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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Charlotte Selectboard Water Woes June 22, 2015

Charlotte, Vermont
June 22, 2015

Selectboard Awash in Water Woes

Late spring rains of 2015 are flooding fields and ditches. The torrents have brought Lake Champlain’s water level to over 98 feet! However, it was with trees in mind that the Selectboard convened at 5:30 pm, June 22, 2015 on site at a Mack Farm Field located on the north side of East Thompson’s Point Road, abutting the former Laberge Farm barn, now owned by Roel Boumans and Tiny Sikkes, to the East.

The Mack Farm has recently utilized the field for GMO crop production of either corn or soybean. This year, the farm was paid a per acre subsidy to seed down the field with forage and keep it in hay for six years, including this year. However, poor drainage in the field is causing problems for Mack brothers Robert and David to seed down this field in certain areas. Just north of Thompson's Point Road is a ravaged ravine to demonstrate the flow of water as it erodes the field on its way to Thorpe Brook.

The Mack brothers would like to remove some of the roadside trees planted several years ago courtesy of the Rudder Tree Fund. Tree Warden Larry Hamilton oversaw the plantings. While at that time the trees had been welcomed by the landowner, Robert Mack said he made a mistake to encourage the tree planting. He highlights the drainage issue as the reason for wishing the trees to be removed. The Mack Farm wants to create a table with the earth near Thompson's Point Road that will redirect the water flow more evenly across the field where it slopes eastward.

Additionally, water that flows from the westerly properties needs to be diverted away from the field to prevent continued erosion. A north/south ditch at the western edge of the field exists to remediate this problem. According to the Macks, however, the tree line is an imposition to their drainage plan. This ditch has traditionally fed into the Thompson's Point roadside ditch. The Mack brothers are ready to provide stone to line the roadside ditch and create stop dams as needed to slow the flow of water to Thorpe Brook. These measures also catch sediment before it passes into the brook. Robert Mack said, "the water is going there one way or another..."

Marty Illick of the Lewis Creek Association introduced her colleague Roy Schiff to the site. He is a water resource scientist with Milone and MacBroom, a reputed firm with an impressive clientele. Schiff and Illick reviewed the site together with David Mack, Roel Boumans and Zoning Administrator Jeanine McCrumb. They joined the selectboard, members of the conservation commission, neighbors for a tour along the treeline and an explanation from Robert Mack about why the trees contribute to the drainage problem in that field.

Back at Town Hall the meeting was called to order just past 7 pm. I made a public comment about the new media venture being launched here in this blog -- 

Over a year ago, former Citizen Editor Sheri Duff enlisted me to report on the Charlotte Selectboard. While i was reluctant at first, I became interested since I was attending most meetings.  When Sheri Duff left The Citizen, new editor Lynn Monty (formerly of the Burlington Free Press and Hometown) wished for me to write less of a "report" and pick and choose issues, explaining why they were important to readers. While I certainly see merit in having special articles on important issues, I was not willing to provide that type of story without the "flat" report that I am accustomed to generating. 

For the moment, those reports will be available via the Rural Route Today blog. Social media and email will be utilized in the process of making people aware that these reports will exist online.

A discussion about the site visit to the Mack
Farm field ensued. Selectman Tegatz pointed out a statute in the town that says no property owner shall drain water into a town ditch. He also noted there is no ordinance to support this and he feels that there should be one. Selectman Krasnow expressed thoughts about creating a situation whereby the parties work together, also to solve a bigger problem. New legislation (H-35) will require towns to address water quality and the Lake Champlain cleanup.

Marty Illick indicated that the Lewis Creek Association and Milone and MacBroom (represented by Roy Schiff) will be receiving grant monies that could be implemented to address this problem in a cooperative way. Town Planner and Zoning Administrator Jeannine McCrumb suggested ongoing discussion of different interests with the intention to seek alternative ideas to solve the problem.

Road Commissioner Junior Lewis weighed in acknowledging the importance of getting the cover crop to seed down. He does not want to see deep trenches along the roadside and he feels that working around at least some of the trees would be beneficial. He noted that the ditches do not need to be lined or stop dams created until where the slope begins. Much of the field is flat until a certain point. This would allow some of the trees to remain in place.

Chair Lane Morrison felt that there was no need to take any action at this time. He recommended that the Mack Farm submit a proposal outlining their wishes regarding the trees. The issue will be acted upon as a future agenda item.

Recreational Requests

The Kelly Brush Ride was approved for September 12. It was noted that there is also a half marathon running out of Shelburne that may overlap with the ride. Betsy Langefelt represented the Kelly Brush ride and she said that based on conversation with the half marathon organizer Rayne Herzog, the two events are unlikely to overlap. She also noted that the Charlotte portion of the Kelly Brush ride is not overcrowded as most of the riders stick to the shorter routes. 

The Green Mountain Bicycle Club time trials that take place on South Greenbush Road from Charlotte into Ferrisburgh and back were also approved. This year they will occur on two dates, July 9 and August 19. The trials are free to anyone who wishes to participate. Riders typically do not overlap. Green Mountain Bike Club president Kevin Bessette said the event typically runs all day on the 8.3 mile course.

Purchasing Policy

The Selectboard approved the purchasing policy with just a few small changes. Town Auditor Peter Trono inquired whether a preferred vendor list and request for bids template will also be attached to the policy. The vendor list is a work in progress. The Town Auditors agreed to work on an RFP template. Town Auditor Jenny Cole suggested that there be some method of training for town groups and associated purchasing agents. The Selectboard liaisons will help facilitate awareness of the purchasing policy.

Road Commissioner Lewis was designated as the first purchasing agent for the town. 

Community Clean Up Fund 

CSWD (Chittenden Solid Waste District) Rep Abby Foulk described the two sites that qualified for money from the CSWD community cleanup fund.  She said after doing outreach in the town papers and Front Porch Forum, two sites became known to be worthy of attention, one at the Charlotte Central School and the other off a steep bank on Mansfield property along Lime Kiln Road.

The school has agreed to provide labor for the cleanup and asked only for a cost share on the container estimated at $750.00. The Selectboard approved this plan. They also approved $500 from the $,3000 fund for Road Commissioner Lewis to clean up the site. The cost should cover transportation to Redmond Road and associated tipping fees. The Mansfield site has been historically used as an illegal dumpsite and deterring future use of the site has its challenges. John Hammer suggested the installation of a game camera for a period of time. Collecting forensic evidence before and after the cleanup may also provide some information about who is using the dumpsite. The Selectboard approved spending up to $350 for the purchase of two signs to be placed at each site. The signs will state that violators will be prosecuted with up to the maximum fine of $500.00. 


Selectman Tegatz presented the bid request results for the deck repair of the Carpenter Road Bridge. He felt all bids were too high and recommended that no action be taken at this time. Tegatz indicated that he would seek an opinion from VTRANS on the matter.

Tegatz then presented the results of his request for bids to complete a drainage project to include additional paving and curbing along a section of the south side of Ferry Road to the west of the Post Office. He expressed the thought that while the complaint of property owner Shirley Bruce would be addressed regarding roadway runoff, the solution would not be likely to entirely solve her drainage problems. Tegatz expressed confidence that paving and curbing would address road runoff and requirements for Complete Streets regarding pedestrian accessibility and, in this  case, better roadside parking.

Tegatz made a motion to approve a $31,420.00 budget to widen the pavement and install a curb on Ferry Road. The motion did not receive a second. Chair Morrison inquired of the silent Selectboard members why there had been no second.  Krasnow said he felt that the project was reminiscent of the sidewalk proposal that was heartily voted down by the town in a special meeting. He also felt better aesthetic consideration is warranted for area. Selectman Spell thanked Tegatz for his work on the project but that he felt a better planning solution was required in this location. Chair Morrison referred to the Dubois and King study that he feels already addressed these issues. 

Jenny Cole felt that it would be good to take some action. David Marshall said there should be a plan for parking, trees and pedestrian use. He believes it's time to embrace the future. Krasnow also mentioned that future grants may be available when the Village Designation process is complete. Work on the Town Plan can also reflect progress in this area.

Other Business

Comfort Hill was selected to continue the contract with Charlotte for animal/dog housing as needed.

The Selectboard terminated Steven Stetson's Thompson's Point lease for lots 176 and 177 and approved a new lease to Gary F. and Jane Alsofrom, Co-Trustees of the Gary F. Alsofrom Trust.

Minutes of May 26, June 2,8 and 15 were approved. Approved and draft minutes are available online at

Selectboard Updates

Selectman Spear said she had attended meetings of the Recreation Commission and the Library Trustees. Spear reported that both groups have great energy and are composed of enthusiastic and dedicated people. Recreation reports healthy program enrollment and enthusiasm for the town beach party scheduled for july 11 from 4-8 pm. The Library is implementing google drive and more shall be known soon about that upgrade.

Krasnow said the game cameras have arrived and they are ready to set up one at the beach. He described his experience learning about different weights of chain to secure the speed cart. Tegatz suggested braided stainless cable as an alternative.

Tegatz said progress on the library roof was going well. Deficiencies in the East side of the building are being located and addressed.

Spell inquired whether other Selectmen had received a letter from Town Clerk Mead regarding an issue that has arisen with the pay grid. The letter has been received by others and Spell wants to make sure the problem is addressed.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:54 pm.