Hinesburg mulls points for water allocation

Staff Writer

The Hinesburg Selectboard’s meeting Monday started with an hour and half executive session in which they discussed candidates for police chief to replace retiring Frank Koss.

At the end of the executive session, they hadn’t made a decision.

Jeff French was absent but attended by speaker phone.

Michael Bissonette has been attending Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission Board of Director meetings as an alternate and he was approved as the regular representative to the board, replacing Andrea Morgante, who was approved to be the Hinesburg representative to the Regional Planning Transportation Advisory Committee.

Selectboard member Merrily Lovell was reappointed to the Regional Planning Clean Water Advisory Committee.

Morgante, who was in the audience, said that Bissonette had been attending all the meetings as an alternate.

Water allocation scoring proposal

Director of Planning and Zoning Alex Weinhagen brought to the selectboard recommendations from the Allocation Committee for a scoring system to decide municipal water and sewer allocations.

The committee was formed to look at the allocation ordinance and to look at improvements to the way that water and sewer is allocated.

“Specifically, there was a desire to take a look at whether our first-come-first-serve basis for giving out water and sewer allocation was the right way to do that or if there was a better way to do that,” Weinhagen said.

This allocation system would be a point-based system where projects are awarded points, and projects are competing against each other so that the allocations are given to the “best” projects.

He described the allocation scoring system the committee is recommending as a “Williston lite” model.

“What’s proposed in the allocation scoring document is not the Williston system. It is a Hinesburg-specific system, but it does seek to have projects compete and be scored on six criteria,” said Weinhagen.

The six criteria are:

• public infrastructure (projects that provide public infrastructure above and beyond what is required and that are desired by the town)

• job creation (projects that bring jobs to Hinesburg with an emphasis on jobs with benefits that pay a living wage)

• housing needs (projects that will provide affordable housing, senior housing, assisted living and other forms of special needs housing)

• stormwater treatment (projects that minimize stormwater runoff and include treatment practices)

• village proximity and redevelopment (projects are awarded points if they are near the “existing village core”)

• energy attributes (no points would be awarded for projects that just meet the state’s energy efficiency standards and more points the higher the energy efficiency standard is).

Smaller projects would be exempt

Within each of the six criteria, there is a ranking of points that would be awarded for how well the project meets goals within that criteria.

Most of the other nearby towns don’t have problems with having almost no water because “most of the communities in Chittenden County are served by lake water,” Weinhagen said. “It’s essentially an unlimited supply.”

He said that the committee wanted an exemption for smaller projects so that, for example, a project for a single-family home wouldn’t be competing against larger projects for water.

The suggestion of the committee is that minor subdivisions of three lots or three houses or less would be exempt and wouldn’t have to go through this process.

Larger projects would submit their sketch plans for review and once a year water would be allocated to those that scored highest until all the water for that year has been allocated.

Affirming comments made by Morgante, Weinhagen said that the system the committee has come up with was devised to use water and sewer allocations to help achieve goals in the town plan.

He said that if the selectboard decides they want to move forward on this system for water allocation, it would probably be March before it would be implemented, although it might be sooner.

Pouech asked Weinhagen to outline the next steps in this process for a future meeting.

Applying for Village Center Designation

Weinhagen also made a presentation to the board about applying for the Village Center Designation Program. Hinesburg had formerly had Village Center Designation, but it lapsed. The designation has to be renewed every five years. The town got it in 2006, renewed it in 2011 and lost it in 2016 because the town plan “was in limbo.”

It includes tax credits for private property owners who are making improvements for such things as historic preservation, façade improvements or ADA accessibility.

“This designation also gives us priority for certain state grants,” he said. “As I understand it, it’s pretty important for the grants we’ll be applying for the wastewater upgrade.”

He said that not having the designation might be a reason that they didn’t get one of the grants that the town had applied for.

The designation is for the town’s historic core and it is not for residential areas or areas of future development, he said.

The selectboard voted unanimously to move forward with the application for Village Center Designation.

Fire Chief Al Barber appeared at the meeting to see about the annual approval of the Local Emergency Management Plan. The management plan outlines the procedures and contact information for an emergency.

The selectboard approved the plan unanimously.

Planning for ambulance service

Barber also discussed the next steps in planning for ambulance service to Hinesburg to replace Saint Michael’s College Fire and Rescue, which has provided ambulance service for 50 years and will end its service to the town in June 2020.

Pouech said that the increasing growth in calls was the reason that Saint Michael’s was withdrawing. He said that the options are to make an agreement with another community to provide ambulance service, develop a regional ambulance service, start a Hinesburg ambulance service or do nothing.

“If we had another plan in place and we were executing it and we needed another 12 months to put it into place, is Saint Mike’s interested in talking to us?” asked selectboard member Aaron Kimball.

“We might get a few months,” said Barber. “I don’t think we’ll get another year. It’s just that the call volume for everybody is just crazy.”

For various reasons Shelburne, Williston and Richmond aren’t interested in becoming the ambulance serviced for Hinesburg.

“Charlotte is interested, but they’re in Shelburne a lot, backing them up,” he said.

If the town is going to start an ambulance service, Barber said that resident Terry Wilson told him that he would rather the town buy a new ambulance than a used one and that Wilson would pay for a $230,000 ambulance, which is what Saint Michael’s recently spent.

“That’s a huge kickstart,” Barber said. “I think we’re in a situation where we’re not going to be easily serviced by anyone just because of the volume of calls and our location.”

The selectboard decided to form a committee to come up with options and a recommendation for what the town should do about ambulance service.

Grant for flood plain restoration

Morgante reported that she’d just received notification Friday that the Lewis Creek Association had been awarded a $342,000 matching grant for restoration of the flood plain of Beecher Hill Brook on Beecher Hill Road near the new highway garage.

“The stream itself has speeded up. It used to have a lot more meanders in it as it crossed back and forth over North Road,” Morgante said. “So, restoring the flood plain in that area will help to reduce the amount of sediment that’s going all the way down to basically the bottom of Beecher Hill at 116.”

The match amount is just over $66,000, of which the town of Hinesburg would pay $30,000. Morgante said that this fulfills a requirement of the bond that the town got to pay for the new garage that part of the money go to pay for landscaping.

The selectboard unanimously approved the match for the grant.

The other $36,000 is coming from the Lewis Creek Association in the form of in-kind donations.

Nick Certo was unanimously approved for an appointment to the Hinesburg Trails Committee.

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