Resignations leave Cavendish Planning Commission quorumless Select Board to mull next steps; votes Eddy as health officer despite objection

By Cara Philbin
@2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Last Monday, the Cavendish Select Board voted unanimously to accept the resignations of Etienne Ting and Doug McBride from the town’s Planning Commission. Their departures follow a fractious January meeting for the commission several members’ resistance to the Select Board’s October 2022 decision to adopt a Vermont state energy chapter into the Cavendish Town Plan.

Ting’s and McBride’s resignations leave the Planning Commission without enough members for a quorum and therefore unable to conduct business. The commission has seven appointed positions, but only three remaining members.  Town manager Brendan McNamara suggested the Select Board simply lower the number of seats from seven to five to reach a quorum. The energy chapter remains on hold.

The Select Board did vote to reappoint Health Officer Doris Eddy, despite an objection from a resident Kem Phillips. Phillips criticized Eddy’s support for 2022 Vermont House of Representatives candidate Stuart Lindberg,  including displaying a yard sign. Phillips said that during Lindberg’s failed campaign to represent Windsor, he disseminated Covid-19 disinformation.

Phillips said the Select Board should compel Eddy to “publicly state whether she accepts the state of Vermont’s policy or if she supports this disinformation from Mr. Lindberg.” Phillips said, “Here’s the town health officer promoting somebody who is running disinformation about a vaccine for the worst epidemic in my lifetime, and that’s 77 years.”

Select Board member George Timko disagreed. “Supporting someone doesn’t automatically mean that you support everything they do,” he said. “But knowing Doris I would almost bet that she doesn’t support that position.”

Board members Sandra Russo and Mike Ripley also spoke up on behalf of Eddy. Said Russo, “As the board, we don’t have the right to judge people on who they vote for. We have to judge Doris on what she’s done for the town, and her work ethic.”

Ripley added, “If Stuart asked to put a sign on my yard, I might have let him do it, too. I’ve known him for several years, and I don’t agree with everything he says, but at least he’s passionate about what he does.”

Ultimately, the vote to reappoint Eddy as the town health officer was unanimous.

Other business included discussion around the best use of the Academy Building, which is privately owned by Reese Brown but sits on land owned by the town. Brown requested that the board amend a 1986 warranty deed restriction that prevents partial residential use of the building, which he believes is hindering its sale. “There’s a variety of things that can be done, but as it is now, no one can live there,” Brown said.

The board opted to have the town’s legal counsel review Brown’s request.

Later, McNamara presented his Town Manager’s Report.  According to a hydraulic study of the bridge at Twenty Mile Stream Road, sinkholes from foundational rusting are causing erosion around the headers.

“This bridge, it’s huge,” McNamara said.  “It’s becoming a problem, and it’s happening fast.” He added that replacing the entire culvert would cost around $1 million and include the construction of a temporary bridge for traffic and emergency services. It may be possible to halve that cost, by pouring a concrete bottom instead of replacing the culvert, and McNamara is exploring that option with the Vermont Agency of Transportation. McNamara also noted that the Meadowbrook Campground bridge should be replaced as it has washed out several times.

Cavendish’s annual town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 6 at the Cavendish Town Elementary School, 573 Main St. in Proctorsville. The meeting will be in person and via Zoom.

Town officers as well as town and school budgets will be voted by Australian Ballot the following day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Proctorsville Fire Station, 513 Main St. in Proctorsville.

The warning and a sample ballot can be found here.

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  1. Svetlana Phillips says:

    Before reappointing the Cavendish Health Officer Doris Eddy, SB member George Timko reasonably suggested to reach out to her. She should have been given the opportunity to clarify her position on the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, the SB moved to recommend Ms. Eddy to be confirmed by the Vermont Department of Health, ironically, the department whose policy on COVID vaccination she may or may not support.