Created on Thursday, 21 June 2007 07:22
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2007 07:22
By Erin Post
Some Moretown Select Board members said they were caught off guard by one of three potential town garage locations recommended by a committee June 18.
After months of research and meetings, the committee presented a ranked list of suggested sites for a new town garage. First on the list was town-owned property bordering South Hill Road, followed by a two-acre site owned by Moretown Landfill Inc. (MLI) and the existing garage site plus an adjoining property.
That the South Hill location came up in the committee's final recommendations seemed to surprise some select board members.
Select board member John Hoogenboom said he was unsure why the location was not proposed earlier in the planning process or discussed during negotiations with MLI on an agreement to conserve 81 acres of town-owned land. He added that the location was up for consideration several years ago and was voted down by town residents.
"We've already gone that route," he said. "South Hill is out of the question. It's completely out of the question."
A garage site along South Hill Road met with opposition in 2001 in part because of its location on an unpaved road, up a hill, away from most of the town, said select board chair Paula Mastroberardino. She added that the planning and permitting process for the site would likely be extensive.
"It would be a two-plus year project for anything like that to happen," she said.
The South Hill location also does not have the support of select board member Rae Washburn, who serves on the town garage committee.
"As a member of the committee I did oppose this," he said, although he added that he doesn't see in the list of potential sites any sure winners. The cost and time associated with traveling back and forth to the MLI site, if the town does not also maintain a satellite garage, is a concern, Washburn said. And the price tag for purchasing land adjacent to the existing garage -- combined with neighbor opposition to an expansion in the village -- makes that option less desirable.
"My feeling right now is we really don't have a location for town garage," he said, before requesting that the select board take over the process. He suggested that the board needs to make some decisions, whether it's focusing the search on a particular area of town or pursuing a temporary building until a workable site becomes available.
"We made our recommendation here and that's as far as we can go," Washburn said.
Moretown resident Ray Munn, who serves on the garage committee, told the select board that the suggestion to locate a garage at the current site may allow for expansion of town facilities in the future, if an existing house is converted into office space.
"This building here is getting smaller and smaller all the time," he said in reference to the current town clerk's office.
Other select board members pressed for more information regarding the costs associated with travel back and forth to the MLI location.
Select board member Stephanie Venema questioned whether trucking material would be as cost prohibitive as some initial estimates suggest. The committee pegged the cost of transport at $15,000 to $20,000 per year, depending on where the town gets gravel and other material in the future.
"Fact-wise, I'm not convinced of that," Venema said.
As part of an agreement with MLI recently approved by town residents, the town may lease, for $1 per year, the two-acre site on MLI property off Route 2. The agreement allows MLI to meet state standards for deeryard mitigation through a conservation easement on about 80 acres of town and school-owned land.
As part of that same agreement, the town opted to withhold roughly 30 acres bordering South Hill Road from a second purchase option included in the agreement. Those 30 acres were one of the three locations suggested by the committee for the town garage.
The select board plans to hold a special meeting to discuss plans for a new town garage on June 25 at 6 p.m.