Newbury board denies permit to youth detention facility

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 10:31 AM EST
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NEWBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - The town of Newbury has dealt a major setback to plans to bring a youth detention center to the community.

In a 7-0 vote, the Newbury Development Review Board decided the proposed facility for the state’s most at-risk youth simply doesn’t belong.

“We are thrilled,” said Jette Mandl-Abramson, who owns a neighboring farm and is among many area residents who spoke out against the plan.

The proposed six-bed facility at a former bed and breakfast would have gone towards replacing the shuttered Woodside facility in Essex, which was the state’s only youth detention center. The property is owned by Becket Family Services out of New Hampshire.

“The location of the facility and the fact that it is a New Hampshire-based privately-owned corporation is the problem for us,” Mandl-Abramson said.

In its 10 page report, the Newbury Development Review Board cited several issues with the project including increased traffic on the rural dirt roads and the negative effects the facility could potentially have on the character of the town.

“It seems that the majority of the town felt that way. I personally was not in agreement with the decision,” said David Nelson. He says he understands the community’s position but says the need to rehabilitate troubled youth should outweigh those concerns. “The caliber of people that live in these smaller communities to bring some kids into the area who have had problems, come from broken homes and bad environments, and show them there is a better way.”

The state has 30 days to appeal the decision. DCF Commissioner Sean Brown was unavailable for comment but is expected to address the topic art Friday’s Child Protection Oversight Committee hearing.

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