By Associated Press - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THETFORD, Vt. (AP) - Three towns have voted to back an $850,000 project to replace a broken dam and divide control of the dam among the towns.

Residents from Thetford, Fairlee and West Fairlee voted Tuesday to replace the dam at Lake Fairlee and formed an “interlocal agreement” for the towns to share ownership of it, The Valley News reported (https://bit.ly/1c4Jybp ).

Bryan Gregory, a Maine resident who owns the dam, has to sign it over to the towns for construction to start this summer. He told the newspaper he would likely agree to the project.

Town officials who have collaborated on the issue for more than three years said the decision ultimately came down to taxes. The dam’s failure, deemed inevitable by engineers, would cause the waterline to recede and lakefront property values to suffer, resulting in homeowners not on the lakefront having to pay the difference.

The cost will be split among the three towns, with Thetford paying the most at $482,000. The prices are based on equalized values of lakefront property.



Fairlee Selectboard Chairman Frank Barrett Jr. said the affirmative vote was due to a strong collaboration among the towns and a strategic focus on direct tax effects rather than ecology. He said he is proud the towns took on a shared responsibility for fixing the dam instead of putting it solely on the people who live on the lake.

“Everyone kept their eye on the ball,” he said.

Opponents of the project said that Gregory should be responsible for fixing the dam and that the tax concerns are not good enough reasons for the project.

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Information from: Lebanon Valley News, https://www.vnews.com

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