OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
April 2, 2019
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, Nancy McCrea, Diana Conway, Sue Kelly, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Brad Rafus made a motion to approve the 3/19/19 regular meeting minutes as written. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Mitch Green abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/29/19 special meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Green abstaining.
Health Code Violation
Town Health Officer Sue Kelly reported that Vermont State Police had notified her of a health hazard at 10070 Jacksonville Stage Road; a washing machine drain pipe had been installed through a wall and was dumping straight on the ground. Kelly learned the residence is a rental property, so it falls under the Vermont Rental Housing Code’s safe housing requirements. Kelly requested landlord contact information from the Selectboard; she suggested the property owner might request an inspection or, failing that, the Selectboard could ask her to inspect. Sumner said Gabriel could provide contact information, and added that the owners had responded promptly to an earlier parking problem at the residence. As the property owners are out-of-state, Ray Combs suggested pictures would be helpful. Kelly will get in touch with the property owners and report back to the Selectboard with results. She asked whether the Board would like to address the junk ordinance issue along with the health inspection. Sumner thought Health Department housing code enforcement would be more effective; it is often difficult to enforce the junk ordinance. Rafus said that if the Town pursued the junk issue it would also have to look at a number of other properties in Town. Green said the Board could discuss the health code situation again at the next regular meeting.
2019 Town Official Appointments
The Selectboard filled 2019 appointed town official positions, as follows:
Sumner nominated Robbin Gabriel as Selectboard Secretary and Administrative Assistant, for one-year terms. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green made a motion to appoint E. Turner Lewis and Kaitlin Stone as Planning Commissioners for three-year terms. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus made a motion to appoint E. Turner Lewis and Kaitlin Stone to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for three-year terms. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green made a motion to appoint Bradley Rafus as Road Commissioner for a one-year term. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.
Green made a motion to appoint Ross Barnett as Tree Warden for a one-year term. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner nominated Andrew Rice as Pound Keeper for a one-year term. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Edee Edwards, who served as the Council on Aging representative in 2018, has declined reappointment, as it is too difficult to attend meetings from her current Massachusetts location. This position will remain open, and the Board will post notices requesting volunteers.
Rafus nominated Stephan Chait and Everett Wilson as Windham Regional Commission representatives for one-year terms. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rick Mirucki’s term as Acting Zoning Administrator has expired and he does not wish to continue in the position. Rick Gay has agreed to serve, on the Planning Commission’s recommendation. Rafus nominated Rick Gay as Acting Zoning Administrator for a four-year term. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green nominated Lewis Sumner and Cara Cheyette as Windham Solid Waste Management District representatives for one-year terms. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Rafus nominated Allan Dacey and Andrew Rice to the Loan Review Committee for one-year terms. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Sumner told Combs that a Loan Review Committee member does not have to be a Halifax resident.
Sumner nominated Bob Leete as ADA Coordinator for a one-year term. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner nominated Wayne Courser as E-911 Coordinator for a one-year term. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board agreed that Courser does a thorough job as E-911 Coordinator, and works well with the Listers and Town Clerk.
Rafus nominated Lewis Sumner as Recycling Coordinator for a one-year term. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Green nominated Hope Phelan and Jessica Cooney as Green-Up Vermont Coordinators for one-year terms. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner nominated Peggy Rafus as Emergency Management Director for a one-year term. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Brad Rafus abstaining.
Sumner nominated Andrew Rice for Citation Ticket Responsibility for a one-year term. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus nominated Bob Leete as Energy Conservation Officer for a one-year term. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green nominated Andrew Rice as First Constable for a one-year term. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus nominated Roy Richardson as Second Constable for a one-year term. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
The Selectboard received eight letters of interest from individuals willing to serve on the new Conservation Commission. The applicants were Stephan Chait, David Jones, Laurel Copeland, David Towler, Linda Huebner, Fabio Girelli-Carasi, Jessica Cooney, and Juniper Kozlowski. Both the Planning Commission and Selectboard recommended beginning with a five-member Conservation Commission, subject to change in the future should it become advisable to increase the size of the Board. As all applicants were qualified and suitable, Sumner advised the Board would attempt to choose those whose schedules would permit them to attend meetings regularly.
Sumner nominated Stephan Chait for appointment to the Conservation Commission. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus nominated Jessica Cooney for appointment to the Conservation Commission. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Rafus nominated Linda Huebner for appointment to the Conservation Commission. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green nominated Laurel Copeland for appointment to the Conservation Commission. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green nominated Juniper Kozlowski for appointment to the Conservation Commission. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
The standard term for a Conservation Commissioner is four years. The Selectboard next set staggered term lengths for the new Commissioners, to prevent all terms expiring in the same year. Term lengths are as follows: Stephan Chait and Laurel Copeland, 4 years; Jessica Cooney, 3 years; Juniper Kozlowski, 2 years; Linda Huebner, 1 year. Sumner asked Stephan Chait to contact the appointees and organize a first meeting of the new Board. Chait will also invite the three applicants who were not appointed to attend meetings. Rafus said he was pleased with the level of interest in the Conservation Commission, as evidenced by the large number of applicants.
Green nominated the Brattleboro Reformer, The Commons, and the Deerfield Valley News as the Town’s newspapers of record. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green made a motion to continue holding Selectboard regular meetings at 7:00 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Town Office. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
194 Old Green River Road Lien
The Environmental Court has issued a judgment order permitting the Town to recoup costs for legal action pertaining to a zoning violation at 194 Old Green River Road. Chait asked if the fines accrued on a daily basis; Sumner told him that would have been the case had the shed not been removed. As the shed is gone, there will be no daily fines, but the Town can recover monies expended for legal action. Green made a motion to have Gabriel work with Town Attorney Robert Fisher to put a lien on the property at 194 Old Green River Road in the amount of $3,126.99. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Board members signed the annual VTrans financial plan, which was prepared during their March 29th special meeting. VTrans has not yet provided any information regarding potential grant funding for electronic speed signs, but Sumner spoke to Andy Rice, who has queried Vermont State Police on the subject. The signs cost about $3,000-$4,000, they attach to existing speed limit signs and are solar-powered. If grants are not available, Rafus said there is still money in the emergency management fund. We also have money left in the emergency management reserve fund, added Sumner. Answering a question from Chait, Rafus said this is a public safety issue, and would be an appropriate use of emergency management dollars.
Hearing of Visitors
Is there a way we can let people know about our laws and permits, maybe put something on the web site?, asked Ray Combs. He said people seem to do what they want, and gave examples of an underground powerline installed without a permit, or tree-cutting in the Town right-of-way. We can do it, answered Sumner, but some people don’t want to follow the rules and laws. The best thing is to have the Zoning Administrator investigate, said Green. We can post information, but if people don’t read the web site or the notices, that doesn’t help. Rafus recommended establishing a requirement for an occupancy permit. He explained that when a new building is being constructed, landowners have to obtain a driveway permit prior to beginning construction. The driveway permit spells out how the driveway is to be built, but often those conditions are not followed, and the Town has no recourse once the work is done. Rafus proposed not issuing a building permit until the driveway is complete and has been inspected and approved. Perhaps the Zoning Administrator could inspect driveway installations, suggested Green. Sumner thought that requirement would need to be written into the zoning bylaw. Board members discussed the possibility of a two-stage driveway permit; authorization to build, with instructions/conditions, then final approval by the Selectboard once the work is completed and prior to issuance of a building permit. Gabriel told Combs that zoning regulations, the Town Plan, and Town permit forms with instructions are all posted on the Town web site, but residents do not always make use of that information.
Combs also said that now summer is coming, there are motorcycles and ATVs—possibly unregistered—traveling the public roads. Sumner said motorcycles are out frequently now the weather is warmer. Combs said the Vermont State Police are spread too thin to respond to calls of this nature; he suggested the Town sponsor a constable who is trained and certified, and establish a contract for maybe five years. We’d have to find money in the budget, said Rafus; we had a full-time certified officer here in the past, until the voters voted him out. Certification is a lot of work, and the position requires continuing training, said Sumner.
Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Correspondence was reviewed and filed. One overweight permit was signed. The Board has received an invitation to the E-Z Riders appreciation dinner on April 13th. Rescue, Inc. has returned the signed, yearly contract with the Town. Sumner advised printed copies of the new Town Plan are now available in the Town Office. Green made a motion to request Windham Regional Commission to review and approval the revised Halifax Town Plan. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Gabriel will send a request letter to WRC. Rafus has submitted the 2019 Municipal Roads General Permit planning report to the State.
Sumner made a motion to go into executive session to discuss a personnel issue, with Gabriel included. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board entered executive session at 8:15 p.m. They exited the session at 8:44 p.m., with no decisions made.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.