OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
March 22, 2016
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitch Green, and Brad Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Kaitlin Stone, Peggy Rafus, Rick Gay, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Patricia Dow, John LaFlamme, Sue Kelly, Cara Cheyette, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Lewis Sumner said Patty Dow was present to talk about an ATV ordinance. He also had a request from Green Mountain Power.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner advised the 2/16/16 meeting minutes and the 2/16/16 Windham Regional Commission hearing minutes would stand as written, as a quorum of the current Board was not present that night.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 2/23/16 Informational Meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Mitch Green abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/1/16 regular meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Green abstaining.
Rafus made a motion to approve the 3/7/16 special meeting minutes as written. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/14/16 special meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Green abstaining.
Town Clerk Patty Dow told the meeting she had received several calls from new property owners asking whether registered ATVs were allowed on Class 3 and Class 4 roads in Halifax. The town does not have an ordinance at the present time. Green recalled from past discussions that in towns lacking a municipal ordinance ATVs were not permitted on public roads. Rick Gay said northern New Hampshire had opened up its back roads to ATV riders, and Peggy Rafus added that the New Hampshire experiment had been successful and was being used as a model elsewhere. Snowmobiles, said Brad Rafus, actually do more damage to pavement than ATVs. Green suggested doing some research and putting the subject on a future agenda; the Selectboard has a copy of a VLCT model ordinance to consider. Sue Kelly recommended adopting an ordinance, even if that ordinance stated ATVs were not allowed on public roads. Sumner made a motion to discuss a local ATV ordinance on a future agenda. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
KAS Post-Closure Custodial Care Application
KAS, the engineering firm which has been monitoring the landfill for over twenty years, has submitted a $3,500 estimate for final engineering work. Once that is completed, the town will no longer need to budget funds for yearly testing. Sumner said a state representative had inspected the landfill last fall and said all was satisfactory; the state will give its approval once this final step is complete. Sumner told Rick Gay this is not the landfill the town closed in the ‘80s. Sumner signed the document, which will be returned to the engineering firm.
Planning Commission Request
At their March 15th meeting, the Planning Commission discussed making a Zoning Administrator recommendation to the Selectboard, as Rick Gay is retiring. Ray White and Dan Menerey had expressed interest in the position; Rick Mirucki declined. The Planning Commission would like to solicit additional candidates by posting a vacancy notice and job description before making a recommendation, and has made that request of the Selectboard. Board members agreed on this course of action, and notice will be posted.
Green Mountain Power
GMP plans to set a new pole between Bills’ and the Post Office. Rafus said the location was close to the existing pole; this pole would be taller to give clearance above the road. The Board agreed to give the power company the go-ahead.
Sumner said five individuals had applied to serve on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment. Sumner made a motion to go into executive session to discuss the candidates. Green seconded the motion. This motion failed; see following discussion. Stephan Chait asked whether appointments should be discussed in public meeting. Sumner said the subject would come back to public meeting, but if something were brought up that he or others didn’t know about, it would be better to do that in executive session. We won’t be making any decisions, he added. Green said it was normal practice to hold personnel discussions in executive session. Cara Cheyette said personnel referred to employees, not appointees. At Chait’s request, Sumner identified the five candidates as Stephan Chait, Linda Lyon, Turner Lewis, Kaitlyn Stone, and Peggy Rafus. Sue Kelly asked whether there would opportunity for public discussion after an executive session; Sumner and Rafus answered affirmatively. Cheyette objected to holding an executive session, saying appointments were different, and there was no basis in statute for the action. However, Cheyette then found a statutory reference on her computer, which states that “a public body may not hold an executive session except to consider one or more of the following: the appointment or employment or evaluation of a public officer, or employee . . .” Peggy Rafus said the Selectboard should make the decision about whether or not to hold an executive session. Kelly responded that “it’s reasonable for us to make sure the Selectboard obeys the law.” Cheyette suggested the people currently serving on the PC/ZBA should remain in office while there was still litigation pending on the Denison/Ashfield Stone permit. Sumner responded that at this point the Selectboard was involved in that court action, not the ZBA. If the Environmental Court remands the permit decision to the Zoning Board, current officers have already done the research, said Sue Kelly. After further discussion, the Board chose to postpone Planning Commission and Zoning Board appointments, and to set up interviews with candidates. Interviews will be held in executive session on March 29th.
Green made a motion to appoint Brad Rafus as Road Commissioner. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Ross Barnett as Tree Warden. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Andrew Rice as Pound Keeper. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner recommended postponing appointment of a Town Service Officer, as the position may be eliminated through State legislation.
Green made a motion to appoint Patricia Holtz as Council on Aging representative. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Nicholas and Margaret Bartenhagen as Windham Regional Commissioners. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
The Zoning Administrator appointment was postponed, pending a recommendation from the Planning Commission.
Green made a motion to appoint Lewis Sumner as Windham Solid Waste Management District representative. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Brad Rafus as Windham Solid Waste Management District representative. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.
Green made a motion to appoint Allan Dacey and Andrew Rice as Loan Review Officers. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Everett Wilson has retired as ADA coordinator. The Board postponed this appointment, and will consider combining the job with the Zoning Administrator position.
Green made a motion to appoint Wayne Courser as E-911 Coordinator. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus made a motion to appoint Lewis Sumner as Recycling Coordinator. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Cheyette commended Ross Barnett for his common-sense handling of Tree Warden duties.
Sumner made a motion to appoint John LaFlamme as Emergency Management Director. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to appoint Peggy Rafus as Green-Up Coordinator. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Brad Rafus abstaining.
Green made a motion to appoint Andrew Rice for Citation Ticket Responsibility. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green made a motion to appoint Tristan Roberts as Energy Conservation Officer. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green made a motion to recognize the Brattleboro Reformer, Deerfield Valley News, and The Commons as newspapers of record. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Executive Session (if necessary)
Brad Rafus attended a Better Back Roads seminar last week. By 2018, he said, the town has to have a complete road inventory, and a five-year capital budget program for erosion control. A grant for the latter project is available, and Windham Regional Commission can do the work. Rafus will talk with Matt Mann to get the grant application process started. Rafus said new legislation will also require towns to pay a yearly fee for culvert work adjacent to rivers, and stream alteration and hydrology permit fees.
Hearing of Visitors
John LaFlamme reviewed ICS 100 and VT-Alert training requirements for town officials. Glenn Herrin of the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will be available for VT-Alert training for the next two months. Green said an evening or Saturday session would be best; LaFlamme will set up a training date. There is also a Plan Review workshop on April 15th, in Brattleboro, to address the new radiological response plan. LaFlamme said Windham Regional Commission would like towns to name one individual would would convey information and damage reports during or following an event. The Board agreed that Sumner, as Selectboard Chair, should fill that role. If he were not available, the duty would fall to the Vice Chair.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.