After a discussion of the town’s reserve fund and the general fund surplus, board members set the tax rate at 35.15 cents – a reduction of more than a penny from last year’s rate of 36.54 cents. Before voting unanimously on the rate, however, board members discussed how much of the $113,000 previous year’s general fund surplus they might use to reduce the rate. Administrator Nona Monis noted that the town’s professional auditors recommended that the board keep the rate as stable as possible – meaning that some of the surplus money could be used to even out year-to-year changes in revenues and expenses, but the whole surplus shouldn’t be used to dramatically reduce the rate in one year, as it would likely be followed by a dramatic increase the following year.
The board followed recommendations by Dover Treasurer Patty Westlake in setting the rate.
In other matters, a group of property owners from Partridge Run, a development that abuts Mount Snow Airport, expressed their concern about recent renovations and future plans at the airport.
Earlier this year, Haystack and Hermitage developer Jim Barnes purchased the dormant airport, after making a pitch to Dover and Wilmington selectboard members for an airport expansion that would allow small jets to land. Barnes said the expansion would open the area up to new, affluent customers.
Recent work at the airport has included repaving of the runway and parking areas and renovation of existing buildings.
Partridge Run resident Barbara OMara asked if the town had a noise ordinance. Since work began, OMara said, her day begins at 5:30 am when heavy 14-wheel dump trucks start rumbling past her house. But she and her neighbors were also concerned about noise increase they might experience should Barnes expand the airport to jet traffic. “Is there a quiet time at night and in the morning, so we don’t have planes coming in during the night?”
Selectboard chair Randy Terk said the town doesn’t have a noise ordinance, but he said the noise impact of the airport as it is now should be addressed by the airport’s current Act 250 permit. The impact on surrounding properties of any proposed expansion, he said, would be addressed during hearings before the Environmental Commission for an amended Act 250 permit. “If they move forward with an extension of the runway, under Act 250, an abutting land owner would have party status. That would be the point where you would want to express your concerns.”
Terk also noted that abutting property owners could assert their rights to party status in zoning procedures for local applications that may come before the Dover or Wilmington development review boards. (A proposed extension of the runway would extend into the town of Wilmington.)
For current noise concerns, Terk suggested OMara take a look at the current Act 250 permit for the airport. “It’s likely that nothing can be changed now,” he said, “but when there’s an application for an amendment, that would be the time.”
“So if there are already permits in place, this new guy can use them?” asked another Partridge Run resident.
Dover administrative assistant Nona Monis said maintenance of the existing facility – including paving and renovations – would be covered under the current permits.
Another resident asked who was responsible for enforcing the permits. “I’m in charge of enforcing town permits,” said zoning administrator Dave Cerchio. “With regard to Act 250, it’s the state’s responsibility.”
Cerchio said that, under state guidelines, work is allowed to commence at sunrise, and should end at sunset. Dover resident William “Buzzy” Buswell interjected his belief that work could begin a half hour before dawn and a half hour after sunset.
Cerchio advised the residents to contact the police regarding noise outside of statutory allowances. “I’ve gotten complaints,” he said. “But people should check with the police. I’ve also gotten complaints that they’ve cut trees on other people’s land; that’s a civil action, not a zoning action, call an attorney. If they’re expanding the runway, I’d like to know about it.”
But board members noted that, if the runway were being lengthened, it would likely be in Wilmington, and Wilmington’s zoning administrator should be notified. “You may want to talk to the town of Wilmington about your concerns,” Terk said. “Talk to their zoning administrator and town manager.”
Terk also suggested that residents contact state and local officials to let them know they want to stay informed about any developments with the airport.