Chester board OKs small-scale retail gas sales, several roads as snowmobile route connectors

From left, Town Manager David Pisha and Select Board members Arne Jonynas and Heather Chase. All photos by Shawn Cunningham.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With just a three-member quorum present, the Chester Select Board set aside work on its “visioning process,” which is part of  its budgeting priorities efforts, for another meeting and stuck to the housekeeping items on the agenda for its Oct. 17, including adoption of a zoning change, approval of the annual Snowmobile Club request to use town roads and a decision on how to handle the cost of a structural repair of the Yosemite Fire House.

Dick Jewett of the Chester Snowmobile Club talks about the trail work and road work the club performs.

After holding a public hearing during its Oct. 3 meeting, the board went ahead with adopting a Unified Development Bylaws amendment that will allow small scale gasoline sales as an accessory use. With the support of the snowmobile club, this measure would make it possible for “an inn or a restaurant to set up a refueling station as an accessory use.”

In the past, Stone Hearth Inn owner Sheldon Ghetler had applied for permission to offer refueling to snowmobilers who pass by his business, but the inn, located on Route 11 West, was not zoned for “automotive” uses. The board voted 3-0 to adopt the change.

The board also approved the Chester Snowmobile Club’s annual request to use portions of several town roads for connecting its trails. Club member Dick Jewett told the board that some of the work done by the club has reduced the distances traveled along those roads. The roads approved for use include Marcs Drive and Smokeshire, Blue Hill, Nudist Camp and Williams road and the turnaround at Old Forge Road.

Yosemite structural work set; rec-related grant discussed

At the Oct. 3 meeting, the board received a single bid for replacing the piers supporting the two-tory addition at the rear of the Yosemite Engine House. Wright Construction proposed to charge $22,054 to do the work before the end of this year’s construction season. However, with only $15,000 remaining in the historic building repair budget, several members were loath to overspend the line.

Administrative Assistant Julie Hance, far left, and members of the audience listen to the board discussion.

Following the suggestion two weeks ago, that the town pre-pay part of the work, schedule it for spring and budget for paying the remainder next year, Executive Assistant Julie Hance contacted Wright Construction to see if the price would change under those circumstances. Hance told the board that Wright would accept a pre-payment and there would be no change in the cost of the project in the spring.

Board member Heather Chase asked if Wright could get started this fall and finish next year, but board member Lee Gustafson cautioned that with thin time margins before winter, finding anything unexpected in the job could turn into a big problem. The board decided to make a $15,000 payment this year with $7,054 due next year.

Hance alerted the board to a grant opportunity and asked if it felt she should use some of her time to look

Board member Lee Gustafson says there is a thin timeline for getting work done on the Yosemite Fire House before winter.

into it. According to Hance, the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative will be offering grants of $10,000 to $100,000 for projects that make the connections between outdoor recreation and economic development.

Hance said the project that comes to mind is the walking trail that has been proposed for the hill behind the Brookside Cemetery and for the expansion of the cemetery including a wet area that cannot be used for graves. One proposal would be to put a gazebo in that space.

Members asked what the town would have to put up in matching funds, but Hance said those details had not been released yet. The board encouraged Hance to get more information and return with the details.

Gustafson, in his capacity as chair of the committee working on a proposal for an emergency services building, said the plans were coming along and he hoped to have a 3D rendering to show the board before long. The goal, according to Gustafson, is to have a design and costs ready for a vote at Town Meeting in March.

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