“I think the town should throw that out,” Bascom said. It has no effect on the town road, and it “never should have been considered part of Highway 39.”

Mark Fletcher said that board member Rick Kaminski came out to investigate the area in question, but was more “transactional,” expressing that if the town gave up the unused driveway spur of the road, then the Fletchers should offer a piece of land for a proper turnaround. “We’ve raised our concern to the town,” Fletcher said, “and now it’s up to the town to determine what to do.”

Cappellini expressed that he wouldn’t give up any of his property to the town. He didn’t believe there should be a parking or turnaround lot. He thought the town should give up the piece that used to be driveway, and that the Fletchers should post private property signs.

He said the road should have been fixed when it was washed out, but it’s a class four road that isn’t maintained by the town. “I think the town should fix it and keep the road, or close it,” Cappellini said, making the point that if the town and taxpayers wanted to spend the $100,000 to fix it, it could be done. “I don’t think we should give it up, but if we’re not going to fix it, we should officially close it for use.”

The Fletchers welcomed anyone who still had questions to go up and walk the area. The final vote will take place at the Aug. 1 meeting when all three selectboard members are present.

The next Plymouth Selectboard meeting will be Monday, July 18 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall and via Zoom.

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