OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
April 15, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm. Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Earl Holtz, and Lewis Sumner. Others present were Robbin Gabriel, Brad Rafus, Tim Putnam, Chris Mays (Brattleboro Reformer), Ray Combs, Leonard Derby, Cara Cheyette, and Margo Avakian.
Approval of Minutes
Edwards made a motion to accept the 4/1/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the 4/7/14 regular meeting minutes with two corrections. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Edwards made a motion to accept the 4/9/14 Broadband meeting minutes with one correction. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Edwards made a motion to accept the 4/11/14 special meeting minutes with four corrections. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 4/12/14 Selectboard Institute Conference minutes with one correction. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Holtz abstaining.
Town Highway #1 (Branch Road)
Edwards made a motion to designate Town Highway #1 (Branch Road) as a 3-rod road. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Edwards told the meeting that the Vermont Agency of Transportation is preparing to do some work on Route 112 at the intersection of Branch Road. To proceed, the Agency needs to have the right-of-way confirmed, and no designation for Branch Road has been found in Halifax town documents. The Vermont Agency of Transportation will be notified by letter of the designation, and a Resolution will be prepared, signed by the Selectboard, and given to the Town Clerk for the records.
Rafus gave the meeting details of a grant application he is working on to finish Bridge #13 on Green River Road. The work includes installing new guardrails. He explained that paving grants are on a rotation system and available every four to five years, while structures grants, for bridges and culverts, are available more frequently. In response to a question from Cheyette, Edwards said that funds for these grants were derived from gas tax monies. Sumner introduced the subject of the new 2014-16 Road and Bridge Standards and Edwards said the town was now required to adopt the new standards to be eligible for full FEMA and state funding. Board members will review the latest standards and add the adoption measure to the 4/21/14 regular meeting agenda.
Combs asked whether the town would be doing any asphalt paving this year. Edwards said that no money had been budgeted for that purpose and Sumner commented that the #37 bridge project would cost more than originally anticipated. Rafus said he would submit a paving grant application on the off chance it might be approved by the state. Edwards specified the proposed project would be the section of Jacksonville State Road from the Branch Road intersection to the top of the hill.
Cara Cheyette spoke about her experience as town representative on the Rescue, Inc., board. She gave a brief description of the Rescue meeting schedules, what the job entailed, and the organizational changes occurring over the past year. She praised the work being done within Rescue, and said that while she has recently stepped down from the position to avoid a potential conflict of interest, she thought it important that the town continue to have a voice on the Board. As no one has yet shown an interest in filling the vacant seat, Cheyette expressed her willingness to be reappointed on a temporary basis. Edwards asked about the number of Rescue subscribers in the Thomas Hill area, and discussed the possibility of finding a volunteer for the Board position among the residents using the service. Cheyette said she would research the question. Sumner mentioned that some Halifax subscribers may appear in the Rescue, Inc., database with Brattleboro mailing addresses, which might skew the residency count. Edwards made a motion to nominate Cara Cheyette for temporary reappointment as interim representative on the Rescue Board. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Holtz volunteered to gather information from the listers and create a list of the Thomas Hill properties.
Sumner has examined the bulk of the Denison project materials and Edwards has also made a partial review. Edwards noted that District #2 Environmental Commission is awaiting five additional pieces of information to complete the application. Sumner said that Town Clerk Patty Dow emailed the municipal application, which must be submitted concurrently, to the applicant’s lawyer on 4/11/14. Edwards spoke about correct methods of fielding questions from all interested parties without compromising the Board’s impartiality. She has conversed with John Bennett, who confirmed the legal firm for the applicant may respond to queries. Holtz would like to learn if questions about the Town’s proper role in the process can be posed to Act 250 representatives. Edwards agreed to query VLCT regarding appropriate interaction between the Selectboard and the Planning Commission in the permitting process and will schedule a joint meeting if so advised.
Leonard Derby reported that on April 4th he picked up two dogs which had been running loose on MacMillan Road and were being detained at a house there. The dogs had no tags or microchips, so he delivered them to the Humane Society. Two days later he received a call from a Colrain resident who identified the dogs. Derby put the owner in touch with the Humane Society.
Letter of Agreement
John LaFlamme expressed disappointment over a lack of clear communication between Selectboard and Fire Department and between the co-EMDs. A letter of agreement between the Town and Fire Department for clarity of equipment ownership and responsibilities at the Emergency Operations center, mainly suggestions written by Edwards, was distributed to the Fire Department without LaFlamme’s involvement. The Fire Department is declining to sign a written agreement, as they believe an informal, oral agreement is all that is needed. The Board agreed to give the situation further consideration. For example, procedural modifications may be necessary after Entergy ceases to fund emergency management.
Better Back Roads Grant
Rafus is interested in submitting a grant application to upgrade Stark Mountain Road. He said the road qualifies under the state’s erosion prevention grant, and is badly in need of culvert replacement and ditch improvement. The application would be due by May 26th, and the town would be responsible for 20% with a $10,000 cap. Edwards mentioned that the Town did not budget for this project. Sumner said the money could come out of the Highway culvert budget.
The Board had received from Holden three copies of the #37 Bridge contract with Latulippe which they reviewed and signed. Patty Dow came in to add her signature and the town seal to the documents as required. One copy was retained by the Board, the other two were returned to Holden and Latulippe.
The Board set a date of 4/29/14 at 6:30 pm for a special meeting to address revision of the town’s personnel policy. They will be updating the drug and alcohol policy to align with the state’s latest requirements.
The Board noted that Stowe Mountain Road is currently closed, as is Stage Road in Guilford. Edwards will post that information on the town web site.
Correspondence was reviewed and filed.
Selectboard’s Order to Town Treasurer for Bill Payment
The order for bill payment was completed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:27 pm.