OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
May 6, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm. Selectboard members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Lewis Sumner, and Earl Holtz. Others present were Robbin Gabriel, Margo Avakian, Brad Rafus, Ray Combs, Heidi Taylor and Jane Waldron (Deerfield Valley Rescue), Ross Barnett, Sirean LaFlamme, John LaFlamme, and Tim Putnam.
Approval of Minutes
Edwards made a motion to approve the 4/15/14 regular meeting minutes with eight amendments or corrections. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 4/21/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 4/28/14 regular meeting minutes with one correction proposed by Edwards. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, Edwards abstaining.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 4/29/14 special meeting minutes with one amendment. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 5/1/14 special Selectboard/Planning Commission joint meeting with five corrections. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Deerfield Valley Rescue
Heidi Taylor took the floor as spokesperson for Deerfield Valley Rescue, distributing a one-page report showing Halifax-related calls, transports, and monies received and disbursed for the past quarter and for the past year–5/15/2013 through 5/6/2014. Over the year, there were 26 calls, with 11 no transports. Sumner asked how things were going, and Taylor’s response was, overall, pretty well. She said Andy Rice had attended the previous day’s Board of Directors meeting and voiced various concerns which will be addressed. Deerfield Valley Rescue is planning to do a joint training session several times a year with Halifax EMS. Taylor asked whether the Board had any concerns and Sumner and Holtz both indicated it had been quiet on that front, while Edwards mentioned the issue of wrong-road access. Taylor said she had received maps from Sumner and DVR was teaching their people to follow the map book rather than relying on GPS. Sumner said Whitingham Ambulance, Colrain ambulance, and the Colrain fire department had also been provided with the maps, as not everyone knew all the side roads in adjoining towns.
Edwards asked how the town’s subscription amounts compared with those received from other towns and Taylor said the receipts were disappointing. Sumner thought that residents may have been uncertain about how the service would be, but they’ve now seen that DVR arrived as quickly as—or sometimes ahead of—Whitingham. Taylor didn’t have a specific average DVR-to-Halifax response time, but said DVR’s average response time over their entire covered area is about 15.4 minutes. She also speculated that residents may choose not to subscribe because they feel they are already paying for services with tax dollars. In response to a question from Edwards, Taylor said their yearly subscription drive begins in November. Holtz asked whether DVR was still working out of Whitingham Fire Department and Taylor said yes, they have an ambulance there, plus two in Wilmington and one in West Dover. All are rotated weekly, and there are usually two people on every night in Whitingham.
Edwards took the opportunity to describe for Taylor the Act 250 in-process quarry proposal, and gave Taylor a copy of the letter written by the Board before the Act 250 application was received. The letter contains general questions relating to emergency access to the quarry site. The Board would like to hear from DVR about any concerns they may have regarding the group’s ability to respond to potential emergency situations at the site. Taylor indicated that DVR requests party status on all Act 250s.
Taylor also gave the board a poster giving notice of their fundraiser, which will be held May 18th. Holtz said the Board would make copies for distribution, and Sumner suggested posting the flyer on the board just outside the Town Office door. Edwards will put the notice on the town web site.
After examining a letter with photos sent by a concerned resident, and Board discussed means of addressing the issue of accumulations of defunct vehicles and appliances on private property. Having reviewed the town policy, Edwards noted that the site specified in the original complaint housed primarily functional items, which do not fall in line with the policy’s definition of junk. She explained that any action taken would need to be consistent across town, which would mean doing a survey, with a follow-up survey 30 days later, before any notifications could be sent out. There would be a further process involving legal requirements to be met before the Constable could get a citation book. She suggested as an alternative a letter to all property owners in town, advising of complaints and informing people of existing town policy and the town’s intention to enforce. Such a letter might also contain a list of businesses buying scrap metal and an offer to locate volunteers to assist with cleanup if residents were in need. Edwards remarked that some locations might be defined as messy but are not a public health and safety issue. Holtz made the point that working farms, with much visible activity and equipment, do not fall under the junkyard definition, while Sumner mentioned, as an example, a location hosting a growing collection of discarded appliances.
Edwards advised that the remedy is to put up a fence, specified as eight feet tall, or to plant vegetation, to shield such collections from the road or from neighboring properties as appropriate. Sumner suggested a notice on the subject be posted on the web site to start, and Edwards said she would come up with wording for a web site piece.
Hearing of Visitors
John LaFlamme wished Sumner a happy birthday, recalling that over the years the date had coincided with Selectboard meeting dates on numerous occasions.
Dennison Quarry Update
Holtz told the meeting he still had not received the promised thumb drive, while Edwards questioned whether a traffic study should be requested now or at a later time. Holtz will talk to Robert Fisher’s office about getting names of businesses conducting such studies. Sumner said the town should inquire specifically about costs. Avakian asked what information the town would look for from a traffic study, mentioning safety data in particular. Holtz said yes, safety was a concern, while Edwards spoke of traffic volume and the possible impact of heavy vehicles on the roadbed itself.
Sirean LaFlamme remarked on the difficulty Planning Commission members were encountering in their attempt to study the Act 250 application with only one shared copy at their disposal. Edwards said—in reference to creating copies—that the maps did not reproduce well on available scanners, and Holtz suggested Commission members might borrow the Selectboard’s copy of the binder on days when the town office is closed.
Unlicensed Dog Warrant
Holtz made a motion that the Board sign the warrant pertaining to unlicensed dogs. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. The warrant was subsequently signed, and will be given to the Town Clerk and then to Leonard Derby.
Sumner signed the state’s reappointment application for Health Officer, a motion to that effect having been approved the day after Town Meeting. The paperwork will be given to Susan Kelly to fill out, as the Board understands she is willing to continue in the position.
Local Emergency Operations Plan
Holtz made a motion that the Board sign the Local Emergency Operations Plan. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. This document has been inserted inside the front cover of the Town of Halifax Emergency Response Plan binder which resides on the top shelf in the meeting room.
Town Office Roof Bid
Edwards made a motion to put the metal roof project over the town office portion of the school building out to bid. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Sumner advised that Monday, May 19th has been set for the pre-bid site visit. Edward reminded the meeting that the bid submission deadline would be at the Tuesday, June 3rd, Selectboard meeting.
Edwards presented correspondence from Caitlin Lovegrove of the Vermont Digital Economy Project, expressing willingness to come and install a WiFi access point at the town garage. The grant for the project was approved almost a year ago and will expire at the end of June or July. Installation can be done in a couple of hours, and Edwards volunteered to handle usage moderation online. After discussion of the pros and cons of various locations such as the bottom of the drive, near the town garage building, or at the old recycle bins site, Edwards made a motion to proceed with the installation at the garage on an experimental basis, holding to the possibility of moving the spot if needed later. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Several other pieces of correspondence were reviewed, signed, and filed.
Holtz made a motion that the Board go into executive session to discuss EMD personnel issues with Ross Barnett and John LaFlamme, with Board members only meeting first and then with Barnett and LaFlamme present jointly or individually as deemed appropriate. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-1-0, with Edwards opposed.
After closing the executive session, the Board conversed with LaFlamme and Barnett in open meeting, stressing the importance of thorough, clear communication between co-EMDs and recommending they explore the most efficent and practical ways of dividing between them the work associated with the position. Edwards said the Board believed each EMD brought unique abilities to the job. Holtz agreed to end the three-way meetings in which he had been participating.
Letter to Halifax Emergency Services
Edwards read aloud a draft of an email she was composing to the Halifax Fire Department and Halifax EMS regarding the Act 250 project. Holtz and Sumner contributed advice and some suggestions for additional/revised wording.
Order to Town Treasurer for Bill Payment
The order for bill payment was completed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:29 pm.