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New state program causes confusion in Starksboro

Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 11:57 PM EDT
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STARKSBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - A new state program through Vermont Emergency Management is causing confusion at a mobile home park in Starksboro.

David Holt lives at the Lazy Brook Mobile Home Park. He and other park residents are under the impression the state is demanding eight mobile homes be moved due to potential flood risk, meaning those residents will need to find a new place to live.

“In the time I’ve been here, the flooding is down below not up here,” Holt said. “But they’ve decided that these eight at the top here are going to have to go.”

“We have nowhere else to go,” Barbara Griffin said. “We’ve put all the rest of our money into it. We are on fixed incomes. That’s it. This is where we were going to live for the rest of our lives.”

The park is owned and operated by the Addison County Community Trust (ACCT). The executive director, Elise Shanbacker, says those eight homes are situated either completely or partially in a flood zone.

She wrote in a statement to WCAX News: “At this time we have no plans for involuntary relocations. ACCT is currently exploring Vermont Emergency Management and FEMA programs for voluntary mitigation resources.”

One new program through Vermont Emergency Management is working to do just that. Stephanie Smith serves as the state hazard mitigation officer.

She says misinformation about this program could have played a part in residents’ concerns.

“What we’re doing right now is advertising for the new Flood Resilient Communities Fund Program. This is a new program that we just developed. It was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act by the Vermont legislature back in May,” Smith said.

As part of the program, the state would buy out developed properties that face flood risk and purchase vacant parcels that could flood, to prevent future development on potentially dangerous land.

“We’re absolutely not going to be taking any properties if the owners are not interested,” Smith said. “It’s an opportunity for those who are interested.”

Shanbacker says the Addison County Community Trust is still unsure of what will happen down the road and whether involuntary relocations will be necessary. She says the trust may still have to close some lots in the future for safety reasons.

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