Andover board OKs dollar amount for emergency services; tables ATV ordinance till Town Meeting Chester now must draw up contract for fire, ambulance

In this screen shot of the Andover meeting, chair Chris Plumb, center, is flanked by Scott Kendall, left, and Maddy Bodin.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

During the calm portion of what turned into a headache-inducing meeting on Monday, the Andover Select Board decided that it would accept a $55,754.67 contract from the Town of Chester to provide emergency fire and medical/ambulance services, should one be offered.

The price of service will fluctuate based on the number of calls in the previous year and, said Select Board chair Chris Plumb, can be expected to go up to $67,958 in 2023, which is the amount Chester would have charged under its formula if a mathematical error had not been made.

Once Chester offers a contract, said board member Maddy Bodin, Andover should secure a new lawyer to review it since Chester and Andover have at times shared the same attorney. Bodin said she had the names of other attorneys to offer.

Bodin then moved that Andover agree to the price, which the board did unanimously.  Now, Chester will be able to draw up a contract outlining that price and present it to the Andover Select Board for a vote to ensure coverage continues through 2022.

Discussion of road use by ATVs gets noisy

Despite problems with loud echoes within Andover Town Hall and an inadequate microphone system that muffled speakers’ words and made others sounds like they were under water — especially for those listening in on Zoom — that portion of the meeting went relatively smoothly.

But then the board brought up an ordinance to allow All Terrain Vehicles on town roads, and helping the difficult acoustics to disrupt the proceedings were confusion and occasional rudeness as well as loud interruptions.

The town of Andover is considering allowing ATVs to run on its streets. Image by Diego Lopez from Pixabay

In essence, the ordinance would allow ATVs to be driven on town roads at not more than 30 mph from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily between May 15 and March 10. At its Oct. 11 meeting, the Andover Select Board had approved the proposal 3-1-1, with Bodin voting against and Plumb abstaining.  By state law, ATVs are not allowed to be driven on public roads and most public lands. And the purported reasoning behind the Andover ordinance is to allow hunters to use them during season and for recreation.

However, since then, it was discovered that some language within the Andover ordinance made it illegal and therefore moot.

So on Monday night, a number of Andover residents attended the meeting in person and over Zoom to express specific concerns over allowing ATVs on town roads, and even allowing an ordinance at all.

One family, Zooming in from their home on the Weston-Andover Road, said they were against the ordinance because what they seek is traffic calming measures, and this was heading in the wrong direction. A number questioned the time frame to allow ATVs on town roads, saying that 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. was way too long for hunters to be out on ATVs especially since state law limits hunting hours to just 30 minutes before dawn til 30 minutes after dusk. And one resident who allows hunters on his property said that even when a hunter is tracking a wounded animal, he isn’t out till 11 p.m.

Objecting to the objections, Select Board member Chris Walker, a proponent of the ordinance, told the meeting

  • that since 65 percent of the Andover electorate originally voted to allow an ordinance to be drawn up they actually support the ordinance;
  • that board member Maddy Bodin stirred the pot against the ordinance and gathered the opposition that appeared and
  • that a new meeting should be warned to  allow those who were in favor of the ordinance to speak.

One resident said that the vote at last Town Meeting was just to draw up the ordinance and that residents were free to vote against it if they wished. “When this came up, there was an understanding that the town (voters) would have a chance to vote on this,” she said.

Board member Jed LaPrise, who also voted for the ordinance on Oct. 11, said, “It was never going to be that the board would vote on this ordinance without the people deciding.” Bodin disagreed that that was the intent, and bolstered her argument by pointing to the minutes of that Oct. 11 meeting, which the board had approved that night.

On Zoom, resident James Stack loudly chided Walker for accusing a fellow board member (Bodin) of fomenting the dissent, saying that he had not received such a call from her.

Several residents expressed concern over a possible “erosion of quality of life” in Andover’s character, from a quiet rural community to one in which noisy ATVs keep children and older residents awake and crowd the roads — especially since Andover would then be among only a handful of towns in the state to allow ATVs such access.

“My preference is not to allow these on the road. They are noisy,” said one woman.  Resident Susan Leader agreed, saying, she did not believe it was a “good time to open up our roads to joyriding,” adding that it could also attract ATV clubs.

One woman also linked her worries over the proliferation of Airbnbs with more ATVs in the hands of renters. And several alluded to a growth in ATV accidents and what those would do to the cost of emergency services.

Ron Theissen suggested that the town undertake a study on potential EMS and road maintenance costs as well as who bears those costs.

In the end, the board agreed to table any action on a proposed ATV ordinance until Town Meeting in early 2022, when voters will get a chance to vote on it from the floor.


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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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