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City council to appoint new member

VERGENNES — At their Sept. 8 meeting, Vergennes aldermen discussed a proposal to put a 500-kilowatt array on a Comfort Hill property (see story here) and discussed a number of other issues.
On those issues, city council members:
• Heard from Alderman Joe Klopfenstein that he will officially step down from the council at the end of November. Aldermen must replace him “forthwith” with a new appointment according to the city charter, City Manager Mel Hawley said. Klopfenstein has accepted a teaching position at Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and will start in December.
• Heard from Alderman Jeff Fritz, a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes, that the club has decided to renovate the headquarters and clubhouse it rents on School Street rather than continue to seek to purchase space. Those renovations will include reconfiguring the entrance to bring it up to code and make it handicap-accessible, Fritz said.
• Met with Peter Kahn, developer of a proposed 50-lot housing subdivision on a 94-acre parcel that borders West Main Street, Hopkins Road, Otter Creek, and homes and apartments on Hillside Drive that won city approval in 2014. Kahn said he expects Act 250 approval “in the next couple of weeks” and that he hopes soon to start Phase One, 10 lots off West Main Street.
Council members agreed in principle to accept the roads into the subdivision as city streets as they are built in phases, assuming they are, as Kahn promised, installed to city specs. Benton said new homes are welcome in Vergennes, especially given that state school funding is now dependent on the number of children in a community’s schools.
“We certainly know we need housing,” he said.
• Heard from planning commission chairman Shannon Haggett that planners will hold a Sept. 28 public hearing at the fire station at 7 p.m. on proposed new zoning amendments. Haggett said the amendments, consisting of about seven pages of changes, are essentially a “cleanup” of existing zoning laws to reconcile them with the 2014 update of the Vergennes City Plan.
He said planners hope to be able to forward the amendments to the city council in October. The council will also hold at least one hearing on the proposed changes before adoption.
• Were visited by new Vermont League of Cities and Towns Executive Director Maura Carroll, who pledged that VLCT would “continue to be focused on the members” and would be happy to support “the goals of the city and the goals of the council.” Hawley praised VLCT and its insurance wing, PACIF, saying he consults with the league at least weekly and calling the organization “very efficient.”

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