Charlotte Selectboard looks to engage voters

BY SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Staff Reporter

The Charlotte Selectboard unanimously chose Matt Krasnow as chair and Frank Tenney as vice chair at a short meeting on Thursday, March 7.

They also decided that the regular time for selectboard meetings to start would be 6 p.m.

At their regular meeting on Tuesday, they discussed ways to increase participation at next year’s Town Meeting.

“When I was a kid there was babysitting in the library during Town Meeting Day,” Krasnow said. “The town school used to serve lunch and it was a real community meeting.”

He also mentioned that some towns are now having Town Meeting Day on Saturday and that might be a way they could increase citizen involvement.

The town charter amendment passed by Charlotte voters and approved by the state legislature in 2016 requires an Australian ballot vote in April to approve the budget. The goal was to increase participation, but it hasn’t. The members of the selectboard said that the charter would sunset after next year.

First salvo in the borer war

The board decided to discuss ways to improve attendance and participation in Town Meeting Day at a regularly scheduled selectboard meeting in June.

As a first foray into the battle against the emerald ash borer, Tree Warden Mark Dillenbeck came before the board to talk about a having a test case for cutting ash trees in the right of way on Lake Road between Thompson’s Point Road and Ferry Road.

As Dillenbeck took the floor, new selectboard member Louise McCarren said, “My problem is I don’t know how to identify an ash tree. I’m afraid I have some.”

“That’s unfortunate,” said Dillenbeck, but told her that he could help her.

The selectboard and Dillenbeck agreed that they will have to do more cutting but this first cutting is intended to see how the procedure works with landowners. Dillenbeck said that they will chip the tops of the ash trees when they’re cut and they will leave the logs for landowners to retrieve to use as firewood. Wood that is not picked up by landowners will be picked up by the town and chipped to keep it from becoming a haven for emerald ash borers.

He requested and received from the selectboard approval to issue a request for bids from tree cutting companies. The board decided that if there weren’t any complications in the bidding process, they would open the bids and chose a company at the same meeting in order to expedite the cutting.

Charlotte has not been invaded by the emerald ash borers, but if they begin to find infested trees, they will want to change this procedure, Dillenbeck said.

In response to a request from Road Commissioner Hugh “Junior” Lewis, Dillenbeck agreed to change the proposal so that the trees would be cut to stumps 6 inches or lower.

In response to a question from the audience by Bill Stuono about whether it’s cheaper to spend the $700 that it costs to treat the ash trees than to cut them, Dillenbeck pointed out that the trees have to be retreated every two years “and they don’t want to burden the town with an expense that continues perpetually.”

He allowed that there may be some ash trees that are so difficult to remove that it could be more cost effective to treat them than cut them down.

Dillenbeck said that seven ash trees “of high aesthetic value” have been identified in Charlotte – “one behind the senior center, three at the beach, and three at the park that we want to preserve.”

Cows may graze in shadow of solar farm

The selectboard approved – contingent upon approval of the Planning Commission – a request from Clark Hinsdale III for an open space agreement on property north of the solar installation and northwest of the corner of Hinesburg Road and Spear Street. The open space agreement would restrict a parcel that was the result of a boundary adjustment that was approved by the Planning Commission in January. One of the conditions of approval by the Planning Commission was the protection of a 33.63 acre parcel via an open space agreement. Hinsdale wants to have the request approved as soon as possible because he has a sale of almost 80 acres to Steve Schubart that depends upon approval of the open space agreement.

Schubart is owner of Grass Fed Beef and this would be the first farm that he owns. He is not interested in buying any of the land that is protected forest because he needs grazing property.

The expedited request to the selectboard is because “we are very, very badly wanting to close before April 1 because that’s the tax date and we have to switch everything around to current use and we want to do it this year,” said Hinsdale.

Two residents objected to having a trail with one of two routes of access coming from Spear Street on the Hinsdale property. Their argument was that it’s dangerous to have a trail that comes out onto Spear Street with vehicles driving too fast as they come downhill to the intersection with Hinesburg Road.

Laurie Thompson, co-chair of the Trails Committee, said they wanted to keep both accesses to the trail “the east-west connection (Hinesburg Road) and Spear Street. Actually, if you look on Spear Street as you’re coming south, you crest the hill and you can see all the way down to the intersection of Spear and Hinesburg Road.”

The selectboard approved it unanimously with an amendment that all motorized trail bikes would be prohibited.

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