Members Present – Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Alicia Malay, David Mills, Thomas Hooker and W. Joseph Gagnon. Others Present: Charles “Butch” Shaw (via Zoom), Terry Poor (via Zoom), Myra Poor (via Zoom), Barb Lalancette (via Zoom), Kate Desrosiers (via Zoom), Nancy Gaudreau (via Zoom), Jake Clark (via Zoom), Stephanie Jerome (via Zoom), Mason Jarbee (via Zoom), Louie Gaudreau, Donna Wilson, Lorrie Byrum (via Zoom), Ernie Cleirhew (via Zoom), Lisa Wright (via Zoom), Will Veve, Nelson Brown (via Zoom), Town Manager John Haverstock, Kelly Giard – Recording Secretary.
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM by Chairman Alicia Malay.
J. Haverstock stated that there was a need to enter into Executive Session for Personnel (Town Report Honorees/cover photo); Contracts/Legal (Plains Road Solar Project). Motion by T. Hooker and seconded by T. Pelkey to enter into Executive Session for Personnel and Contracts. Motion passed unanimously 5 – 0.
J. Haverstock stated that there was no need to amend the agenda. Motion by T. Pelkey and seconded by D. Mills to accept the agenda as amended. Motion passed 5 – 0.
The minutes of the December 2, 2020 meeting were signed, with no corrections.
The orders in the amount of $661,565.07 and Payroll in the amount of $15,554.30 were signed, with the following discussion:
J. Haverstock stated that there would be a 3-week gap between meetings. However, the Bookkeeper does not anticipate needing any signatures during that time.
J. Gagnon inquired about the expense for Magic Minus Zero. J. Haverstock stated that this was for one of the mixing components for the road treatment material. J. Gagnon inquired about the cost for guardrail repair and inquired if the Town would be reimbursed. J. Haverstock explained that this was caused by a motor vehicle accident and the insurance company would be billed for the repairs.
D. Mills inquired about the expense to Casella Construction. J. Haverstock explained that this is a progress payment request. Salt shed bills are submitted following evaluation and verification by resident engineer, GPI. D. Mills inquired the multiple bills from Thunder Towing for the Police Department vehicles. J. Haverstock explained that one was for work done at a previous visit in September.
Town Manager’s Report:
J. Haverstock reported the following:
- Nelson Brown began his position on December 14, 2020 and has met with Bill Moore (Brandon Recreation and Economic Development), Lyle Jepsen (Rutland Chamber of Commerce/Rutland Economic Development) and Randy Adams, among others.
- The block wall for the salt/sand shed project will be constructed in the next 2 weeks with the structure arriving in mid-January, 2021.
- OMYA has contributed $30,000 toward planned repairs of the Kendall Hill Road bridge, which will be completed by Daniels Construction in the Spring. J. Gagnon inquired about the amount that remains in the Bridge Replacement Fund. J. Haverstock will provide this information at a future meeting.
- OMYA has agreed to sell a parcel of land at West Creek Road/Kendall Hill Road intersection to the Town for the future construction of a new Florence Fire Substation. The agreed price for the land is $20,000.
- The Municipal Office and related town services will be closed on December 25, 2020 and January 1, 2021 in observance of the Christmas and New Years’ Day holidays respectively. There will also be an early release for employees at Noon on December 24, 2020.
Select Board Comments:
Selectman Mills reported that he and Select Board Chair Malay, along with Planning Commission Chair Mark Winslow, met with Joe Casella at the proposed solar site off Parker Road. All agreed that this was an ideal site as it is not visible or obtrusive. Selectman Mills also stated that Encore has not contacted the Planning Commission regarding their proposed project on Kendall Hill Road.
A. Malay announced that Winning Image has been awarded the economic development grant; The Cluckin’ Café will be instructing culinary skills; and Gagnon Lumber has been awarded a Stewardship award.
Rep. Stephanie Jerome was present via Zoom to discuss the Town Meeting legislation, which has been sent to the Town Manager and the Town Clerk. J. Haverstock stated that he would be attending a VLCT Seminar on December 16, 2020, on this topic. Rep. Jerome explained that towns have the option to move the town meeting date, as well as mail in balloting. The Secretary of State’s Office will be explaining these options. J. Haverstock explained that the traditional floor vote can be converted to Australian ballot. There has been communication with Jeanne Collins, Superintendent of Schools who indicated that they would not be changing their budget information meeting dates.
Rep. Jerome exited at 7:37 PM.
Rep. Charles “Butch” Shaw explained that Act 162 allows voting by Australian ballot for budget items. Act 162 also allows candidate/names to be placed on the ballot without petitioning signatures. There are Consent forms available at the Town Clerk’s Office. Rep. Shaw recommended considering changes when drafting the Town Meeting Warning.
Update on Highway Department Truck Order:
Selectmen Hooker and Mills met with the Town Manager, Highway Foreman and Kenworth representatives to discuss the Highway Department’s truck order. The representatives from Kenworth agreed to reorder the truck with the appropriate windows and the rails that will be required for a solid body installation. This has been discussed with Viking, the vehicle body manufacturer, who agreed that the re-ordered truck cab and chassis looked good. The delivery time remains as originally quoted.
Update on Sale of Old Ladder Truck:
T. Hooker stated that the old ladder truck has been delivered to Brandon Fire Department and a check has been received in the negotiated price of $75,000. The funds will be deposited into the Fire Department Capital Fund.
Execute 30-Day Notice Letters to Owners of Properties with Junk Ordinance Violations:
The violation notices were in the packets for review. D. Mills inquired if there had been any progress in the past. J. Haverstock stated that there had been some progress. However, there has recently been some “backsliding” and it is time to proceed with the proposed notices. The notices were signed and will be sent to the applicable property owners.
Continued Discussion with Plains Road Solar Farm Developers:
Will Veve was present to discuss the plans for the Plains Road Solar project development. Mr. Veve apologized for sending the photos to be discussed at a late time and J. Haverstock stated that he could not get them to print. Mr. Veve stated that they have finished the Interconnection Study and the application is being drafted. The vegetative easement has been proposed to the attorney, who has recommended an option agreement. A final easement option agreement will not be needed until construction. J. Haverstock stated that there is an offer of $250 good faith toward the easement, a $1,000 offer for legal services and the $10,000 when the project is approved/constructed. Mr. Veve stated that the walking path on the south ‘Y’ is very close to the shared property line and is recommending the moving it 50’-60’. J. Gagnon inquired what the decommission time would be. Mr. Veve explained the lease is for 20 years with a possibility of extension. J. Haverstock inquired the number of times that the trees would be cut. Mr. Veve stated that they would be cut twice over the lease term. D. Mills inquired what would happen in 25 years, whether they would be decommissioned or they would be looking for an extension to add or upgrade panels. D. Mills recommended to table the discussion until the maps are reviewed. J. Haverstock recommended to table until following an attorney review. The topic was tabled until further information is reviewed.
Review Fourth Draft of FY 2021-2022 Budgets:
J. Haverstock explained that there was not much change from the third draft. The 5 budgets (General Fund, Highway Fund, Water Fund, Sewer Fund and Village Fund) are nearly balanced. D. Mills inquired if this is a level funded budget. J. Haverstock stated that the General Fund, Highway Fund and Village Fund budges are level funded.
Remarks from Developers of Proposed Solar Project off of Kendall Hill Road:
Jake Clark, the project developer with Encore was present via Zoom to introduce the solar project that will be proposed for Kendall Hill Road. Mr. Clark explained that there was no request currently for action as the petition for the project will not be submitted until later in the spring or early in the summer 2021. Mr. Clark explained this parcel as 10 acres of hay field within a 140 acre parcel that will have 7500 solar panels installed with a fence around the project. J. Haverstock recommended that Mr. Clark be in touch with Mark Winslow, Planning Commission Chairman, regarding this project. Mr. Clark stated that his company would conduct an analysis, environmental review and aesthetic analysis prior to the permitting process.
Mr. Clark exited at 7:50 PM.
Update on Pittsford Village Farm Grant Writing Efforts:
Louis Gaudreau and Donna Wilson were present, along with other members of the Pittsford Village Farm, to present to the Select Board an update on their grant writing efforts. Mr. Gaudreau showed architect proposals which include a child care center in the basement, a community space and retail options on the first floor and a possible after school program. The child care area would be an isolated and secure location serving 4 babies and 8 toddlers. Donna Wilson stated that there is a Planning Grant being sought to assist with this project. Ms. Wilson explained the sources of the grants and asked for the support of the Select Board. J. Haverstock stated that there could be a Public Hearing of this proposal, however, there would need to be enough lead time to advertise in the newspapers. Motion by T. Pelkey and seconded by T. Hooker to support the Village Farm in their grant writing efforts. Motion passed 5 – 0.
Discuss Vermont Act 102 Regarding COVID 19 Related Abatements of Penalty and/or Interest Charges:
Board of Civil Authority Chairman Shaw stated that the BCA needs authorization to grant any abatement requests for penalty and or interest on delinquent property taxes, which are based on the pandemic. The BCA will be meeting on December 28, 2020 via Zoom to review the requests. Currently, there is one request that is related to COVID 19 specifically and 8 others that are not. Motion by T. Hooker and seconded by D. Mills to allow COVID 19 consideration for abatement. Motion passed 5 – 0.
Discussion Regarding Remote Accessibility to Lister Card Information:
J. Haverstock stated that the information regarding this topic was included in the packets for review.
Discussion of Potential Adoption of GIS Technology:
Assessor Lisa Wright was present via Zoom to discuss the GIS Technology proposal. Ms. Wright stated that the Town is currently paying for one license in vision software. Ms. Wright explained the options that would be available on this GIS technology and how information on record cards, deeds and titles could be accessed remotely. J. Haverstock inquired about the costs for implementation. Ms. Wright stated that there was a quote received from CAI with an initial set up of $3,500 with an annual fee to host/maintain the data for $3,500 per year. Ms. Wright stated that other companies could be contacted for a quote. J. Haverstock stated that it would be a good idea to obtain bids, and the Select Board members agreed.
Assessor’s Office Budget Presentation and Work Plan:
Assessor Lisa Wright was present via Zoom to discuss the Assessor’s Office Budget and Work Plan for the next budget year. Ms. Wright stated that there would be more valuation and Grand List work. New processes have been instituted, refining the property transfer information (which is occurring with the Town Clerk’s Office) reconciliation of building permits and correction to Current Use allocations. The personal property assessments are posing a time-consuming challenge and L. Wright is recommending that the Select Board propose a minimum level be set at Town Meeting for the personal property assessments and taxation. Work has been being done remotely due to the pandemic and email is an easy way to communicate. There will be a review of Open Office Hours.
Ms. Wright exited at 8:15 PM.
Review Recreation Area Swimming Area Fence Replacement Bids:
J. Haverstock stated that Rob Ketcham, the Chairman of the Recreation Committee, has stated that the fence between the swim area and the pavilion at the Recreation Area is beginning to “show its age” of over 50 years. Mr. Ketcham worked with the Town Manager to draft a Request for Proposal for this project. The low bidder was Middlebury Fence for the amount of $8,678.39, which J. Haverstock has confirmed includes disposal of the old fencing. D. Mills inquired if there was adequate funding available for this project. J. Haverstock reported that there is a capital fund for the Recreation Department with more than $20,000 in it. Motion by D. Mills and seconded by T. Hooker to award the bid to Middlebury Fence in the amount of $8,678.39. Motion passed 5 – 0.
T. Hooker made the motion and seconded by T. Pelkey to go into Executive Session for personnel and legal/contracts where premature knowledge would be damaging to the Town and may be jeopardized by public disclosure.
In accordance with 1 VSA 312 (b), where premature general public knowledge would clearly place the Municipality or person involved at a substantial disadvantage, the Board unanimously agreed to enter into Executive Session for the purpose of personnel and legal/contracts at 8:33 PM. Town Manager Haverstock was invited to remain for Executive Session.
The Select Board exited Executive Session at 8:56 PM, with no action taken.
The Select Board meeting was adjourned at 8:56 PM.
The next regular meeting of the Select Board will be held on January 6, 2021.
Alicia Malay, Chairman
David Mills, Vice Chairman
Thomas Hooker, Selectman
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Selectman