Hellier steps into Bristol planning vacancy

BRISTOL — Skimmer Hellier was appointed to a three-year term by the Bristol selectboard last week to fill a vacant space in the planning commission left by Stanley Livingston.
Hellier has lived in Vermont for more than 27 years and in Addison County for 16. He moved to Bristol four years ago and is the co-owner of Stark Mountain Woodworking, a custom woodworking company based out of New Haven. His wife Jill runs New Leaf Organics, an organic farm off of Bristol Road.
Looking to get more involved with the Bristol community, Hellier signed a form at town meeting day to indicate that he was interested in available town office appointments. Subsequently, the selectboard called him to their meeting for an interview.
When asked about how he learned about the planning commission vacancy, he said, “I didn’t even realize that there was an opening.”
It wasn’t until last week, when he sat down with the selecboard at their biweekly meeting, that he was notified that they were looking to appoint a new member to the commission.
“When I initially signed up, I was pretty much just interested in the planning commission … (the appointment was) serendipitous I suppose,” Hellier said.
“I like the idea of being involved in that aspect of the village that I now call home. I love the idea of figuring out some of the nuances that are endless,” he added.
One element of town development that he seems particularly excited about is the development of a compact community.
“I think Bristol is concentrating development within the village and on a walking environment instead of continuing to creep around the edges … and keep on sprawling in one way or another,” he said. “It seems like a perfect environment to develop more densely in the center … that will help on many levels from the tax base to a more vibrant community.”
As for the town’s hottest topic — gravel extraction — he’s currently not touting one side or the other.
“It’s a very complex issue that the commission is trying to grapple with. It’ll be great to look at it with fresh eyes and see what element I can bring to it as a landowner in Bristol.”
But, for now, Hellier doesn’t want to voice his concerns too loudly.
“I really want to hear what the other planning commission members have to say first hand … it’d be great to get my feet wet and hear what people have to say before I go and put my two cents in. I think we could all use to listen a little bit more.” 

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