Bennington

Keeping poultry now permitted

$15K for police cruiser narrowly OK’d

  • Voting in Bennington was held at Pierce Elementary School but a ballot item regarding renovating the VFW could allow for a new voting location in town.
  • Voting in Bennington was held at Pierce Elementary School but a ballot item regarding renovating the VFW could allow for a new voting location in town.

BENNINGTON — The keeping of chickens and poultry will now be permitted in all town zones, provided those kept in the Village District are kept in pens. And residents approved of all 21 articles on the ballot Tuesday, including the proposed operating budget and those that call for saving money for upcoming projects.

The town passed the proposed operating budget of $1,589,909 with a 141 to 71 vote. All 21 articles passed, all overwhelmingly, except for a 109-to-100 vote to raise $15,000 for the Police Cruiser Capital Reserve Fund.

By the end of Tuesday, 999 residents were registered as voters and 214 of them voted. As Bennington resident Molly Flower Eppig said at the polls Tuesday, “It’s business as usual in Bennington.”

The zoning amendment to allow the keeping of chickens and ducks passed with a 163 to 48 vote. Eppig said it’s just great that the amendment passed. She said residents want to be able to keep chickens in town again, because when people got rid of horses years ago the town decided to ban animals downtown to keep the town clean and modern.

Before this amendment, chickens were not permitted in the downtown village of Bennington. Now chickens and ducks are permitted in all town zones provided that the poultry be confined to a pen or other structure. The other condition is that all newly constructed housing for poultry, including pens, must meet all setback requirements of the zone in which the lot is located.

With regard to the rest of the budget, Eppig said it was “all just standard stuff.”

“You put so much money in every year to cover a new fire truck for years down the road,” Eppig said. “We understand that these certain things need to be funded. There was nothing out of the norm.”

All the candidates for open offices ran unopposed. “It says that everybody is happy with the people that run,” Eppig said.

“It went more or less textbook,” Deputy Town Administrator Kristie LaPlante said in an interview Wednesday, referring to the budget passing.

Article 14, which will allow $15,000 to be raised and added to the Town Buildings Expendable Trust Fund, will aid in repairs to be made to the VFW in the next year or more, Town Administrator Dee French said in an interview Wednesday. She said the goal is to have the building up to a standard that would allow the VFW to host town voting next year. A committee is working on applying for grants along the way, to supplement money from the trust fund.

“It’s not a quick fix,” French said. “It’s a work in progress, I just don’t have a time frame or a dollar value.”

The repairs to the VFW would include relocating the bathrooms to the rear of the building as well as the kitchen, that would have a compact design that includes a refrigerator. French said this would open up more open space in the center of the building. The VFW can hold 50 people as it is now, French said, but she is not sure how many it will hold once repairs are made.

Because the Town Buildings Expendable Trust Fund is for all town buildings, French said town officials are hoping for donated labor and grants.

Although a majority of budget articles asked for money to be raised and put aside for future projects and purchases, French said the purchase that seems in the nearest future is a new vehicle for the highway department.

Article 5, approved with a 145 to 67 vote, asked voters if they wanted to raise $10,000 to be added to the Highway Equipment Capital Reserve Fund, a recommendation of the Select Board and Budget Committee.

The town also approved raising $9,000 for the purchase of a thermal imaging camera for the fire department. “I appreciate all the residents who voted for it, its a great tool to have in our tool box, and it will be put to very good use,” Fire Chief Mike Roina said in an interview Wednesday. “I already ordered it.”

The camera ended up costing just under $11,000 with a five-year warranty. With the $9,000 to be raised through Article 3, plus $1,500 Bennington firefighters already acquired through fundraising, the remaining cost will come from the fire department’s portion of the budget.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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