Shaftsbury garage vote unlikely for November ballot

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SHAFTSBURY — A vote on a new town garage will likely not occur this November, partially due to a hang-up in a North Road property purchase.

Voters in March approved the property purchase, at 510 North Road, for $30,000 to be paid over a period of five years or less. The property is adjacent to the town-owned land that is being considered for the site of the new garage. MSK Engineering and Design is expected to have a first draft of a site plan completed by this week. But with the number of meetings between the August deadline for getting a question on the ballot for November dwindling, there simply may not be enough time.

"I really think we need to get that garage vote in November," Select Board Chairman Tim Scoggins said at Monday's board meeting, "but that could all get thrown by the wayside if we don't get that property purchased within the next day or two, and we're not getting any updates."

"Being realistic," said Town Administrator David Kiernan, "with it being the probate (court), it's not going to be quick."

"We've run into a title defect," said Scoggins in June, "which has to do with a name that showed up in the title search, of someone who's deceased. To get that cleared up, we have to go to probate court, so we're looking at however long that takes, I'm guessing a month or two."

In addition, MSK engineer Jason Dolmetsch recommended the optimum placement on the property for a new garage, but that placement could run afoul of local bylaws. Changes to those bylaws could be voted on next March, but that could risk putting the garage vote off until March 2018. On the other hand, said Scoggins, the board could choose to set aside the guidelines in favor of the public interest, but he worried that doing so might cause the vote to fail. The third option would be to arrange the garage and transfer station in a way other than what was recommended, in order to comply with the existing bylaws. "Even if we try to change them and, we hope, get them changed in March, we've still got another election cycle until we get to the garage again," said Scoggins.

"I'm in no hurry," said board member Art Whitman. "I think the biggest thing is that we've decided on what we want. I don't think there's anything wrong with (the current garage), in terms of health or structural damage. I think we've got to do this right, and not rush into it."

"We know the garage needs to change, we've known that since 2009," said Scoggins to Whitman, who agreed. "I don't think we're rushing anything," Scoggins continued. "We're well past when it should have gotten done."

"Rupert took five years to build theirs," said Whitman, "and they've got a beautiful one and it was done very economically. I just want to see it done right."

"This one ain't going to fall down," board member Ken Harrington said of the current garage on Buck Hill Road, "and it's looked good this far."

Kiernan pointed out that bond paperwork couldn't begin to be filled out until next May, regardless of whether the vote was in November or March. While a March vote will likely not see the voter turnout of the November presidential election, which Scoggins had hoped for, it would give them more time to make sure everything is in order.

The Shaftsbury Select Board meets the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Cole Hall on Buck Hill Road in Shaftsbury. Full recordings of the meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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