Archive - Dec 8, 2008 - Page
By KATHRYN FLAGG
STARKSBORO — The parking lot was crowded, and Robinson Elementary School’s cafeteria even more so on Thursday night, when nearly 200 Starksboro residents gathered for the simple purpose of listening to one another’s stories.
“We wanted to ask people about their stories living in this place,” explained Middlebury College professor John Elder, whose class — students in a course titled “Portrait of a Vermont Town” — trundled into Starksboro this fall to collect residents’ stories.
On Thursday, with a captivated audience on hand, they gave those stories back.
Starksboro, a town of fewer than 2,000, was selected to participate in the “Art & Soul Civic Engagement” project earlier this fall. The pilot program is co-sponsored by the Orton Family Foundation and the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), and holds at its core the belief that the arts can fuel discussions about community values — discussions that in turn can be translated into planning strategies to protect the “heart and soul” of a town.
Of the six towns in the county that applied for the grant, which is valued at around $55,000, Starksboro was selected in part because its agricultural character, concentration of low-income housing, and proximity to Chittenden County commuter sprawl made the town especially interesting to Orton.
Thursday night’s community supper marked the end of the project’s first phase, a three-month storytelling stint during which students conducted more than 65 interviews.
These stories were turned into essays, compiled with old photographs and maps, and turned into multimedia presentations including audio/visual portraits of the town. The interviews that students recorded will all be archived at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, and their digital projects will be linked to the town’s Web site (www.starksboro.org).
By JOHN FLOWERS
SHOREHAM — There will be a major house move in Shoreham on Thursday.
No, we’re not talking about someone moving their possessions into or out of an existing home.
They’ll be moving the entire home — a 178-year-old, two-story farmhouse that will be trucked in two sections from the First National Bank of Orwell property off Route 22A to the Green Woods Village subdivision off School Street, a distance of around three-quarters of a mile.
Once trucked to Green Woods Village, each of the two sections of the home will be placed on its own new foundation and made ready for the two middle-income families that will occupy them.
“We certainly hated to see the house sitting there, unused,” said Brian Young, vice president of the First National Bank of Orwell, which is donating the structure. “This is the best possible use we could have come up with.”
The uninhabited farmhouse was a part of the roughly three-acre property on Route 22A the bank acquired back in 2004 as the site for its Shoreham branch. Officials had first considered renovating the home to host the bank, but determined the necessary work would be too extensive. They therefore built a new structure on the parcel, but were still left with the dilemma of how to put the farmhouse to use.
After determining the bank couldn’t rent out the home and deciding not to subdivide and sell the home as part of a separate lot, Young and his colleagues offered it to the Addison County Community Trust (ACCT). The offer came with an important caveat.
“They said they would like us to move it,” ACCT Executive Director Terry McKnight recalled.
By JOHN FLOWERS
SHOREHAM — Shoreham voters last Wednesday rejected a slate of revised zoning regulations for the town by a nearly two-to-one margin, 268 to 139.
Shoreham will continue to operate under its current zoning rules.
Local planners will meet later this winter to discuss the vote and the next steps that could be taken in revising the regulations, which haven’t been comprehensively rewritten for around 20 years.
Shoreham Planning Commission Chairman Glenn Symon was disappointed with the results of the Dec. 3 vote. The commission held several public hearings and work sessions during the past few years crafting the zoning law revisions, which officials said were aimed at permitting greater flexibility in developing the core village area while encouraging more measured growth and preservation of farmland in the rural areas.
But a majority of voters weren’t sold on the revised zoning laws, characterized by some as too extensive and heavy handed.
In the end, those philosophically opposed to new rules turned out in greater numbers at the polls on Dec. 3, according to Symon.
“You have those who are supportive of what zoning can do for the community, and property rights people who are opposed to zoning,” Symon said on Thursday.
He feared “a good number” of voters went to the polls without having studied the rules in-depth.
Town planners are hoping to resolve zoning issues soon, in order to focus on other topics on their agenda. Those issues include an update of the town plan, renovations to Newton Academy and deciding what to do with the Farnham property the town acquired to facilitate the municipal sewer system.