OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD PUBLIC HEARING MINUTES
December 27, 2018
Chairman Lewis Sumner opened the Selectboard public hearing on the updated Halifax Town Plan at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard member Bradley Rafus was present; Mitchell Green was unable to attend. Also present were Turner Lewis, Alice Aldrich, Stephan Chait, Sue Kelly, Linda Huebner, and Robbin Gabriel.
Sumner read the public hearing notice for the record, as follows: “The Halifax Selectboard will hold a public hearing regarding adoption of the proposed update to the Town Plan on Thursday, December 27, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in the Halifax Town Office, 246 Branch Road, West Halifax, Vermont. The Plan pertains to all of the Town of Halifax. The Table of Contents includes: Goals, Community Profile, Land Use, Natural Resources, Recreation, Community Facilities and Resources, Flood Resilience, Transportation, Economic Development, Energy, Housing, Education, and Relationships with Adjacent Towns. A full copy of the proposed Town Plan is available for public review and can be found in the Halifax Town Office and on the halifaxvermont.com website.”
Sumner invited comments on the Town Plan text from those present; he had several small items to contribute. Under Groundwater Recommendations he suggested adding the words “if available” to #2, as the State database does not contain data on wells drilled in Halifax prior to the mid-1960s. A sentence indicating that the Halifax Gorge property is privately owned was added under Scenic Resources. The list of sand and gravel sources in the Earth and Mineral section was revised, as several locations that have been closed or are being reclaimed. Sue Kelly suggested simply removing those references. Regarding item #1 under Town Government Recommendations, Sumner urged caution. A five-year capital improvement plan is a good idea, he said, but a few years ago the Environmental Court interpreted Wilmington’s multiple project plans as a single plan sizeable enough to be subject to Act 250 requirements. It cost the town of Wilmington a lot, said Sumner. Item #3 recommends formation of a town Conservation Commission; Planning Commission Chair Turner Lewis and several others spoke in support of that recommendation. Lewis suggested advertising for volunteers to serve on a conservation committee. Under Meeting Places, the date of the elementary school relocation was corrected from 1991 to 1992. Stephan Chait asked whether the description of the present ownership of the school building was correct; Sumner verified that the new Unified District now owns the building, but should the school close the town can buy it back for one dollar. Sumner also confirmed that the Cael scholarship funds, and funds bequeathed to the town for playground maintenance, will continue to benefit Halifax only. (Transcriber’s note: Under Solid Waste, the date of WSWMD’s recycling collection program was changed from 2017 to 2016, but further research showed 2017 to be correct.)
After some general discussion of housing affordability in Halifax and the inaccuracy of State government median income figures in rural areas, Chait complimented the Planning Commission on their diligent and thorough work in completing the update process. Linda Huebner spoke strongly in support of forming a Halifax Conservation Commission; she recently attended a regional conservation planning conference, and she stressed the importance of collaborating with other area towns to promote forest connectivity, good wildlife habitat, and watershed protection. Huebner worked for many years with Massachusetts conservation commissions, especially on beaver-related flood issues. She is pleased that Halifax is considering a conservation commission and said she will be interested to see how that develops. Attendees spent some time studying Town Plan maps and reviewing the town conservation district boundaries, and discussed land use, forestry practices, and deer population control.
A final draft of the revised Town Plan text will be prepared and posted on the halifaxvermont.com website. There will be one more opportunity for comments/questions on the proposal at the pre-Town Meeting informational meeting in late February, and the document will then be presented to the voters on Australian ballot on March 5, 2019.
The hearing adjourned at 7:42 p.m.