Home > Uncategorized > Juxtaposition of Front Page Articles Illustrates Economic Divide: Hartford VT Seeks Permits for 60 SF Homeless Shelters While Woodstock VT Seeks Permits for Bronco Drivers

Juxtaposition of Front Page Articles Illustrates Economic Divide: Hartford VT Seeks Permits for 60 SF Homeless Shelters While Woodstock VT Seeks Permits for Bronco Drivers

April 3, 2021

Hartford and Woodstock Vermont share a common border, but the difference in the problems they face are illustrated in two front page articles in our local newspaper. How did Dickens put it? It was the best of times and it was the worst of times? 

One article, by Vally News business writer John Lippman, describes the Woodstock Inn’s desire to secure permits needed to provide “...a driving school that will train customers in how to handle new Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport SUVs on off-road terrain.”  The article describes the similarity between this project and one located at the upscale Equinox Inn in Manchester VT where affluent travelers can get off-road driving training for their Land Rovers. 

The project will require some construction: 

(The project) proposes erecting two structures for vehicle storage and maintenance of up to 30 Ford Broncos: a permanent 30-foot green fabric “hoop barn” and adjoining wash pad on the south side of Barnard Brook that would be situated behind a 270-footlong, 6-foot-high wooden fence and a temporary site located north of the brook and within the footprint of the existing Suicide Six parking lot to be used while the permanent facility is being built.

Unlike the Land Rover program at the Equinox, which is open to guests at the resort and the general public, the Ford Bronco driving school at Suicide Six would be by invitation only to new Bronco owners as a “complimentary oneand- a-half day experience to familiarize themselves with the vehicles and its off-pavement capabilities,” according to the Act 250 filing.

The other article, by staff writer Anna Merriman, describes the efforts of Selectboard member Simon Dennis to get approval to move forward with a project that would provide 60 square foot dwellings “...made out of polystyrene foam with drywall or siding and flooring” To help with hygiene issues and cooking, the site of these dwellings would also provide “…a bathroom, shower and laundry facility on-site, about 400 feet away from the dwellings.”

Interestingly but unsurprisingly the Hartford Project appears to have more obstacles:

While the idea is gaining ground in other states, the plan in Hartford does come with some roadblocks. In addition to ensuring the shelter fits within zoning regulations, the project will require getting a water permit and constructing a water facility that’s built into the town water system, Dennis said.

Upper Valley Haven Executive Director Michael Redmond, who also sits on the committee, said the roadblocks make it difficult for the committee to find a good location for the project.

“There are multiple challenges to working within existing state and local regulations for health and safety, planning and zoning, building code, financing, etc.,” he wrote in an email this week.

And finding a specific site will e problematic because, well, no one wants a shelter for unhoused individuals located near them.

The Bronco project, on the other hand, faces NIMBY opposition from nearby arts venues and affluent neighbors who own second (or third, fourth or fifth) homes nearby.

It will be interesting to see which of these projects proceeds and when… but I’m guessing the Bronco drivers will be up and running before the 60 sf shelters are built.

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