By Deniz Dutton | Community News Service
The conflict between the desire to maintain open space and the need for more housing in Shelburne came to the forefront on Town Meeting Day when residents cast votes on whether the town should set aside funds to acquire and preserve more undeveloped land.
Shelburne voters were asked if the town should raise $50,000 in taxes to obtain property or rights to property to preserve natural resources and open space. The question generated strong opinions from several residents who cast ballots Tuesday in the Shelburne town gymnasium, getting a brief reprieve from the frigid March air. The measure passed 1,077-351.
Tony and Cindy Hall, who have lived in Shelburne for 57 years, said they have long advocated for more open space in the town, even with increasing demand for housing. “So, it’s with mixed emotions that you think, ‘Well, am I taking land away that could be used to house somebody?’” Tony asked rhetorically as he left the polls. “On the other hand, we need to have open spaces … for our life.”
Bill Baynham, owner of a wood products business, said he stands firmly on the side of more open land and less housing. In particular, he criticized the Snyder development project at the Kwiniaska Golf Course, on the west side of Spear Street.
“The town should have given the golf course a tax break initially to let it be open land,” he said as he left the gym. “A lot of land could have been kept open rather than going for residential houses and making the town look like suburbia.”
Leslie Kleh, who operates her own cleaning business and has lived in Shelburne for just over two years, said she wants to see a Shelburne that is “dense and livable,” with more walking and biking infrastructure.
The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.