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More details sought on Starksboro snowmobile route

STARKSBORO — Snowmobilers hoping to ride on Ireland and Conway roads as part of a proposed connector trail between the Lewis Creek Wildlife Management Area and the Jerusalem Corners Store did not receive the permission they were hoping for on Tuesday night.

The Starksboro selectboard, after meeting for 45 minutes in executive session to hear legal advice, announced it will hold a hearing on the matter sometime in the future — after it has received a written request for snowmobilers to use the roads.

“In order for us to consider what we think is being asked by the snowmobile club, we would need a formal written proposal, and that proposal would need to detail certain things about where the trail would exactly enter, where the trail would exactly exit, and expected travel on the trail,” said selectboard member John Painter after the executive session.

Snowmobiling signs began appearing along a 1.5-mile stretch of Ireland and Conway roads early last month, before permission had been granted or even sought from the selectboard, which is the only entity with the legal authority to grant an exception to state laws prohibiting snowmobile use on plowed roads.

A Bristol resident and member of the Mt. Abe Snow Sports/Snowmobiling Club called selectboard chair Koran Cousino on Dec. 12 to request that permission, but at least 25 residents of the neighborhood have signed a written statement opposing that request.

The selectboard heard testimony on the issue Dec. 21, and then tabled the request until Jan. 4.

In addition to providing the route and other details, the required written proposal to ride snowmobiles on Ireland and Conway roads must also show that all other route possibilities have been exhausted and demonstrate an effort to “connect and collaborate” with the residents along the proposed route, Painter said.

The selectboard offered to follow up with a member of the snowmobiling community to explain what the proposal would require.

After it has received a formal written proposal from the snowmobiling community, the selectboard will post it on the town website, starksborovt.org, for public review, Cousino said Tuesday night. The selectboard will also post all of the correspondence it has received to date on the matter and any further written testimony it receives.

There will be no restrictions on who can submit written evidence or testimony beforehand, or who will be allowed to speak at the hearing, but the selectboard will vet what it receives, she added.

The public hearing will be warned at least 10 days in advance.

Deliberations will take place in public, but the selectboard has decided to issue its decision in writing, so it’s unlikely a decision will be made the evening of the hearing, Painter and Cousino said.

After the selectboard had moved on to other business Tuesday night, the Mt. Abe Snow Sports/Snowmobiling Club announced in a Facebook post that “club members and supporters will work to get the request submitted ASAP.”

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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