New efforts to clean up Chester properties

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Town of Chester is looking at alternative strategies beyond its salvage ordinance for getting properties where owners have accumulated a lot of junk cleaned up.

Earlier this year, Town Manager Julie Hance asked the Select Board to approve the town’s participation in the state’s Hazardous Waste Contamination and Cleanup Program, which would allow the town to buy a delinquent property for taxes and clean it up for sale. The board approved Hance’s test for the Amsden Hill Road property. The state program also limits the town’s liability for working with such properties.

Unsplash stock photo provided by town government

Now, the town is looking to make cleanup easier for those who want to clean up their properties but may not have the resources or the physical ability to do that. A new effort by the town and Chester Helping Hands would help such residents by paying for roll-off trash containers and even offering some volunteer help.

While the town has a salvage ordinance, enforcing it can be time consuming and expensive. Using fines for enforcement doesn’t always work since landowners who cannot afford to clean up their land likewise can’t afford to pay fines. And many of those are simply not physically up to the work of cleaning up.

According to Zoning Administrator Preston Bristow, “It’s quicker and cheaper to help those who are willing to remove junk by paying for a dumpster or arranging for metal recycling and auto salvaging than it is to take them to court.”

Trying another way, the town and Chester Helping Hands have agreed to split the cost of roll-off dumpsters for those who can’t afford them to clean up and to provide some volunteer help in getting the work done.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result,” says Hance. “It’s time for a new approach, and I’m willing to take the risk to try something different.”

To take on the project, Chester Helping Hands is raising funds that will go to help get dumpsters for those who can’t afford them.

“Chester Helping Hands is a non-profit organization created to provide food assistance and spread kindness to our neighbors,” says Chris Meyer. “I think kindness includes helping neighbors who’ve gotten a little overwhelmed with their stuff and need some help.”

To donate to  the effort, make a check in any amount payable to “Chester Helping Hands” and drop it at the Town Clerk’s office, 556 Elm St. in Chester, or mail it to Chester Helping Hands, PO Box 5, Chester, VT 05143. Write “cleanup program” on the memo line of the check.


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  1. Ron Patch says:

    Listen to Roy and Renee. They live nearby. I know and trust them Ron Patch

  2. Carol j Scafuro says:

    Would like to see similar efforts in Andover as well

  3. Great idea! Would like to see similar efforts in Cavendish.

  4. Roy and Renee Amsden says:

    Who owns the trailer with all of the tires at the bottom of Amsden Hill Road?