At Dalton’s town meeting day, a measure to extend temporary emergency zoning for another year passed in a narrow vote, 135-130. Those in support of the measure hope it will help prevent a proposed landfill from being sited next to Forest Lake State Park.
This issue, which has divided the town, has also become a statewide debate about whether additional environmental protections are necessary to preserve the state’s parks and protect the tourism industry.
The town has had temporary emergency zoning in place since 2019, when Casella Waste Systems first made its plans to develop a new landfill known to the town.
On Tuesday, the town also voted on one seat on the select board, which the incumbent, Carol Sheltry, won in another narrow vote against Kevin Whittum Jr., 180 to 173. Those opposing the landfill were concerned that Whittum would be friendly to Casella. In a Facebook message, Whittum said he was neither supportive nor unsupportive of the landfill, but that he was open to discussing the possibility with the company.
Jon Swan, a Dalton resident who started an organization called Save Forest Lake opposing the landfill, ran for town clerk and tax collector but was defeated by incumbent Jessie Wentworth. Wentworth had announced that she would be retiring in February, which would have left the seat open. She subsequently decided to run for re-election and won. Wentworth has held the position for the past 21 years.
The town meeting didn’t wrap up until three in the morning, according to staff at the town office.