May 26, 2018

Donnelly leads CVU in hoops honors3/12/09

March 12, 2009

John Donnelly, who powered to the rim for layups and also sank long bombs from three-point range for the Champlain Valley Union High basketball team this past season, will join other senior stars in the North-South all-star basketball games Saturday at Windsor High School.


    File photo
John Donnelly, a Champlain Valley Union High senior, goes up for a shot against North Country Union on Feb. 14.  

Donnelly had several games of 20-plus points and double figures in rebounds.

“John had an outstanding offensive season,” coach Scott Bliss said, adding that there are an exceptional number of seniors in Divisions 1 and 2 from which players are chosen for the annual games.

Donnelly also was named to the All-Metro All-Star second team, as chosen by the division’s 10 coaches. Senior teammates Jack Jesset and Ryan Poirier earned Honorable Mention in the division.

The coaches selected Burlington High center Clancy Rugg as the division’s Player of the Year.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Third and fourth place Vt. finishes for alpine teams3/12/09

March 12, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The two-run slalom proved a couple of tight turns too many for the Champlain Valley Union High boys alpine ski team last Thursday, as it took third place in the Vermont State Championships at Pico Mountain in Mendon.


    File photo
Cody Putre, a freshman on the Champlain Valley Union High alpine ski team, races at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl earlier this winter. Putre was one of five CVU skiers named to the NVAC district team. The girls and boys teams finished their seasons last week, placing fourth and third, respectively, in state meets.  

“We were second, just 17 points out of first after the giant slalom,” coach Mike Minnerly said this week.

Then came the slalom runs and difficulty.

Senior Sam Darling, who zipped to a second place finish in the giant slalom, just nine-tenths of a second behind winner Brandon Ogilvie of eventual champion Burr and Burton of Manchester, fell on his first slalom run.

Dan Caffry, after a nifty third in the giant slalom, had problems on his first slalom go, according to the coach.

While others had various problems in the slalom, freshman Cody Putre skied to an eighth place finish and Warren Colomb took 20th, the same finish he had in the GS.

“Warren skied well,” Minnerly said. “He was consistent all day.”

Minnerly noted that it was difficult to put two solid runs together.

“Tucker Spillane had a nice first run, but then a tough second run,” the coach said.

Recalling the highlights of the season, Minnerly looked to the boys’ victory in the Northern District meet and the naming of Darling, Caffry, Putre and Colomb to the NVAC district team. Darling is the lone senior.

Minnerly also considered a season highlight the Essex Invitational meet in which the combined boys and girls team earned a victory.

With some 40 skiers on the practice slopes, Minnerly believes the future is bright for one of the largest high school alpine teams in the state.

As for the girls, who were fourth in their state meet at Stowe, senior Cassie Smith led the way with an 11th in GS and 14th in slalom. Smith was also named all-NVAC.

“Cassie had a great year,” Minnerly said. “She was solid all year long.”

Minnerly also praised the skiing of Allie Maynes and was upbeat about the return next year of juniors Lucy Halverson and Erika Gobeille, sophomore Meg Wallace and a quartet of freshmen, Mikaela “Miki” Gobeille, Abby Owen, Mariah Hill and Anna-Claire Smith, plus others.

An update of the CVU Nordic ski season will appear in next week’s issue of the Observer.


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Greek philosopher inspires CVU student3/12/09

Hudson, Cory win awards from Classical Association of New England

March 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

While international headlines about global warming and a deadening economy portend a gloomy future, Williston resident Dylan Hudson looks for guidance from the past. The Champlain Valley Union High School senior recently wrote a 350-word paper explaining how Greek philosopher Epicurus’ teachings about leading a self-sufficient, happy life can apply to today’s world.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Champlain Valley Union High senior Dylan Hudson, pictured above, recently took first place in the Classical Association of New England’s annual writing contest.  

“As humanity edges toward an environmental breakdown from excessive consumption, we may want to consider looking deeper into our world for happiness, and deeper into our history for guidance,” Hudson wrote in the closing of his paper. “By a mere change in perception, we can find that less is often more. Culture may have changed, but the human condition remains the same.”

His paper won a first place award last month in the Classical Association of New England’s annual writing contest. Students taking Latin or classical studies courses were invited to submit short papers in various formats to be judged in the contest. But when Hudson wrote his piece, he wasn’t thinking of winning.

“I was just trying to get my homework done as fast as I could,” Hudson said with a laugh.

For Hudson, studying ancient languages, literature and philosophy has become a passion. He said it began when he took CVU history teacher Joe Greenwald’s Ancient Greece course last year. Hudson then took Latin, progressing all the way up to Latin III in a number of weeks. He is also currently taking an Ancient Greek language class at the University of Vermont — his second Greek class with the university.

Hudson’s Latin teacher at CVU, Lydia Batten, said the student picked up Latin at a rate faster than she’s used to seeing. Four weeks into Latin II last semester, Batten had Hudson take an advanced exam, which he passed with flying colors. Hudson was immediately allowed to take Latin III, she said.

“He’s sort of an entity all unto himself,” Batten said.

Batten assigned her Latin III classes to write a short piece that could be entered into the Classical Association’s contest. This year’s theme was “Living Antiquity: Classics and Modern Life;” students wrote poetry, fiction or essays elaborating on the topic.

Batten said the participating high school classics teachers chose the top three entries from their school, and then a state board chose the top three from Vermont. Finally, teachers from all over the region chose the winner, with Hudson coming out on top.

Batten said she’s proud of Hudson’s accomplishment, even as he’s being coy about the award.

“He’s being the usual teen and playing it cool,” Batten said.

Hudson will read his paper at the Classical Association’s annual conference in Boston later this month, with the organization paying for a hotel room and meals. He also receives a $200 savings bond.

Another of Batten’s Latin III students, Hinesburg junior Isaiah Cory, placed second in the Vermont portion of the contest. Cory said he wrote a science fiction piece in which Roman times meld into present day America. For Cory, learning Latin makes it easier to learn other languages. He said the class helped him immensely in English and Spanish classes, as well as on the SAT tests.

“I use (Latin) in everyday situations and it’s really helpful,” said Cory, who plans to continue his classical studies into college.

Hudson agrees that studying Latin and Ancient Greek can teach the world about modern day issues much more than people think — hence his paper on Epicureanism.

Hudson said he’s not sure what he wants to major in after he graduates from high school and attends UVM, where intends to enroll. But he knows his classical studies will be an important part of his learning, in any field of his choosing.

With the prevalence of Latin in science and medicine, Hudson said, “Everybody says to me, ‘You must be going to medical school,’ but I’m not sure yet.”


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Parents split over whether to change school configuration3/12/09

Teachers tend to favor status quo

March 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

It was a busy and productive evening at the Williston Central School cafeteria on Monday. More than 100 parents and community members turned out to aid the Williston Conceptual Frameworks Committee in creating recommendations for a future school configuration.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Parent Kristen Littlefield dictates her thoughts to Frameworks Committee member Wendy Bliss at Monday night’s community forum. Littlefield was pondering a possible lower house school configuration.  

Eleven different configuration options were open for discussion, with some offering drastic change in grade grouping structures and others keeping things close to the status quo.

Parents displayed mixed reactions to some of the proposals, with a few stating they did not want the system altered. Parent Linda Poirier, who said she had five children attend Williston schools, believes the current configuration is best. She likes the way the house system is set up with the four-year groupings and hopes things won’t change.

“But I think there are going to be changes,” Poirier said. “Everybody keeps screaming, ‘Change, change, change.’ (The committee) isn’t going to ignore that.”

Many parents were on hand to advocate for change. Parent Ann Smith, a vocal advocate for reconfiguring the school system, wants to see change and approves of some of the options. Specifically, she liked the option that had single-grade classrooms for fifth and eighth grades, while keeping multi-age classrooms for sixth and seventh graders.

Smith said she also wanted to see grades one through four housed under one roof, which is a building configuration option under consideration.

“If you don’t, you’ll never have equity,” Smith said.

Currently, grades one through four are split between Allen Brook and Williston Central schools.

Parent Marcy Kass said she sees both sides of the argument in regards to the current configuration. She said there should be some improvements, but not at the cost of losing what Williston already has.

“Talking to parents with young kids, maybe the multi-age (house system) is scary for them,” Kass said. “But I talk to my sister in New Jersey and she’s jealous of what we have here. She thinks it’s like a private school.”

Committee Facilitator Mary Jane Shelley spent about 40 minutes at the beginning of the meeting presenting the 11 configuration options — six options for the lower houses and five for the upper houses — as well as two building configuration options.

“We’re looking for different impressions from you,” Shelley told the crowd.

She said all opinions and statements would be typed up and evaluated by the committee in three meetings this month. The committee plans to present a configuration recommendation to the School Board on April 2.

Throughout the community forum, parents discussed the different options at cafeteria tables, and in front of flipcharts where committee members recorded opinions.

Parent Ann Schmidt said she was impressed by the hard work the Frameworks Committee accomplished. She said she prefers the current system, but wants to see a different building configuration.

“I’m a firm believer that (grades) one through four should be in one place, and (grades) five through eight should be in one place,” Schmidt said. “It just makes sense.”

Parent John Hemmelgarn found some of the options weren’t too different from the current system and hoped they could be adapted to help a wider range of parent concerns.

“I’d like to see something more flexible so we don’t need to keep having these conversations,” Hemmelgarn said.

Parent John Colt said he’s been “very happy” with the current system, especially the lower houses. He said teachers put in a lot of effort in maintaining a good teacher-student relationship. He was unsure about some of the configuration options.

“I think it’s very hard to make any judgments without looking at the research,” Colt said.

Earlier in the day, teachers turned out for their own forum. Committee member Kevin Mara said most came prepared with notes and suggestions.

“A lot of comments were well thought out,” Mara said.

Many of the flipcharts were full of positive and negative comments, with some skewed in one direction or the other. The current upper house system had mostly positive comments from teachers, while some of the options with changes in grade grouping and looping had mostly negative comments.

Also addressed during the forums was the situation regarding the Allen Brook temporary classrooms. A temporary building permit for the trailers expires February 2010, though school officials are working on a master plan for the rooms to present to the Development Review Board.

School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth said the classrooms’ permit would not affect the Frameworks Committee’s effort. She said the school is looking at all options for the trailers, including applying for another temporary building permit, and hopes to go before the Development Review Board with a master plan before the summer.


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Fire Log3/12/09

March 12, 2009

Chimney fire

At 12:35 p.m. on Feb. 23, fire crews responded to a report of a chimney fire on South Road. The occupants reported smoke coming from their oil-furnace chimney. Firefighters found no visible fire, but did finds signs a fire had occurred. Crews tested the furnace and noticed small flare-ups, which were extinguished. Firefighters cleaned the chimney and checked the house for carbon monoxide levels before venting the residence.

Engines 1, 2 and 4, along with Tower 1, reported to the scene with 10 firefighters. Richmond and South Burlington Fire Departments also reported for mutual aid.

Carbon monoxide incident

Fire crews responded to a residence on Hillside Drive at 6:31 p.m. on Feb. 11 for a report of possible carbon monoxide exposure. The occupants reported their carbon monoxide alarm sounded 15 minutes before they placed the call. Nobody in the home reported any sickness. Firefighters tested the levels of the gas within the home and found 44 parts per million. Firefighter Ryan Prouty said any reading over zero is cause for concern.

An oil furnace and water heater proved to be the source of the gas, and a technician was called in to fix the problem. The residents were asked to remain away from the home until the problem was fixed. Engine 3 and four firefighters responded to the scene.

Car fire

On Feb. 8 at 12:36 p.m., firefighters responded to a car fire at the Christmas Tree Shops parking lot. Heavy smoke appeared to be coming from the engine of a four-door Buick. Fire crews lifted the hood and extinguished the fire. AAA towed the car from the lot. Engines 1 and 3 responded with 10 firefighters.


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Everyday Gourmet3/12/09

March 12, 2009

By Kim Dannies

The crunch mister

Croque Monsieur (the crunch mister) is just the ticket to get us through the last gray days of winter. There is simply nothing more delicious and comforting than a golden, gooey, chewy, crunchy mass of warm ham and cheese to fill our bellies.

The béchamel sauce is what makes this treat so special, and every cook should know how to make one. It’s a simple sauce of butter and flour thickened with milk and seasoned with a bit of nutmeg. (Personally, I am sick and tired of restaurant menus masquerading soggy ham sandwiches as authentic Croque Monsieur — it’s not that difficult to do brilliantly.)

To make béchamel sauce, grate 10 ounces of Gruyère or Emmentaler cheese. Measure out 1/2 cup of cheese for the sauce; reserve remaining cheese for later assembly. Warm 2 cups of low-fat milk in the microwave on 100 percent heat for 2 minutes. Over low stovetop heat, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of white flour until blended but not colored. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Season to taste with black pepper, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. (Can be prepared 24 hours ahead and stored in fridge; gently re-warm before use.)

Although it won’t make anyone’s nutritional frequent flier list, the Croque is definitely a crowd pleaser; it also makes a great hors d’oeuvre cut into 9 cubes and served with drinks. Wondering where Croque Madame is? Simply add a fried egg on top.

To assemble 4 sandwiches, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the paper with melted butter. Place 8 slices of bakery sourdough or white sandwich bread on the sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and toast for another 2 minutes.

Lightly brush 4 of the toast slices with Dijon mustard; spackle each one evenly with béchamel sauce ensuring crusts are covered. Divide 8 ounces of sliced ham among the four slices. Top each with 1/3 cup shredded cheese. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Spackle more béchamel sauce generously all over, especially the sides so the ends of the bread seal properly (there will be some leftover sauce.) Sprinkle the remaining cheese over each and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler; broil for 4 minutes. The “crunch misters” will be a deep golden brown, with crunchy bottoms and crispy edges, and a perfectly melded center.

Bon appétit!

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to


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Little Details3/12/09

March 12, 2009

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

Living in the affirmative

I like Susan. We meet occasionally for coffee and conversation at Mirabelles, downtown Burlington’s delectable pastry emporium. Susan is partial to frothy cappuccinos. I like my decaf in a white porcelain cup.

When I arrive for our coffee date, I see Susan holding court at one of her favored tables, chatting it up with local luminaries of the legal and political scene. In winter, she brings her cane, for extra support, lest she risk slipping on an icy patch.

Susan, a few decades older than I, remains sharp as a tack and steadfast in her opinions. She reads a foreign language magazine to keep up with the French she studied in college and follows politics with zest.

We met at a church potluck. I sat on her right at a fellow parishioner’s dining room table. In an attempt to make conversation, I asked her where she grew up. I became a little guarded upon learning she hailed from an affluent suburb near Boston. I used to pass through her town on a bus every weekend on my way home from college to work in a restaurant. I never got off the bus in her wealthy enclave, with its manicured lawns and expensive private schools. I feared she might pass judgment on me for my more humble working class roots from a nearby factory town. I soon learned Susan measured people based on character, not their supposed pedigree.

Casual conversation over pasta led to deeper explorations of our personal stories. Her ancestors, polished by Ivy League degrees, made their money in business. My parents earned their keep on factory floors, churning out chemicals and plastic garbage bags.

We talked politics and Susan revealed her liberal leanings. We didn’t agree on every point but we agreed on many. There was something refreshing about her sharp mind and wit. Conversation with Susan keeps you on your intellectual toes. She was no fading lily quietly traipsing off into retirement. She also expressed a genuine interest in who I was and where I found myself on life’s journey.

Decades earlier, when Susan applied to law school, she met with the dean at a prominent program. He scanned her paperwork, looked up and said, “Your grades are impressive. Your letters of recommendation are wonderful. There’s only one problem — you’re a woman. We don’t accept women.”

Even if she was momentarily thwarted by the comment, Susan, in true thinking-on-your-feet lawyerly style, fired back, “Well, can’t you just make believe I’m a man?”

Susan got in. She attended law lectures where professors routinely addressed the class as “Gentlemen.” She studied hard and pushed her way through earning a law degree.

Susan married and, as with some marriages, it just didn’t work out. She doesn’t dwell on this aspect of her life. She drew on her fine credentials and resourcefulness to return to the workforce and earn enough money to raise her children.

Is she bitter? I don’t think so. I think of Susan as a highly accomplished woman who rolls with life and lives in the affirmative. She’s also one of those folks born into relative affluence who acknowledges the need to give others a hand up educationally and/or materially so they have a decent shot at working for and realizing their own success.

March is Women’s History Month. I think of Susan as a modern day pioneer who was savvy enough to ask the question, “Can’t you just make believe I’m a man?” Thanks to women like Susan who forged the way, younger women like me no longer have to ask that question.

Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston. Reader comments are welcome at or


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Letters to the Editor3/12/09

March 12, 2009

Baking for the Guard

Thank you to the Williston voters for their kind and generous support on Tuesday, March 3, 2009.

The bake sale held at the Williston Armory on Voting Day raised funds which benefit the soldiers and families of Vermont Army National Guard 86th IBCT (MTN) Headquarters Company that is located at the Williston Armory.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Williston Family Readiness Group, please contact Angela Wells, FRSA at 802-872-0239.

Peter Moreman, Williston

God and marriage

God is on the side of traditional marriage and we should be, too. He created marriage to be between a man and a woman and it has been so for thousands of years. The legislators of this state have no business tampering with it.

Christine Parker,  Starksboro


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Guest Column3/12/09

Sustainability grown at gardening workshops

March 12, 2009

By Mariana Lamaison Sears

Could you imagine a Williston where the energy of the sun and the wind are used to warm up houses, schools and businesses? A town where people can walk or bike from the village to the Taft Corners area and beyond? A town with composting services so our food waste is diverted from the landfill and transformed into fertilizer to help us grow our own vegetables and keep beautiful flower gardens?

This is the picture of the town we, members of the Williston Green Initiatives committee, imagine, and to make that vision come true, we are organizing a series of free workshops for beginner gardeners to take place in the spring at the Old Brick Church.

The hands-on series, From Seeds to Veggies, begins March 18 and continues with two more sessions April 8 and 29. It aims to help people jumpstart their garden, even if they only have a sunny porch or balcony to garden on. People will learn how to start seeds, how to grow veggies in pots, how to plant and grow potatoes and how to sow seeds directly outdoors. From each session, attendants will take home newly planted seeds ready to put by a sunny window. Each session will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the basement of the church.

Lynn Blevins, a member of the committee who gardens at her home on North Williston Road, will conduct the series and share with workshop attendants her passion for growing her food and the joy of gardening.

Blevins said there are environmental and personal benefits to having a garden at home and that is what moved the group to organize the series. The food needs to travel only from garden to kitchen, which makes it really fresh to eat and more nutritious and helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that would be emitted by trucks transporting food to grocery stores, she explained.

Home gardeners are less likely to use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and more likely to use natural fertilizer like compost, consequently growing organic vegetables and fruits, Blevins said. Also, growing their own food will save people money, which in these economic times is of concern to many.

“And it’s such a good, healthy activity for the individual,” she said.

At the March session, feature seeds will be tomato, eggplant, pepper, oregano and mint. For the April 8 session, we will learn about broccoli, kale, sunberry and basil. Finally, on April 29, we will work on winter and summer squash, cucumber and melon.

Pre-registration for one or all three workshop sessions is recommended so we can ensure materials for everyone. People can register by calling 878-5203 or by e-mailing

The Williston Green Initiatives committee is a grassroots group of Williston residents that was born last year at the Williston Into the Next Generation event, better known as WING. Besides the gardening workshop series, we are engaged in other efforts to make our town more sustainable and environmentally friendly: We are helping the town implement the recommendations from the energy audit recently conducted in Town Hall; we are also organizing a sustainability fair in partnership with Chittenden Solid Waste District to take place at the opening of the Williston Farmers’ Market; and we are collaborating with the Williston Historical Society to have the first waste-free July 3rd ice cream social this summer. If you would like to enlist yourself as a volunteer for any of our upcoming events, write to

Mariana Lamaison Sears is a member of Williston Green Initiatives.


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Zoning changes attract crowd3/12/09

Board tables bylaw approval until later date

March 12, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

After nearly two hours of public testimony, the Selectboard on Monday delayed approval of new land-use rules that critics warned would stymie affordable housing.

The public hearing on Williston’s new Unified Development Bylaw drew an outspoken crowd of about 20 people. They appeared evenly divided between those who wanted the Selectboard to adopt the bylaw as written and those who disliked parts of the 320-page document.

Dana Hood, who owns land he wants to develop off Lefebvre Lane in Williston Village, said the new rules would prevent construction of lower-priced homes.

“I find it a little odd that there’s no chapter in the new bylaws for affordable housing,” he said. “There’s a chapter for lighting, there’s a chapter for signs, but there’s no chapter for affordable housing. It’s piecemeal throughout the document.”

But Maureen Caruso, one of a group of neighboring homeowners who oppose Hood’s development, said it was time to approve the bylaw.

“All the things we’re talking about we’ve gone through for 16 to 18 months,” she said. “I don’t really want to procrastinate any more.”

The sweeping rewrite of land-use rules began more than three years ago with former Town Planner Lee Nellis and has continued with current planning staff, led by Ken Belliveau, and shaped during countless Planning Commission meetings.

Some of the revised code has already been adopted on an interim basis and would be finalized with approval by the Selectboard of the bylaw as a whole.

The new rules regulate everything from housing density to outdoor lighting. They outline the permitting process, establish penalties for zoning violations and even specify standards for bicycle parking.

“The bylaw that you have in front of you represents the work of a lot of people in this community,” Belliveau told the board, noting the “collective brainpower” invested in the task.

He acknowledged the controversy created by one provision that alters how wetland buffers and slopes are treated when considering density. The new rules eliminate such areas when calculating the number of units permitted in a development.

Those changes, aimed at protecting the environment, particularly Allen Brook, would affect the proposed housing project at North Williston Road and Lefebvre Lane. Jeff Atwood, who is working with Hood on the project, complained that the new rules would effectively eliminate the planned affordable housing.

“I strongly oppose the Selectboard adopting the new rules,” Atwood said.

He quoted passages from Williston’s Comprehensive Plan that call on the town to encourage diverse housing affordable for people of all income levels.

Though much of the discussion revolved around wetlands and how they would affect affordable housing, perhaps the biggest change steers new construction toward already developed areas and away from the town’s rural districts.

Allowable density in the residential zone north of U.S. 2 increases from two to three units per acre under the new rules. And in the growth center around Taft Corners, the density is 10 units per acre.

A unique provision increases allowable density in the growth center to 15 units if a developer purchases development rights from a landowner in the rural district.

By increasing density in already developed parts of town, Belliveau said the bylaw encourages compact, affordable housing. And he noted the regulations permit even greater density in the residential zone — five units per acre — when a developer includes affordable housing.

After closing the hearing, board members discussed bylaw provisions and mulled adopting the new land-use rules.

Jeff Fehrs asked Belliveau to explain how the density changes would impact existing subdivisions and the town as a whole.

Judy Sassorossi suggested the town should permit 15 units an acre in the growth center in all cases. She worried that requiring the purchase of development rights to reach that density could drive up housing costs.

“I’m really concerned that it won’t have a positive effect on the (agricultural)-rural district, and will have a negative effect on affordable housing in the growth center,” she said.

An initial motion by Chris Roy to adopt the bylaw with changes failed for lack of a second. Then Sassorossi, saying she’d “like to digest what I’ve heard tonight,” moved to delay a decision. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved by the board.

The board will likely revisit the bylaw at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, March 23.


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