Around the Region: Panton pursues zoning case against farm

PANTON — A case involving Panton and the owners of the Vorsteveld Farm made its first appearance in Environmental court on May 24.
 The Panton Development Review Board in February voted to pursue a case against the farm because one of its feed bunkers was built in the town’s Jersey Street right-of-way. Selectmen later voted to back the DRB in the case.
In January, zoning administrator Ed Hanson told the DRB he had issued three notices of zoning violation to the farm, one for the feed bunker, one for an unapproved mobile home, and one for a heifer barn; according to minutes, the third notice was rescinded. The remaining two were sent to the town’s attorney at that point “to continue litigation.”
At the February DRB meeting, Hanson “shared that the town will have lawyer Karl Neuse take the Vorsteveld farm feed bunker violation” to Environmental Court.
The town’s planning commission, which shares membership with the DRB, also continued working on a new town plan in a series of meetings. On March 25, planners agreed that Chairman David Raphael should recommend to selectmen that the existing town plan be extended while the new plan is being prepared. In April, selectmen agreed to do so.
At their May 11 meeting, selectmen discussed the planned upgrade of the Vergennes-Panton Water District plant, which would begin this fall if a bond is approved; talked about the need to get more estimates for planned repairs to the roof of town hall; and heard from Town Clerk Sue Torrey about a plan to reduce her hours to 14 a week beginning in July.
In April, Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley met with selectmen to discuss the fire and recycling contracts between the two communities; Hawley also expressed that he is “hopeful the communication between the two towns will be better than in the past and apologized for any miscommunication,” according to minutes.
Hawley said the fire contract cost may rise because of equipment upgrades in the city, and addressed Panton’s concerns about outsiders using the city recycling center by saying Vergennes would consider putting signs in place. Hawley also said city officials do not believe many residents other than those from the towns that the center serves make use of it.
Panton did not record any property transfers in the past few months.
RR crossing to be made safer
FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh selectmen on May 4 gave permission for construction in the town’s Little Chicago Road right-of-way that town officials said will make the railroad crossing over the road safer. Plans call for the road to be closed for three days in mid-October to allow work to be done.
As well as better signs, the project will fill in holes in the pavement around the rails that have posed a hazard to cyclists, officials said. There will be no cost to Ferrisburgh for the work.
On May 4, selectmen also heard a report on an ongoing topic, the acoustics in the upstairs meeting room in the new town office building, which has an “echo problem,” according to minutes.
Mike Muir, the chairman of the committee selectmen appointed to look into the issue, said he met with people from Burlington’s Flynn Theater, who recommended “wall tapestries, drapes, curtains and a border rug to help absorb the echo.” They also suggested “a simple sound system” once those improvements were made.
On May 18, the board approved town energy coordinator Bob McNary’s suggestion of forming an energy committee to help residents, and also accepted with regret McNary’s resignation from his post as the town member on the Addison County Regional Planning Commission board.
At that meeting, the board also congratulated town road worker Paul Bodington for defending his title as best backhoe operator at the annual state highway competition.
On April 6, a neighbor of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum expressed concern about its proposed larger docks, and selectmen decided to invite museum head Art Cohn in to describe the project.
At that meeting, selectmen also reappointed Dennis Armell, Deb Healey and Craig Heindel to the conservation commission and Tom Mansfield as zoning administrator. On March 16, they picked Loretta Lawrence as chairwoman, Jim Warden as vice chairman, and Sally Torrey as clerk.
Addison buys new Cat tractor
ADDISON — Addison selectmen on May 4 voted to spend $44,200 for a Cat Challenger tractor at the recommendation of road foreman Bryan Nolan. Half the money will come from the highway department’s depreciation fund, and the other half from a bank loan.
In March, selectmen and Nolan discussed buying a used tractor, but in April Nolan made the case that it made more sense to buy a new tractor with the town’s municipal discount because it would cost little more, last longer and come with a warranty.
On May 4, selectmen also held a brief public hearing on proposed new zoning laws to regulate personal airstrips for private aircraft. According to minutes, “all agreed this was a well-written document” by the town’s planning commission.
In April, selectmen adopted a resolution praising the contributions to the town of the late Edith Carpenter, who served 20 years as Addison’s town clerk and was later clerk of the town’s planning commission.
In March, selectmen chose Jeff Kauffman as their chairman and Kim Provencher as vice chairman. The board also authorized Nolan to spend $10,000 on a salt shed, and discussed the vacant position of zoning administrator, an ongoing issue and on the planning commission’s plate. Kauffman has been filling in.
Addison’s planning commission also held a series of meetings in their ongoing effort to rewrite town zoning. In gatherings on Feb. 15, March 15, April 19 and May 17 planners worked on issues that included fencing, towers and wind energy, telecommunications, hiking trails and the private airstrips.
Waltham studies taxpayer late fees
WALTHAM — Waltham selectmen are re-evaluating what the town should charge residents who are late in paying property taxes. Currently, the penalty is 8 percent. On May 3, selectman David Kayhart agreed to check with surrounding towns to find out what they charge.
Selectmen also discussed in May and April a possible grant to pave the town hall parking lot if Waltham allows the Addison County Transit Resources bus to stop there. They are expecting a letter from the Agency of Transportation by the end of May to tell the town if money is available.
In February, selectmen and planners clarified a zoning question. A density bonus allowing more lots to be built than otherwise allowed only applies to land in the agricultural zone, officials said. To qualify for the bonus, a landowner must have at least 20 acres, and then can create 5-acre lots in a zone that otherwise requires 10 acres, they said.
Planners met to work on the zoning regulations, including on March 16. At that meeting, they also discussed the Addison County Community Trust’s possible purchase of the Gevry mobile home park on Maple Street Extension. Officials at the town clerk’s office last week said there has been no recent progress made on that deal that they are aware of.

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