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Selectboard Special Meeting 6/13/23

Town of Washington

Warned Special Meeting

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Selectboard present: Sheila Duranleau (Chair), AJ Galfetti, Fred Blanchard

Town employees: Lois Deberville, Nick Benoit, Josh Bell

Visitors Present: (as best as names could be made out): Nichole L. Weebe, Tina Ruel, Cannon Williams, Colten Williams, Jase Williams, Nate Corson, Tim Claflin, McCormack Jr of Billtown Wheelers, Jeremy Jacobs, Ryan Rich, Christina Moran, Travis Moran, Howard Beede, Sherry Beede, Courtney Avery,  Allen Avery, Terri Crawford, George Hunt, Jeff Shirlock, Kay Kuznik, Kevin Rice, Norm Vermette, Adam Spaulding, Greg Donahue, Bill Lemieux, Joe Lemieux, Seanna Lemieux, Jim Boudreault, Joe Pelkey, David Johnson, Billy Donovan, Ben Tiefenthaler, Ryan Bresette, Justin Edson, Vince Vermette, Maxine Durbrow, Imelda Reilly-Metzner, Howie Metzner, Gayle Callahan, Joe Callahan, Rachel Onuf, Rob Perdue

Visitors commenting via Zoom: Joan, Sarah Teel, Lisa Costa

  • Meeting called to order at 6:31 p.m. by Chair Duranleau
  • ATV Ordinance-Class 3 portion of Woodchuck Hollow East

Chair Duranleau specified the procedures of the meeting. She asked Robbie Perdue (802-883-5438),  Trail Coordinator representing the Central VT ATV Club, to explain what the club would like to see regarding the section of the Class 3 road from Notch intersection to the town turnaround. 

Perdue: in adopting the ATV ordinance, this small section of road was missed by everybody and brought to his attention by a landowner. He was told to shut the road down (by selectboard), he did so, his solution is to add it back into the ordinance. He feels that the club should’ve been more involved with the ordinance to avoid the ripple effect. 

Chair: expressed her appreciation to Perdue for his quick action in closing it down. In order to take a voice vote to open the road back up, the board has to have permission from the landowners. She asked if Perdue had the permission, his response was no. He said that section was given to them for use by the then selectboard in 2008, it was not done by drive-by permission. 

Chair: it is in the ordinance effective May 28, 2023, she read that part aloud: written permission by property owners along Class 2 or Class 3. Without the permission, the board can not take a voice vote.

Perdue: asked that the ATV ordinance be voided, if they had been more involved and been able to look it over it probably wouldn’t have happened (the oversight). To do over, he’d probably add 2-3 more pages to protect the club’s investment. He gave some history of what the roads were like before the club repaired the roads, it tends to keep the mud trucks away now by eliminating their playground. Feels the ATV club is not the problem, it is the solution. 

Chair opened up to discussion-

Donovan: the ordinance went through a long process to come into being, everybody had a chance to comment on it before it went into effect. He and other residents appreciate the money the club spent on Notch Road, but the residents spend a lot of money on Woodchuck Hollow RD. 

Sherry Beede: what would need to happen to change this. 

Chair: we can’t take a voice vote on opening it because of no permission from landowners, but someone can put a motion on the table if there’s an alternate route.

Beede: is it required by the state to get landowners’ permission? Chair: I don’t know about state law but it is in the ordinance. Options include voiding and starting process over again.

Beede: how long would that take, and by voiding would we go back to where it was. Chair: that would mean no ordinance, asked Perdue. 

Perdue: I think would go back to the calm it was before. (Donovan) only worried about his section of Class 4 and I will fight that (being shut down).

Blanchard: we had one before this one, would we go back to that

Chair: would consult Vermont Leagues of Cities and Towns.

Perdue: ordinance was made to enforce speeds/fines. Suggests doing a policy instead. 

Greg Donohue: concern about Class 4, last year his father had an issue not able to go through a road, approached by individual in what he says was aggressive manner. Aggression on that side of the road.

Chair: we can’t continue discussing aggression, as of now Class 4 is open and people need to respect that but that’s not why we are here. 

Howie Metzner: had been reading state statute saying that unless there’s a town ordinance specifically stating a road is opened to ATVs, then ATVS can’t travel on it. 

Chair: will question VLCT if we void this ordinance do we go back to previous one.

Galfetti: there is no previous written document, it was done by voice, based on landowners’ permission. Perdue will look and see if he does have a written one,  read from a 2009 minutes’ report.

Beede: is it able to void the current ordinance and go back to previous? 

Chair:  feels she has to seek legal advice.

Ben Tiefenthaler: one of the property owners on Woodchuck Hollow Road, from his personal experience he and Rachel haven’t experienced problems, only has heard traffic after hours. Primary concern is not with responsible ATV riders but what to do about ordinances when neighbors have been verbally threatened, pushed off the road. Addressed Perdue on his thoughts/what ATV club could do.

Perdue: haven’t had recent issues, used to be a lot of problems at that area. Club had committed to Notch Road fixing up that road and Woodchuck Hollow. Reach out to the club, if they don’t know they can’t do anything. 

Tiefenthaler: recognizes it’s not an ATV issue but others not able to attend feel compound pressures such as non-resident users, prevalent drug use, consistent break-ins on Woodchuck Hollow Road causes suspicion and not wanting to allow access. 

Chair: we have recently been made aware of serious issues in that area, we took action. As owner would you be open to allowing ATVS. 

Tiefenthaler: reiterates that his personal concerns are also his neighbors’ concerns. Not about assigning causation. Not a quick fix on yes/no vote, but hearing ATV club’s concerns i.e.: mud trucks doing to roads. Recent email received was about someone shooting down the road. 

Chair: the presence of ATVs may reduce the other concerns as there’d be activity there.

Kara Williams: was speaking to Cathy Cota who expressed how ATV Club takes complaints very seriously. 

Tara Ruel: comments on how being part of the ATV community has helped her.

Chair: feel we are in a limbo as far as voiding it, what would exist, we all would leave without knowing where folks can ride or can’t ride. 

Courtney Avery: did we have permission from the landowners last year or did we have permission because of a previous vote by a previous selectboard?

Chair: if town has no ordinance, what’s the answer? 

Metzner: it’ll go back to state law that ATVs can’t ride on roads that don’t have permission to be on such roads without permission from selectboard.

Terri Crawford: been part of the club since 2007, many landowners gave permission, that’s when selectboard would approve use. 

Perdue: has all the landowners’ permission on trails.

Allen Avery: amount of mud trucks prior to ATV Club opening up the roads was ridiculous. Club has cut down on the mud trucks going to Poor Farm or Notch Road. Has cut down having to pick up empties/trash.

Perdue: we have trash cans on the trail

Williams: what’s the soonest meeting if voided or not. 

Chair: depends on when VLCT is available. They could call emergency meeting with no notice but she wants people to come to the meetings, would call special meeting with 24-hour notice. Recognizes very important for everyone to get it resolved no matter what side of fence is on. Will call first thing in morning to see legal status.

Donovan: has been referenced that town has to ask landowners, so still have that problem because landowners don’t want it. People in town says the position is it’s always been an unspoken rule that you have to get permission from the landowners. Asked Perdue who confirmed it. 

Chair: have to go by the current ordinance, has to seek legal advice.

Sherry Beede: when you seek the legal advice will you ask if required to get permission for Class 3 roads, Chair: yes. 

Nate Corson: from Plainfield, parks on Richardson Road, like to take that right to go up hill, talking about 100 yards.

Joan: no issues with ATV riders, but with other people. Maybe a way to document complaints. 

Chair: please call Rob. If everyone contacts one person then he will have the documentation. 

Joan: would like patrolling.

Chair: if you call Rob, he can contact the game warden.

Lisa Costa: has also had very few issues with the respectful club members, issue is with the ones who come through up until 4 a.m. 

Joe Pelkey, president of Central VT ATV Club (802-477-2318):  people can call him, he has resources to contact for help.

Sarah Teel: seems problematic that some landowners don’t have the right to say no to ATVs like she does based on where her property is. 

Howard Beede: reiterate that he understands all the concerns, shutting down the road won’t solve the problems because those folks won’t want to follow the rules.

Donovan: to Perdue-is there a possibility of another route that way? 

Perdue: at this time, no answer can be given. 

Chair: we did take immediate action and Rob did too when heard concerns

Joe Callahan: had dealt with the mud trucks and the four wheelers, club will never get his signature. 

Perdue: posted on ATV forums as soon as he heard, takes time for news to get to people.

Board’s decision: nothing can be done without legal advice.

Motion to adjourn by Fred, 2nd by AJ, carried by ayes. 7:31 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lois Deberville

Town Clerk

Draft subject to approval at next meeting.