Chester Board to begin reviewing Town Plan changes

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

The Chester Select Board held its statutory Town Plan public hearing before beginning to review changes proposed by the Planning Commission at its Wednesday, April 3 meeting.

A portion of the planning map identifying possible solar sites in Chester.

There are substantial changes to four chapters of the plan – Utilities and Facilities, Education and Child Care Facilities, Energy and Economic Development.

The energy chapter has undergone a complete rewrite. Among the new items are maps identifying where energy projects might best be sited. This was done so that the town has enhanced standing at the Public Utility Commission deliberations should a project be proposed in the town.

The hearing was held to receive public comment on the changes, but no one spoke up. Board chair Arne Jonynas said the Select Board will begin reviewing the 50-page document over the next several meetings and residents are welcome to come and comment as well. You can find the planning changes here, the solar map here and the wind map here

Fall Festival set as it changes chiefs, seeks better WiFi downtown

In what she said was her last official duty, one of the outgoing heads of the Chester Rotary’s Fall Festival asked the Chester Select Board to grant the usual permissions – use of the Green, closing of Common Street and no parking on the north side of Main Street across from the Green.

Those were granted pro-forma for the event to be held Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22.

Nancy Davis addresses the board

And Nancy Davis also introduced some of the people who would be taking over.

Davis told the board that going forward, Lyza Gardner would be the point person for the event while promotion will be handled by Cathy Hasbrouck, children’s activities by Wendy Schwartz and music and weekend logistics will be handled by Jeannie Wade. Davis, who shared all of those responsibilities with Nancy Rugg in years past, also recognized the work of Lauren Fierman, a Chester resident and principal at Green Mountain High, in recruiting vendors. Davis noted that the event is almost full.

In addition to several other new requests (including vendor parking behind the Academy Building) Davis told the board that an upgrade to the internet access on the Green was a “critical piece” in making the event successful.

Davis said that vendors rely on the WiFi connection to do business. Board members thanked Davis, Rugg and the new volunteers and asked Town Manager David Pisha to look into the public internet situation.

Newspaper of record

The select board named the Vermont Journal as its paper of record in the absence of any other bids. For several years, town attorney Jim Carroll, has opined that the town’s legal notices must be published in a printed newspaper rather than an electronic one. There is no definition of newspaper in statute so Carroll has relied upon the dictionary definition. It is unknown whether he used the bound version or the online.

Bob Miller explains why the Journal hasn’t been covering Chester’s select board meetings.

Last year, Journal owner Bob Miller told the board that his paper wasn’t covering the select board meetings because it wasn’t getting the income from the legal advertising. Jonynas pointed out that since the board switched from the Message to the Journal, Miller’s publication had covered “maybe two meetings in the last year.”

Miller said he could not find writers and that the paper often writes stories from local access TV channels.

As the board appointed the Journal, member Ben Whalen said, “I just wanted to give a shout out to The Chester Telegraph for being here every meeting.”

“If it was based on coverage and how they serve our community,” said Jonynas. “I would have gone with The Telegraph.

In 2018, the town spent $5,272 on legal advertising in the Journal.

Board member Leigh Dakin said she would like to be pro-active and work with the legislature on the issue.

In other business

A representative of Green Mountain Power attended to discuss an easement for line work on Lovers Lane. Much of the service that passes by the Pinnacle Recreation Area will be buried.

The board also replaced architect Claudio Veliz on Chester’s Planning Commission with Peter Hudkins. Both were interviewed by the board in a closed door session and no reason was given for the change.

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