By Heather McKim
The Selectboard considered strategies to solve traffic problems at the Route 7/Harbor Road/Falls Road intersection at its Oct. 8 meeting.
At the previous meeting, four possible strategies had been presented to the Selectboard. Members spent about an hour considering approval of a preferred alternative, Strategy 4, produced by the consulting firm Stantec.
Member Toni Supple voiced concern over the loss of several parking spaces for Village Wine and Coffee. Under Strategy 4, there would be no Route 7 southbound right turn lane. There would, however, be the addition of a left turn lane on Harbor Road and median/refuge islands on Route 7 for pedestrians, an extension of the northbound turn lane on Route 7, and restriping to extend the thru lane on Falls Road. The strategy would also see parking on Harbor Road re-oriented so that cars would parallel park; this would result in turning the seven spaces presently available into four.
After much discussion, the Selectboard approved an altered version of Strategy 4 where the green strip on Harbor Road would be eliminated and five spaces for parking would be provided. This version was preferred, since it has no impact on historic resources, which is important when it comes to getting federal funding for the $1.5 million project.
“I’m one hundred percent in favor of exploring [additional remedies to solve this parking issue],” member Gary von Stange said. Selectboard member Al Gobeille echoed this. Parking spaces will not be immediately removed; the permitting process is expected to take about a year.
Michael Monte and Amy Demetrowitz from Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) gave a presentation on a plan to create transitional housing at the Econo Lodge in Shelburne. The business would continue as a traditional motel while also offering units to those in need of short-term shelter.
“There are not long-term renters. These are guests,” Monte emphasized. Clients will be referred to the housing through agencies which work with CHT, including Fletcher Allan and the Howard Center. There is no plan to serve specifically as housing to recently-released ex-convicts.
After going into a brief deliberative session, members voted to appoint Paul Orzech to the Development Review Board for an unexpired term ending in 2015.
Finance Director Peter Frankenberg gave a presentation of the budget status for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. He said that revenue was at $6.9 million, while expenditures totaled $7.1 million. The beginning fund balance was $788,906; the ending fund balance was $639,061.
The Harbor Road slide cost more than expected. However, highway fuel came in under budget due to a milder than expected winter. The largest negative impact on the budget status was the Wake Robin decision. The total impact to the town was $333,230.
The Board entered into an agreement with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) to provide assistance to the Selectboard in the search for a new town manager, since the current one, Paul Bohne, will be stepping down in March. The town should be paying no more than $5,000 for VLCT’s assistance. Selectboard Chair Tim Pudvar encouraged town residents interested in helping to find Shelburne’s next town manager to serve on the Search Committee.
The Selectboard also approved an amendment to the traffic ordinance by adding a stop sign at the intersection of Spear Street and Bishop Road.
The public hearing for consideration of amendments to the Comprehensive Plan will be continued at the Oct. 22 meeting.
The Selectboard ended the evening with a second executive session.