Trust looks to protect local land

BRISTOL — Bristol farmer Jim Choiniere is working with the Vermont Land Trust to put 153 acres of his farmland under protection from future development, Bristol selectman found out at their Sept. 27 meeting. The VLT’s Allen Karnatz asked the Bristol selectboard to endorse the land conservation project — the first of its kind in Bristol.
Karnatz explained that a restriction, known as an easement, would be placed on the deed of the property that would prohibit Choiniere or any future landowner from subdividing the property. Karnatz and Choiniere hope to persevere the large, open meadows that spread across that Plank Road property through funding from various conservation grants.
In order to secure funding, Karnatz needs proof of the town’s approval. Town Administrator Bill Bryant suggested that he attend the next meeting of Bristol’s Conservation Commission on Oct. 21 before the selectboard gives its O.K.
Once the easement is in place, Choiniere will no longer be able to split up his property or extract gravel, but he will continue to be allowed to farm it, harvest and even continue to log on certain parts of his land. The main goal, according to Karnatz, is to keep those meadows and open expanses intact.
“It’s not so much about necessarily stopping development as it is about protecting the best pieces of agricultural land,” Karnatz said.
Other issues brought the selectboard’s attention at the Sept. 27 meeting were:
• The number of Addison County Transit Resources riders in Bristol is up to nearly 1,000 rides per month since the new hourly tri-town schedule was implemented seven months ago. ACTR Executive Director Jim Moulton said that before the expansion, the total ridership totaled just 1,100 per month for the entire tri-town system. Moulton also said that ACTR has registered with Google Transit, an online application that will allow transit users to look up bus routes without having to visit the ACTR website or consult a paper schedule.
• Selectboard members briefly interviewed three candidates for the opening on the Bristol Planning Commission. Andy Jackson, Jodi Lathrop and Kris Perlee all threw their hats in the ring, and Perlee was later appointed.
• Tom Wells introduced a plan for the paving of the Almost Home Market parking lot of North Street. Selectmen expressed concern for the overhang of parked cars onto the sidewalk, but otherwise approved of the plan that includes new landscaping in addition to the blacktop.
Tamara Hilmes is at tamarah@addisonindependent.com.

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