OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
July 7, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards, and Douglas Grob were present. Joe Tamburrino, Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, Charlene Martynowski, Timothy Putnam, Linda Lyon, Blaise McGarvey, Janet Taylor, Marilyn Allen, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Brad Rafus, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Edee Edwards noted the July 3rd emergency meeting minutes were available for approval.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Edwards made a motion to approve the 6/29/15 special meeting minutes with one small change. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Doug Grob abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 7/1/15 special meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Doug Grob abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 7/3/15 emergency meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Doug Grob abstaining.
With Doug Grob as a new member, Edwards advised reorganization. Edwards nominated Lewis Sumner as Chair of the Selectboard. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining. Grob nominated Edee Edwards as Vice Chair of the Selectboard. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1 with Edwards abstaining.
Update on Garage Roof Engineering—Stephan Chait
Stephan reported his communication with Simpson, Gumpertz, and Heger (SGH) has not been as successful as hoped. He has sent SGH photographs of the garage exterior and interior, but has not had a response yet. He suggested looking at other alternatives; if he does get information from SGH in the next week he will pass it on. Edwards said Board’s concerns are that they do not understand the specifics of the problem with the garage roof and do not know what it might cost to fix it. While one resident proposed at a recent Board meeting that the town dispense with the idea of hiring an engineering study and just proceed with repairs, we’ve known it is wrong for a long time and we haven’t come up with an answer. Chait has advised SGH of the town’s purchasing policy; if an assessment cost estimate is under $10,000 the evaluation could proceed immediately, but anything over that amount would require a bid process. Chait said if SGH performed an analysis they would provide an estimate of the cost to repair the roof.
Grob, who met recently with Brad Rafus at the garage to view the interior damage, said the roof is a very shallow pitch—not a good design in New England—and the approximately eight inches of fiberglass insulation is insufficient. 24 to 36 inches is advised for residential construction in this area. The roof is not vented, and existing fans draw out heat. Grob said his first thought was to add a drop ceiling, with an appropriate depth of insulation and ventilation above, to keep the roof cold. However, he does not believe there is enough interior room for a drop ceiling, and the roof is definitely leaking in addition to the severe condensation problem, which has left the insulation waterlogged and is causing mold. A better idea would be to build up the roof, giving it a steeper pitch, and then insulating the original roof frame with a high R-value, maybe a urethane spray foam, and then vent above the old roof. Chait said he has seen evidence that water has also seeped into the walls.
If we stop the process of having an engineering study done to resolve this, asked Edwards, could we put it out to bid as a design-build, or design-remediate, and would we have enough knowledge to make a good decision on the bids? Joe Tamburrino recommended requesting bids for a new roof and insulation. Meanwhile, he said, you should tear out the wet insulation; it is dangerous and there is mold. Grob questioned whether it would be possible to install enough insulation below the present roof. Those are only eight inch rafters, he said.
Edwards and Sumner recalled an earlier bid received by the town which would have added a second roof over the first, with no change in pitch. Edwards also mentioned an energy audit had been done on the garage building, but the Board was told nothing could be done to increase energy efficiency until the roof was repaired. I don’t remember if that report gave any advice about correcting the roof, she added. Chait wondered if the structure would support the weight of a second roof. I’m not that familiar with steel, answered Grob, but the weight of the roof on a building falls primarily at the eaves. You’ve got to get air flow above the insulation. Chait researched town records for information on the garage construction, but could not find as-builts. Earl Holtz had conducted similar research previously, even communicating with original designer. Brad Rafus said the garage was never built to as-designed plans. Things were changed during construction, and errors—such as putting the oil-room wall in backwards, so the electrical panel is in the oil room—were allowed to remain. Four air circulation vents were installed with electrically-operated louvers designed to open and close. Those vents were subsequently sealed off and the power disconnected to prevent heat loss. In a design-build proposal, we would want a roof that doesn’t leak, that is energy efficient, and that would support solar panels, said Edwards. That way we could take advantage of some local incentives, but the roof has to be able to bear the weight. Another criteria could be number of warranty years. Will we have the technical capability to feel confident that every bid meets our objectives? I don’t feel I have that with regard to buildings. Grob said if the roof were to be built up someone would have to determine the structure could take the weight. Why not put solar panels on the ground, asked Tamburrino. It would be less expensive. Then they get in the way of the crew working, answered Edwards. Right now, you have a builder sitting on the Board who knows a lot, said Charlene Martynowski. He could review bids and know what he was looking at, even though he’s not familiar with steel buildings. I know engineers have to have liability insurance, responded Edwards. I would not want anyone to feel uncomfortable about saying a proposal meets certain specifications. That’s why engineers have to be certified and take exams. If the beams have been wet for years they could be rusty, said Grob. Rafus recommended taking a first step of having the insulation removed. Then the condition of the interior roof and supports would be visible. Once we do that, said Edwards, we have to be ready to move. We can’t leave it like that. You can’t go through another winter like that, said Tamburrino; you’ll ruin a lot of equipment. I appreciate your concern, replied Edwards, I also think it’s a condition that has been ongoing. I do want to resolve it, but I don’t know that I would raise it to a safety concern. Sumner said last winter was the worst yet. Rafus agreed—it used to be just a spot here and there, but now the insulation is wet and it’s the whole roof. Are there any grants available, asked Combs. Not that I’m aware of, answered Edwards. We have budgeted for it; but a multi-step project might blow our budget. First we need to find out how much it is going to cost us, said Sumner. If we get it done this year, maybe borrow the money and then apply for a bond. We already have a bond on the building, said Edwards, can we add to it?
Marilyn Allen suggested that a weatherization grant might be available if a new roof resulted in a more energy-efficient building. SEVCA could give advice on that, she said. Any chance you could change the existing rafters to create a higher pitch?, asked Tim Putnam. After further discussion, Edwards made a motion to request bids for insulation removal and disposal in the new town garage. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
VTrans Engineering Grant Discussion—Brad Rafus
Rafus has talked with VTrans about the engineering grant for the Branch Road bridge at Hubbard Hill. Meghan Brunk and Marc Pickering will meet with the Selectboard at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 13th, to review the correct method of setting up a bid for that type of project.
Wood Heat Initiative Information—Brad Rafus
The Board is considering applying for Windham Regional Commission grant monies to convert the town garage heating system to wood chips or pellets. Rafus has given the board the entry paperwork that starts the process. Once that has been submitted WRC will conduct a site visit. Tamburrino asked if someone would have to feed the boiler. It is automatic, said Sumner, similar to the unit in use at Twin Valley high school and middle school. The product is delivered in tractor trailers and transferred by conveyor belt to a bin or silo-type storage unit. Sumner confirmed for Combs that the fuel supply was kiln-dried. Edwards would like an informational meeting with WRC’s Kim Smith to give opportunity to ask questions. Rafus said WRC would conduct an on-site visit for that purpose. Grob asked about the length of the grant; we are getting into a lot of expense with the garage already, he commented. We have to take grants when they are available, said Edwards, and don’t yet know how much money would be offered. The first step, added Rafus, is to find out if we qualify. Sumner said WRC’s goal is to help twenty municipal and school buildings convert to wood heat. Edwards recommended researching the bonding process; bonds can only be had at certain times of year. Sumner thought bond applications were submitted in the spring and awarded sometime in June. Gabriel will research the question. We need to get the insulation bid out quickly, said Sumner. The season is getting short. Bid invitations will be posted this week and opened at the next regular meeting on July 21st. Brad will complete and submit the wood heat application.
We met with Bob Fisher and made a decision on two roads after the public hearing in May, Sumner told the meeting. Fisher has written the formal decisions on Woodard Hill Road and Whitneyville Road, and the Board has those documents for signature. Edwards reviewed the proceedings: We warned and conducted a site visit on May 27th, 2015, at 5:00 p.m., examined the sites, had a public hearing at 7:00 in the Multi-purpose room to hear people who were interested in discussing these roads. No one present had a conflict of interest on either Woodard Hill or Whitneyville Road. While we do have a new Selectboard member, that member was present at the hearing. You can choose to vote however you wish on this, Edwards told Grob, or you can abstain. We have determined, she continued, that the necessity and convenience of the inhabitants and the public good requires that Whitneyville Road, town highway 21, be reclassified from a Class 3 town highway along its entire course to a Class 4 town highway from a point beyond the LaFlamme driveway in an easterly and southeasterly direction to the intersection with Tucker Road, which is town highway 22, for a distance of four-tenths of a mile.Edwards made a motion to reclassify Whitneyville Road, from the LaFlamme driveway to the intersection of Tucker Road, from a Class 3 untravelled to a Class 4 road. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board signed the document. Blaise McGarvey said he had held his question until the paperwork was signed: There are several lot owners up there, what happens if someone decides to live up there? Do they have to go through a process to get it back to a maintained road? Yes, answered Sumner, they would have to petition the Selectboard for a reclassification to Class 3. And they would have to bring the road up to specifications, added Rafus.
For Woodard Hill Road, Edwards again described the sequence of a warned site visit and public hearing on May 27th, 2015. At this point Edwards spotted an error, and Gabriel revised the document. Edwards continued: We gave notice to abutters as required and no one had a conflict of interest. Our newly appointed Selectboard member was in attendance at the hearing. Edwards made a motion that it is in the public good, necessity, and convenience of the inhabitants of the town that Woodard Hill Road, town highway 29, be reclassified from a Class 3 highway along its entire course to a Class 3 highway from the intersection with Stowe Mountain Road, town highway 30, up to the residence now or formerly of the Kirks, and then classified as a Town Trail for a distance of five-tenths of a mile from the Kirks’ residence down to its intersection with Branch Road, town highway 1. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. In discussion, Marilyn Allen said she understood that is all John Kirk’s land, and wondered what the thinking is to make it a trail and therefore cut off any possibility of building on that road. Sumner said the landowner could petition the town to upgrade; Allen was not certain of that. When we went through the legal process with trails on Josh Road, she added, the decision says that’s not going back, ever. On Smith Road, Rafus said, the upper part was a trail, and was reclassified to a Class 4. On Woodard Hill there is a culvert, and a bridge that no longer exists. This change allows for recreation, but the town will never have to rebuild the bridge. Grob suggested the town might want to consider a turnaround at the Kirk house, as there is no good place to turn the plow trucks. There was further conversation regarding the use of motorized vehicles on town trails and whether the town had to renew permissions for VAST trailriders on town road sections yearly.
The Board chose potential meeting dates for a deliberative session on the two remaining road reclassifications—Sumner Farm and Weir Road. Gabriel will check on town attorney availability. The deadline on these decisions is July 26th. What happened to the original petition on Sumner Farm Road?, asked Ray Combs. We haven’t made that decision yet, answered Sumner. That’s the meeting we are planning for now.
Discuss Information from Act 250/Denison/Ashfield Quarry Hearings, in Advance of Environmental Commission Request for Findings of Fact
Edwards reminded the meeting that the last District #2 action was publication of recess order #3, which stated the Act 250 hearing was still in recess pending receipt of some additional information. Once that data is in hand the Environmental Commission will allow the applicant and interested parties to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law under each of the criteria. As a Selectboard, said Edwards, we focused on public infrastructure criteria; we created an informational handout, posed questions, and spoke about Town Plan compliance. We may have an opportunity to give a summary of that information. The Planning Commission has indicated they would not be giving further input.
Edwards has drafted findings, conclusions, and conditions related to criteria 5 (traffic), 7 (municipal services), 9(K) (public infrastructure), and 10 (Town Plan). Should we discuss this, she asked. I expected a lighter agenda when I included this for tonight’s meeting. A question arose concerning the Environmental Commission’s expectations for interested parties’ findings submissions. Would the document need to be in legal format or could it be a simpler summarization? Chait said the Planning Commission had decided not to submit findings, as John Bennett had described a formal legal document format. If it could be more in the form of a lay letter, said Chait, from my point of view this should be raised again with the Planning Commission. Edwards thought she had also understood the Planning Commission did not want to do anything further as they were about to turn their attention to the Zoning Board’s conditional use permit process. Linda Lyon, who has attended all the Act 250 and Zoning Board hearings, said resubmitting a lay version of the Planning Commission’s conclusions has value because it makes the point that we really mean what we said. I don’t think the Environmental Commission could compel us to write something that only a lawyer could understand; the work is substantially done, she added. Marilyn Allen was very impressed with the Selectboard and Planning Commission presentations during the hearing. It would just be a question of reminding them (the Environmental Commission) of what you have already said. The roads are going to be the town’s concern, Edwards said. Other parties may not address that issue; could the Commission overlook it? They have a lot of criteria to look at. Janet Taylor suggested asking the town attorney what is expected in a written findings of fact. Edwards mentioned cost concerns. Gabriel will put the question to District #2 coordinator April Hensel. Is there a submission deadline?, asked Rafus. If you are going to meet with the attorney soon maybe you could get his opinion on the draft material. Gabriel printed copies of the draft for the Board to review. Edwards asked Rafus for rough estimates on guardrails and widening of roads. We may not be able to submit new information, she said, but it would be valuable for us to have that data. Lyon recommended submitting the information anyway; it concerns economic impacts to the town.
Hearing of Visitors
Stephan Chait asked for information on the status of the recycling bins at the old town garage. The bins should be there until the end of December, answered Sumner. WSWMD will vote in September on what happens after that. If the bins are removed residents will either take their recyclables to the waste facility in Brattleboro or employ a private hauler who will pick up twice a month, for a fee.
Joe Tamburrino reminded the meeting of the site visit to the old town garage earlier in the year. That was February, before Town Meeting, said Sumner. Nothing has been done yet, continued Tamburrino. And I’d like to know what it cost to put a lock on the door last Friday or Saturday morning because it was unlocked. I thought the town crew was going to tear the garage down and sell the metal for scrap, but nothing has happened. We have a lot of things going on, said Edwards. As to cost, the lock was there, so it was cost of overtime for the employee. We haven’t made a decision on what we are doing with the building yet. Have we heard from EMS, asked Rafus. Lyon, who is on the squad, said she did not think the EMS would pursue it, because of the flood plain location. But Christina Moore would have a more definite answer, she added.
Jessee Ferland welcomed Doug Grob to the Selectboard. Janet Taylor thanked Doug for filling Earl’s position and also thanked Edwards and Sumner for making it a smooth transition.
Rafus reported on this year’s sand and gravel purchases. Last year the town approved the lowest bidder on sand, but ended paying more because of the high trucking cost. Sumner noted that last year the chosen vendor changed the sand source from Brattleboro to Vernon, which resulted in increased cost. This year, Rafus has visited the vendors, examined the product, and made comparative distance calculations to determine cost of hauling. Rafus quoted the following prices: Corse Excavating, LLC, Brattleboro, Vermont–600 yards 3-inch minus gravel, $11.00/yard; lowest price, closest location, good quality. Renaud Brothers, Vernon, Vermont—2,500 yards 1½-inch crushed gravel, $11.00/yard; lowest price, slightly greater distance, but best quality. Cersosimo, Brattleboro, Vermont—4,000 yards winter sand, $8.00/yard. The other vendor choice, Zaluzny, quoted $7.70/yd., but using Cersosimo will save trucking costs. The two gravel orders will be used on Deer Park Road and Thomas Hill projects.
Marilyn Allen asked whether it would be less expensive to have the materials delivered, rather than having town trucks do the hauling. The least expensive course, said Rafus, is to hire outside haulers, who can haul more material per load, by the hour. He does this when short of time and manpower. This year the town crew will haul sand on rainy days, and Rafus will hire contractors when needed.
Rafus estimates the town has enough material stockpiled to crush 10,000 yards of our own gravel in a month, possibly as much as 15,000 yards if the operation went more quickly. Crusher rental is $30,000 for a month, base cost $3.00/yd for materials plus manhours, compared to $16.00/yd. outside purchase price. The full highway crew would be working on the project. Grob asked about quality; it would be comparable to purchased gravel, said Rafus. Presently we’re paying $60,000 a year to have gravel trucked in. Tim Putnam asked if it would be feasible to mix town-crushed gravel with material purchased from an outside vendor; yes, replied Rafus. Grob had concerns about wear and tear on town equipment. Rafus said they would primarily be using the excavator, and moving the finished product with the trucks. Rafus clarified for Edwards that he was requesting approval of the gravel and sand purchases; the crushing project could be discussed on a future agenda. Edwards advised that approvals should be itemized on Selectboard agendas under regular business, to make the public aware that expenditures were underway. Edwards made a motion to purchase 4,000 yards winter sand from Cersosimo at $8.00/yd., 2,500 yards 1½ -inch crushed gravel from Renaud at $11.00/yd., and 600 yards 3-inch minus gravel from Corse Excavating at $11.00/yd. Total: $66,100.00. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
Town Hill will be reclaimed tomorrow, said Rafus. The road will not be closed; they will work on one lane at a time. Also, the excavator is in the shop at Catepillar getting the carriage bearing replaced. Repair cost will be $6,500 for the bearing, plus labor.
Linda Lyon thanked to Doug Grob for serving on the Board, and Edwards and Sumner for a great job. She also announced the Halifax Community Club meeting would be July 20th, 6:45 p.m. at the Community Hall. On September 12th there will be an event with potluck snacks at 7:00 p.m. and, at 7:30, Bonnie Brown will do a slide presentation on plants and gardening. Lyon encouraged people to volunteer to assist with Community Club activities.
Charlene Martynowski said Diana Todd is working on updating the town tax map. She revises the map to show new subdivisions and is currently adding indicators to show which parcels have surveys on record in the town vault. She does this at no charge, but will be acquiring a new computer sometime in the coming year and will need a $100 software update. Martynowski would like the town to donate the $100 to cover software cost. How often do we reprint the maps, and is it possible for people to get them?, asked Edwards. The current map is from 2013. The Town Clerk sets up the printing orders and maps can be purchased at the town office. Edwards told Martynowski the software cost could be submitted as a lister expense.
We need to schedule a meeting with the Highway Department crew, said Edwards. July’s calendar is full, we will plan to meet with them in August. Rafus and the Board also discussed scheduling for the insulation removal bid, as time is short to get the work done. Gabriel and Rafus will set up bid requests and a newspaper advertisement tomorrow morning, with a July 21st bid submission deadline.
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, including two driveway permits.
Edwards had questions on a piece of correspondence from the state announcing increased fees to cover the Lake Champlain cleanup. Sumner said the Board could discuss this with VTrans at Monday’s meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:32 p.m.