Derry completes Genser buyout; Frog’s Leap Inn fails to sell

By Bruce Frauman
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

From left, Select Board members George Mora, Bob Forbes and Tom Cavanagh. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

Applause broke out at the Londonderry Select Board meeting on Monday, June 19 when Town Administrator Stephanie Thompson said, “I am pleased to announce that as of  1 p.m. today we closed on the Genser property.”

This marked the end of a six-year saga that began in August 2011 when Tropical Storm Irene flooded the West River and damaged the former Outlet Barn, the Route 11 property owned by Bette and Walter Genser. The town then applied for a FEMA grant to buy out the Gensers, with the goal of leaving the property in town ownership with the provision that no structures would be built that could be damaged in another storm.

Instead, FEMA refused to complete the buyout because a flood wall built by the Vermont Agency of Transportation to protect the Route 11 road and bridge was deemed necessary by the agency. And FEMA would not fund a buyout unless all structures, including the wall, were removed. Then last March, Thompson started the process over, seeking a $170,000 Community Development Block Grant so that the town could purchase the Genser property.

Thompson said the bad news is that there is not a reuse grant for the property, but she is looking into state funding  for landscaping and other possible uses of the site. In the meantime, fund-raising is under way for a statue by sculptor Jason Dreweck to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the birth of snow boarding and Jake Burton Carpenter. Some consider corner of Routes 11 and 100 an ideal location.  Asbestos removal is set to begin in early July and Thompson expects the building to demolished by Labor Day.

Frog’s Leap Inn fails to sell

Board chair Paul Gordon bemoans the failure of the Frog’s Leap in to sell at auction.

In other business, board chair Paul Gordon said, “Much to our chagrin on a rainy Friday afternoon (June 16) the (Frog’s Leap Inn) property did not sell. There were a couple of people who took bidding cards, but there were no actual bids on the property.”

In 2016, the town took the inn, at 7455 Route 100, in lieu of taxes and has been working toward a sale since.

Gordon added that the auctioneer, Thomas Hirchak Co. of Morrisville,  now has 90 days to try to sell the property on its own.

Gordon said that Hirchak has asked the town to mow and clean up the property. Mora expressed surprise that this request wasn’t made before the auction. And board member Tom Cavanagh said, “it would have to be mowed two or three times to make it look nice, ” possibly taking two full days.

Parks Board member Kelly Pajala said town parks should come first and the road crew is already behind schedule due to the recent rain

Gordon said Hirchak is also concerned about the tenant who has not left the property. Board member Bob Forbes agreed saying that “The resident is the biggest stumbling block at this point.”

Gordon said that “all legal steps possible are in progress,” adding that the tenant “would like to be a caretaker for the new owner.” Gordon said of Hirchak, “I think it is their problem … It is in our best interests to clean it up, there is no question. I don’t know that we have the resources to put on that right now.”

Town Constable Roger Sheehan.

The board decided that Gordon would ask Hirchak to “step up to the plate and do some things,” including using its $3,000 fee for advertising and preparing the property for sale as well as its 10 percent buyers fee to mow and otherwise clean up the property. If there is no sale after 90 days, Gordon said the board would look again at all its options.

Town Constable Roger Sheehan said he was frustrated over a continuing reaction by Patrick Salo, the Animal Control officer, when people call him for assistance. After a Sunday night complaint about a neighbor’s dog attacking a goat, Sheehan said the resident told him that Salo said there is nothing he could do and to call the State Police.

According to Sheehan, the State Police told the resident to call either the constable or the Animal Control officer. Sheehan said that as constable he could do nothing. Gordon said he will speak to VSP to confirm Sheehan’s story and will ask Salo to attend the July 3 meeting.

T-Mobile antennas, Planning Commission numbers

The board had no objection to a request by T-Mobile to add a couple of antennas to the existing VTel tower on Glebe Mountain to improve cell phone reception. T-Mobile will also add a 4-foot by 12-foot area to enclose a new generator. VTel owns the land that the tower in on.

Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman.

Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman said the panel is continuing to search for a new zoning administrator,  seven months after former zoning administrator Jim Mullen quit due to health problems.  Crossman has been acting administrator.

Crossman asked the board to increase the Planning Commission from its current five members to seven. She said the panel is losing one member whose term ends soon and there will be a lot of work to re-write the town’s zoning by-laws once the revised Town Plan is adopted. “It would be great to have some more energy and perspective for our group,” she said.  The board voted unanimously to increase the size of the commission.

The board also agreed to contract with Green Mountain Power to install two poles and for Fairpoint to install one for the new sand and salt shed. The cost will be $6,956.

Crossman said the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed Town Plan at 5:30 p.m. June 26 at the Twitchell Building, 100 Old School St. in S. Londonderry.

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