Charlotte residents voice speed concerns

SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Staff Reporter

A number of people are advocating lowering speed limits to increase pedestrian safety in Charlotte.

Three residents brought their concerns to the Charlotte Selectboard meeting on Monday night and much of the discussion was about lowering the speed limit from 50 to 35 miles per hour in some areas, such as Ferry Road in West Charlotte to Lake Champlain.

Prior to the meeting, there had been posts on social media advocating lower speed limits.

During the public comment portion of the selectboard meeting, Mike Yantachka, Charlotte’s state representative to the Vermont legislature, spoke about the issue.

“With the increased use of bicycling on major thoroughfares – Greenbush Road, Spear Street, Ferry Road and Lake Road – we really do need to really reconsider the speed limits in town,” he said.

Selectboard chair Matthew Krasnow said that a significant amount of time had been set aside to delve into the issue at the May 13 meeting. The issue is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. for a meeting that starts at 6 p.m.

Following the speed limit discussion on the May 13 meeting agenda, the Vermont State Police are scheduled to review their agreement with the town. The state police come to the board twice a year for that purpose.

Selectboard member Louise McCarren said that Charlotte has a problem that it can’t solve and that is traffic speeding to and from the ferry.

“I’m interested in hearing what the state police will say because we’re not going to solve that problem unless we re-engineer the road,” she said.

Matching grant for EV charging station

Some members of the Energy and Library Committees attended the selectboard meeting seeking approval of a matching grant for an EV (electric vehicle) charging station for the Charlotte Library.

Charlotte’s 10 percent match would require a payment of $1,881 for the $18,815 EV charging station. It would be installed at the library and could charge two vehicles simultaneously.

Charlotte Energy Committee members said that the charging station would be good for the town as part of the renewable energy commitments that are being considered as some of the changes to the town plan.

“Given that Charlotte has the highest number of EV drivers in the state, I think it will be used,” said Suzy Hodgson, co-chair of the Energy Committee.

Selectboard members had questions, such as whether the town would own the charging station, who would be responsible for its maintenance, and if the two parking places accessible to the charging station would be deducted from the total number of parking spaces required for the library. No one at the meeting had definitive answers to their questions, but the selectboard unanimously approved applying for the grant with the stipulation that they reserved the right to decline it.

The selectboard unanimously approved two applications to the Vermont Bond Bank – one for a new ambulance for Charlotte Fire and Rescue and one for construction of an addition to the Charlotte Library.

The board also voted to hire Chris’s Lawncare & Mini Excavating to remove ash trees on Lake Road in anticipation of the coming infestation of emerald ash borers.

Appointments to town committees

The selectboard unanimously approved the following appoitnments:

Christy Gallese and Craig Reynolds to the Recreation Commission; Linda Radimer to the Conservation Commission; Christina Booher to the Village Wastewater Committee; Doug Paton to the Energy Committee; Dorothy Hill, Jenny Cole, Andrew Milliken, Greg Smith, Jessie Bradley, Julian Kulski and Mark Dillenbeck to the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge Oversight Committee; Betsy Rich to the Thompson’s Point Design Review Committee; and Peter Trono to the Board of Auditors.

The selectboard approved the application for a 30-mile fundraising bike ride by Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN) on Sept. 21 using Spear Street, Bingham Brook Road, Guinea Road, Hinesburg Road, Ferry Road and Greenbush Road in Charlotte.

The event is a ride and not a race. Riders visit and sample products at seven farms along the route as ACORN promotes local food and agriculture. The ride is in its twelfth year, but this is the second year that the ride has come through Charlotte. Sue Hoxie, who was representing ACORN at the meeting, said the route changes every 2-3 years, so she doesn’t know if they will want to come through Charlotte next year. This year, the ride starts at Vergennes Union High School.

Hans Ohanian, who has been urging the selectboard to adopt a requirement that all bikes in Charlotte have a rearview mirror on the handlebar, asked that the ACORN ride not be approved because mirrors are not required.

Another member of the public spoke in opposition to handlebar mirrors because he believes they make bikes more dangerous because of the possibility of being impaled in a wreck.

The selectboard voted to reapprove its agreement allowing the Town Beach to be used as a Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail site and to be included in their paddlers’ trail guidebook.

Peter Joslin, chair of the Charlotte Planning Commission, recommended that a committee be formed to look into options to add more parking in West Charlotte.

Parking has come up as the Charlotte Family Health Center is considering building offices on Ferry Road across from Town Hall and as an addition to the library has been discussed.

“It’s my thinking that this would be a really good time to take another hard look at it,” Joslin said.

The selectboard voted for the formation of a parking committee.

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