Development underscores Norwich Select Board elections

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(Host) You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the quiet Town Meeting in Norwich this year, but development has been a hot issue.

VPR’s Betty Smith reports.

(Smith) Behind the scenes in the Select Board race, the future development of this town seemed to be at stake.

The race was among four candidates competing for two positions on Norwich’s five member Select Board. The new Select Board will preside over several key issues concerning responsible growth in the coming year, such as whether or not to establish a municipal sewer system. With good soil and municipal water, Norwich has never had one. But according to Ben Ptashnik, who won one of the Select Board seats, that’s under review.

(Ptashnik) “In Norwich there’s an opportunity to do some economic development along Route 5 South, perhaps some housing. And along with that economic development, the suggestion has been made that we put in a sewer system.”

(Smith) A sewer study committee will report to the Select Board later this year. Alison May has been co-chair of the committee and is the other new Select Board member.

(May) “I think you have to balance your desire for maintaining a small village with the reality that you need a bigger commercial base. And we desperately need more diversified housing.”

(Smith) Norwich resident Don Poulson says that a lively informal debate has been simmering for awhile.

(Poulson) “I don’t know if this is semi-annual like frost heaves, but maybe that’s it. Maybe these are kind of frost heaves – political, social frost heaves that come up and there’s always one. And this year I think that the divisiveness has really come in the Select Board issue. It’s not just the future of the town but it really is who’s going to do the job right.”

(Smith) Alison May and Ben Ptashnik join Liz Blum, Jack Candon and Suzanne Stofflet on the board to work on the future of Norwich.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Betty Smith.

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