Selectboard Meeting Update 3-13-2019

Selectboard Meeting Update 3-13-2019

The Norwich Selectboard welcomed new board member Roger Arnold at our organizational meeting last Tuesday, March 5, immediately following the election. We share our deep gratitude for all of the contributions of outgoing board member Linda Cook and her many years of Selectboard service to our Town.

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A quick note on this week’s meeting – Wednesday, March 13 at 6:30pm. 

During the course of any given week, individually and collectively, the Selectboard receives a great deal of correspondence, both directly and indirectly. Most of it is constructive and helpful. Some of it, well, not so much. Regardless of which, many believe we should respond to such correspondence promptly, if not immediately. And trust me when I tell you it's tempting to respond as such, especially when accusations of intentional wrongdoing are part of the mix.

The key challenges to providing rapid responses are twofold. First, unless we are in a publicly warned meeting, we can’t legally convene and discuss most items. Second, no individual, including the Chair, is authorized to speak on behalf of the Selectboard body without approval of the majority, and therefore we all typically stay silent, making notes and waiting for our next regularly scheduled meeting to take place to address issues. By then, of course, the Listserve and similar group email chains have taken control of whatever narrative exists, and by not providing comment, people sometimes assume the Selectboard is either unresponsive to citizen concerns or “guilty” as so often charged. Taking a chance here, speaking on behalf of all five of us, I can assure you that neither of those assumptions could be further from the truth.

In addition, the Selectboard Meeting “packet” that is published online usually on the Friday prior to an upcoming Wednesday meeting is an all-out effort by Town Management to compile a great deal of information accumulated over days and weeks in a few hours and post it accurately. Sometimes the packet is “missing” information, not intentionally (ever), but because time didn’t allow it or because an authorized copy of that information wasn’t yet available. Such items can stay on the agenda because even though supporting documentation wasn’t ready at “packet time”, there is still an intention to discuss at the next meeting and thereby keep things moving forward (or backward, as the case may be!)

With that as a backdrop, in this note I am addressing two situations that have crept up during the past week at a high level with the understanding that we will discuss further in our next warned meeting this Wednesday evening at 6:30pm.

1)   Affordable Housing Fund: The Selectboard does intend to discuss the work completed so far on affordable housing fund policies and criteria that many have written and read about. The latest draft approved by the Planning Commission on February 14 is found by clicking here. The Town only received this PC approved copy over the weekend, which they had worked on diligently for much of the past few weeks, which is why it was not yet in the packet. The Affordable Housing Subcommittee meets later this month and plans to review further.

2)   Article Regulating Single-Use Plastic Bags: The first reading took place at the Selectboard meeting on February 27. The edited version that came out of that meeting, subject to further reading, revisions, and perhaps most importantly legal review, is found by clicking here

Thank you for those of you who stay consistently and constructively engaged with the Selectboard and the various town Commissions and Committees. Although we can’t always respond as quickly and thoroughly as we sometimes wish, we are always listening and incorporating feedback to the best of our ability to make a positive difference for Norwich. Your voice really does matter.

John PepperSelectboard, ChairTown of NorwichP.O. Box 376Norwich, VT 05055


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