OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
February 20, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, and Robbin Gabriel. Cara Cheyette arrived at approximately 7:10 p.m.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Lewis Sumner advised the Board would discuss the 194 Old Green River Road property, but would make no decisions tonight.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner made a motion to approve the 2/6/18 regular meeting minutes with one correction. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Discuss Citizen’s Old County North Questions
Sumner said the Selectboard had received a communication from the granddaughter of a Halifax property owner whose land fronts on an unmaintained portion of Old County North Road. The landowner is interested in moving to Halifax, and would like the Town to maintain the road, which is currently classified as legal trail. Mitch Green suggested reclassifying the road to Class 4, so the owners could build on the parcel. The Board told Stephan Chait the property in question is on the Moss Hollow end of Old County North. We maintain it to just across the bridge, to the red house, said Rafus. Sumner made a motion to have Gabriel draft a letter to the landowner, explaining the Town does not maintain roads that are Class 4 or below; the landowner could request the Selectboard to reclassify the road. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. In discussion, Rafus said the road could be reclassified as Class 4, the landowner could bring it up to specifications, then petition the Town to take it over. Would it be Class 4 all the way through?, asked Chait. It could be, replied Board members, or it could be just to that property. Green and Sumner said they would be in favor of reclassifying the road all the way through, to reconnect with the southern portion of Old County Road. How much work would it be to bring it up to Class 4?, asked Ray Combs. A lot, answered Rafus, but the Town would only reclassify; the road would stay as it is. If the road becomes Class 4, Green told Chait, the property owner still has to maintain the road, but it gives them the ability to get a permit to build. Cara Cheyette asked whether there were specifications. Culverts need to be eighteen inches, said Rafus. Green added that the landowner has to bring the road up to Town specs if they want the Town to take it over.
194 Old Green River Road
Sumner said the Zoning Board of Adjustment would be publishing a written decision on the 194 Old Green River Road appeal of a Zoning Administrator violation notice in the near future. Gabriel told the Board the decision should be finalized by the end of February. Thereafter, the Selectboard will consider whether to forward the matter to the Environmental Court. There are fines involved, said Sumner, as much as $100 a day. There were two violations; the ZBA granted an appeal on the first violation but the second was not appealed. Fines could be retroactive. Sumner recalled a previous case where fines were imposed. When the property was sold, the owner negotiated with the Town over amounts owed; Sumner thought the Town received about half of the total amount. There will be further discussion of the situation once the ZBA’s written decision is available.
Rafus is working on a schedule for AOT to examine bridge #17. The State engineer hopes to be able to inspect several bridges in the area during one visit. Rafus also advised the Town has received another Better Back Roads grant for FY19. This is a Category B grant in the amount of $20,000 for ditchwork, stone, and culverts on Reed Hill Road. Chait commented that we’ve been very successful in getting grants. Are you doing all those yourself?, asked Cheyette. Rafus said yes, with help from Gabriel and Dow. He was surprised to get this grant, as the application paperwork didn’t arrive until three days before submission deadline. A lot of people don’t realize, said Sumner, because they don’t see him (Rafus) out on the road, he’s doing paperwork.
Next Tuesday (February 27th) is the pre-Town Meeting Informational Meeting, announced Sumner. The Southern Valley Unified Union School District meeting will be at 6:00 p.m. and the Selectboard meeting at 7:00 p.m, in the school multipurpose room. The School District’s meeting will be held on March 1, 2018, 7:00 p.m., in Whitingham, at the Twin Valley School. Rafus asked for confirmation that there would be no school meeting on Town Meeting Day this year, just an Australian ballot vote on the School budget. Sumner said that was correct, and there would also be an Australian ballot vote for School officers.
Sumner said Windham Solid Waste has the roads in place for the solar project at their Ferry Road site. They plan on having the project on line by June 1st.
Hearing of Visitors
Chait asked what happened with the Town-wide reappraisal bids. Sumner and Green said the Listers had sent out bid requests and advertised in the newspaper. Bids will be opened on March 6th.
Cara Cheyette said she wanted to clarify what might have been a misunderstanding related to Selectboard discussion of Hall Road reclassification at their February 6th meeting. Cheyette has spoken to Michael Drummey, and it is her understanding that Drummey would like the Town to plow the Class 4 section of Hall Road as far as his driveway, but he is not requesting the road be reclassified as Class 3. Green said Board members had simply been exchanging ideas; there would be a formal hearing process if any action was planned. We were considering that it would be just as easy to plow all the way through, he added. Cheyette said that since the Town moved the dead end sign to the base of Reed Hill Road, she has seen fewer commercial vehicles attempting to reach the Winery by way of Hall Road. The plowing is not an issue, said Rafus, but Drummey was talking about summer maintenance, and that would require a reclassification to Class 3. We replaced a culvert after Irene, said Cheyette; if that were to happen again, could we come to the Town for it? It depends on interpretation, answered Rafus. FEMA says it is not the Town’s responsbility, but if you read (the statute), it says the Town is responsible for culverts and bridges.
There has been a petition going around for a five-member Board, said Ray Combs. If that came about, would Robbin lose her job? That would have to go through Town Meeting, replied Sumner. The job of administrative assistant was approved at Town Meeting, and would have to be rescinded. Green said the question (of a five-member board) would be on Australian ballot this year because the Town so voted last year. Cheyette said she had been involved with the petition, and there was no thought of eliminating the assistant position.
Cheyette said she would like to be on a list to receive fill when the Highway Department is ditching. What is the quality of the fill?, asked Chait. It will grow grass, responded Rafus. It depends on the road surface. On blacktop, it’s all silt, but on unpaved roads there will be gravel.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
New correspondence was reviewed. The Board signed two overweight permits, and a letter responding to State audit findings related to the Town’s FY17 VY grant.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:46 p.m.