Town of Halifax, Vermont
July 8, 2009
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:04 PM. Members in attendance were Chair Christina Moore, Frank Maltese, Norman Fajans, Craig Stone, Howard Alboum, Brian McNeice, Sirean LaFlamme, and William Pusey. Secretary Phyllis Evanuk was also in attendance.
Review of Mail
Mrs. Moore advised the Commissioners that Paul Placentino has resigned. He has sold his home and is moving to Florida. She requested that a letter be sent thanking him for his service. Members suggested some people who might be interested, and it was noted that the vacancy has been posted and interested parties should apply to the Selectboard for consideration.
A brief update regarding Mr. Oglesby’s inquiry about property transfers was given. The letter and supporting documents have been sent to the state, but no response has been received yet.
Mr. Maltese advised he had received a call from Mr. Gentile regarding the variance request for his Green River Road property, inquiring if he could start general work in preparation for the actual construction. Mr. Maltese spoke with the Zoning Administrator and then advised Mr. Gentile that as long as no actual construction took place before the appeal period was past (June 28th), that prep work could be done. That time has passed but no work has been started because of the weather conditions, the ground is too wet.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Alboum moved to approve the minutes of the June 10, 2009 meeting as written.
Mrs. Moore seconded the motion, which carried 8-0.
Review of Rules of Procedure
Mrs. Moore advised that in preparation for the public hearing on July 15th for re-adoption of the Town Plan the Planning Commission they should review the procedure they will follow.
Mr. Alboum suggested that they should have a plan for the hearing to insure that they are prepared.
Mr. Maltese advised that he perceives this hearing as one in which people can say one of two things: either that they are in favor of re-adoption, or not in favor of re-adoption and state the reasons why.
Mrs. Moore advised that the Rules of Procedure that the Planning Commission adopted give a clear process for hearings. She further advised they should determine the parameters for interested parties.
It was agreed that interested parties should include residents and land owners of Halifax, abutting town representatives, and land owners from neighboring towns whose property abuts Halifax.
Mr. Maltese advised that there is a serious movement to have a special town meeting earlier. The reason is he feels they feel that they can get a core group to turn out and he was not sure what they are planning. He feels that a special meeting would be a great disservice to the voters of Halifax who expect to have important issues brought up at the regular town meeting in March.
Mr. Maltese moved to send a letter to the Selectboard stating that their feeling is that it would be a disservice to the voters to have a special town meeting, and recommending that this issue be voted on at the regular Town Meeting in March.
Mr. Pusey seconded the motion.
Discussion of the pros and cons of this motion followed. Mr. Alboum advised that after they have had the public hearing they would then have given the public a chance to voice opinions before they send the Planning Commission recommendation to the Selectboard. Mrs. Moore advised that, politically speaking, the scope of the hearing is so narrow, that if there is an appearance that they prejudged the outcome without hearing them, they would be doing themselves a disservice. Mr. Alboum advised that he approves the motion, but it should be suggested to the Selectboard after the public hearing.
Mr. Stone reminded the commissioners that any group of 5% of the voters can petition for a special town meeting, so that even with their recommendation the issue could be forced.
Mr. Maltese advised that having heard the comments the motion is withdrawn.
The Commissioners agreed that the vote should be at a regular Town Meeting but should not be recommended until at least the public hearing is completed.
Town Plan Strategy
Mrs. Moore advised that in order to move forward on the NEW Town Plan they should decide what method to use to progress in a timely fashion. She advised that in her opinion the very pedantic way of going through the plan page by page and arguing page by page at least moved them forward. There may be other ways, but if it is left to her, she would continue in this fashion.
Mr. Alboum advised that he agreed that this is a good way. They should complete the things they agree on, and then go back to the areas where more research is needed. Then they could form sub-committees to do work in the areas they are familiar with.
It was noted that the last time they had specifically worked on the new plan was September 10, 2008. They need to get back on track. The next regular meeting will be on August 12, 2009. It was also noted that with one vacancy the quorum is still 5 members so that if members know in advance that they are not going to be available, the meeting might be cancelled and rescheduled.
1. Mr. Alboum inquired about the role of members regarding apparent or suspected zoning violations that they see. He is concerned about equal enforcement of zoning; he feels that some people ignore the presence of zoning and the need to get permits.
Mrs. Moore advised that complaints should be made to the Zoning Administrator. She also advised that the Listers are visiting all properties for reassessment and when they see violations they have been advising Rick Gay.
2. Mr. Maltese advised that he would like to see the big red P like the ones he sees in other towns posted to the duration of construction on a property, so that it is clear that the regulations have been complied with.
It was noted that until there is a Town Plan approved and in place, no changes can be made to the zoning regulations. That is where any requirement regarding zoning permits must be in order for the Zoning Administrator to enforce them.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:12 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk