Shelburne Selectboard looks ahead to 2020 spending items: Beaver policy, form-based zoning, sewer hook-ups discussed

UPDATE: Town officials have approved of Pizzagalli Properties as the development company that Healthy Living Market and Cafe has chosen to work on the proposed fire-rescue station and grocery store project at the corner of Route 7 and Longmeadow Drive. The choice was made public in an updated purchase and sale agreement signed Thursday by town and company officials. 

LISA SCAGLIOTTI
Correspondent

The Shelburne Selectboard got its first look this week at the list of projects being considered for the six-year capital improvement plan for the town, which will be prioritized as the board builds the budget that voters will consider next March.

At the Tuesday, Oct. 15 selectboard meeting, Finance Director Peter Frankenburg gave a short overview of the list being compiled based on suggestions from department heads who were asked to weigh in with recommendations.

The capital plan covers a six-year window with the first year’s projects funded. Projects listed for the subsequent five years reflect priorities but often can shift as the list is revised each year, Frankenburg explained.

Items under consideration for the 2020-21 budget year include replacing the beach house at the town beach; purchase of new radio and communications equipment for police, fire and dispatch; a new fire department tanker and boat; highway equipment and more.

One big-ticket item is the land purchase for the proposed new fire-rescue station which is anticipated at $650,000. That matter inched forward slightly Tuesday.

The town is working with Healthy Living Market on a joint project to build a new fire and rescue station along with a market on a roughly five-acre site along Shelburne Road at Longmeadow Drive.

The board met Tuesday in executive session and decided to appoint Vice Chair Jaime Heins to finish negotiating an amendment that revises timing elements to the purchase agreement with Healthy Living.

The town and grocer are working together on preliminary development details and permitting for the site before the town votes on funding its land purchase for the fire-rescue station.

The agreement signed in April anticipated the preliminary steps to have been completed by this month and town officials had hoped to put the funding question on the March Town Meeting Day ballot.

The amendment to the agreement now calls for voters to weigh in by Nov. 3, 2020, the date of next year’s general election, acknowledging that progress has been slower than expected on the unique public-private project. Healthy Living officials just recently said they had picked a developer. Town officials are to concur on the choice.

The selectboard Tuesday told Heins to approve the yet-unnamed developer.

“The amendment will publicly identify the name of the developer and we expect the amendment to be signed by the end of this week,” Heins said in an email Wednesday morning.

Beaver policy adopted

The board Tuesday finished its revisions to a new policy on how to handle problem beavers, prompted by a situation this summer on Webster Road where beavers were building a dam on Munroe Brook. The beavers were killed and town officials hired a contractor to install a “Beaver Deceiver” device to thwart future beavers from rebuilding in the same spot.

Local members of the animal-rights group Green Mountain Animal Defenders voiced concern over how that issue was handled. Their efforts led to the device being installed and they had input on the drafting of the new protocol. The policy emphasizes “non-lethal means of beaver control” that follow Vermont Agency of Natural Resources best practices. It requires the town manager to be in contact with outside sources for guidance and assistance with training town staff.

But the policy also recognizes that situations may arise where animals need to be permanently removed. In that case, the policy states that “killing of beaver shall be by the most humane means available” and consistent with American Veterinary Medicine Association guidelines for euthanasia.

Shelburne resident Jim White and others from the animal-rights group attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“This is an exciting policy in my opinion,” White told the board. “I really appreciate the fact that you are grappling with it.”

Other business

  • Planning Commission Chair Jason Grignon and town Planning and Zoning Director Dean Pierce gave an overview of revisions being proposed to the form-based zoning regulations adopted in 2016. The commission on Nov. 14 will hold a public hearing on the changes and hear public comments.

The regulations offer an optional way for developers to present projects for local permits based on building forms with an emphasis on the areas surrounding buildings. To date, Pierce said, only one project has been approved under the rules; one is in progress, and another is anticipated. The proposed revisions are aimed at making the regulations more user-friendly.

Heins, who formerly chaired the Planning Commission, said he hoped the revisions would spur more interest by developers.

“We made a big investment in this,” he said. “I’d like to see it used more.”

  • The board heard from residents of the Shelburne Heights neighborhood regarding resolution of issues they brought to the board earlier this year concerning their sewer hookup to the municipal system. The new residential development planned by Snyder Homes along Spear Street has been approved to connect to the system through the older neighborhood.

Residents would like the town to reduce or end the fees they have been paying in installments for nearly 20 years for connecting to the system now that more development will be using it.

Board members were reluctant to commit to a resolution of the request on Tuesday. Member Mary Kehoe was absent and member Mike Ashooh, who lives in Shelburne Heights, recused himself from the discussion. Board Chair Jerry Storey said the board would discuss the matter again at a future meeting.

  • The board approved revisions to water connection fees recently adopted by the Water Commission. The base fee for a new residential connection increased from $1,000 to $1,500; the commercial connection base fee went to $2,000 from $1,000.
  • The board made appointments to boards and commissions: Charlotte Albers to the Pierson Library Board of Trustees; Stephen Kendall to the planning commission; Jordan Townsend, a sophomore at Champlain Valley Union High School, as the student member to the dog park committee.

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