OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
June 17, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:32 pm. Selectboard members in attendance were Lewis Sumner and Earl Holtz, with Edee Edwards on speaker phone. Also present were Robbin Gabriel, Margo Avakian, Ray Combs, Jim Coughlin, Justina Gregory, Lesley Pollitt, Patrick Gregory, Kevin O’Donnell, Peter Silverberg, Donna Silverberg, Liz Laona, Janet Taylor, David Brown, Len Derby, Paul Taylor, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Marilyn Allen, Lynda Copeland, Art Copeland, David Pollack, Loretta Palazzo, Matt Maranian, William (Wyn) Cooper, Susan Kelly, Mary Horne, Milton Bickle, Judi Kotanchik, Carl Barmen, Elizabeth Martin, Nick Bartenhagen, and Maggie Bartenhagen. One signature on the attendee list could not be read.
Approval of Meeting Minutes
Edwards made a motion to approve the 6/3/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 6/4/14 Selectboard and School Board Don Cael Scholarship meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 6/9/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
At Sue Kelly’s request, Patrick Gregory read into the record a petition to the Selectboard entitled “Request for Initial Act 250 Hearing to be Held in the Evening or on a Saturday.” The petition states that over 60 Halifax residents have concerns about the Denison Quarry project, but as Act 250 hearings are usually held during weekday traditional working hours many residents likely to be directly impacted by the proposed project will not be able to attend these meetings. The citizens are asking the Board to present a strongly worded document to the Commission requesting that Saturday or evening meetings be held, and explaining why such a schedule is necessary. After the reading, virtually everyone in the meeting stood in support of the request. The document was then signed by 26 residents and presented to the Board.
Edwards said that a similar request was made to the Planning Commission at their June 10, 2014 meeting, and suggested the Board put the item on the agenda for discussion with John Bennett (Windham Regional Commission) when he attends the Selectboard’s June 23, 2014 meeting. She said Bennett’s presence would also afford an opportunity to talk about a possible traffic study and pose questions about other specifics of the Act 250 application.
Maggie Bartenhagen told the meeting she had talked with Ann Manwaring (WDH-6 Representative), who is aware of the Act 250 scheduling concerns and has written to the Commission about the situation.
In response to a clarification request from Avakian, Holtz and Sumner explained that the regular Selectboard meeting would begin at 8:00 a.m. on June 23rd, with John Bennett arriving at 9:00 a.m. The meeting is open, with anyone interested invited and encouraged to attend, but as Monday morning is a regular workday for many Holtz reminded everyone that meeting minutes would be posted on the town web site within five days of the meeting, and said the June 10th Planning Commission minutes had already been uploaded to the site.
The Board signed the final version of the revised Personnel Policy and returned it to Patty Dow. Copies will be distributed to and signed by town employees.
Sumner made a motion to sign the Vermont State Police contract for the coming fiscal year. The motion was seconded by Holtz and passed, 3-0. The contract, in the amount of $6,000, is the same as last year’s. VSP Lieutenant Paul Favreau has also supplied the board with a memo summarizing State Police activity in Halifax for the year. A hard copy of the memo will be placed in the Selectboard’s Meeting Minutes binder which is housed in the town office.
Sumner made a motion to sign the new contract from the Windham County Humane Society. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Sumner said the old contract expires on 6/30, and the new contract is unchanged from the previous year’s.
John LaFlamme has submitted an invoice for the normal amount, but there is still an open question as to whether he should receive the full amount of monies allotted for the Co-EMDs during this interim period when the town has only one appointed EMD. After discussing various alternatives the Board agreed to pay LaFlamme’s invoice as presented and decide upon possible adjustments next month as the new fiscal year starts. Holtz said he would rather not modify the invoice in LaFlamme’s absence. Edwards asked whether the open EMD position had been advertised yet, and—as the answer is no—the Board will be posting notice at the three usual public locations in town and on the web site, with a newspaper ad possibly to follow.
At this point in the meeting, everyone present agreed that the speaker phone being used to facilitate Edwards’ long-distance attendance was woefully inadequate, and a decision was made to purchase a better unit.
North County Bridge #37
Holtz reported that, as of June 16th, some red flags have been removed and some white flags put up at the construction site, heralding the official start of the project. The party who will be logging on the far side of the bridge will not start that operation until the 15th of August, so no conflict is anticipated. An email has been sent requesting input from affected property owners on placement of logs as trees come down, but thus far only one response has been received. As soon as the time comes to close the bridge Brad Rafus will post a sign to that effect. Edwards asked for, and received, confirmation that Holden’s invoice had arrived.
Open Meeting Law
Holtz said the revisions to the open meeting law should be added to Monday’s agenda for discussion. Edwards will forward the new information to the Planning and Broadband Commissions as they, too, will be affected by the changes.
Sumner announced receipt of notification that Sue Kelly has been re-appointed as health officer for three years.
Edwards asked whether the Board had received the signed contract from Kandu Construction for the school roof. As it has not yet arrived, she will send them an email reminder.
During the June 9th meeting, the Board stated its intention to discuss town employee wages on June 17th (current meeting), but, as Edwards noted, the item had not made it on the agenda and in any event the Board needs information from the Treasurer’s 4th quarter report before determinations can be made. Holtz said he would ask Patty Dow if the data is available, and the item will be added to the June 23rd regular meeting agenda.
Holtz read portions of a letter from Kane Smart (VTel) to the Vermont Public Service Board stating that the tower site would be shifted a bit from the originally proposed position. The decision to adjust the spot was occasioned by the discovery of a few bricks from the old schoolhouse at the original spot. VTel is working with the Vermont Historical Society, State Historical Preservation Office, to investigate the remains of the building foundation and has requested permission to extend the deadline for their filing of the Section 248A application for the project until July 31st, 2014. VTel estimates that final documentation should be available around June 20th. Edwards said she is aware that people would like to know the timing of the 15-day commentary period; this filing extension request indicates VTel has not yet reached that stage in the process. Avakian wondered whether there was a preservation plan in the works, remarking that if the discovery was important enough to move the tower and delay its construction, it seemed important enough not to leave the bricks lying around. No one present had information about a possible conservation effort.
Hearing of Visitors
Combs suggested perhaps a retired individual could be found to attend the Act 250 meeting to represent and deliver statements from others who were not able to attend. Holtz explained that interested parties had to be physically present at the meeting, else they would lose their party status.
Derby, who attended the Municipal Dog Seminar and Workshop held May 29th in Montpelier, said the session was very informative and had taught him various useful alternatives to employ in collecting fees for unlicensed dogs. He has drawn up a plan to encourage compliance with the town licensing laws and will be hand-delivering notices to dog owners in the near future.
Sumner had a card for Phyllis Evanuk available for signing, as she is currently in hospital.
Several other pieces of correspondence were reviewed and filed.
Order to the Town Treasurer for Bill Payment
The order for bill payment was reviewed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 pm.