Select Board Review Town Meeting Details with Moderator
by Gazette Staff
WOLCOTT – At its February 15 regular meeting, the Wolcott Select Board’s agenda topics included planning for town meeting, the status of a tax sale property, and the condition of North Wolcott Road.
The first topic for discussion was a review of town meeting with the moderator, Joe Hester Ingram. The board reviewed the warning for next month’s meeting with Ingram and noted that though the meeting will be in-person at the elementary school, town officers will be elected via Australian ballot. The vote on the town budget will be a floor vote. The meeting will be live-streamed and a recording will be available on YouTube, but the video coverage will not be interactive.
Article 4 asks voters whether the board should start negotiations with Champlain Oil Company regarding the purchase of a 0.34-acre parcel along Route 15. If purchased, the site would likely be used for additional parking.
The next topic for discussion featured Seth Jensen, deputy director of Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC). Jensen has been working with the Wolcott Village Wastewater Committee. He stated that it is time to renew the grant application to the State Intended Use Plan for water and wastewater. Wolcott needs to apply each year to ensure it is in line for funding should the town go forward with the wastewater project. The board approved renewal and submission of the grant application as discussed.
In the project manager’s report, vice chair Kurt Klein summarized the board’s concerns about the deteriorating condition of North Wolcott Road due, in part, to the heavy truck traffic on the road. The board would like the state to take over maintenance of the road. However, VTrans declined to change the road’s classification. The board has asked LCPC to conduct a road study in the spring and will look at accident reports. According to board chair Linda Martin, Craftsbury is interested in joining this initiative, since it would like to have the state take over its portion of the road. Bruce Urie, co-chair of the Craftsbury Select Board, has been invited to attend the March 1 meeting to discuss the issue. If no resolution can be reached with the state, the board may have to consider closing North Wolcott Road to tractor trailer traffic.
Klein also provided an update on the status of the property located at 74 School Street that contains a vacant mobile home. The current owner resides in California and has never lived in Wolcott. The property went to tax sale and was purchased by another individual. Then the California owner sought a tax abatement, claiming the mobile home was open to the public and was being used as a church parsonage. That claim was denied. Then the California owner applied for property tax assistance through the State of Vermont. The town has notified the state that the owner does not live on the property and, therefore, does not qualify for state assistance with the property taxes.
The town will apply again this year for a Class 2 Highway Grant. It is anticipated that funds would be used to complete patching North Wolcott Road.
Martin contacted Vermont Fish and Wildlife to see if they might be interested in purchasing the East Hill property owned by the town. The agency claims they do not have the funds to buy it. Martin reported that she has written to the Vermont River Conservancy to see if they may be interested in owning the property, but has not heard back yet. The board expressed interest in protecting the property, and for now feels the property should be retained.
Martin reported that the paperwork for the Brook Road culvert project has been sent to FEMA for reimbursement. The total was $552,920.45. FEMA is responsible for 90%, the town $38,700, and the state $16,500.
Martin has been seeking quotes for the purchase of green, reflective 911 signs and posts. Work Safe can provide signs for $14.95 each. With six-foot posts, the total cost would be $29,298, assuming 942 signs are ordered. Following discussion, Martin will let Work Safe know that the town is interested, and to prepare a contract. Additional bids will be sought.