Fri, Dec 6, 2013 10:55 AM
Group proposes stricter regulations
As Vermont tries to reach a renewable-energy quota set for the year
2050, attempt to regulate project development are inevitable, some
folks in Rutland Town say. Members of the newly formed Vermonters
for Responsible Solar believe their work to begin outlining
standards for solar installations in Rutland Town will be a model
for other communities facing similar circumstances.
The town's planning commission has drafted regulations that would
increase installation setback to 200 feet rather than the current
60 feet. That increase and the already extant wetland buffer
requirement would reduce the square footage that groSolar's
proposed project has available.
Critics claim that proposed fencing and landscaping barriers are
insufficient to hide the installation because other properties look
downhill into the 'bowl' in the landform. The state Public Service
Board has often required developers to take additional steps to
disguise their facilities, but there are no obvious instances of a
solar project being denied a certificate of public good. There is
no definition of what constitutes the "due consideration" the PSB
is required to give.
Conditional use controversy continues
The Clarendon Zoning Board of Adjustment recently postponed
deciding whether to grant a conditional use permit to Farmer Mold
and Machine Works Inc., to relocate to 2720 Route 7B in North
Clarendon. After more than two hours of testimony, the ZBA
recessed, waiting for more information from the attorneys both for
and against in the form of proposed findings of fact. With those in
hand, the board may either issue a ruling or reconvene the
Jim Gilmour, president of Farmer Mold and Machine Works Inc., says
his business will bring 20 good-paying jobs to Vermont and bring in
outside money from all over the world (the company makes automated
equipment used to manufacture batteries).
No major external changes are planned for the former Pepsi building
other than adding some windows to the structure and installing a
30-ton silo to hold wood pellets for heating. A mound septic
system, already permitted for the site, would be virtually
invisible, and the company plans to improve the site's aesthetic
appearance in other small ways.
The current zoning, residential-commercial, allows light industrial
use, a category Gilmour believes fits his business well. But
residential-commercial specifically excludes manufacturing.
Neighbor Marjorie Southard believes Farmer Mold fits that
exclusion; her attorney, Victor Segale, cites the equipment listed
on a hiring application (welders, grinders, drills, saws, and
lathes) as exemplifying the manufacturing classification.
Local schools serve local food
Two food services companies, Café Services and The Abbey Group,
have recently joined the Harvest of the Month (HOM) project,
pledging to serve local produce year-round. Among the Rutland area
schools they serve are Clarendon Elementary, Mill River Union High,
Rutland Town Elementary, Vermont Achievement Center, Wallingford
Elementary, and West Rutland School.
Consolidating Rutland school systems?
Local supervisory unions are feeling pressure to consider further
district merge considerations from the state. The Rutland Central
Supervisory Union (Proctor, Rutland Town, and West Rutland schools)
recently invited Rutland South Supervisory Union, Addison-Rutland,
Rutland Southwest and Rutland Northeast supervisory unions to
attend a January meeting in which they might discuss the
How far should consolidation go? Will Rutland County eventually
contain one gigantic school system? Even if that were to be the
eventual goal, what would steps toward that goal "look like"?
Discussion proponents believe they need to "get out in front" of
potential Montpelier requirements. Opponents tend to dismiss such
Representatives from Clarendon and Mill River said they would bring
up the issue with their respective board members during meetings
Rutland South comprises Mill River Union High, Clarendon and
Wallingford Elementary, and Shrewsbury Mountain schools.
Addison-Rutland encompasses Fair Haven Union High, Castleton
Elementary and Village, Fair Haven Grade, and Benson and Orwell
Rutland Southwest stretches over Middletown Springs and Tinmouth
Elementary, Wells Village, and Poultney Elementary and High
schools. Rutland Northeast includes Barstow Memorial; Leicester
Central; Lothrop, Neshobe, and Whiting Elementary; Sudbury Country;
and Otter Valley Union High schools.
Driving homemade machines on the Pico pool floor
Students in Dawn Adams' marine science class at Rutland High
recently tested the remotely controlled vehicles they built,
"driving" their tiny machines on the floor of the swimming pool at
Pico Sports Center. Over some 10 days, students worked in
collaborative teams to construct each vehicle's frame, install its
three locomotion motors, and insert the circuit board that enables
At the pool, students negotiated an obstacle course of five hula
hoops, set at varying depths and angles. The task is less simple
than it sounds; the tethered nature of the vehicles mandates that
they return on the same pathway in which they moved forward. Only
one team succeeded in finishing the test in the required 15
minutes. What a fun and educational challenge for these students,
all juniors and seniors in the elective science course!
Final façade improvement grant received
The Gymnasium on Cottage Street recently received $2,620 from the
Downtown Rutland Partnership to improve its entryway and outside
lighting. Improved lighting will make the entrance safer, and be
more efficient. This grant is the final one left in the DRP's
façade improvement funds.
Recently purchased from former owner Sue LaPlante, the Gymnasium is
in line to receive a number of other improvements, according to new
co-owner Bethany Stack. New cardio equipment, new classes and
instructors are in the offering; so are more personal trainers, a
first-timer introductory program, and locker room remodeling. Stack
and fellow local residents Allison Dodo, Tammy Landon and Chuck
Charbonneau bought the gym in October.
Stack said they hope to remodel the locker rooms and plan to add
more personal trainers, while offering a program for first-timers
nervous about starting at a gym.
The new Public Works van is a no-go, and a state-mandated employee
are complicating Rutland's DPW budget, the Public Works Commission
learned recently. A new DPW van was the committee's first cut,
removing $25,000 from a budget that still totals $922,282,
including $165,000 to replace both a one-ton and a five-ton
Water users are being more economical, resulting in a projected
$459,000 revenue drop. The department budget has, however, gone up
by some $639,000, with much of that increase caused by moving
pension contributions and liability insurance payments to the
department from the general fund. Less money coming in, but more
money going out necessitates a potential water rate increase of
14.8 percent, sewer treatment increase of 18.8 percent, and sewer
maintenance increase of 30 percent. A family of four could expect
its quarterly water bill to surge from $244 to $281.
Louras and Wennberg collaborated on a list of possible changes that
could trim some $500,000 from a variety of funds; altogether, their
work could dispel about half the rate increases.
Some budget cuts drew little to no objection, but not increasing
the pipe replacement budget is not one of them. Expect more debate
when the entire board of aldermen put their eyes and pens on the
Moon Brook runoff basin approved
Catch basin creation received approval, to the tune of $213,693.
That's a highly preferable alternative to the state's initial
demands for far great changes to altering runoff into Moon Brook.
Watching over additional responsibilities that the city agreed to
undertake necessitates creating a new regulatory position to cover
public education and monitoring for illicit discharge,
construction-caused erosion, and debris. Or so went the argument.
However, some on the committee feel that a new position is not
needed, but permitting regulation could instead be covered by staff
in the building and zoning office. The entire board of
aldermen will have an opportunity to make the final decision.
LED lighting priority questioned
Green Mountain Power's priorities came under fire, when alderwoman
Sharon Davis criticized the power company's failure to replace
current street lights with brighter, more cost effective LED
lights, especially in the "crime-challenged" Northwest
neighborhood. Last year's budget included funds to help GMP make
the replacement where it was most needed, although Bellevue Avenue
did receive its LEDs. The official word is to expect better
lighting in the Northwest area by December 2014.
Ash trees expected to die
The city can expect to lose its ash trees as emerald ash borers
reach Rutland within the next five years. Some 400 of the graceful
ash trees currently stand in city rights of way. DPW head Jeff
Wennberg had wanted the city to invest $30,000 to create an
"emerald ash borer preparedness plan."
Some cities are cutting down healthy ash trees now so they don't
have to later, Wennberg noted. Treatment might save some of
Rutland's ash trees; the city forester had asked for a sinking fund
to start with $40,000, projecting an eventual cost of $120,000.
Although Wennberg cut the $40,000 to $30,000, Mayor Chris Louras
trimmed the entire fund out of the budget before it went to
committee. The committee recommends that the full alderman board
ask the Public Works Committee to take another look at the ash tree
It will be up to the aldermen to see whether they can make enough
cuts to avoid sharp raises in water and sewer rates.
Lani's weekly picks
Fri. and Sat., Dec. 6-7 - The College of St. Joseph hosts the 2013
Rutland County Farmers Market Christmas Fair.
Saturday, Dec. 7 - The First Congregational Church in Wallingford
holds its annual Christmas Fair in combination with the St.
Patricks Church Fair and Wallingford Elementary School Fair from 9
a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop off new toys at the Wallingford Rescue
Building, 99 7th Street, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy a cookie and
cup of hot coca or coffee. Stay in town for the evening to see
Dickens' A Christmas Carol performed in the Wallingford Town Hall
at 6 p.m. Five actors, directed by Gary Metroitt, play multiple
roles in full Victorian dress. 366-0110.
Saturday, Dec. 7 - The Santa Train departs downtown Rutland at 10
a.m., 12 noon, and 1:30, 3, and 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7 - Auctioneer Bob Prozzo presents a varied
selection of auction items in the annual Festival of Trees Benefit
Auction at the Paramount Theatre. 5:30 p.m. Or see Santa arrive and
the tree lighting in Depot Park half a block away at 6 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 8 - The Rutland Moose Club hosts a fund day for Dennis
Smith, battling a second bout with cancer along with having lost
possessions in a house fire. Duane Carleton Band and DJ Mike
Coppinger supply music. 12-noon to 5 p.m.