Selectboard continues work on persistent issues

By Heather McKim

Two heavily-debated issues were again brought before the Shelburne Selectboard at the Sept. 24 meeting: the US 7/Falls Road/Harbor Road intersection and the return of street lights.

Wallace Nolen of Barre addressed the Board, telling members that he wants access to citations issued by the town’s police department, as they are a matter of public record.

“The two tickets in question seem to be the tip of the iceberg,” Nolen said, referring to Rod MacIver’s recent citation controversy which made national news. Nolen pointed at one town employee who has “clearly written bogus tickets” and characterized the situation as “corruption.”

Nolen threatened the town with a lawsuit if the records were not released by noon of the next day. He has brought other lawsuits in the past regarding public records, including ones against Barre, the state of Vermont, and Keene, NH.

Chair Tim Pudvar praised members of the Shelburne Police Department for their hard work in a fairly sizable drug bust. Town Manager Paul Bohne also offered words of gratitude for the police department’s hard work in protecting the town’s residents.

Members continued considering amendments to the Shelburne Comprehensive Plan. The Board covered the section on land use. More work on the Plan will continue Oct. 8.
The Board authorized the Town Manager to pursue a VEDA application on behalf of Lake Champlain Transportation (LCT) in support of the town becoming a public sponsor, making LCT eligible for grant funds to refurbish its dry dock.

The issue of traffic at the US 7/Falls Road/Harbor Road intersection has been one that the town and its residents have been grappling with for a while, and a presentation of the Scoping Study results laid out four possible strategies for addressing it.

Strategy 1 would be an intersection upgrade only. With construction costs of $1.5 million, this would be the cheapest of the four strategies. This strategy would involve changes such as a restriping to extend thru lane, widening to add turn lanes, and adding a couple of new sidewalk links.

Strategy 2 would yield a one-way Falls Road with an intersection upgrade. This would eliminate a phase of the traffic light at the intersection; however, it would require a traffic light to be added at Church Street. It would also result in the removal of approximately 13 parking spaces from that street.

Strategy 3 would have a right turn only from Falls Road and would include intersection upgrades. Left turns and thru movements would be prohibited from Falls Road, the southbound left turn lane on Route 7 would be extended, a left turn lane would be added to Harbor Road, and a right turn lane would be added to Church Street.

Strategy 4 would be an intersection upgrade with no Route 7 southbound right turn lane and a narrower Harbor Road. It would carry a $1.6 million price tag. This strategy has one significant advantage over the other three; it is the only one that does not have any effect on historic resources, which makes it the preferred strategy in order to secure federal funding.

Member Al Gobeille said that he did not see any sense in rushing a decision. He would like residents to have the opportunity to have a chance to comment on the proposed strategies. The issue was tabled until another meeting.

The Board again addressed the issue of whether to approve the installation of street lights in neighborhoods where they had existed before Jan. 26, 2010 – and where power poles are present. Members voted to approve the re-installations.

Also during the meeting, the new Pierson Library Director, Lara Keenan, was introduced. Bill Stuono was appointed to a spot on the Development Review Board (DRB) and Mark Brooks was approved as an alternate to the DRB.

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