Villagers are talking secession
NORTH BENNINGTON — Voters were talking secession from the town of Bennington at the annual Village Meeting Tuesday night.
The village trustees presented a status report on the examination into becoming a separate town. "We have looked at the issue — we're still looking at it and studying it," said Ronald Pembroke, chairman of the board. "The time we're taking should tell you that we're not making the decision lightly."
"In general, the trustees are in favor of the idea," Pembroke said.
Pembroke said the idea of secession was first broached formally at the Village Meeting last year.
"After the initial word got out, the town of Bennington has been very cooperative," Pembroke said. "(Bennington Town Manager) Stu Hurd offered to help us out if we decide that is what we really want."
"I appreciate that, in my dealings with the town office, their attitude isn't any different towards us," added Pembroke.
One problem that was brought up was growth. "One possible downfall is that Bennington has the potential for growth," Pembroke said. "Their grand list, in theory, could carry us."
Board member Matthew Patterson agreed that growth presented an issue. "We don't have any more land left," Patterson said. "We're surrounded by Bennington township and Shaftsbury."
Patterson, however, said hopes for growth in the village are not entirely thwarted. "I think North Bennington has the potential for vertical growth," Patterson said. "We can increase land values by increasing our capacity vertically."
Police protection will be another consideration in any potential move to secession.
"One big thing to mull over is what police protection will look like," Pembroke said. "Right now, we can dial 911 and get a quick response. Would that change? We don't know."
Patterson said careful examination of the possibilities was important. "When you become a town, there are all sorts of regulations you have to worry about," Patterson said. "Look what Shaftsbury — a good part of their budget is for a town (administrator), and he's kept pretty busy."
"We don't want to do it and regret it later," Patterson added.
Pembroke expressed optimism "Could we do it? Certainly we could," he said. "The question is will the residents of North Bennington accept different police protection."
Reprinted from The Bennington Banner
March 21, 2006