Created on Thursday, 26 April 2007 06:32
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2007 06:35
By Lisa Loomis
The Waitsfield Select Board wants to keep the town's options open in terms of possible future energy uses for a parcel of land that was recently donated to the town.
The land is a 188-acre parcel donated anonymously to the town in December. It adjoins the existing Scrag Municipal Forest lands on the east ridge of Waitsfield. At its April 23 meeting, the Waitsfield Select Board considered whether it is the wish of the donor that the easements be held by the Vermont Land Trust and whether the Vermont Land Trust would be flexible in working with them on potential future uses of the land.
EXTRA LAYER OF PROTECTION
"The Conservation Commission had questions about whether we did have to go through the Vermont Land Trust on this project -- and if we didn't the group was reluctant to go through that process if we didn't need to," said select board member Paul Hartshorn. He is also a member of the Conservation Commission.
Town administrator Valerie Capels told the select board that the donor does want the land trust to hold the easement on the property, noting that 'the donor wants that extra layer of protection.'
Board member Charlie Hosford reminded the board that with a previous piece of land, the town and conservation commission did not want to preclude the possibility of exploring wind or water power options and had the easements on that parcel written to reflect that concern.
"Has the land trust written easements with towns where there is more latitude?" Hosford asked.
"This just came up for the first time last year when we were thinking about wind/water uses on town land," Hartshorn said.
Select board member Sal Spinosa reminded the board that when the town signed an agreement with the Vermont Land Trust to hold the easement on the Wu Ledges, the town initially agreed to a letter of intent and then had the opportunity to provide input and voice concerns about the terms prior to the terms being recorded.
TIE OUR HANDS
"We don't want to tie our own hands," Hartshorn said.
A memo from Capels, summarizing a recent meeting with Liza Walker of the Land Trust and concerns from the town conservation commission also notes that signing a letter of intent does not irrevocably commit the town to agreeing to a final easement. She further noted the commission's concern that the town should retain the ability to use its land holdings for future uses for the community (wind power, telecommunications, water, etc.).
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