Select Board Continues Planning for Town Event in August

by Gazette Staff

WOLCOTT – At its July 20 meeting, the Wolcott Select Board worked through a full agenda of town business, including continued planning for the town informational event scheduled for August 26.

Fire Chief Jim Holton requested a letter from the board granting permission for a coin drop to be held on September 3 and 4, and asked the board to apply for a grant through Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) in the approximate amount of $2,700 for the purchase of reflective vests, gloves, and other safety equipment. The board approved both requests. 

Next, board chair Linda Martin ran through a list of correspondence received by the town, including a notice from the state that the local Cannabis Control Board needs to meet to consider the Wolcott grow application that was approved by the state.

The board then discussed amendments to Street Naming and Street Numbering Ordinance.  Amendments were proposed for two reasons. First, the Development Review Board (DRB) determined that the Street Naming Ordinance did not comport with the Wolcott Subdivision By-Law regulations. The DRB wishes to be able to create a private road when one or two structures exist and there is the possibility for future development. Second, the board plans to move forward with a town-wide 911 sign project, similar to Hyde Park and Elmore, using ARPA funds, which requires changes in the wording of the ordinance. The board approved the proposed changes. Pursuant to state statute, the amended ordinance becomes effective 60 days after date of adoption, barring the filing of a petition.

Kate Wanner from the Vermont Trust for Public Land gave an update on the town forest. Wanner stated that the Bourne’s property being considered for inclusion in the town forest is now available for sale. This property would be in addition to the Bedell property already under consideration, as was voted upon at the special town meeting. Wanner stated there are several reasons why including the Bourne’s property would be advantageous, including available funding sources. Having greater than 700
acres allows for multiple uses, including old growth and non-managed areas, trails, hunting and fishing. There could also be a trail that would connect to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. No additional town funds would be required. The town would have $1,000,000 worth of property at a cost of $25,000. Gordon Young, chair of the stewardship committee, stated that the committee favors securing both properties. The additional acreage would give the town more to work with and provide more flexibility. Wanner and the committee will continue to work on details and bring their findings to the board for approval. 

In the project manager report, it was noted that the structure on the town’s East Hill Road property was demolished and the area was cleaned up by All Metals. The estimate for cleanup had been $5,500, but the actual charge was less. The patch paving work on North Wolcott Road has been completed. Bourne’s will install a propane heater in the town garage. Painting of the garage will start next week, requiring rental of a man-lift.

A landowner on Morey Hill has applied for property tax relief from the state. While the application is pending, the property will not go to tax sale. The town is working with Bourne’s on a fixed price for heating oil and is working with Kofile on the fixed IP address issue.

One of the town’s plow trucks has mechanical problems. It is estimated repairs would be $25,000 to $30,000. An order for a new truck was placed about one year ago, but the delivery date keeps getting pushed back due to supply chain issues. The current estimate is for a November delivery. Green Mountain Services has been asked to keep the town and emergency services updated on the special needs of those who are housed in the duplexes on White Tail Drive.

The board next discussed weight limits on Gulf Road. Board chair Martin stated that the one-lane bridge on Gulf Road has had a posted weight limit of six tons and that overweight permits issued by the town have excluded Gulf Road. A Gulf Road resident has expressed concern about the safety of the bridge, given the weight of the trucks that regularly use the road. Board vice chair Kurt Klein reviewed the history. In 2011, the road foreman at the time reported to the board that he wanted to post the bridge at six tons. There was no select board motion on the matter. In 2012, the board moved to have overweight permits exclude trucks in excess of 24,000 pounds on the Gulf Road. Weight limit signs of six tons were posted on either side of the bridge, but from Vt. Rte. 15 the weight limit sign says 24,000 pounds. State statute sets the weight limit at 24,000 pounds. Klein stated that the six-ton weight limit is not based upon state inspections and that the engineer ratings are good. He stated the posting of the six-ton weight limit signs appears to have been done arbitrarily, and was not approved by the select board. Excluding Gulf Road from the overweight permits precludes use by the school bus, heating oil, garbage collection, and other service vehicles, as well as by private trucking companies, resulting in selective enforcement or a shutdown of commerce. The board voted to remove the Gulf Road restriction, and to remove the 6-ton weight limit signs from Gulf Road.

Klein then stated that Ballet Wolcott requested a reduced rental fee for a limited time. As a result of COVID, the Ballet has been hit hard financially, and would like a little time to get back on its feet. Klein said he would hate to see Ballet Wolcott go, since there have been only about 15 non-ballet renters in the past year. The board voted to reduce Ballet Wolcott’s monthly rental fee for town hall from $350 to $250, with the understanding the Ballet does their own cleaning, from September through the end of the year.

The transfer station has been losing money and the town’s cost to dispose of tires has gone up. Disposal of compost is also a high cost. The board voted to increase the cost for disposal of a regular tire from $5 to $6, with an extra $2 charge for a rim. The transfer station attendant will be advised to have only one compost bin available at a time. Should that bin fill, the other container can be brought out. The point is to eliminate paying for pickup of two half-full containers, instead of one full one.

The board received a request from a landowner on Jones Lane to enter into an agreement to pay delinquent taxes rather than have the property go to tax sale. The landowner requested to pay off the $974.93 due by making $100 payments each month for four months, and then $150 per month until paid in full. The request was made for health reasons. The landowner has a history of successfully completing payment plans with the town. The board voted to approve the payment plan.

An elderly resident who lives along North Wolcott Road has requested the creation of a crosswalk so he can more safely access his mailbox. The board decided to research the issue.

Next, Martin distributed to board members a list of food and items needed for the second annual town event that will be held Friday, August 26. Booths will be set up like last year, where attendees can glean information about what is happening on the town level. Topics will include the town forest, broadband, schoolhouse revitalization, waste water, and hybrid meetings. The Library will have an open house. Pots and soil will be provided in the town garden for folks to plant seeds for a windowsill herb garden. Food will be provided. The fire department has again volunteered to grill hamburgers and hotdogs. The library will provide cookies and popcorn. Ice cream will again be provided by the school board. The Girl Scouts will oversee children’s games, and balloon making will be back. There will be performances by Ballet Wolcott. The board is seeking someone, or a group, to perform music at the event.

The next regular select board meeting is scheduled for August 3.