Archive - Oct 2006
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The District 9 Environmental Commission has awarded Act 250 permits to two separate retirement communities that together will bring almost 300 units of elderly housing to the Middlebury area within the next year and a half.
Environmental commission officials confirmed on Thursday that they had issued permits:
• On Oct. 6 to Eastview at Middlebury, a 101-unit development to be built on 30 acres south of the Porter Medical Center campus off South Street.
• On Oct. 16, to the Lodge at Otter Creek, which will feature 180 units of senior housing on 36 acres off Middle Road.
State statutes allow for appeals of Act 250 permits within 30 days of when they are issued. Only those who have been accorded “party status” during the review period are allowed to file appeals.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
MIDDLEBURY — The Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury has used anaerobic digester technology to turn cow manure into electricity for more than two decades. Now the owners of the farm are helping to create a new company that will act as a broker selling electricity produced on farms around the country to businesses seeking to buy power produced from renewable resources.
“If someone wants to be ‘green,’ this is a good way to be green,” said Robert Foster of Foster Bros. “I encouraged our group to jump on it, because it’s something I wanted to champion.”
The new company, called AgRefresh and based in Burlington, began when Jeff Frost approached Foster about three years ago with questions about anaerobic digestion systems, like the manure digester Foster Bros. uses. Seeing a potential business opportunity, they took the first steps toward starting a company that would make “green” energy more widespread.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — After a heated public discussion at a meeting Tuesday evening, the Bristol Planning Commission decided to readopt the existing town plan, which expires in December, rather than try to complete an update that has rekindled debate over gravel pits in town.
“It’s clear now that we can’t get done by Dec. 27,” planning commission member Tom Wells said. He added that the commission will continue to work on the update and try to have a new town plan ready by next summer. “We should commit ourselves to a deadline on this,” he said.
The commission’s vote to readopt came after a 15-minute public comment section at which seven citizens were each given two minutes to speak. Some opposed the language in a draft of the land use section of the town plan revision the commission is working on, some spoke in favor of it.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was squarely in the spotlight at Middlebury College’s Mead Chapel on Tuesday night, but it was Roberts’ predecessor, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who stole most of the headlines.
Speaking in front of an overflow crowd, Roberts credited Rehnquist — a part-time Greensboro resident for whom he clerked — for leading an exceptional life and for bringing more focused legal discourse to the land’s highest court.
Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz paid further homage to the late justice by announcing the establishment of an endowed “William H. Rehnquist Professorship of American History and Culture.” Rehnquist had delivered a speech at the college in 1998.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh officials say the town has reached a $700,000 deal to buy a 34-acre Route 7 parcel if residents approve the purchase in a vote tentatively set for Dec. 12.
Selectman John DeVos said he — on behalf of a selectboard-appointed task force that also included board chairman Larry Simino — and landowner Clark Hinsdale Jr. of Charlotte both signed a letter of intent last week and that attorneys on both sides have begun preparing a formal purchase-and-sale agreement.
The deal is contingent on selectmen’s formal approval as well as voter support. DeVos said the rest of the five-member selectboard believe residents should have the opportunity to weigh in on the land purchase, which will close early next year if backed in December.
Ferrisburghâ€™s on the right path; Midd should follow
Ferrisburgh town selectmen are thinking ahead. Earlier last month the board appointed a committee to study whether the town should buy a key parcel of land that abuts the town elementary school and the planned site of a new town office building and meeting center. The 34-acre parcel, town leaders believe, is so important to the future of the village that the opportunity to buy it â€” rather than allow a developer to build a handful of houses on it â€” should not be passed by.
Such a proposal is not inexpensive. The asking price for the farmland owned by the Hinsdale family of Charlotte has been $750,000, and the appraised price is around $650,000.
Benefits to the town include providing extra room for the school to expand; parking for school or town offices; safer access to the school; a new site for a larger post office; playing fields; a town green and other options. Importantly, town officials note, the area is the last large open parcel in the village with good septic soils.
Policy issues aside, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Matt Dunne has a singular issue that strikes a bipartisan chord: He believes the lieutenant governorâ€™s salary of $61,000 per year is significant enough to warrant a full-time effort from the elected candidate. He notes Lt. Gov. Dubie is gone almost two-thirds of the year working as an airline pilot.
He doesnâ€™t begrudge Dubie his job as a pilot, and he freely admits that prior public servants in the lieutenant governorâ€™s post also worked part-time at other jobs (Howard Dean was a doctor while being lieutenant governor and Doug Racine helped with his familyâ€™s South Burlington auto dealership, to name two). But he makes two valid points: the positionâ€™s salary has been raised significantly since Dubie became Lt. Gov., and, more importantly, he wants to serve the state full-time because he believes there is more than enough work to do to help Vermont and Vermonters grow and prosper in the new economy.
By MEGAN JAMES
VERGENNES — When Elizabeth Ready, executive director of the John Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes, asked Middlebury College student Alex Hall what surprised him the most about homelessness in Vermont, he answered, “That there was any.”
Since last spring, Hall and about 20 Middlebury students, in groups of three or four at a time, have visited the Vergennes shelter once a week where they cook dinner and socialize. The residents, in turn, have begun to shatter the students’ stereotypes of homelessness.
“You think it only exists in urban areas. You think they’ve chosen not to work, that they’re lazy,” said student volunteer Andrew Haile. “But really they’re great people who’ve just had some bad breaks.”