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Shelburne To Decide If Voters Should Have Final Say On Town Plan

In Shelburne, voters are weighing in on whether to add the town plan to the list of items on the ballot in the future. Currently, the town plan is approved by the select board when updates are made.

Some in town are concerned that the town plan is too friendly to development, so they’ve proposed an article that gives the final approval on updates to voters.

A number of people gathered outside Shelburne’s town gymnasium holding signs on both sides of the issue. Cherie Schrader said she supports Article X because right now it only takes a majority of the five person select board to change the town plan.  

“Three people can change our town plan, the way our vision is, the way we’ve set up our ideal for how we want our town to grow, three people can change that at any time,” Schrader said.  

The current majority of the select board disagrees with the change, including member Gary Von Stange. He said the board is a representative board. He said making the change will make the town plan subject to a populist vote, and that it will give factions with a personal agenda the ability to mobilize and push one view forward at the expense of the town. 

Von Stange pointed to a stack of town plans on a table and said most people will not read the entire several hundred page document, along with the extensive revised town plan and study the maps before voting on it.

“And if they aren’t going to do that, they cannot be making a decision based on knowledge, and that’s where the faction comes in to promote a personal agenda at the expense of the rest of the town,” Von Stange said.  

At Tuesday night’s informational meeting, an item up for even more discussion was whether or not to pave Pond Road, a dirt road that connects two major roadways.

Resident Thea Platt said she opposed the measure because Pond Road is a beautiful road that many people use for walking and horse-riding.

“It will be a straight throughway from Route 7 to 116 and nobody will be able to enjoy it," she said.

Platt said it’s also less expensive to maintain the dirt road than to pave it.

“If you don’t go with the environmental piece, just think about your pocketbook,” she said. 

Update, Mar. 5, 2014 6:00 a.m.: Voters rejected Article X by a vote of 993-1,088. They also rejected paving Pond Road by a vote of 536 t0 1584.