By Lani Duke
Brown’s to grow more orchard
CASTLETON—Brown’s Orchard & Farmstand in Castleton is doubling its acreage as owner Charlie Brown adds 15 more acres to his business. Mature enough in another five years to produce sufficient quantities of fruit, the trees will likely produce apples for Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits in Cambridge. Brown sells about 40 percent of his apple crop for cider, saying the increased interest in cider, especially the hard variety, prompted the planned growth.
Towns look into noise and speeding ordinances
POULTNEY—Poultney’s Select Board is considering ordinances to quash disorderly conduct and nighttime noise, using similar West Rutland and Burlington regulations. Poultney’s versions are both in the draft stage and no timetable has been set for their adoption, according to town manager Jonas Rosenthal. No specific incident triggered the effort.
FAIR HAVEN—Ordinances under study in Fair Haven deal instead with motor vehicles: how fast they travel and where they park. The Select Board is asking for public comment on speed, matching the State of Vermont speed limits on Route 4 at 65 mph and 55 mph where appropriate. Full regulations can be read at www.fairhavenvt.org. Fair Haven will hold a public hearing Nov. 24.
Solar and hydro offsets considered
FAIR HAVEN—There are solar or hydroelectric projects currently under consideration in Fair Haven that could reduce the town’s electricity use and thereby lower taxes. About 30 residents gathered for a discussion of potential renewable energy projects on Oct. 20.
A proposed solar project would utilize 3.5 acres along the former airport’s southern edge. Stella Power, a Fair Haven-based company, would build and operate the project on the acreage leased from the town; the town would receive both net-metering credit and lease payment for the land, according to company president Fred Bova. The solar project would give the town about $30,000 its first year without any cost to the town, Selectman Bob Richards observed, but he disbelieves the solar project could coexist easily with the land’s current use. The 140-acre site is used for hunting turkey, duck, goose, and deer; it also is used for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, bicycling and running. A radio controlled aircraft group meets there to fly their planes.
Solar-generated electricity may not be the answer to all energy needs, some said at the meeting. Don Howard characterized the solar energy push as “a monster out of control” but perhaps feasible on the capped landfill.
Like solar generation, a proposed hydroelectric plant would also flow energy into the power grid with credits being applied back to the town. The 2014 “Fair Haven Low Impact Hydro Feasibility Study” outlined the effect of a proposed small-scale plant on Depot Street utilizing the waters of the Castleton River, as described by Mike Stannard, chair of the energy committee. If the town made the same amount of electricity that is used to power the town government’s needs, it would bring in more money than it pays out.
Find new uses for recyclables and save $$
New statewide regulations in effect July 1 set prohibitions on sending recyclables to landfills. It mandates weight or volume pricing. Agency of Natural Resources Solid Waste Program materials management section chief Josh Kelly claims the new law has pushed up recycling rates across Vermont, underscoring the need for more ingenious ways to recycle solid waste. Food Bank donations are up 20 to 30 percent, driven by the requirement that large institutions recycle food waste.
Rural towns had largely converted to bag fees already. Future mandated changes will cause towns to make expensive ordinance changes every few years, select board members predict. What works for urban areas may be incomprehensible for a small town, such as installing a bin for yard waste. “Make do” people find a use for items that would be discarded elsewhere. Yard waste becomes mulch, the ultimate recycling. Steel drums, wheel rims, worn out tires, leftover building timber, paper and cardboard often find another use or two after their initial purchase.
to furniture maker Walt Stanley of Fair Haven’s Brookside Woodworking, who has been invited to take part in the 20th annual Fine Furnishings Show at Pawtucket Armory Arts Center, Nov. 6-8 in Pawtucket, R.I. He is one of only three Vermonters invited.
to Fair Haven High, where nearly 50 percent of 11th graders scored at or above proficiency on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) test. By comparison, 36 percent of Rutland High 11th graders reached proficiency (close to the state average), and 15 percent at Otter Valley.