How is the latest O’Brien proposal still an issue?

We purchased our first home a year ago and—while we love our house and the lot—we’re beginning to regret moving to Shelburne. The town seems to have no qualms collecting outrageous taxes while approving proposal after proposal for generic, mass-produced housing that lowers the property value of existing homes, destroys the quality of life for nearby residents, and is rapidly turning the area into the laughingstock of Chittenden County.

Over and over, I’ve read and heard that the village character should remain intact, with one lane for each direction of traffic, yet the obvious connection between increased traffic and monstrous housing developments seems to have been overlooked. Is it being assumed that residents in future developments will never drive into or beyond the village? That they will not have kids who attend school (which will also raise already exorbitant property taxes) and need to be driven there?

Driving into the village (or, more aptly, sitting in traffic) during various hours of the day is already unbearable. The commercial tractor-trailer trucks flying up and down Webster and Irish Hill Roads to avoid the traffic backlogged on Route 7 are not at all conducive to a cozy, country setting.

I guess I would be a bit more amenable to the existing O’Brien proposal if prospective home buyers were obligated to sign contracts binding them not to procreate or own a car and if my property-tax bill were cut in half. This is no more ridiculous than making costly, detrimental exceptions to line the pockets of one developer.

The town pooh-poohs the idea of four lanes through the village (God forbid, Shelburne is far too classy and upper crust for that), yet homogeneous, cookie-cutter houses stacked atop one another aren’t an eyesore? (They certainly aren’t Vermont. I’ll tell you that as a native whose family has lived in this state for centuries.) The town cannot cherry-pick projects that do not facilitate retaining a bucolic character and just expect things to miraculously jive. This type of decision making would demonstrate a serious lack of foresight and common sense, and existing Shelburne residents who thought they bought houses in an idyllic, rural Vermont town cannot be expected to sit idly by and swallow such a departure from the town documents, as well as clockwork tax hikes.

If the Planning Commission and Selectboard choose what’s best for the town and the people they serve, then I thank them for their service. However, if they choose to disregard such obvious logic and public opinion, how will that really look? Unfortunately, the positions they hold hinge on being popular—and accountable. Volunteer or not, no commissioner or Selectboard member is above suspicion or reproach if he/she does approve a proposal that is blatantly contradictory to the Town Plan (on more than one count) and the sentiment of the citizens—not to mention the interest of the town itself.

As one wise resident pointed out, the sewer expansion will only pollute our lake even more. And wouldn’t it be ironic if this proposal was approved and the issue ended up in litigation, with our tax dollars handed over to the attorney not representing our interests?

If you live near a newer development (at any point), I encourage you to exercise your right to grieve your taxes.

Lisa Vear, Shelburne

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