Plans to build a new fire and rescue station off Shelburne Road are moving more slowly than town officials had hoped if they plan to ask Town Meeting Day voters to approve the land purchase for the project.
But the co-owner of Healthy Living Market – the town’s partner in the unique development plan – says the company is committed to the project and believes the timeline is still realistic.
“It has slowed down a bit,” said Eli Lesser-Goldsmith in an interview this week. “But we’re going to make it. I’m an eternal optimist.”
At the Aug. 27 meeting, the selectboard asked Town Manager Lee Krohn for an update on the behind-the-scenes work to develop plans for a new fire and rescue station. The potential building site would be beside a proposed Health Living Market at the intersection of Shelburne Road and Longmeadow Drive.
“I’ve been reminding them regularly of our timeline trying to keep that moving forward but it’s not entirely in our control,” Krohn told the board.
Shelburne voters in March approved spending $25,000 along with an identical sum from Shelburne Rescue to explore the details involved in building on the Rice Lumber commercial development site.
The town would purchase half of the site for the new fire-rescue station while a real estate developer handles construction of the new grocery store building that Healthy Living would lease.
Work this year would involve vetting the site and preliminary permitting to ensure the concept would work. If all looks good, voters on Town Meeting Day in March could consider voting on the land purchase.
The station would replace the current fire station in Shelburne village and the rescue facility on Turtle Lane. The market would be Healthy Living’s third in Chittenden County. Its flagship store is on Dorset Street in South Burlington and a second store is currently under construction at Taft Corners in Williston with an anticipated spring 2020 opening, said Lesser-Goldsmith. The company also has a store in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Planning the Shelburne project as a public-private effort is new for both the grocer and the municipality. Lesser-Goldsmith said the process to select a developer has taken longer than anticipated but negotiations are nearly complete.
“I think we’ve got a great new partner to announce soon,” he said.
Selectboard Chair Jerry Storey at the Aug. 27 meeting suggested that town write a letter to Healthy Living to remind the company that it is eager to keep on track.
So far, the project has been before the Shelburne Development Review Board for sketch plan review, Lesser-Goldsmith said, without any major obstacles emerging.
Anticipating emerald ash borer
At the Aug. 27 selectboard meeting, members of the Tree Advisory Committee and town Tree Warden David Hall addressed the board with an update on emerald ash borer and an appeal for more help.
So far, the invasive beetle, whose larvae destroy ash trees, has been found in several Vermont locations but not Chittenden County. Grand Isle County and the town of Bristol in nearby Addison County have had confirmed ash borer infestations.
“It’s on our doorstep,” Hall said.
The tree committee hopes to work with University of Vermont students to compile an inventory of ash trees on town-owned land, including public rights of way along roadways, said committee Chair Gail Henderson-King. That will assist with planning that may involve treating trees deemed worth saving and removing trees that are likely to succumb to ash borer damage.
In addition, Henderson-King said the committee will soon be down to just four volunteer members and it would welcome more participants. Anyone interested in serving on the committee may contact her for more details and submit an application to the town manager. Terms are for three years, although replacements may be appointed to serve the remainder of an unexpired term.
Budget surplus likely
Finance Director Peter Frankenburg presented a brief overview of the 2019 budget and the fiscal year that recently ended.
“Based on preliminary results, we will likely end the budget year with a surplus,” Frankenburg said.
A summary is online on the town website. It shows that revenue came in on target at just under $8.8 million while expenses were about $8.1 million, or 93 percent of what was budgeted.
Frankenburg said he wasn’t ready to say exactly how much the surplus will be.
“There are still adjustments to be made,” he said.
• The board also discussed a policy for the public to reserve space in town buildings. The policy would apply to the meeting rooms in the newly renovated historic Town Hall building set to open this month. The discussion also covered the draft agreement with the Shelburne Historical Society which will occupy part of the lower level in the Town Hall building.
• The board further discussed creating a policy to address delinquent property taxes. Krohn shared draft language which the board said it would like to continue to revise at a future meeting.
• Selectboard Vice Chair Jaime Heins said plans are coming together to coordinate a discussion about economic development at an upcoming board meeting. He and board member Mike Ashooh are lining up guests to take part in a panel discussion. More details will be shared as those plans are confirmed, Heins said.