CHESTER, Vt. – At the Wednesday 1 June 2022 Chester Selectboard meeting, the Chester Planning Commission presented a proposal for Unified Development Regulations which makes adjustments to the regulations for buildings constructed in the city. There were also discussions of solar field appraisals, the police department appraisal, a grant application for the city water department, and a brief mention of the Whiting Library and the resignation of its director and several administrators.
With regard to the proposal put forward by the Planning Commission, the majority of the conversation revolved around how the amended bylaws would allow the City of Chester to retain its “character”, a constant consideration for the Selection Committee and many citizens of the city. Cannabis retail was mentioned, but the focus of the discussion was to keep franchise businesses out of town. Cathy Hasbrouck from the Planning Commission went into detail about how the commission defines ‘formula businesses’ and the strict regulations that apply if one wants to come to Chester, mentioning specifically how they don’t want a store like ‘Starbucks came to oust Southern Pie Company. The selection committee adopted the proposal, without any questions from those present.
The solar field discussion, police department evaluation and grant application went smoothly. It has been difficult to find someone who will evaluate the options for a solar field; apparently the big solar companies are unwilling to take on the city of Chester because the project is too “small”, said city manager Julie Hance.
Jim Baker, who is leading the police department’s assessment, plans to develop focus groups over the next week in an effort to gather data. Participants in the groups answered questions such as “How do you perceive the police service? to start assessing what changes, if any, need to be made.
Finally, the selection committee approved a grant application to establish a pH balancing system for the city that would reduce the amount of water used by Chester businesses. The city would lose water supply revenue, but, according to Hance, save money overall on water treatment costs. The main beneficiary of this update would be Drew’s Organics, but the 30,000 gallons of water released by the pH system would also allow the city to meet the needs of more businesses. The system will cost $700,000, of which $400,000 will be covered by Drew’s, with the remaining $300,000 covered by the city’s water and sewer supplies.
Council spoke briefly about the Whiting Library before adjourning. Earlier this month, library director Deirdre Doran handed in her letter of resignation following a series of discussions that resulted in the cancellation of a library program, Drag Queen Story Hour. . Several trustees on the library’s board also resigned following the controversy. During their meeting, the Chester Selectboard asked no questions about the library, just sharing that Doran will be leaving at the end of June. “When I look at the situation,” said board chairman Arne Jonynas, “I can’t help but think it could have been handled differently.” The library will be on the agenda for the next selection committee meeting, and Jonynas asked that people attend, “to help the library”.
The next Chester Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 15 June at 6.30pm at Chester Town Hall.