The Charlotte Selectboard voted unanimously to schedule a special election on Nov. 5 for a vote to approve an amended Town Plan.
The proposed amendment to the Town Plan would be the only item on the ballot. However, Town Administrator Dean Bloch said there is speculation that if the selectboard also adopts a wastewater allocation ordinance for the West Charlotte wastewater system in the coming weeks, there might be a petition about that ordinance.
He clarified by saying that residents are allowed to petition for an Australian, or secret, ballot on any ordinance. A successful petition would require signatures from at least 5 percent of the voters and would mean a second item on the ballot asking for the right to vote on the wastewater allocation ordinance.
Resident Phil Barone was at the Aug. 26 meeting and said he had experience in industrial, commercial and municipal wastewater treatment.
“You folks are opening up a wicked can worms by having something like that,” he said.
People who have a private septic system are very careful about what they put in it because they don’t want to have to repair it, but it’s a different story when they are connected to a municipal system, he said.
“You talk to any town around here and see what they find in the grate of the stuff that comes in,” Barone said. “Everything from dead animal bodies to towels, blankets, you name it. Your maintenance is going to be phenomenal.”
Spear for Town Meeting Day wastewater vote
Selectboard member Carrie Spear said she believes the decision on the wastewater allocation ordinance “should go to Town Meeting in March – period.”
“It’s way too early,” she said. “It’s totally unfair.”
Peter Joslin said that he’s been on the wastewater committee for a year or two, but he thinks that discussion about wastewater allocation goes back 10 years.
He said he thinks it’s important to have the children’s center and the proposed medical center in town. He encouraged the selectboard to continue moving forward on approving the amendments to the wastewater system so that both of those organizations could apply to connect with the municipal wastewater system.
“If there’s a petition, there’s a petition,” Joslin said. “You know there’s been a lot of opportunity for folks in town to have an opportunity to talk.”
Selectboard chair Matt Krasnow said, “I think that this is as polished as the wastewater committee is going to get the document, and if we’re satisfied with the document from an editing standpoint, I would think we should send this to general counsel for review.”
Spear argued for caution, that this is so important that “we have to cross all of our ‘t’s’ and dot all of our ‘i’s.’”
“We are only going to live for 100 years, but the town lives on for hundreds and hundreds,” she said.
Joslin said that he agrees, and that’s why it’s taken 10 years.
One side of the street septic system worry
“I’d like for an opportunity for the whole town to consider the issue rather than having five or 10 people to change something so dramatically,” said Spear.
She also is worried about a scenario where in 50 or 100 years there is septic on the north side of Ferry Road but not on the south side.
Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz said that the proposed allocation ordinance requires an applicant to show that they have exhausted all “private opportunities” to develop a sceptic system before getting approval for connecting to the municipal wastewater system.
“If you do have a parcel and there is the potential to have sceptic on that parcel, you have to use it,” said Tegatz.
“If this ordinance does go through in a similar form that it’s in now, I would encourage the board to ask CVFRS (Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services) to apply to be on the municipal wastewater system because they are a nonprofit, they are not a town entity and I would think the ordinance would need to apply to all organizations equally,” Krasnow said. “Although they’ve been grandfathered in historically, that’s not a town building, it’s not a town asset.”
The selectboard is now giving the drafts of the wastewater ordinance to its general counsel for a legal review of the ordinance. Bloch said it’s a possibility that they could get a response in two weeks, but it may be longer.
- The selectboard opened bids for engineering on a deteriorating portion of Monkton Road from Dubois & King for $68,000 and Golder Associates for $108,000.
They postponed a decision on awarding the contract to take time to compare the bids.
“There’s a lot to this,” said Tegatz.
Bloch said they had been awarded a matching grant from the Vermont Agency of Transportation for 90 percent of the cost of the engineering for the Monkton Road project up to $45,800. The board voted unanimously to accept the grant.
- Bloch reported on the results of a traffic safety study by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) that residents of Church Hill Road had requested for their road.
There is no speed limit indicated on Church Hill Road, “so the default is 50 mph,” Bloch said.
The study recommended that the speed limit should be changed to 40 mph.
Residents had submitted a letter and around 15 residents attended the selectboard meeting advocating for a 40 mph speed limit.
The selectboard unanimously passed an amendment to the ordinance to set the speed limit at 40 mph.
Church Hill Road resident Matt Tucker asked how drivers would know the speed limit has changed. Road Commissioner Junior Lewis said that six new speed limit signs would be installed.
- During the selectboard updates portion of the meeting, Tegatz said construction on the new addition to the Charlotte Library will begin Oct. 1, according to the contractor. By phone, Tegatz said that date is an estimate.
“Plus or minus a few days,” he said. “That’s the plan. We’re still plugging away.”