Chester board names new Zoning Administrator Will tour sites proposed for community greenhouse

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Woodstock resident Preston Bristow was appointed zoning administrator.

For the second time in six months, the Chester Select Board appointed a new zoning administrator for the town.

The appointment took place at its meeting on Wednesday, May 19. The board took the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission and appointed Preston Bristow of Woodstock to the job, passing on holding an executive session to interview him.

Bristow’s most recent post was as planner and zoning administrator for the Town of Killington. Before that, he worked in zoning administration for the towns of Barnard, Braintree, Chelsea, Newbury, Pomfret and West Windsor as a “circuit rider” handling the ZA duties for multiple towns. Bristow also worked as a real estate agent and for the Vermont Land Trust for nearly 20 years.

Bristow’s appointment is for three years, expiring in May of 2024.

Four ZAs in less than a year

Bristow will be the fourth person to helm the Chester zoning office with a year.

Long-time ZA Michael Normyle retired from the post last August and in December, the board appointed Jill Barger, an attorney who moved to Chester in the past few years. Cathy Hasbrouck served as interim in the months between. Less than four months later, Barger resigned unexpectedly citing a difficult transition into the post. Hasbrouck stepped into the job again in addition to her duties as recording secretary to the Planning Commission and development review board.

Since then, Hasbrouck has been appointed to the Planning Commission and elected chair of that fractious body. The town has also found a replacement for her as the commission’s recording secretary.

Group seeks town land for community greenhouse

Representing a group that is hoping to establish a community greenhouse and gardens, Robert Nied updated the board on its progress in fundraising and search for a site to locate its 100-foot-long, 1930s era Lord and Burnham greenhouse.

The greenhouse group’s first choice for a site is behind the Academy Building and west of the Brookside Cemetery Photo by Shawn Cunningham

Nied told the board that the Chester Community Greenhouse and Garden Committee has requested a $500,000 grant from the federal government via the state’s U.S. Senate delegation. If that comes to fruition, the group will need to have the structure installed in 2022 and that means securing a site that fulfills all the needs of a community greenhouse. Those include proximity to downtown, parking and the correct solar orientation.

According to Nied, the group has looked at a number of sites, but they say that two owned by the Town of Chester stand out. The preferred site is behind the Academy Building, just west of the Brookside Cemetery. That area had been considered for an expansion of the cemetery, but that plan was abandoned due to the likelihood of flooding on the property. The town plans on placing a bridge across the Lovers Lane Brook for access to a hiking trail for the hill to the north.

The second site is at the old well head off Canal Street. Nied said that site had its advantages, but it has a number of neighbors and the group would want to get buy-in from them before proceeding.

After Nied’s presentation, board members re-affirmed their support for the project and appointed two members – Arne Jonynas and Leigh Dakin – to attend the greenhouse group’s meetings and work with the organization. Board member Heather Chase suggested a visit to the two sites to help members with envisioning the project.

In other business

  • The board approved two events for Saturday, Aug. 14. A coin drop sponsored by Ruck Up will be held on Route 103 west of the American Legion Post and a six-hour run will be held at the Pinnacle Recreation Area and adjoining lands.
  • The board held an executive session to discuss a police matter that could result in civil litigation with the town’s attorney. Board member Jeff Holden — who also serves as a part-time police officer — recused himself from the session. No action was taken after the session.




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