Town of Halifax, Vermont
August 12, 2008
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:06 PM. Board members in attendance were Chair Christina Moore, Frank Maltese, Craig Stone, Norman Fajans, Paul Placentino, Allan Dacey, and Howard Alboum. William Pusey and Brian McNeice arrived at 7:10, after the Minutes were approved. Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, and Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Alboum moved to approve the minutes of the July 8, 2008 meeting as written.
Mr. Stone seconded the motion.
The motion carried 7-0, and the minutes were approved.
The members welcomed Brian McNeice to the Planning Commission. Mr. McNeice was appointed to complete the unexpired term of Paul Blais, who recently resigned.
Rules of Procedure and Ethics Policy Adoption
Mrs. Moore asked if all members had read the manual and if there were questions or discussion before a vote was called. The Commissioners advised they were ready to vote.
Mr. Dacey moved to approve the adoption of the Rules of Procedure and Ethics Manual for the Halifax Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment (dated June 2008).
Mr. Pusey seconded the motion.
The motion carried 8-0-1, with Mr. McNeice abstaining as he was not a member during the development process.
Mrs. Moore instructed the secretary to forward copies of the approved document to the Selectboard.
Review of Mail and Communications
Mail received since the last meeting was circulated and reviewed by the members. Mrs. Moore advised that the subdivision application they have been expecting has yet to be received. The state permits have been issued and the 911 street address has been assigned, but the town permits still need to be obtained.
Town Plan Review
Mrs. Moore advised that unless someone had a better idea, she felt that going through a document page by page and making changes as they go, seemed to work well for them. Others agreed and so they started on the Town Plan rewrite.
STATEMENT OF GOALS
They revisited the two goals that had been added to the list of goals at the last meeting. These were reworded to state: (16) to encourage the local production of food; and (17) to encourage local alternative energy development.
Mr. Maltese advised he would like to see these two goals moved up higher on the list instead of at the end.
After a short discussion it was agreed to move them up to the 11 and 12 slots.
Mr. Alboum asked if one of their goals should be to develop a commercial district in Halifax. He advised that they have had much discussion on the subject so maybe it should be a goal.
Mr. Fajans advised that before they go putting it in the town plan as a goal they should survey the townspeople to see if they want it or not and where they want it to be.
Mr. Alboum advised that he felt that it was the Planning Commission’s job to develop and set goals, and if the townspeople have criticism it would be voiced at the public hearings that are required before any approval of the plan.
A short discussion followed, voicing the pros and cons of a commercial district. Mr. Pusey advised that for years no one has wanted commercial businesses in town, but now with high fuel costs, wouldn’t it be nice if there were some clean businesses in town so that people would not have to travel to other towns and states to work. Route 112 seems to be the logical area for a commercial district, given the highway access.
Mrs. Moore advised they were getting way ahead of themselves. At this point, they only need to state the goal. When it comes to the designation of an area that will be a major task, as it will require an entire new section to the plan. The wording for the goal was stated as: (18) to create the designation of a commercial district for the town.
Mrs. Moore advised that one of the goals should be in regard to high speed internet service for the town. Some general comments were made, and Mrs. Moore advised that she was working on a grant application that is due to the state on September 6th to bring service to the town. She advised that it had to be a public/private partnership. They are supposed to find a vendor who works with the town. If they find a vendor then they apply to the state for the money. The money is supposed to seed the project. After that the vendor continues to bill, and the only way this partnership will work is if the vendor makes a profit. When there are approximately 500 year-round households in the town, you can expect approximately ¼ will buy. That is 100 houses, times $40 per month per house which gives a monthly budget of $4000. The phone line to bring in the high speed service is $2,500 per month. That leaves $1,500 per month to provide whatever technology is needed to get the service to the houses. The expectation is that the people who would buy would be evenly distributed across the town. So what is happening is that the vendors she has approached have looked at this and refuse. The population and distribution of houses is much to spread out to make it feasible. Mrs. Moore advised that unfortunately Halifax is nowhere near the density that is required to fulfill a vendor’s expectation. For goal (19) to encourage the introduction of broadband internet service to the town.
The members reviewed the section and noted that the state has assumed jurisdiction for all septic systems so that the wording needs to reflect this change. The first sentence of paragraph three was changed to read “To preserve public health and prevent pollution of surface and ground waters, Halifax complies with the state septic regulations.”
RELATION TO ADJACENT AND REGIONAL PLANS
Mr. McNeice advised that the Regional Plan has been approved and adopted. The sentence regarding this was reworded appropriately.
It was noted that the number of towns and number of towns with approved plans should be checked. Mr. McNeice advised the regional commission has that info and he will get it for the next meeting.
A BRIEF TOWN HISTORY
Mr. Alboum suggested that reference be made to the Historical Society’s new publication on the Town History. The following sentence was added: “The Halifax Historical Society published the first volume of the town’s history in 2008 and plans to complete the second volume in the years to come.”
No changes made.
Updated figures are not available. Census taken only every ten years.
It was noted that some of the population projections were not accurate. This section should be reviewed and modified where needed.
Mrs. Moore will check on the housing sections for any available updates.
Figures will be requested from the school administration.
No current data available, next census will be in 2010.
This needs to be checked. Other sections using the U.S. Census have figures for 2000, this section only has 1990.
Mr. Maltese advised he’d like to see signs posted to encourage bicyclists to ride on Halifax roads rather than on Route 112.
It should also be noted that the “Moover” services Halifax.
The members were reminded that the meeting night has changed to the second Wednesday of the month and the next meeting will be on Wednesday, September 10th.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk