Wendell OKs Town Hall kitchen remodel project

WENDELL — The Town Hall kitchen will be remodeled and a zoning bylaw pertaining to secondary dwellings will not be loosened following Monday’s annual town meeting.

Remodeling money, totalling $19,600 over three articles, is intended to bring the kitchen into compliance with health codes and allow it to be used for town functions, cooking for displaced residents in emergencies and for use by groups renting the hall, according to members of the kitchen remodelling committee.

The money is earmarked to winterize the kitchen plumbing, purchase and install equipment for the kitchen including a sink and exhaust hood and cover disability access consulting costs.

The impact of the changes on residents with multiple chemical sensitivity, a controversial medical condition, was the focus of debate.

Planning Board Chairwoman Nancy Riebschlaeger said the Town Hall is the town’s least toxic building and she would like to see it made completely nontoxic to allow residents otherwise kept away to attend town meetings.

Kitchen committee member Nina Keller said the gas stove was removed from the equipment list because of the controversial nature of multiple chemical sensitivity. The stove question remains to be decided, and member Judy Hall said she would make it her responsibility to hold open community discussions and the committee will come back in a year to ask for stove money.

An amendment re-wording the purchase and installation article to specify that remodeling be done in the manner least damaging to the users of the building and the environment failed, as did an amendment to the amendment, which would have designated the Selectboard as judge of harmfulness. Both failed on concerns that they would restrict the committee or mire the project.

All three motions passed as worded.

A proposed change to the zoning bylaws would have removed the requirement that a primary dwelling be in existence for 10 years in order to add a smaller secondary dwelling.

Riebschlaeger said the change was intended to loosen restrictions for people wishing to move onto their parents’ property or vice versa, or for residents wishing to rent out a secondary dwelling.

Resident Morgan Mead said he didn’t want more construction but supported the article, saying it was the first example of deregulation he had seen at town meeting. “I don’t want my neighbors to do it, but I support their right to do it,” Mead said.

Some residents raised concerns over population density and preserving the town’s rural character and the article failed to achieve the two-thirds vote required, with 22 for and 16 against.

A related article removing the two-person residency cap for secondary dwellings passed. Riebschlaeger said the board couldn’t work out who would evict a couple if they had a baby, and it didn’t seem legal.

Also among the articles approved:

∎ A general budget of $2,032,725.

∎ $13,000 to fund a preliminary study to explore options for elementary school education with the current member towns of Erving School Union 28.

∎ $6,000 to pay for costs associated with the installation of high-speed Internet to town buildings, including the library, senior center, police station, highway garage, Town Hall and Town Office Building.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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WENDELL — In the end, pot proved less controversial than the stove. A proposed remodeling of the Town Hall kitchen — from which the stove is temporarily excluded due to its controversial nature — generated nearly an hour’s debate at Monday’s annual town meeting, in contrast to the swift rejection of a resolution inviting medical marijuana dispensaries. The motion, a … 2

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