Archive - Dec 31, 2007
A SHEEP WELCOMES two pigeons to its stomping grounds in Weybridge last week.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
December 31, 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — The impending retirement of two Vergennes Union Elementary School teachers has given the school’s board a range of budget options as decision time looms in January.
When board members meet next month, their final proposal could call for a spending hike in the 2008-09 school year of as little as 0.7 percent or as much as 4.1 percent, depending on whether they decide to replace both, one or neither of the retiring teachers.
Officials said no final spending plan will call for new programs or personnel, although increases in energy costs and the price of health insurance are putting pressure on the bottom line, as are contracted raises that average about 4 percent for the school’s teachers and aides.
Principal Sandy Bassett said he and the school’s board members have been careful spenders during his eight-year tenure, during which VUES budgets have earned regular backing.
“I think we always have been (careful),” Bassett said. “I think that’s why our budgets pass. The public knows we’re very responsible.”
The current year’s budget calls for spending roughly $3.4 million. The smallest increase being considered would boost spending by 0.7 percent to $3.422 million. That assumes neither teacher — one of those retiring teaches first grade, the other, fifth grade — is replaced,
If one teacher is replaced, spending would go to about $3.48 million, an increase of about 2.1 percent. If both are replaced spending would rise to about $3.54 million, an increase of about 4.1 percent.
December 31, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES
BRANDON — It was about 10 degrees inside the Brandon Town Hall one morning last week, but that didn’t stop Dennis Marden from putting in half a day’s work on the set he’s been building there for the Brandon Town Players’ upcoming production of “My Fair Lady.”
The players will perform the play this winter at Otter Valley Union High School, not on the town hall stage — besides heat, the building also lacks a fire suppression or sprinkler system, making it a safety hazard to the public. But the open space in the main level is perfect for a large-scale set-building project, and Marden, like many Brandon residents, is sick of seeing the old building sitting there, empty.
To that end, his organization, Friends of the Brandon Town Hall, is ratcheting up its efforts to restore the building. By this summer, the Friends hope to raise $72,000 for a fire suppression system, which would allow the building to open to the public six months out of the year.
And they’re making progress. Earlier this month the Vermont Arts Council awarded the organization a $20,000 cultural facilities grant; earlier this season the National Bank of Middlebury pledged a challenge grant of $7,500; and the First Brandon Bank also made a challenge grant of $7,500 over the next three years. Businesses and individuals in the Brandon area have also been generous, donating about $5,000 over the last few weeks.
Since the incorporation of the Friends in 1998, the group has raised $386,000, hired architect Jay White from Robert Williams and Associates in Pittsfield and completed a number of mostly external renovations, including the installation of marble front steps donated by the Omya quarry; exterior painting; brick masonry re-pointing; installation of a handicapped lift; and updates to the electrical system.
December 31, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
NEW HAVEN — The town of New Haven is thinking about simplifying the review process for new development proposals. A Jan. 8 meeting will let town residents talk about creating a development review board (DRB), which would take over all the responsibilities of New Haven’s Zoning Board of Adjustment as well as some of the Planning Commission.
“It more or less combines all the development review issues in one body,” said planning commission chairman Al Karnatz. “It streamlines some of the process.”
Currently, the ZBA handles most parts of an application for any significant new use or change in use of property in New Haven, including appeals of the zoning administrator’s decisions, applications for variances, and conditional use permits. However, approval of the planning commission is required for a number of uses of property. The planning commission’s main job is the town plan and zoning bylaws, but in addition to those responsibilities, it also gives subdivision approval and reviews site plans for commercial and industrial developments.
A DRB would replace the ZBA, and would also take over the planning commission’s approval and review functions. “Applicants who (now) need both planning commission approval, like for a subdivision, and zoning board approval, like for a septic tank, would only need to go before one board,” said John Evers, chairman of the ZBA.
According to Evers, the ZBA originally had almost all the review and approval responsibility, but as new cases arose functions closer to the planning commission’s job were shifted to them. “Over time, what happened is that there is more and more overlap.”