Plymouth retains ownership of Macawee Pond Road, rescinds sanctuary town statement

The Town of Plymouth made a decision to retain ownership of the entirety of Macawee Pond Road as of Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. Photo provided

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – After an initial request from a group of local residents for the town to “throw,” a term meaning “to cede ownership of,” a portion of Macawee Pond Road for safety concerns, and then multiple meetings and a revised request from Mark and Tina Fletcher to throw only a spur of the road that used to be driveway leading up to the their property, the town made a decision to retain ownership of the entire road.

Chair Jay Kullman prefaced by acknowledging that, “Regardless of the decision, the safety component will be addressed.”

Selectman Rick Kaminski said, “Mark and Tina are nice folks, and I’m really uncomfortable of ruling not in favor of their requests,” but comments had been made to him that the town would be giving away property and not getting anything in return. He had asked for an easement on the Fletcher’s property for parking and a walking path around the washout, with which the Fletchers did not agree. Kaminski said that he is not willing to grant throwing any part of the town road at this time.

Kullman agreed with Kaminski, stating, “Conceptually, that road doesn’t serve a purpose at the moment,” but went on to say that there may be future opportunities.

Mark Fletcher voiced his disappointment with the decision. “We’re being asked to give up a portion of our property for a piece of driveway that doesn’t concern the town at all.” Fletcher said that the little spur of road serves no purpose to the town, and that he’s “disappointed it’s being used as leverage.”

Tina Fletcher added that not only the decision, but also the overall process, has been disappointing. She reminded the board that they had the road surveyed at their own expense, just so they could know exactly where the road and their property were located. They had people come cut trees from their property without their permission, which will cause further erosion to the land. Their surveyor went to Town Hall to obtain records, and upon revisiting the office for further documentation, the whole box on Macawee Pond Road was missing. It was later returned to the records room, and documents that were previously on file were missing from the box. “There is an issue of trust,” Tina Fletcher said, for things that should not have happened. “Larry Lynds [Town Road Foreman] would not speak with the surveyor.” Fletcher expressed that she didn’t directly blame the board, but that there were a lot of parts of the process that were “not okay.”

Board member Keith Cappellini expressed that he saw both sides of the issue. He said that he believes that if the town isn’t going to fix the road and maintain it so people can use it, “We don’t need to be bringing people down there to park and hike… That’s where I disagree with Rick,” Cappellini said. “I don’t think we should ask you for land to create a turnaround on a road that’s effectively not being used because it’s got a gigantic washout in it… [But] I vote with them to not [throw it].”

A final compromise was suggested that the town would retain ownership of the spur of the road and the Fletchers could barricade that area, as well as post their land, to prevent anyone from going onto their property. The town would barricade the road before the washout and put up signage preventing vehicles from traveling, but cautiously allowing hikers through. The Fletchers agreed to the solution.

Four ARPA grant requests were then approved by the board, which will be used by businesses and nonprofits to revitalize downtown areas. The town allowed $7,500 for each grant applicant, who consisted of Salt Ash Inn, Tyson Community Church, Inn at Waters Edge, and Good Commons. The funds were approved and will be dispersed to each applicant after the work is complete and proper receipts and documentation have been provided to the board.

Bruce Pauley then reiterated his request to have the town rescind the town gun sanctuary resolution, which was adopted in 2020. He said that it was never warned or put to a vote, and therefore the town didn’t follow proper procedure. Pauley believes the town people should vote whether they would like to be a sanctuary town, not whether the town should rescind the board’s “mistake.”

Cappellini voiced that he was not in favor of rescinding the nonbinding resolution. He was a resident at the time, and presented it to the board as more of a statement for the town, and there were people present at that meeting in support of the decision. He does welcome a vote, “should the Town of Plymouth remain a sanctuary town?”

Kullman said, “Procedurally, I feel like it was a mistake,” and he made motion to rescind the resolution. Kaminski seconded the motion and said, “Looking back, I don’t think we followed correct procedure.” The board then passed a motion to include the vote for a resolution to be or not to be a gun sanctuary town on the ballot in November.

The verbiage for the bond vote for the town building, which will also appear on the ballot, was finalized with the two options: To move forward with the weatherization project with the approved $950,000 budget, or to approve an additional bond for $800,000 to complete the project entirely. The inclusion statement, originally proposed by Todd Menees, will also appear on the ballot.

The next Plymouth Selectboard meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall and via Zoom. The link will be posted to the town website.

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