Cavendish selects ponder meeting conduct code Tierney Road quarry foes to continue fight

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Stemming from some heated exchanges in regard to the Tierney Road quarry dispute, the Cavendish Select Board on Monday night took up a proposal by member Sandra Russo to institute a code of conduct for the board’s meetings.

Russo’s code was less to promote civility and seemed more to keep meetings under control – including directing requests to be recognized and comments to the board. Members discussed some minor changes – like switching the order of words – but were generally in agreement. After some discussion and suggestions for minor edits by board members, Russo said she would bring an updated version to the next meeting.

Tierney Road quarry foes to continue fight

Michael Harrington calls a recent ruling in favor of the proposed Tierney Road quarry a Pyrrhic victory. Photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted

Calling a recent Environmental Court decision in favor of a quarry proposed by Jason Snow a “Pyrrhic victory,” Michael Harrington – an opponent of the stone quarry at the end of Tierney Road — told the board he was worried for Snow as he has “exhausted more time and money.”

In what Harrington called a monthly update for the board, he outlined technical issues having to do with how the court looks at a “jurisdictional opinion” issued by an Act 250 coordinator several years ago. The ruling limits the scope of arguments that the opponents can make regarding the opinion, but Harrington noted that the judge also said that anyone could ask for another “J.O.”

“I’m actually worried that Mr. Snow could find himself in that position where he’s exhausted more money, more time, more resources even if he gets a win at the state Supreme Court. We’re going to go to the Act 250 board and they’ll hear us, they’ll listen to our experts,” said Harrington. “… that’s a reset button.”

Harrington told the board that the issue is likely to end up before the Vermont Supreme Court, but that could take years and, in the meantime, the town would be losing tax revenue as opponents on the road follow the example of Bruce and Linda Watson and appeal their property tax assessments on the basis of the “threat of a looming quarry.”

“How many years?” Harrington asked rhetorically. “When will it end? We could be looking at eight or 10  years that the town can’t collect on revenue that it should be able to collect on. That’s not a good thing.”

Harrington said that Justin and Maureen Savage — who own the property where the quarry is to be sited — could make it all go away and so could Jason Snow, because the opponents will persist.

Stone Church renovation for Solzhenitsyn exhibits

The Stone Church could be the site for a Solzhenitsyn exhibit. Courtesy Wikimedia

Town Manager Brendon McNamara told the board that the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Center and the Cavendish Historical Society are working together on plans to renovate the Stone Church on Route 131 in Cavendish, which was given to the town by the Unitarian Universalist Church in 2013.

The idea is to use the building as an exhibit space for artifacts from the Nobel Prize winning author’s nearly two decades in Cavendish.

McNamara presented a rudimentary drawing that represents the addition of exterior plantings, walkways and parking and spoke of the sensitivity needed in approaching the reuse of the National Register of Historic Places structure.

One issue, according to McNamara, is the removal of pews that may have been “deeded” to church members whose descendants may need to sign off on their disposition. McNamara also noted that the renovation would be done according to historic preservation standards.

A landscaping plan for the proposed renovation of the Unitarian Universalist Church. The church is the white block in the center and Route 131 is at the bottom of the frame. Image provided

“The project goes forward because of the (Solzhenitsyn Center) funding,” McNamara assured the board. “There will be no shortfalls for the town.”

Vermont Apple Pie shuts down, drops one water/sewer connection

The owners of the Vermont Apple Pie bakery and restaurant have asked to give up one of their two water and sewer connections since they have permanently closed the business.

McNamara told the board that he explained that for a relatively small amount of money they could pause the connections use but if they give up the use completely, they or the next owner would have to spend thousands of dollars to go through the process of re-establishing those allocations.

McNamara said they decided to drop the business connections completely.

Town Manager Brendan McNamara updates the board on current and future town projects

Local projects updated

In his “town projects” agenda item, McNamara told the board that a number of projects rely on the budget passing and/or grants being funded. Those include paving proposals, bridge work, tree canopy work – especially on the Green in Proctorsville  — and the EV charging station  on the Green.

McNamara said he hopes that the small amount of work left to be done on the Depot Street Bridge can be finished by Memorial Day parade in May. The work includes railings, paving and aprons. Before work shut down in late fall, those items were estimated to take about two weeks, he said.

Town Meeting and thanks to Stuart Lindberg

McNamara reminded residents that Town Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 2 at the Cavendish Elementary School, with voting the following day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Proctorsville Fire Station at 513 Main St.

He also mentioned that voters would also be asked to weigh in on the changes to the Town Plan. Copies of the plan are available on the town website or at the Town office at 37 High St.

Finally, the board thanked member Stuart Lindberg – who is not running for re-election – for serving on the board.

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