BELLOWS FALLS -- Per Vermont law, two public hearings will be held for residents to express concerns and ask questions about proposed amendments to the village charter.
The first hearing will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and the second is set to start at 7:30 on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Both will be held at the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre.
The vote on the proposed changes is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 4
Deborah Wright, a Bellows Falls trustee and the head of the charter revision committee, said each trustee will be present in addition to Municipal Manager Timothy Cullenen and fellow committee members Cathy Bergmann and Donna Harty.
Assistant Village Clerk Brenda Doherty said state law requires the first of the two obligatory hearings to be held no fewer than 30 days before the vote is slated to take place. There is no deadline for the second hearing but no changes to the wording of the proposed amendments can be made within 20 days of the vote.
The official warning, issued on Tuesday July 31, informed voters to meet at the Masonic Temple at 61 Westminster Street between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to vote via Australian ballot on one article, which contains the 14 proposed changes.
The proposed amendments include an update on statutory expenses, clarification with respect to acquisition of interests in real estate, expansion on the restrictions on the use of Minard’s Pond and increases in fines for any violations
Passage of the amendments would also enable for trustees to add items to trustee meeting agendas and would change the terms of office for several village positions. The moderator and president would have one-year terms while auditors and commissioners of the Mary Arms Fund serve for three-year periods and all others sit for two years.
Wright said citizens will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the one article encompassing all 14 proposed amendments. There is no way to vote for some changes and against others, which is way the public hearings are held -- so people have the opportunity to request alternate wording if something displeases them.
Wright said she has heard very little from the members of the community that often make their opinions heard very clearly. But she expects many of them to attend at least one of the public hearings.
"I have not had a lot of feedback one way or the other," she said in a telephone interview on Friday.
She said she can’t predict how either of the hearings will go.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.