Downer steps down as zoning chief, Weston board taps interim

By Bruce Frauman
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Select board member Bruce Downer steps down after a month as Weston zoning administrator. Photos by Bruce Frauman

After only a month as Weston’s zoning administrator, Bruce Downer handed his resignation to the Weston Select Board on Tuesday, June 13. Downer also serves as a member of the Select Board.

At its  meeting, the Select Board accepted the resignation and the recommendation of the Planning Commission to appoint Kim Price as acting zoning administrator, effective immediately. Price had expressed an interest in public service, according to board member Charles Goodwin, adding that he though she has the skills needed to do well in the job.

Asked to comment, Downer told The Telegraph, “I handed the Select Board my resignation and I’ll leave it at that.”

Shaw Knoll Road culvert work; Act 64 participation

Road Foreman Almond Crandall praised Chaves Excavating for its work to replace a 6-foot culvert breached by a beaver dam on Shaw Knoll Road. A special board meeting was held on June 8 to award the contract to Chaves after bids were requested. The resulting road closure left the residents of four houses stranded for two days, according to Goodwin. Crandall estimated that at its highest level, 4 feet of water was going over the road. Crandall said the only question now is whether to install a guardrail or not. Board member Jim Linville asked when a culvert guardrail is required.

“Anything more than 5-feet deep needs a guardrail,” said Crandall.  In this case, the drop off is 6 feet, though the road itself is now 60 feet wide instead of 40 feet. Crandall is getting prices for a used guardrail in good condition. Board chair Denis Benson asked about state funding, since the cost is more than 10 percent of the non-winter road maintenance expenses. Crandall said the state “may” help pay for the emergency project.

Road Foreman Almon Crandall discusses roof repairs to the town garage

Crandall discussed the structural repairs that need to be made to the roof of the the town garage, saying that the “holdup was no one knew what kind of roof we needed for solar.” In the past, the board has talked about putting solar panels on that south-facing structure. Board member Jim Linville suggested the town get an energy consultant to “give us a long-term plan.”

In addition to solar, this would include heat pumps for the town office building and an emergency power system. Board member Ann Fuji’i said she has asked for a quote for heat pumps and she and Linville will try to have enough information to make a decision by the July 25 meeting.

The board also signed a letter of intent to participate in a pilot program in which the Department of Environmental Conservation will provide towns with funds to comply with Act 64 — the Clean Water Initiative that mandates – in part – that towns control erosion runoff from “hydrologically connected” roads. A road is hydrologically connected if the water that drains from its ditches goes into bodies of water such as rivers, streams and ponds. This involves strategies such as lining with stones ditches that have a slope greater than 5 percent.

While not specified, Linville thought there would be collection tanks that would prevent the West River from being polluted with surface runoff. Testing will be done to see if in fact storm water would be polluted. Board members will read a handbook, “Stormwater Infrastructure Mapping Project” published by the VDEC to learn more details. This is available from the town clerk.

“It’s going to be interesting,” said Crandall.

Longley Loop land

Weston Select Board members examine the Longley Loop property on a map

Referring to a property on the south side of Longley Loop where the owner has stored pallets and other material despite requests by the town to remove them, Linville said “this is our land.” Linville asserted that unlike cases where the landowner owns the road and the town has a right of way, in this situation, the town owns the land on the roads right up to the house and barn.

“Have we understood before that this is our land?”asked Goodwin.

“No, only in the last two to three months,” said Linville suggesting, getting “a can of survey paint” to mark town land based on town and deed maps of the property. Board chair Denis Benson asked that the town get a legal opinion before taking action.

“I’m not saying no, but we need to tread real careful,” said Benson.

Linville said he would call the town attorney.

Town Treasurer Kim Seymour told the board that the auditor would like information about the town’s funds to put into the town’s accounting system. Fuji’i asked the board to invite the trustees of public funds to a meeting to answer questions the board will provide in advance. Fuji’i would like to know the history of each of the funds and how were they established.  In addition, information on what is collected or disbursed in each fund will be given to the Select Board on a quarterly basis. Goodwin said information provided by the trustees for the town’s annual report “may be a little short.”

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