OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
June 2, 2009
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:31 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme and Mitchell Green. Others in attendance were Timothy Putnam, Margo Avakian, Edee Edwards, Andy Rice, Brad Rafus, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Green moved to accept the minutes of the May 19, 2009 meeting as written.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0, and the minutes were approved.
Hearing of Visitors
- Ms. Edwards was in attendance to inquire about the status of a committee to investigate the options for high speed internet for the town. She reminded the Board that it has been about a year since she had presented some information and had advised she would not be able to participate in the concept. She wanted to know if there had been any others volunteering for the committee and if there were any updates or progress.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that no one had come forward to pick up where she left off. He advised there have been rumors of things happening in other towns, but he has no concrete information or plans.
- Mr. Rice advised that he had purchased a digital camera to enable him to take photos for use in documenting incidents. He advised there has been a problem with wandering cows that have been tearing up residents’ lawns and breaking lawn lights. He advised that it appears to be an ongoing problem. Both he and Roy Richardson have responded to calls on the matter. He advised that he had spoken to the owner regarding the “nuisance animal” ordinance and informed him that he is responsible for damages. The owner agreed to take care of the situation.
On another matter, he advised that they are working with the State Police are looking for a vehicle in connection with a recent series of break-ins and apparent “casing” of properties.
He advised that there are people going to summer houses and taking out the copper tubing from the homes. Also, the tree company working up on Thomas Hill has had the front end weave chains stolen from the site. He advised these are worth about $4,000, and he plans to contact area scrap dealers to be aware they are stolen.
Regarding his FTO situation he is still waiting to hear when and where he
will be doing it.
Mr. LaFlamme asked if he had heard anything more regarding the nude motorcyclist. Mr. Rice advised he has spoken with Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn because they had to deal with this issue, he has also spoken with the State Police. Unless the town has an ordinance regarding nudity, if the person is wearing a helmet and not making any lewd or lascivious motions or movements he is not breaking the law. He advised that Brattleboro actually had to pass a nudity ordinance. Mr. Rice advised that if he has a valid reason for stopping this person he will speak to him and see if an understanding can be reached. However, he advised that in regard to stopping people for “routine” motor vehicle checks, if it is not consistently done, the officer could be accused of profiling. He advised that if you stopped a vehicle for a burn out taillight and found the operator to be intoxicated, attorneys in this type of DUI cases have had charges dismissed against their clients using the profiling argument. So in order to eliminate this possibility, stops for minor motor vehicle infractions will become routine.
Mr. Rice advised that the VCOM grant for new radios for the Constables has been tentatively approved but cannot be finalized until the committee meets. The town match (which will come from the constables’ budget) is about $500 so he has been making sure that amount is kept for that purpose. He asked if that could be rolled over at the end of the fiscal year if the grant is not used by that time. He was advised by Mr. Green that it could be rolled over to the next budget year.
Mr. Rice advised that if Sergeant Buckley is to be the main officer for contract coverage in Halifax, he hopes to be able to ride along with him for the additional experience. He advised it does not count toward the FTO training hours, but the experience would be welcome.
Mr. Rice advised that Station Commander Lt. Craig LaPorte had noted that Halifax is ahead of a lot of other towns in terms of emergency management training. Mr. LaFlamme noted that was a benefit of Vermont Yankee, a lot of training provided and equipment available.
- Update Employee Handbook – will be continued at a future meeting.
- Two representatives from Lane Construction were in attendance to hear the results of the bidding for paving contracts. The Board opened the two bids they had received.
Warner Bros. LLC – $85.00 per ton
Lane Construction – $75.45 per ton
Mr. Green moved to accept the bid from Lane Construction of $75.45 per ton for paving.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion which carried 2-0.
- Mr. Rafus advised that the Reed Hill Bridge project is not ready to be put out to bid yet. The bridge is to be re-decked as a floating concrete deck. This is the same concept as was used on the Hale Road Bridge. The original abutments are used and the new cast deck is set on the abutments and then pinned. He advised that the weight loads and specifications need to be determined before it can be put out to bid.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that even though the grant is good for two years, it would be nice to have this project completed before another winter.
After a short discussion it was decided that Mr. Rafus would get the specs from a concrete company and put the project out to bid.
Selectboard member Lewis Sumner arrived at 8:15 PM.
- WRC Commissioner Phyllis Evanuk advised that she had spoken with Jim Matteau of WRC to clarify the process of re-adoption. He advised that the Town Plan re-adoption must follow the public hearing schedule as stated in the statutes. Thirty days before the Planning Commission holds their required public hearing copies of the plan must be mailed certified to the abutting towns, WRC, and the Department of Community Affairs. The Selectboard must hold a public hearing not less than 30 days or more than 120 days after the planning commission forwards their recommendation to them. Because the town has voted to approve any changes to the plan by Australian ballot, and a re-adoption is considered a change (extending the expiration date), a vote by Australian ballot must be scheduled. Rather than wait until the next Town Meeting in March, it had been suggested that a vote be scheduled for this rather than going for such a long time without an approved plan. To get an idea of the added expense of a special vote, Ms. Evanuk spoke with Town Clerk Laura Sumner, and it was determined that the process could be completed for not more than $500. Because this would be a one-vote ballot it was thought that the voting could be done right in the Selectboard meeting room, as people would most likely only be there for a few minutes to cast their ballot and leave.
Ms. Evanuk advised that the Planning Commission is holding their public hearing on July 15, 2009. The Selectboard could hold their public hearing at the second August meeting at the earliest. A special voting session could be held sometime in September.
It was the opinion of the Board that a special vote would not bring out a good representation of the town, as evidenced by previous special meetings. By the time the required hearings are held and the voting session is set up, it would be no more than 5 or 6 months longer without a plan before the regular Town Meeting. If there was a special vote and re-adoption failed, they could visit it again at the regular town meeting in March. Mr. Green suggested that if the voters turn down re-adoption at a special voting session, then the Planning Commission could get a new Town Plan ready for March.
Ms. Evanuk advised that this would not be possible. There are too many things to be considered to rush through a plan. That is the reason for re-adopting the existing plan, to allow the Planning Commission sufficient time to address and consider the wants and needs of the Town and to incorporate them into the new plan. Consideration of the addition of a commercial zoning district would take the better part of a year to think through. By re-adopting the current plan, the commissioners will be able to relax and do a thorough job of rewriting the plan. At this point they are under pressure to get an approved plan and as a result seem to be glossing over areas that should be more thoughtfully considered.
It was decided to wait until after the public hearings to determine if a special voting session should be held.
- Mr. Rafus advised he had gotten two bids on chipping the ice storm brush. One was $16,000 and the other was $12,000. He is still working on obtaining a state permit to burn the brush.
- A short discussion of gravel crushing costs followed. It was suggested that as the paving bids came in lower than anticipated, they might use some of the money budgeted for paving for crushing which would save the town money over the next three to four years. If we crush from the town pit it costs $5 per yard versus $15 per yard if purchased. Mr. Rafus asked if the Board wanted to expand on the amount of paving to use up the balance, or use it toward the gravel crushing. Mr. LaFlamme suggested that if they used the money for crushing this year, the money they would normally use for purchasing gravel they could use for paving for the next couple of years. Mr. Rafus advised that by paying for crushing 20,000 yards at $5 per yard would give the town double the amount they would be able to buy at $15 per yard.
- Mr. Rafus will gather some figures for the next meeting and they will review them before deciding which way to go.
- A corrected Rescue Inc. contract was received, signed and returned.
The mail was reviewed and appropriately filed.
Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment
The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:13 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk