OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
March 17, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards were present, as were Joe Tamburrino, Stephan Chait, Susan Kelly, John LaFlamme, Sirean LaFlamme, Janet Taylor, Jesse Ferland, Brad Rafus, Norman Fajans, and Marilyn Allen.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
No alterations were made to the agenda.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Edee Edwards made a motion to approve the 2/17/15 regular meeting minutes with three small changes. Earl Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 2/24/15 special meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to re-approve the 2/26/15 Selectboard/Planning Commission joint meeting minutes with two minor changes. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. The Planning Commission had originally approved these minutes at their March 10th meeting.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 3/3/15 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 3/6/15 Planning Commission/Selectboard special meeting minutes (Act 250 hearing) as written, with thanks to Gabriel for effective condensing. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Lewis Sumner abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/11/15 special meeting minutes (EOC drill) as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Reorganization of Board
Edwards advised she did not wish to be Selectboard Chair. Holtz indicated he was willing to serve. Edwards made a motion to appoint Earl Holtz as Selectboard Chair for the coming year. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Holtz abstaining. Edwards made a motion to have Lewis Sumner as Vice Chair. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Sumner nominated William Pusey to the Planning Commission for a three year term. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Edwards noted that when the size of the Board was reduced, terms for new appointees were also changed, from four to three years. This has created some confusion, as some people are still finishing a four-year term. Holtz advised he had a letter from Nick Bartenhagen expressing interest in filling the balance of Margaret Stoltzman’s term on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment after her resignation becomes effective April 1st. Sumner voiced a concern about conflict of interest, as Bartenhagen stands in opposition to the proposed quarry project which is currently in the Act 250 process and may come before the ZBA for review. Edwards said the Selectboard could consider an appointment to Planning Commission only, adding that there is a detailed conflict of interest policy in place. Sumner suggested that, as Stoltzman’s resignation doesn’t go into effect until April 1st, and she should be available for the March 24th special Planning Commission meeting, the Selectboard could postpone consideration of an appointment until their meeting on April 7th. The Board agreed someone with a conflict of interest has the option of recusal. Edwards proposed finding alternates, and promoted the idea of switching from a Planning Commission and Zoning Board to a Planning Commission and Development Review Board. Three-person boards are permitted. John LaFlamme wondered what VLCT’s position is on alternate members, as these are appointed positions.
Edwards made a motion to re-appoint Brian McNeice to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a three-year term ending in 2018. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz made a motion to appoint Brad Rafus as Road Commissioner for a one-year term. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Ross Barnett as Tree Warden for a one-year term. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Andrew Rice as Animal Control Officer for a one-year term. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Holtz questioned whether the newly-elected Constable would want to act as Animal Control Officer. Sumner said he believed Rice would be agreeable.
Edwards made a motion to appoint William Pusey as Town Service Officer for a one-year term. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
No one has indicated an interest in holding the position of Representative to the Council on Aging. Edwards suggested checking with Ray Combs.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Nicholas and Margaret Bartenhagen as Windham Regional Commissioners for one-year terms. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Acting on the recommendation of the Planning Commission, Edwards made a motion to appoint Rick Mirucki as Acting Zoning Administrator for a four-year term ending in 2019. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner gave an update on the WSWMD solar energy project, telling the meeting a contract had been awarded to construct the system on the old forty-acre town landfill in Brattleboro. When active, the project should produce 4-5 megawatts, provide member towns with a 25% discount on electricity costs, and bring the district about $112,00 a year for twenty years. Edwards asked whether there would be opportunity to put solar panels on our town landfill; Sumner said this particular project didn’t include that option. Sirean LaFlamme asked about recycling; Sumner said Halifax would keep its bins at least until December 31st. Edwards noted that Cliff Inman and Sumner are the present WSWMD representatives. She asked whether Inman had been attending meetings. He has missed some, said Sumner, because he had a scheduling conflict. Holtz remarked that Greg Marguet had expressed an interest in the WSWMD representative position. How many meetings? asked Brad Rafus. About two a month, usually Thursday nights, Sumner replied. Rafus said he was particularly interested in the recycling aspect. Edwards made a motion to appoint Lewis Sumner and Brad Rafus as Windham Solid Waste Management District representatives, with a special thank you to Cliff Inman for his service. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0 for Rafus, and 2-0-1 for Sumner, with Sumner abstaining.
Edwards made a motion to appoint Andrew Rice and Allan Dacey to the Loan Review Committee for a one-year term. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to appoint Everett Wilson as ADA Coordinator for a one-year term. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz made a motion to appoint Wayne Courser E-911 Coordinator for a one-year term. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz made a motion to appoint Lewis Sumner Recycling Coordinator for a one-year term. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Taralee Lane as Green-Up Vermont coordinator. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to appoint John LaFlamme Emergency Management Director for a one-year term. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Edwards mentioned that someone else had shown an interest in this position partway through the year, but it might not be practical to have a new person trained given the VY shutdown and the changes that event is bringing about.
Edwards made a motion to appoint Andrew Rice for Citation Ticket Responsibility for a one-year term. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Tristan Roberts has indicated he would accept re-appointment as Energy Conservation Officer if no one else was available, but he has time constraints which are preventing him from devoting a sufficient number of hours to the job. Edwards mentioned several areas which might be advantageous for the town to pursue, among them a heat-pump workshop. A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25th, 7 p.m., in the town offices for a presentation on the subject. Holtz suggested talking to Nick and Maggie Bartenhagen about taking on the energy conservation post and the Board agreed to postpone an appointment until communicating with them.
Sumner made a motion to elect the Brattleboro Reformer and the Deerfield Valley News as the town’s newspapers of record. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to hold Selectboard meetings bi-monthly on the first and third Tuesdays of each month in the town offices. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
John LaFlamme asked for clarification on the second pager carrier. Holtz said traditionally it was the Selectboard Chair, but if Sumner was willing to do it he (Holtz) would concur. Edwards nominated Lewis Sumner as second pager carrier. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Cara Cheyette has been talking to people in the Thomas Hill area about serving on the board of Rescue, Inc. Edwards requested the Board wait for Cheyette’s results and address that appointment when they returned to review the other open positions.
Post Roads Notice
Sumner made a motion to ratify the roads posting decision made at the Wednesday, March 19th special meeting. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Meeting with VTrans
Meghan Thompson of VTrans is available on Monday, March 23rd, 10:00 a.m. or Friday, March 27th at 11:00 a.m. for the yearly discussion of grants and the annual budget. Board members agreed they could meet on the 23rd and Sumner will so advise Thompson. The meeting will be in the town offices. Edwards mentioned the Board also had a notice from Windham Regional Commission related to priority bridges.
Consider Bridge Reclassification Petition
Referring to her notes taken during last year’s VLCT Selectboard Institute, Edwards read off the numerous legal requirements involved in town road classification and recommended the Board’s first step should be consultation with the town attorney. Holtz asked Gabriel to ask Robert Fisher if he could be available for the April 7th Board meeting. Edwards would prefer a meeting sooner than that. Sumner also reminded the Board they needed to speak with Fisher regarding the old town garage, although Edwards is of the opinion EMS is not planning to move fast on that project. John LaFlamme asked whether all the petitioners should legally be notified of any meeting with the attorney; Holtz said that conversation would be an executive session so Fisher could advise the Board on how to proceed properly. The petitioners would then be notified by certified mail of the reclassification hearing once the Board had a full understanding of the steps they need to take. Stephan Chait asked for details on the reclassification request. Holtz explained the bridge in question leads to a business and dwelling, is currently Class 4 and as such will not be eligible for state assistance during replacement. Class 3 bridges, however, are eligible.
Denison/Ashfield Quarry Act 250 Hearing—Summary and Traffic Review
Edwards asked this item be added to the agenda as Sumner was not able to attend the most recent Act 250 hearing. Sumner had read the minutes and had no questions. Holtz complimented Edwards and Chait on their presentation at that hearing. Regarding the traffic review, Edwards said new information from a traffic expert representing those opposing the quarry had been presented near the end of the last hearing. In light of the new information she wanted to discuss the possibility the town ought to take additional steps in addressing the traffic criterion. Holtz would first like to hear response from the Environmental Commission, and also wants to discuss aspects of this new traffic study with Rafus. Chait suggested the information could be useful in examining the general impact of all heavy vehicles on town roads, not just the quarry trucks. Edwards proposed discussing the issue with VTrans at next week’s meeting; and also recommended writing a letter to Molly Burke, on the state level Transportation committee, exploring the question of raising overweight permit fees. Since every town charges the overweight permit fee, said Holtz, trucking companies probably pay out fairly large sums, depending on how many towns their vehicles travel through. Marilyn Allen agreed that taking the fee question to the state is a good idea, given the current budget deficit and the high cost of damage to roads.
Planning Commission Liaison Report—Zoning Regulation Update
Edwards summarized a decision made at the last Planning Commission meeting to put forth a single update for clarifying zoning definitions. The definition revision will be presented for a Planning Commission and then a Selectboard hearing per legal requirements, and then will go before the town for Australian ballot at a special town meeting. The balance of zoning update work will continue and the complete document will be voted on at a subsequent meeting, possibly Town Meeting 2016. There is a phrase, explained Chait, at the end of the current definition of “Resource Industries,” which reads “includes earth and mineral extraction.” The proposed revision will remove that phrase from the resource industries definition and then create a new, separate definition for earth and mineral extraction. The purpose of this separate amendment is to clarify these particularly controversial terms, with the hope that the remainder of the update can proceed thereafter in an orderly fashion. Sirean LaFlamme said this would only address these particular definitions; it does not encourage or discourage interim zoning. Norm Fajans did not see a definition as a hot-button issue; why not just vote on the whole zoning when the work is complete, he offered. If you just change the definition, is that part of new zoning or part of the old, asked Allen? And could the result of this vote put the zoning in non-compliance with the Town Plan, something the current zoning rewrite is attempting to cure? If these new definitions were approved, that would not change the current zoning, said Sirean LaFlamme. The change would come when the full set of regulations was voted on. Edwards disagreed, saying an amendment would become part of the current zoning package. Then, responded LaFlamme, I see that as the same as interim zoning. Discussion continued in this vein, culminating in a decision to have the Planning Commission discuss the subject with the town attorney.
Broadband Committee Membership
Mary Horne has volunteered to serve on the Broadband Committee. We continue to struggle with energy level, said Edwards, and others are ready to step down, so anyone interested is encouraged to apply. Edwards made a motion to add Mary Horne to the Broadband Committee. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
VLCT Construction Contract Class
This class, which is a training session for correct contract writing, is scheduled for Thursday, April 9th, in Montpelier. Someone from the Selectboard should attend, advised Edwards. Holtz will do so. Rafus will not be able to go, as he has a previous obligation on that date.
Hearing of Visitors
The Board discussed partial payment for materials when vendors contract for work with the town. Rafus said the salt shed contractor had returned, and a change was made in the garage door design as an overhead door would not be practical. Two sliding doors will be installed instead. The town has been holding the final bill, pending completion of the project. The vendor had expected to be paid for materials during the work delay, but the contract states payment once the job is completed. Edwards said future contracts should spell out any agreement for partial payments. Rafus also said the garage roof situation should be dealt with soon; it is leaking badly. The truck, too, added Sumner, to allow time for the vehicle to be built. Edwards suggested creating a prioritized work list, and also called for a future discussion of road projects. Rafus also has some ideas on paving he would like to talk over with the Board.
Rafus detailed the over-budget expenditures for sand and salt. Currently the town has spent $52,000 on sand, with $28,000 budgeted, and salt costs are at $25,000, with $15,000 budgeted. We are under budget on gravel and on chloride, he added. Edwards recommended a budget review in the near future.
Edwards made a motion to enter Executive Session at 8:17 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter with Brad Rafus. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
The Board returned from Executive Session at 8:52, with no decisions made.
Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer and the highway orders were reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed or processed, including four overweight permit requests.
Edwards made a motion to approve the liquor license for Avigliano Catering for one year. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:31 p.m.