Selectboard addresses suspension bridge

By Heather McKim

The future of the pedestrian suspension bridge over the LaPlatte River and the direction of policies and procedures for boards and committees were two of the issues discussed at the July 8 meeting of the Shelburne Selectboard. The meeting also provided a time for the Historic Preservation and Design Review Committee (HPDRC) to dialog with the Board.

Fritz Horton, HPDRC chair, said “We recommend; we do not dictate. We assist,” describing the committee’s work. He noted that the current guidelines for design review are outdated, lacking internet links and offering resources that are no longer active.

Chair Gary von Stange asked for a cost estimate to update the guidelines, which will be hired out to a professional. Town Planner Dean Pierce estimated costs would run at or above $7,500.

The town addressed the issue of the suspension bridge constructed over the LaPlatte River on town property without knowledge or consent of the town’s government. It was closed off a few months’ ago due to safety concerns.

Proposed improvements to suspension bridge: Attach suspension cable bow for additional bridge support Connect to outlying trees Attach upper cable, railing cable, deck cables, with verbal connector Add 42’ railing Enclose railing side
Proposed improvements to suspension bridge:
Attach suspension cable bow for additional bridge support
Connect to outlying trees
Attach upper cable, railing cable, deck cables, with verbal connector
Add 42’ railing
Enclose railing side

“We didn’t ask for this. This is now before us. The town will own this bridge—already do,” member Tim Pudvar said.

The town has already incurred costs related to determining the safety of the bridge and, as von Stange expressed, may yet in the future. In addition the town may be liable if there are any incidents involving the bridge.

The Selectboard passed a motion ratifying the Town Manager’s decision to remove the bridge, which was accomplished last weekend. Now that the bridge is removed, the builders plan to fill out a permit application for the Selectboard to consider. If they approve, the Selectboard will then have the option of applying to the Development Review Board (DRB) for rights to build. The builders cannot apply directly to the DRB because the bridge is on town property.

A long-time fixture at Pierson Library was honored for her service to the community. Mary Catherine Jones has spent 17 years as a storyteller, 12 of them at Pierson. She gave her final Thursday morning story time on June 5. On Tuesday night, she was honored with a trophy by the library for her years of work with the children of Shelburne.

Other matters:

• Town Manager Joe Colangelo is creating a template to help make understanding the Open Meeting Law easier after receiving questions about previous changes.

• Brian Fox, formerly of Hinesburg Police Department, has taken the spot in the Shelburne Police Department vacated by Chris Morrell.

• Colangelo announced that CGI Communications would be in town to film a town video.

The meeting ended with an Executive Session to discuss whether the Selectboard wishes to pursue an enforcement action on a zoning violation. They voted 3-0 (Toni Supple and Colleen Parker were absent) to pursue action against Andrew Richardson.

The next Selectboard meeting is Tuesday, July 22.