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Ferrisburgh zoning leadership changes

FERRISBURGH — Just as Ferrisburgh is bringing interim zoning administrator Bonnie Barnes on board as a permanent employee, the town’s other top zoning official has stepped down.
Longtime Zoning Board of Adjustment Chairwoman Charlene Stavenow informed the selectboard informally in late August, and she made it official in September that she would be leaving her post after 30 years of service. The ZBA was set to meet on Wednesday and choose new leadership.
Stavenow, a real estate appraiser, has moved to Michigan, where one of her two daughters lives.
Stavenow’s last official act was presiding over the Sept. 6 ZBA meeting, where the final item of business was issuing a conditional use permit to the DeVos family trucking business for a depot on Tuppers Crossing, a proposal that neighbors had opposed. That approval included a number of conditions, particularly on lighting, landscape screening and hours of operation.
At the conclusion of the meeting, according to minutes, board member Bob Beach “said he thought it was appropriate for the board to offer thanks and appreciation to Charlene Stavenow for a job well done as longtime chair of the zoning board, and all of the board members agreed, giving Stavenow a round of applause, joined by the members of the public attending the meeting.”
Stavenow said she had “loved working with the board over the past 30 years, saying that her fellow board members had kept her going, and that she would miss them. Board members said they would certainly miss her.”
Current Ferrisburgh Selectboard Chairwoman Loretta Lawrence joined in the praise — Lawrence served on the ZBA under Stavenow’s leadership for seven years in the 1990s.
“She’s just an amazing person, chair-wise and person-wise, always fair. She ran a tight ship, but a fair ship,” Lawrence said. “It’s just a true loss to Ferrisburgh. The knowledge she brought to the zoning board was amazing.”
“It was tough saying goodbye, for sure,” Lawrence added.
The better news, according to Lawrence, was Barnes’ decision to stay on as the zoning administrator. She had replaced Ken Wheeling after he resigned in August, but only on an interim basis.
Barnes, a 1973 Princeton University graduate, served from 1995 to 2013 as Judicial Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions, years where she also taught at Vermont Law School as an adjunct professor. Before then she spent 10 years in private practice with Sessions, Keiner and Dumont, P.C., after earning a law degree from Northeastern.
Lawrence said the town is lucky to have someone with Barnes’ qualifications willing to work as its part-time zoning administrator.
“She’s like a gift from heaven with her background,” Lawrence said. “She feels it’s still very doable from 15 to 20 hours.”

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