Jamaica board could resort to eminent domain


JAMAICA -- The Selectboard put its foot down on two issues explored during previous meetings.

After several discussions with Town Hall abutter Ralph Smith, board members felt it was time to give him a deadline. If he chooses not to allow for an easement that will also give him an option to connect to a new well, the board will likely get an easement through eminent domain and drill a well in a different location.

"It's been over two weeks now since we've presented him with the easement to have the well put on his land," said Selectboard member Judy Flower. "And from what I heard, he has been going to different people questioning whether it is a good thing. So evidently, he's still struggling with this proposal. So one of my concerns is this could drag on and on and on as it has already."

If Smith does not agree to the proposal by the next board meeting scheduled for Aug. 25, the board will decide on another course of action that will likely include using a portion of the property that Smith will not be able to connect to.

Town attorney Paul Gillies had confirmed the town had the right to use eminent domain to get an easement in order to get the drilling done. Board members felt that by giving Smith an option to connect to the new well, both parties could be satisfied.

Flower began looking into replacing the currently unpotable water system at Town Hall earlier in the year. Since then, she had difficulties in determining whether a permit from the state was necessary and how the property could be accessed for drilling.

According to Flower, Smith wanted the town to cover the cost of connecting his property to the proposed well. She and Steve Clark, a resident involved in the project, both felt that "was asking too much after putting the whole well in."

"That would be his responsibility," she added. "I'm not sure if that's the issue continuing his reluctance or what. I know that Steve Clark will be in touch with him again to see where things are."

One of the reasons for replacing the water system, board member Paul Fraser said, was so that Town Hall could be usable venue. Concerts and other events are booked there, mostly during the summer months.

"We're running out of summer," he said. "I concur with drawing a line in the sand."

In addition to leading the Town Hall water system replacement project, Flower also is the Transfer Station liaison, who noted increasing concern about theft going on there at the last meeting on July 28. She visited Windham Solid Waste District manager Phil Baker the day after that meeting. Baker showed her surveillance cameras at the Brattleboro facility after the Selectboard had agreed to have Flower looking into the possible purchase of surveillance cameras and motion sensor lighting for the Transfer Station.

Flower said the pictures were clear and cameras used at other facilities within the district were not too expensive. The camera that she and her husband Ed Flower mentioned would cost approximately $250.

Before purchasing cameras, Baker suggested the town attempt to discourage theft by putting in the lighting first. According to Flower, electrician Chris Clark suggested that lighting would not deter criminals.

"Chris (Clark) was also saying that maybe we need to just go for broke and get the lights and the surveillance cameras at the same time and go that route," Flower said.

The lighting will cost about $40 each. The combination of lights and a camera will be approximately $500, Flower pointed out. When asked how much the theft had cost the town, she said wood that was stolen was worth $250. There were several incidents.

Fraser said incremental steps inevitably fail.

"If we're going to deal with people who are stealing, you slam the doors now," he continued. "We need to take the steps to do it right."

The board did not vote on the matter after Fraser suggested the details of the security system should not be aired.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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