OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
April 7, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Earl Holtz, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards were present. Linda Lyon, Joe Tamburrino, Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, Susan Kelly, Brad Rafus, Paul Taylor, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
No alterations were made to the agenda.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/17/15 regular meeting minutes with two minor corrections. Earl Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz made a motion to approve the 3/19/15 special meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edee Edwards made a motion to approve the 3/23/15 special meeting minutes with one correction. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz made a motion to approve the 3/31/15 special meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 4/3/15 emergency meeting minutes with one addition and one correction. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Edwards said she would write notes for the office binder on the March 25th gathering to view a Heat Pump Workshop DVD. No formal minutes were required for this meeting, as a quorum of the Selectboard was not present. As the workshop DVD was damaged and could not be viewed that night, attempts are being made to obtain another copy which can be borrowed from the library.
Planning Commission, Energy Conservation Officer, Council on Aging, and Rescue, Inc., Representative Appointments
Holtz invited discussion of the two candidates—Nick Bartenhagen and Linda Lyon—who have shown interest in serving on the Planning Commission. Edwards said both were highly qualified and conscientious, but as Bartenhagen was presently serving on the Windham Regional Commission, having Lyon on the Planning Commission might achieve a more fair work distribution. Sumner mentioned that an appointee who has come out in opposition to the proposed quarry would need to step aside as that process continues. The Planning Commission, said Holtz, has already stated their position on the quarry. Edwards demurred, saying the Planning Commission had not stated a position but had responded to the Act 250 criteria questions. If a local permit request is received, she added, the Zoning Board would weigh that against the zoning regulations. We should ensure, she said, that new Planning Commission and ZBA members receive copies of the town’s conflict of interest policy. Linda Lyon is an interested party in the Act 250 proceeding, said Paul Taylor, but she has not taken a position for or against the quarry. Lyon agreed; an interested party, she added, is permitted to state concerns, pro, con, or neutral. Joe Tamburrino also agreed both individuals were very well qualified, but—as the town is always in search of volunteers—he advocated choosing the candidate who is not already serving the town. Holtz made a motion to nominate Linda Lyon to serve on the Planning Commission. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz asked Stephan Chait if he would be willing to serve on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, as a citizen had suggested him for the position. When Chait affirmed, Lyon said she would like to withdraw her name, as Chait has had some experience and she (Lyon) has much learning ahead of her. The three nominees, Holtz clarified, are Chait, Lyon, and Bartenhagen. Edwards made a motion to nominate Stephan Chait to serve on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Lyon and Chait will be filling the balance of Meggie Stoltzman’s respective terms on the Planning Commission and ZBA. Stoltzman resigned effective April 1st.
Tristan Roberts is willing to continue serving as Energy Conservation Officer, but is pressed for time. Roberts has proposed having a co-Energy Conservation Officer to help fill the gap, but no other candidates have come forward. Lyon suggested posting a job description for public viewing; the Board said there are no pre-set job requirements. Edwards made a motion to re-appoint Tristan Roberts as Energy Conservation Officer. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Edwards is willing to assist if the occasion arises.
Edwards made a motion to nominate Patricia Holtz as representative to the Council on Aging for the coming year. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Earl Holtz abstaining. Lyon volunteered to share her experience with senior needs with the new representative.
Cara Cheyette has continued to fill the role of Rescue, Inc., representative while searching for a replacement. Thus far she has had no success, and no one on the Selectboard has found any potential candidates. The Board will hold this position open while the search continues. Tamburrino suggested talking to Kate Staman; Holtz will follow up.
Planning Commission and Selectboard Secretary Appointments
Holtz made a motion to nominate Robbin Gabriel as Selectboard secretary. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Edwards made a motion to appoint Robbin Gabriel as interim Planning Commission secretary, with the understanding that if another candidate were found a transition could be made. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Anyone who is interested in this paid position is encouraged to apply to the Selectboard.
Road Reclassification—Discuss Inclusion of Additional Roads
Edwards had created a spreadsheet with detail on five roads with similarities to the Sumner Farm Road which is the subject of the current petition. These roads have portions which are Class 3-Class 4-Legal trail, have or have had bridges, and are not passable to another thru-road. The first of these, Whitneyville Road, is 1.20 miles of Class 3 road with .40 additional miles noted as legal Class 3, not up to standard, on the VTrans map and impassable Class 4 on the WRC Halifax Road Map. The four-tenths mile section has a bridge (B41) which Sumner estimates was put in approximately 15 years ago. Brad Rafus said the road is Class 3 all the way through, which, Holtz responded, could cause difficulty for the town. Woodard Hill Road has a half-mile section also marked as Class 3, not up to standard, which includes the abutment remains of what was once bridge #36 per the State Archive Inventories online. The VTrans map shows conflicting information for Woodard Hill. The bridge was removed many years ago due to its poor condition, said Sumner. It was on the state list for replacement, but the project proved to be too expensive. The southern end of Josh Road includes a .17-mile Class 3 stretch with one bridge (B31). Edwards recalled Josh Road was the subject of a reclassification action in 2005. Josh Road, she said, is on the other side of town; perhaps we should limit ourselves to roads we can visit in one day. The town has a cemetery on Josh Road, said Rafus, we have to keep the access to it. This led to discussion of other roads in town leading to cemeteries. What is our statutory responsibility in such cases, asked Holtz. Edwards made a motion that the Selectboard consider reclassification or discontinuance of the following roads in conjunction with the Sumner Farm Road petition: Whitneyville Road, Woodard Hill Road, and Weir Road, and to keep open the option of discontinuance for Sumner Farm Road. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Research needs to be done to determine the true legal status of each of these roads, as not all maps and information currently in hand are in agreement. Rafus confirmed for Sumner that the highway department is doing some work now on Whitneyville by John LaFlamme’s property. We need to look at this, said Sumner. We can’t make decisions tonight, said Edwards, we have to have a site visit, a hearing, and then we have 60 days to write a decision. Lyons asked about the status of the upper end of Ballou Mountain Road, which she said is shown on maps as a town trail but is now barred off. Once again, map information is conflicting, but Rafus and Sumner believe that road was discontinued and given back to the landowners long ago. The Board set May 27th, 2015, as a site visit and hearing date for road reclassification, with site visits commencing at 5:00 p.m. and the hearing scheduled thereafter for approximately 7:00 p.m. The alternate date is May 28th. The public may attend the site visit, but evidence and testimony can only be offered during the hearing.
Announce WiFi Repair
The WiFi has been repaired at the town garage, said Holtz, and Linda Huebner left a message saying it was running well. Holtz thanked Rafus and his crew for their assistance in replacing the defective line. Lyon shared that Diana Todd, on Hatch School Road, can get signal from the new VTel tower in Marlboro. That bodes well for people in that area of town, she added. Todd needs the larger $500 receiver, because her property is in a trough, but most people should only need the $280 receiver. Edwards has heard that Halifax residents may be eligible for a $100 discount on the $280 unit, as they are in an under-served area.
VTrans Grant Application Forms
Rafus asked the Board for a decision on this season’s paving projects, so he can complete the application forms. Edwards does not feel there is a need to pave an extended section of road at the top of Town Hill; she recommended repaving part of Branch Road instead. Branch Road should be reclaimed and then paved, said Rafus; new pavement on top of what exists now would just break up. With $140,000 in the paving budget, and the Town Hill project estimated at about $90,000, the remaining funds would only permit a quarter-mile reclaim/repave project elsewhere. How far up would a quarter-mile take you on Town Hill?, asked Holtz. Rafus said they could pave to the Tucker Road intersection, but also suggested—if the Board did not want to blacktop that section—the balance of the budgeted dollars could be used on Reed Hill Road, from the new bridge to the disintegrating culvert which is scheduled for replacement this year. Edwards asked about Collins Road, but Rafus said that, too, is in such poor shape it needs to be reclaimed. If you don’t want to go any further on Town Hill, asked Rafus, could we put a turn-around at the top of the hill? We have a fifty-foot right-of-way, and it wouldn’t be too costly. Sumner said it would probably be about three years before the town received another paving grant but he advised submitting an application anyway. The Board approved reclaiming and paving Town Hill and the section of Reed Hill Road between the new bridge to slightly beyond the culvert to be replaced.
Rafus also recommended the Board send a letter to Lane Construction requesting they correct the paving erosion on Green River Road. Last year Lane reviewed the damage, sealed cracks, and sent a letter to the town expressing their intention of postponing resurfacing until they were satisfied the erosion was contained. The problem still exists and Rafus has talked to the contractor several times this spring. Sumner proposed having the town attorney send a letter. Holtz will talk to Bob Fisher; he requested pictures of the damaged portions.
Discuss Highway Equipment Plans
The Board reviewed specifications Rafus had submitted for a new 4×4 dump truck, very similar to the F550 purchased by the town last year. The chassis is exactly the same, he said, but this truck will have an all-season dump body which can sand in front of the rear tires, and a small wing plow. Edwards thanked Rafus for being creative in finding a way to save the town money through the purchase of smaller trucks. This truck will replace the Sterling. Edwards made a motion to solicit bids for a new 4×4 dump truck as specified. Sumner suggested requesting bids with and without a trade-in. There was further discussion about which trucks should go—the white, the green, the Sterling—and whether trade or sale would be most economical. Edwards amended her motion to read that quotes should include the option of trade-in for the Sterling. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Ray Combs asked what it would take to restore the white truck. We don’t have an assessment, said Rafus, but we think it’s the head gasket, which would cost $3,000-$5,000 to repair. If we keep it, we’ll convert it to a flatbed to eliminate the body rust. Rafus will send out bid requests for the new dump truck.
Hearing of Visitors
Chait asked about the recycling bins—what happens when they go away? Sumner explained the bins would stay in place until December 31st, 2015. It is not yet certain what will happen after that date. Residents who hire a contractor to collect their rubbish will be required to separate recyclables, and while there will not be a separate charge for those items Sumner expects the rates will go up. Recyclables can also be delivered to WSWMD in Brattleboro, at no charge. Originally the recycle bins were scheduled for removal at the end of June, but a decision was made to extend that deadline by six months. Rafus described a profitable small-town recycling center he recently visited in New Hampshire. Right now, said Sumner, scrap and recyclable prices are dropping; the prices rise and fall in response to the cost of oil.
Garage Roof Repair
When working on the WiFi repair Holtz discovered the roof insulation is saturated. He thinks it might be a combination of condensation and roof leaks. Building vents in the building are sealed, probably to contain heat. Combs asked whether anyone has looked at the situation. The roof has been examined, responded Holtz, but not the insulation inside. We don’t know what fix is needed, said Edwards. Would it be worthwhile to hire professional engineers do an inspection before we spend money trying to stop leaks? Rafus said the roof was sealed years ago, but the leaks came right back. Chait recommended a building envelope forensic firm—Simpson, Gumpertz, and Heger (SGH)—out of Waltham, Massachusetts. They’re not inexpensive, he said, but they are premier at what they do. Sumner made a motion to have Chait examine the town garage roof with Brad Rafus, consult with SGH, learn whether the firm might undertake the project and if so at what cost. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Holtz has composed a list of possible projects for the Board to consider for the remainder of the year. Edwards has several items to add, and suggested including a discussion of the list on the April 21st agenda.
Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed or processed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:13 p.m.