Chester introduced to erosion, runoff issues in relatively quick Select Board meeting

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Wow,” exclaimed Chester Select Board member Bill Lindsay as that body adjourned its Wednesday, Feb. 3 meeting after only an hour and 12 minutes. While there may have been a light agenda, that’s seldom kept the board from adjourning before two hours.

Katherine Otto of Southern Windsor County Regional Planning presents the Chester Road Erosion Inventory

Katherine Otto of Southern Windsor County Regional Planning presents the Chester Road Erosion Inventory

Katherine Otto of the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission presented the board with the Chester Road Erosion Inventory,  which identifies 12 places on Chester’s 90-mile road network where flooding has affected roadways and suggests work to mitigate the problems along with cost estimates and possible funding sources.

Among the funding sources is the state’s Better Back Roads program, which according to Otto, has recently increased it’s maximum funding per project from $10,000 to $50,000. Otto told the board that this is an especially good avenue since the town could use existing resources like labor from the Highway Department as the required match.

Board member Arne Jonynas wondered if moving a road away from a river was ever considered when engineering a project. Otto said that could be considered in a scoping study.

Otto also handed out materials about Act 64, which she said takes an “all in” approach to improving water quality throughout Vermont, not just Lake Champlain. Under the act, rules will be made to reduce sediment and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen in the rivers. On the town level, this will mean taking “simple and cost-effective steps” such as lining ditches and ensuring that roads have the proper crown, Otto told the board. But there are a lot of unknowns since the rules have not yet been made.

Otto said that the SWCRPC will be a resource and provide assistance to the town as it negotiates this large, new state mandate. Regional Planning is sponsoring a meeting for town officials and staff as well as other interested individuals at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the Cavendish Town Hall. Jim Ryan, Marie Caduto and Ryan Patch of the Agency of Natural Resources will be on hand to speak and answer questions.

Executive Assistant Julie Hance asked the board to sign a Priority List Application to get in line for funding a scoping study and preliminary engineering through the state’s Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund. The work would be the first step toward correcting stormwater runoff problems in the Mountain View and Kevadus Circle areas.

Hance told the board that the town could put the scoping and engineering work (estimated to be about $20,000) out to bid. But, she added, Dufresne Engineering is already familiar with the job and has some of the work done as part of other jobs.

According to Hance, it is rare that there is money available for storm-water runoff work and, if the engineering is done this year, Chester will be in position to apply for construction funds next year.  Jonynas noted that the board had been talking about this for a long time.

Pisha noted that this work could also help to relieve the strain on the sewer plant, which goes over-capacity during storms as water moves into the sewers from household sump pumps.

Town Manager David Pisha reported that he expects to receive the first annual rent check of $6,000 from the solar development on the Jeffrey Well site on Route 103 to arrive this month and that the solar facility has already reduced the town’s electric bill by $3,392.70 split among the general fund and the Water, Sewer and Public Works departments.

Lindsay asked Pisha when the striping of the newly paved Commons would occur. Pisha said that “time ran out” on the paving crew and that the striping would happen when they come back to finish the paving of the railroad crossing in Chester Depot.

Board member Tom Bock told Pisha he should talk with Free Range restaurant owner Rick Paterno, noting that Paterno has a plan for parking spaces on the Green.

“I respect his plan,” said Pisha, “but there are rules for everything.” Pisha pointed to standards of width and angle for such a parking installation.

Before adjourning, the board agreed to look at policies governing purchasing and conflict of interest as well as the procedures for putting special articles and property tax exemptions on the ballot for the town meeting.

The former was requested by board member Heather Chase.

The latter arose when board members questioned how some groups asking for financial help submitted joint petitions and that three organizations that asked for exemption from property tax did not have to submit petitions at all as there appeared to be a long standing tradition of making such requests by sending a letter to the town.

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