SHAFTSBURY -- The Shaftsbury Select Board met on Monday to resolve the issue of whether to discontinue Don Greene Road, as well as discuss proposals to consider the relocation of the town’s offices and to install a solar array on town land.
The debate over the discontinuance of Don Greene Road, which began at the Select Board’s previous meeting on May 5, stemmed from complaints from the road crew that the road was difficult to plow due to its narrowness, and, as the road only services one residence, that it was like they were plowing a private driveway. According to board member Art Whitman, the owner of that residence, which is rented, had informed Whitman that he would plow and maintain the road, as long as ownership was transferred to him.
However, at last week’s meeting, abutting property owner Elizabeth Elwell had asked that the board address concerns that beavers are known to block up a culvert underneath the road. The board came to the conclusion that if the road was discontinued, the town would no longer be responsible for the maintenance of that culvert. Instead, that responsibility would fall on the property owner, even though the damming of the culvert could have significant effects on the property and water supplies of property owners down or upstream.
"The beaver issue is a real issue," said Elwell at Monday’s meeting, "and there are concerns with what happens to the surrounding lands, and Airport Road, which is right there.
Further complicating the issue, although the road does not provide access to Elwell’s home, her property does abut it, meaning that, should the road be discontinued, unless either property owners deed can show ownership of the land prior to the road’s construction, it would be split down the middle between the two property owners. However, town administrator Margy Becker said that anything that happens to the road after it is discontinued is out of the select board’s hands, and in the hands of the property owners.
The board had discussed changing the classification of the road from Class 3 to Class 4, which would remove the town’s responsibility to plow the road, while maintaining its responsibility to maintain the culvert. The town would continue to own the road, however, which, according to Whitman, would be unacceptable to the other property owner. The property is currently resided on by a woman who has been given tenancy for life. Whitman believed it would be unfair to her to stop plowing the road, and suggested that the town continue as it has in the past.
Road foreman Terry Stacey said that the road was neither expensive, nor overly difficult to plow, although he did note that the narrowness of the road did create some hazards for the larger vehicles. Board member Mitch Race pointed out that it was inexpensive until one of the town’s plows ended up in the swamp.
After a few more minutes of discussion, the board concluded that the difficulties in discontinuing the road were more substantial than continuing to plow it, and voted down the motion to discontinue 0-5.
The board also agreed to schedule a tour of the Dailey Building at 1424 Route 7A as a potential new location for the town offices. Becker said that Cole Hall is becoming more and more expensive to maintain, and isn’t an ideal workspace, as it doesn’t provide a space for town employees to have private conversations. Chairman Tim Scoggins mentioned that the Dailey Building always seemed to be brought up in conversation whenever moving the town offices out of Cole Hall is brought up, and suggested that the board have a look at the building.
"It may be easy," he said. "It may not suit our needs, it may be too expensive, and it may just put an end to the talk of ‘Why not the Dailey Building.’" Several board members expressed concern of what would happen to Cole Hall if the town offices were moved elsewhere, but it was agreed that conversation was premature.
The board also heard a presentation from Integrated Solar Applications Corp., which proposed constructing a solar array on top of the town-owned landfill cap off of Airport Road. According to the representative, the town would face, "no cost, no upfront fees, and no maintenance costs." Integrated Solar’s investors would be responsible for maintaining the land and the array, and electricity would be sold to the town, through Green Mountain Power, at a reduced rate. The representative estimated that, as the town owned the land, it could see a savings of up to 18 percent on energy bills, which would save the town approximately $5,000 a year. The board agreed to collect more information and continue the discussion in the future.
The Town of Brattleboro currently hosts a 500kW Integrated Solar array and the Town of Putney hosts a 150kW array.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB