2018-01-03 / Front Page

Legislators visit Chester to share updates, hear concerns

By TORY DENIS

Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor District, answers questions put forth by the Chester Select Board and from a few of about a dozen citizens attending the regular select board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Nearby were seated Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor District; Sen. Alison Clarkson, D-Windsor District; and Rep. Thomas Bock, D-Windsor 3-1, along with a representative from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. All participated in the discussion on local matters and recent bills. - PHOTO BY TORY DENISSen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor District, answers questions put forth by the Chester Select Board and from a few of about a dozen citizens attending the regular select board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Nearby were seated Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor District; Sen. Alison Clarkson, D-Windsor District; and Rep. Thomas Bock, D-Windsor 3-1, along with a representative from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. All participated in the discussion on local matters and recent bills. - PHOTO BY TORY DENISCHESTER — Several Windsor County legislators came out to the Chester Select Board regular meeting recently to update citizens on recent legislation, provide input, and hear citizen questions and concerns.

The invitees, including Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor District; Sen. Alison Clarkson, D-Windsor District; Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor District; and Rep. Thomas Bock, D-Windsor 3-1, fielded questions and gave updates on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at the municipal office. About a dozen citizens, including Public Works Director Graham Kennedy, and members of the select board had a chance to ask about ongoing bills and actions.

Topic of discussion included marijuana legislation, strengthening families,

Bock complimented the municipality on its recent development of a capital plan, managing and maintaining infrastructure, trails and family activities available, and other town highlights that help encourage young families to move into town.

“You’re doing a lot of the right things,” Bock said.

The “elephant in the room,” he added, was what would happen to Chester and other towns after the recent federal action on tax reform, and how that may affect programs, Medicaid, families, mental health, and other issues.

Many citizens, board members and legislators weighed in on town roads and cost-effective ways to best resolve and implement required changes related to Clean Water Act regulations. Some of the required measures, such as removing berms, could lead to lawn flooding and could negatively affect Chester’s 90-plus miles of dirt roads, Town Manager David Pisha said.

“It’s going to get very expensive,” Pisha said, adding that the town of Chester needs “workable, common-sense rules” that will not destroy the road system.

Although there are people with PhDs writing up the new regulations, the people living with their “feet on the ground” in Chester where the work is happening would have valuable input, according to McCormack.

Following the discussion, McCormack invited Kennedy, an expert on town roads, to send him a list of suggestions and implementation ideas for Chester roads, which McCormack could then bring forward to committee for discussion.

Clarkson also mentioned that this type of regulation is a work in progress, may yet see some changes, and does include a lot of public input.

She anticipates that changes and “tweaks” will still be made to the rules regarding Clean Water Act regulations, Clarkson said. The feedback from local residents is appreciated as legislators move forward with discussion in the State House, she said.

Chair Arunas "Arne" Jonynas thanked the legislators for an “excellent discussion,” and for the work they do.

Clarkson also reminded citizens that all recent bills, actions, and legislative updates are documented and can be easily tracked through the state’s legislative website at https://legislature.vermont.gov/. Visitors can search by bill number, keywords, resolution number, legislator name, or committee name. 

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