Archive - Nov 26, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Central Vermont Public Service Corp. is considering introducing a new 5.4-mile, 46kV power transmission line that would extend from substations in New Haven and Weybridge, a project designed to enhance electricity delivery and reliability for around 4,400 customers — including businesses in Middlebury’s industrial park.
CVPS spokesman Steve Costello stressed plans are very conceptual at this point. Ultimately, the state’s largest utility would need to apply for permission from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) to proceed with the $4 million project, which would not be subject to local review.
“We are trying now to get public input before we seek a permit,” Costello said. “We are probably a year away from filing an application with the PSB.”
The 4,400 customers that would be affected by the project are currently served by a dead-end radial line that extends from the Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO) substation in Middlebury to the CVPS substation in Weybridge. Costello explained that since the line is a dead-end, it is more vulnerable to interruptions of service in the event of a downed tree or some other natural disaster that could take down poles or other infrastructure.
“(The line) is not looped,” Costello said. “There is nowhere else to feed it.”
With that in mind, CVPS officials are considering a new 46kV line that would run along an existing electricity distribution right of way from the New Haven VELCO substation off Route 17, across Town Hill Road and through fields and cleared land before crossing Route 7. After crossing Route 7, it would travel across country, paralleling Campground Road and Twitchell Hill Road before tying into the existing 46kV line feeding the CVPS Weybridge substation, which is on Quaker Village Road.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — Dozens of Ferrisburgh residents and a Vergennes Union Middle School class crowded into town offices for a Nov. 19 planning commission hearing on a petitioned zoning change. The petition was sparked by a recent proposal for a combined McDonald’s Restaurant, gas station and convenience store on Route 7.
That proposal has generated more interest — and opposition — than any in recent Ferrisburgh memory, even more, said planning commission member Bob Beach, than a proposal for more than a hundred homes and shops on a parcel next to the school and town offices two summers ago.
With those strong feelings in mind, Beach said planners are likely to make some kind of recommendation to selectmen for a zoning change, he said, although the issues are complicated.
“It’s important to note that it’s the biggest turnout ... I’ve ever seen come forward on a planning commission issue,” Beach said.
The petition in question asked for a zoning change for “commercially zoned areas” along Route 7 “to allow for no more than one gas station, convenience store, and/or fast food restaurant within each of our three commercial zones.”
It offered as a rationale that the areas are “too small in road distances (one-half mile or less in each designated area) to allow for safe ingress and egress of more than one of these businesses in each zone,” and requested the change “to ensure the safety of all motorized vehicles and passengers” traveling along Route 7 in Ferrisburgh.
Town Clerk Chet Hawkins assessed the mood of the crowd, estimated at roughly 75, without himself taking a position.
“It was predominantly in support of the bylaw to not permit the high-volume use of Route 7,” Hawkins said.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s newly renovated Town Hall Theater (THT) on March 2 will take a brief holiday as an entertainment venue in order to return to its roots as the hub of municipal government.
Selectmen and THT officials have confirmed Middlebury’s annual town meeting will return to the theater building after a more than 50-year hiatus.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity,” Middlebury selectboard Chairman John Tenny said of town meeting’s impending relocation to the THT. “We are hoping for a very strong showing (from townspeople).”
The venerable building at 68 South Pleasant St. was erected in 1884 as Middlebury’s first town hall. The structure featured a 600-seat theater that hosted — along with Middlebury’s annual meeting — a variety of plays, concerts, dances, speeches and eventually, movies.
But the building’s run as town hall ended during the 1950s, when local leaders moved Middlebury’s municipal offices to their current location: The former Middlebury High School complex off College Street. Meanwhile, the former town hall was sold to private owners, who over the years used it as an eatery and for other commercial purposes.
It was around a decade ago that a group of drama enthusiasts and community members organized an effort to purchase the building from the Middlebury Knights of Columbus, and transform it into a performing arts center. Organizers were able to take their bow this past summer, when they opened the THT after having raised more than $5 million to acquire and completely renovate the landmark property.