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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Out of touch and shortsighted

05/10/2007

By Michael Warner

The recent article about the Hartshorn subdivision demonstrates to me how out of touch and shortsighted the planning and zoning commission really is when it comes to matters that concern this town. Once again they seem to be putting the cart before the horse. The concept that someone or some board would postulate an idea without considering the long-term ramifications is simply incredulous to me. Although they claim to be concerned about future needs and a future network of roads, there is no present or future demonstrated need for this. Even VDOT has said informally that if there will be serious congestion on Route 100, the logical and practical alternative will be to widen it.

Shouldn't the commission be working with VDOT instead of going its own way? Wouldn't the money spent on legal fees thus far have been better spent on a valid engineering or demographic study that validates their argument? I ask the commission to provide the public with substantiated data that supports this idea. We do not need more legal fees spent on an idea or dream that has no basis in fact. The burden of proof rests upon the town, not the applicant.

This subdivision application now seems to have become a personal one for the commission instead of one that best suits the needs of the town. This "idea" that someone proposed about a future road network will only lead to more litigation on the applicant's part and on the town's part. I for one do not want to see my tax dollars go for more litigation; I would rather see the commission spend their efforts and focus on the needs that are more pressing and not continue down the same path.

While I think it is commendable that the commission look to the future, the question remains, is this too far into the future? Certainly not one of us will see this network become a reality. Not only will there be a protracted legal battle with the Hartshorns, but there will be considerable legal battles with some residents of Riverview and every landowner that will be affected by this fantasy idea of a future road network. Do you expect the landowners to give up their property rights for an unproven idea?

How, Mr. Fidel, will you explain to future boards that you were so concerned and focused on this one perceived need that the commission lost sight of the more pressing and real needs? What will the legacy of this board be, one that was more concerned with their own ideas or one that did what the taxpayers wanted?

I have given you, Mr. Fidel, my public input that you asked for; I urge the board not to spend anymore of my tax dollars on litigation. I ask the public to consider that this matter carries grave consequences for landowners. Does the town have the right to blackmail a citizen to get what it wants for an unsubstantiated idea?

Michael Warner lives in Waitsfield.
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