Delays to Grafton Town Plan questioned; wind project again aired at Select Board

By Gloria Dufield
©2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Grafton Select Board meeting on Monday, April 20, had a good audience despite the rain and ongoing mud season.

From left, Skip Lisle, Sam Battaglino, Noralee Hall and Town Administrator Rachel Williams. Photo by Gloria Dufield.

From left, Grafton Select Board members Skip Lisle, Sam Battaglino and Noralee Hall with Town Administrator Rachel Williams. Photo by Gloria Dufield.

Board chair Sam Battaglino’s call for public comment resulted in resident Carol Lind thanking the Select Board for their work. But she also asked that members take into consideration the impact of sound and other issues that may be caused by any potential windmill project in Grafton.  Battaglino assured Lind that the board would take her comments and community members into consideration. A proposed wind project has been an ongoing and controversial issue for the town of Grafton. At the April 8 board meeting, resident Kent Armstrong said that he believed that three of the five board members had a conflict of interest relating to the wind proposal because they had stated publicly that they were against that project. He urged the board to consult with the town attorney on the issue, to which they agreed.

When questioned after this meeting, Battaglino said that both legal counsel and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, which serves as a resource for state municipalities, had been consulted on the conflict of interest issue and that it would be addressed at an upcoming meeting.

Planning Commission urged to meet on Town Plan twice a month

The Town Plan, which is not moving ahead as quickly as some Select Board and Planning Commission members would like, appears to be delayed by the energy section and lack of attendance by commission members. Currently, the commission meets once a month and, according to Battaglino, very little was completed at the last meeting. The commission did, however, vote – 3 to 2 – to keep the once-a-month meeting schedule as opposed to twice a month.

Battaglino said he thought that grants and other funding was being missed out on, in particular due to the town not having the Village Center designation in the Town Plan, which must be adopted every five years. The current plan dates to 2008 but was re-adopted with some updates in 2013. A new Town Plan needs to be completed by 2018.

Planning Commission chair Eric Stevens said that members only have three or four chapters left to review. Battaglino again suggested that the commission hold two meetings a month, adding that if commission members didn’t take their responsibilities seriously by attending the meetings, the Select Board could replace or add more members. Stevens countered that members had originally signed on to one meeting a month when they volunteered.

One audience member also said that the Select Board would have to vote unanimously to remove or add members to the commission. Select Board member Noralee Hall said that although commission members answer to the Select Board, they needed to work at their own pace. However, she asked the commission to bring the Select Board something to review.

Town pound and lawn care and logging bids

The Select Board also addressed the need for a town pound, a role previously filled by Rockingham Veterinary Clinic, which is no longer able to do so. The state requires that all towns have a pound. Town Clerk Kimberly Record said she found that most businesses that function as pounds require a $500 annual fee. Record also noted that since most pets picked up recently by town  constable Walter Critchfield (whose duties include animal control) have been quickly reunited with their owners, there hasn’t been a need for using a holding facility.

Other issues addressed included a tax refund policy, lawn and logging bids and a reminder on the upcoming Green Up Day.

The board adopted the town Refund and Credit Balance Policy for Tax Collection, in which any refunds under $5 will not be refunded and refunds of more than $5 would refunded on an annual basis.

Also bids for lawn care and for logging were also opened at the meeting.

Only one bid for the town lawn care came in while more than 10 from companies for logging. An emergency meeting was already scheduled for the next day to review the logging/sale bids with the forester and to decide on the winning bid. (The contract was awarded to BK Skidding & Timberland Management of Chester, which bid $18,127.50.) The list of bids received as well as the result of the emergency meeting is available on the Grafton town website.

The community was also reminded that Green Up Day is Saturday, May 2, and that volunteers would be treated to Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream pops.

The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, May 4, at the Grafton Elementary School, 58 School St. The agenda will be available in The Chester Telegraph. Fact Television – Channel 8 ( videotapes Select Board meetings and minutes are available on the Town of Grafton site.

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About the Author: Gloria Dufield is a Green Mountain Union High School and University of Vermont graduate. She has more than 15 years of experience working in higher education libraries. Her most recent writing includes marketing projects for a Vermont GIS company as well as articles for a weekly publication.

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