Bristol selectboard seeks applicants for fire station panel

BRISTOL — The Bristol selectboard will be accepting applications from those wishing to serve on a planning committee as the search for an improved facility for Bristol’s fire department proceeds. Committee members will do the legwork on site selection and may continue serving into the design stage. Applications for the committee will be posted on the town’s website later this week, and will also be available at the town office.

At Monday’s selectboard meeting in Holley Hall, board members discussed whether to set a definitive number of seats on the site selection committee — seven seats or nine seats were the options under consideration — and whether to set a ratio of firefighters to community members at large.

The previous fire facility committee, a nine-person group comprised of five firefighters, two selectboard members, Town Administrator Bill Bryant, and one citizen at large, will be disbanded. Anyone wishing to serve on the new committee, including previous committee members, must submit an application to be considered. However, the fire department is likely to appoint members to fill its designated seats once a ratio is set.

Discussions during two public meetings on the fire facilities held in recent weeks included requests for the selectboard to set a more balanced ratio between firefighters and citizens at large.

At Monday’s meeting, town officials planned to move forward according to feedback from those meetings. However, Bryant emphasized that the number who will serve on the committee was not yet set in stone. Selectmen Brian Fox, Alan Huizinga, Joel Bouvier and John “Peeker” Heffernan agreed that it was too early in the process to set a ratio and exact numbers.

The application will ask citizens why they would like to serve on the committee; what areas of expertise they would bring to the table; and whether they would be interested in serving during the site selection phase, the design phase or both.

Bryant said the submission period would run through the end of May, and that the selectboard could invite applicants to interview during the June 3 selectboard meeting.

Several selectmen also raised the issue of impartiality, since some of the community’s conversations surrounding the firehouse project have been quite heated in the past.

“That might be one of the questions (on the application),” Bouvier said. “Could you be impartial with a site selection across the street from your home? I’d like to see an honest answer to that.”

In other action at Monday’s meeting, the Bristol selectboard:

•  Held public hearings on the landfill, water and sewage budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The board approved the landfill spending plan of $130,250. Fees for landfill services were unchanged. They also OK’d the sewage budget (with spending pegged at $33,800) and the water spending plan of $259,000.

•  Reviewed a draft letter from the planning commission that identified the town’s Stoney Hill property and several adjoining private properties of significant importance to town development.

•  Heard from Caleb Elder of All-Earth Renewables about a possible solar project with Mount Abraham Union High School. The Williston-based company believed the project, if granted a Certificate of Public Good, would bypass local zoning ordinances. Bristol town officials expressed doubt that that was the case.

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