This story began nine years ago in 2005. A developer by the name of Appelman had big plans for a wooded area of a residential neighborhood in Bennington called Hawks Woods, off South and Silver Streets. Citing a study that concluded there was inadequate inventory of middle-class residential housing to meet growing demand, he sought permission for a 53-unit condominium development. Despite numerous concerns raised about the plan, his request was granted in a permit issued by the Development Review Board.

Within a year, Appelman amended the plan by reducing the number of condominium units to 42. The rosy market projections used to justify the project already were trending off. Construction began with clear-cutting the entire property. Eventually, only 12 units actually were built, and only 9 reportedly were sold.

In 2013 the developer appeared again before the DRB, seeking to subdivide the property into three distinct lots. Although this would seem a fundamental change to the original development plan, it surprisingly was approved as a simple amendment to the permit.

Fast forwarding to present, a new developer -- Shires -- is proposing to construct rental housing on one of the subdivided lots, citing a new study claiming the need for low-income housing, despite evidence to the contrary. Although this would seem another fundamental change to the original approved plan for privately owned condominiums, it's being treated as just another amendment to the DRB permit. Many Bennington residents don't agree and are tired of this decade-old deja-vu. It's time to look at this afresh, from the ground up. Bring back Hawks Woods!

MARY MORRISSEY

Bennington

Yes, you do have another option.

This weekend I had the luxury of visiting a family friend who has a similar passion for politics as I do. This individual is a lifelong JFK Democrat who spent many years in the Maine Legislature. We discussed the current state of politics, his feeling that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the far left and my thoughts that the Republicans have abandoned their small government principals. We both agreed that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The two major parties don't have the best interest of the country in mind because they are too busy pandering to "special interest" and worrying about the next election. This individual told me about a time when he was in the legislature and backed a Republican sponsored bill because he thought it was good legislation. Well, the powers that be in the Democratic Party were upset with him for stepping out of the party line. To them party affiliation trumped good laws. What is good for the goose is not good for the gander until the gander is in control.

There is a solution, the Libertarian Party. A party of less government, more freedom, lowers taxes and spending. A party that puts country first and makes decisions based on common sense not emotion. When I told my friend I was running for state senate as a Libertarian he was pleased. He said he reads and listens to many Libertarian minded individuals and found their views very interesting and felt they were based in more truth than the other parties. I believe there are many folks out there similar to my friend. People who think it is time for a change in direction. Folks who feel their voices are not being heard. If you are tired of politics as usual vote Libertarian down the ballot on Election Day. We will go to Montpelier to work for the individuals of Vermont. We will fight for more personal freedom, lower taxes and a better economy. It isn't rocket science, just common sense.

TRAVIS SPENCER

Libertarian Candidate for State Senate

Milton