News Briefs
March 26, 2015

News Briefs: Lakes Region

By Lani Duke

Pawlet revises town plan, asks for citzen input

PAWLET—The Pawlet Planning Commission is asking town residents for input as it works to revise the Town Plan, using data gathered by a townwide survey that is available online. Questions include respondents’ years in Pawlet, age, use of social and other media, and a number of issues in the community’s future: growth rate, educational opportunities, affordable and senior housing, arts, agriculture, and renewable energy.

FAIR HAVEN—The Fair Haven Planning Commission is finishing a draft that will be discussed by the Select Board on Tuesday, March 31. Given approval by the Select Board approval, constituents  at public hearings, and Rutland Regional Planning Commission, the town will again have an official town plan and can resubmit for Village Center or even Downtown designation.

Given Village Center designation, Fair Haven may receive a host of community development tools: tax credits for historic building improvements, facade and code improvements, and technology installation or improvement. The town will also receive priority consideration for municipal planning grants and for the lease of construction of buildings. It will also have the ability to create Special Assessment (business improvement) districts to raise funds for special projects.

Town Manager Herb Durfee looks forward to getting to that point. He foresees helping Fair Haven become a destination and to helping Opera House owner Dave Nelson and others make improvements to their commercial properties. But first steps first, and right now that is getting a town plan completed and approved.

Castleton police station revote forthcoming

CASTLETON—Town Meeting Day voters in Castleton turned down a ballot item asking for an appropriation of $300,420 for a new police station. The margin was extremely narrow, 365 to 353—only 12 votes. A recount on March 9 added one vote of approval but no new votes against.

Enough Castleton voters are sufficiently unhappy with that result to petition for a revote. Town clerk Nedra Boutwell has confirmed 154 signatures on a petition requesting another vote for the proposal that had been Article 50 on the town meeting ballot.

Part of the drive for the revote petition comes from dissatisfaction with the quality of the ballot recount results–not the numbers that were counted, but the number of ballots that could not be counted or were not filled out. It is not unusual for voters to not vote on all issues on the ballot or not mark their ballots in accordance with the instructions. Some do so because they do not wish to vote on a specific item, but others do so because they fail to read or understand the instructions.

In spite of the number of informational meetings held in Castleton, there is a possibility that voters misunderstood the ballot item. Building the fire station, proponents say, would require no additional bond because the approximately $300,000 needed for the police department building would be covered by the sale of school buses owned by the town school district.

Congratulations

to Spring Hill Horse Rescue of Clarendon for taking in four starving thoroughbreds from Poultney. Serious neglect had first been reported by concerned citizens in November, and Spring Hill had offered free blankets and hay vouchers. Complaints continued and the animals’ lives were at risk when the rescue organization asked the Vermont State Police to assist in an intervention. The animals, which have been signed over to Spring Hill, are expected to recover and be available for adoption in about six months. Spring Hill, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, began in 2000 to save auction horses from slaughter. It has rehabbed nearly 2,000 horses since then and receives no state or federal funding. It restructured as a rehab facility about 2005.

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