Derry Planning/Regional Commission to review state Lowell Lake plan for local compliance

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

At the request of the Planning Commission, the Londonderry Select Board decided to stick a toe in the Lowell Lake Park controversy last night by letting the commission meet with the Windham Regional Commission to look at whether the State of Vermont’s plan for the park is in compliance with local plans and regulations.

Planning commission chair Sharon Crossman requests that the select board authorize it to ask the Windham Regional Commission to lend technical assistance regarding the Lowell Lake plan. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman told the board that the commission has not been involved up to now, but that members believe they needed to get up to speed. Crossman said the commission would like the technical assistance of the WRC to determine whether the plan put forward by the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation is in compliance with the Londonderry Town Plan, the Regional Plan and zoning regulations and to produce a position statement with those parameters in mind.

Crossman said that WRC Associate Director John Bennett had thought that this could be done as part of the annual services provided by the organization and that there would probably not be additional charges for the work. Board chair Jim Ameden asked that the commission come back to the board if any there are any added costs.

The board then unanimously approved the request for technical assistance from the WRC.

Planning for emerald ash borer, emergencies

Tree Warden Kevin Beattie said that driving home recently through Ohio and New York was an eye-opener as he viewed dead and dying ash trees along the way. Beattie added that with infestations as close as 30 to 40 miles away, the arrival of the emerald ash borer is not a matter if but when. He expected that dealing with the destruction of the ash tree stock will be expensive.

Tree warden Kevin Beattie urges the board to consider a reserve fund to deal with the fallout of the emerald ash borer infestation to come.

Beattie said he found 1,600 ash trees within the town highway right-of-way and while the Highway Department can take care of many of them, some will require experts to take down.  Green Mountain Power, he said, is in the same boat and will be incurring heavy expenses to handle the  problem.

While the problem may not reach a head for several more years, Beattie said that taking trees down in the right of way sooner will be cheaper and safer.

“By the time you know the trees are infested, they are pretty well gone and dangerous,” said Beattie.

Beattie is advocating for starting a reserve fund for taking down the trees, noting that if the board instead appropriates money in the budget that isn’t spent in one year, it won’t be there the following year. A reserve fund won’t be affected by the speed at which the town can take down the trees, he said. Beattie thought  a “couple hundred thousand dollars” would be needed and it could be put in reserve little by little going forward.

Ameden suggested that the road crews look for ash trees while they are going slow to mow the sides of the roads and plotting them with GPS. Road Foreman Mathew Rawson noted that the State of Vermont has a system for plotting the ash borer.

Beattie said he would return before budgeting time to bring the idea up again.

In his capacity as Emergency Management director, Beattie also noted that it was time to renew the Hazard Mitigation Grant for working on the the town’s Local Mitigation Plan. Having a plan in place makes receiving funds from FEMA easier. The grant is for $7,612.50 with a 25 percent match that can come from in kind work. This can include the time required for town officials participating in meetings for the plan.

Work on the plan will have to go out for bids from potential contractors including the Windham Regional Commission.

Conservation committee kerfuffle

Town administrator Shane O’Keefe lays out the situation with membership and terms of Conservation Commission members.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe told the board that while the conservation commission is set up for five members appointed by the Select Board, it has grown to six members, one of whom was appointed by the commission itself. O’Keefe also noted that there is some confusion about the terms of office.

To remedy this, the commission has recommended expanding to seven members with staggered, four-year terms.  O’Keefe said that under state law, a seven-member commission is legal.

Asking that the commission and other town boards be more mindful of the way boards are formed and members appointed, the board expanded the conservation commission to seven and made the following appointments:

  • Kathie Stone – term ending May 31, 2021
  • Steve Swinburne – term ending May 31, 2021
  • Sunny Wright – term ending May 31, 2022
  • Irwin Kuperberg – term ending  May 31, 2022
  • Helen Hamman – term ending  May 31, 2023
  • Mark Wright – term ending May 31, 2023
  • Jane Mackugler – term ending May 31, 2023

Zoning demolition

The post-demolition Twitchell property shortly before the select board meeting.

Acting as Zoning Administrator, O’Keefe told the board that he has inspected the Twitchell property on Middletown Road and the building has been razed and the debris taken away. But, he added, the property was supposed to be brought up to grade and that has not been done. O’Keefe recommended filling the stone cellar with clean fill to prevent anyone from falling into it but that by and large, the violation is gone.

Beattie said that requiring someone to fill in an old basement raised a red flag for him, but O’Keefe noted that such a requirement was in the town’s development bylaws.

Ameden said he would speak with board member Bob Forbes, who was absent, about what arrangements had been made with Jim Twitchell about finishing the work.

In other business

Bruce Frauman of the resiliency group Mighty Londonderry told the board that the dates for the emergency management training scheduled for July 24 and 25 have been changed to Wednesday and Thursday, July 31 and Aug. 1 so it would not conflict with the Lowell Lake meeting on July 25. The sessions are scheduled for 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: FeaturedLatest NewsLondonderry

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

First name or initial and full last name required. No aliases accepted.