OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
January 31, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 8:31 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards were present, as were Brad Rafus, Jesse Ferland, Janet Taylor, Stephan Chait, Marilyn Allen, Peter Silverberg, Nicholas Bartenhagen, Sue Kelly, Jack Rossetti, Doug Grob, Jerry Pratt, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Edee Edwards requested a change in the order of new business items to allow final budget review before the town warning was signed.
Discuss Old Town Garage Article for Town Warning
The following article was added to the Town Warning: “To see if the Town will recommend to the Selectboard the leasing of the old town garage building and premises to Halifax EMS for a term of not more than 49 years.” The Board approved this wording.
Edwards noted that the bottom line in the budget spreadsheet is misleading; it shows FY14 town expenditures to be less than budgeted, when in fact the town ended FY14 with a deficit, rather than a surplus. Liabilities, such as partial payments, are not included in the budget worksheet, Edwards explained. She referred readers to the Treasurer’s report for a complete record of the Town’s FY14 payouts. The Treasurer’s report shows a deficit of approximately $281,000 for FY14. Because the town operates on a cash basis, said Edwards, the previous year’s deficit needs to be made up in the current year. At present, FEMA reimbursement monies received in FY15 create an apparent surplus, but those dollars may go to offset last year’s shortage. Edwards asked that the sentence in the Selectboard’s report for the town report indicating the expectation of a budget surplus in FY15 be deleted.
Complete and Sign the Town Warning
Edwards made a motion that the Board sign the updated version of the Town Warning for the annual meeting on March 3, 2015. Earl Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Preparation for the February Act 250/Quarry Hearing
The Selectboard expects to participate in discussion of Criteria #5, Traffic, when the District #2 Environmental Commission reconvenes the Act 250 Denison/Ashfield hearing on February 18th. In preparation, Edwards had drafted a short document giving a detailed description of the town roads transport trucks would travel to and from the proposed quarry. Information from the summer 2014 Windham Regional Commission traffic study and the town’s culvert inventory was included. After referencing several traffic-related sections of the Halifax Town Plan, the Board spent the balance of the meeting reviewing Edwards’ informational draft, making small revisions, and adding various suggestions they would like to see become conditions of the Act 250 quarry application approval. (Readers note: a link to this document has been provided below these minutes.) Meeting attendees contributed questions and comments. Stephan Chait asked about weight limits on town roads. Brad Rafus said the standard weight limit is 24,000 pounds. Overweight permits allow weights up to the state limit of 80,000 pounds. Edwards verified for Doug Grob that Class IV roads such as TH52 are publicly accessible, as are legal town trails. Per policy, the town does not maintain Class IV roads, said Sumner. Truck weights and their impact on the roads were discussed extensively. Jack Rossetti proposed hiring an engineer to conduct studies. Pete Silverberg, who has gathered large amounts of research material, offered his assistance, and Marilyn Allen suggested examining statistics from studies done on Alaskan gravel roads. We’re novices looking at data, Holtz stated. We need engineers to interpret potential impact on road beds. Sumner made the point that a number of trucks, such as cement and gravel trucks, already use these roads. Allen said there are places on Stark Mountain Road where two vehicles can’t pass. Rosetti believes the most important issue on Stark Mountain is speed. Speed limits, signage, and pull-offs were discussed. Sue Kelly was concerned that quarry trucks might make ten trips in a single day; Jerry Pratt said that wouldn’t happen. Conversation also covered mud season constraints and the best time of day for truck travel. Holtz asked Pratt whether a 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. window would be sufficient. Pratt said that might not be enough time for the second trip, but agreed an hour before to an hour after operating quarry hours would be fair. Regarding mud season, Sumner noted most years there is still a fair amount of snow on April 1st, so the quarry might not start the season’s operations on that date. Pratt told Holtz he understood standard procedure during mud season was to check conditions with the Road Commissioner.
Hearing of Visitors
Rafus said the Highway Department needed to hire outside trucks to haul sand. Edwards made a motion to permit Rafus to hire trucks for sand hauling. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:12 a.m.