Brandon Select Board Meeting
May 7, 2012
NOTE: These are unapproved minutes, subject to amendment and/or approval at the subsequent board meeting.
In Attendance: Devon Fuller, Richard Baker, Mitch Pearl, Dave Atherton, Ethan Swift
Also in Attendance: Keith Arlund, Chris Brickell, Wayne Rausenberger, Kathy Rausenberger, Norm Milot, Francis Farnsworth, Bernie Carr, Janet Mondlak, Lee Kahrs, Blane Cliver, Frank Briscoe, Steve Beck, Linda Stewart, Jeff Stewart, Norm Milot, Edie Poland, Phyllis Reed, Jim Leary, Rob Howland, Lee Kahrs, Steve Beck, Marty Feldman, Warren Kimble, Bette Moffett, Judy Bunde
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00PM by Devon Fuller, Chair.
a) Agenda Adoption – Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to adopt the agenda as written. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
2. Consent Agenda
a) Approval of Minutes – April 23, 2012 – Select Board
Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to approve the Select Board minutes of April 23, 2012. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Kathy Rausenberger stated there was a reference in the notes that she had made a statement regarding reconciliation, but it was actually made by Richard Baker. Mr. Baker noted in that same statement, the amount should be $5,000.00, not $4,000.00. Under the Public Works report, the repair to the sewer line was on the Middle Road, not North Street. Mr. Baker also believed the Bridge Report was moved and approved. Ethan Swift stated it was not approved and after discussion with Mr. Arlund, it was determined a formal motion was not required. It was also noted Mr. Fuller’s reference to the meeting at the Brandon Library regarding the BLUO was actually a hearing, not a meeting.
a) Warrant – May 7, 2012 – $92,139.30
Motion by Ethan Swift/Mitch Pearl to approve the warrants of May 7, 2012 in the amount of $92,139.30. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker believes the Naylor/Breen purchase order should be ratified, as it exceeds the $5,000.00 limit.
Devon questioned the $4,200.00 invoice for baseball uniforms and Mr. Arlund confirmed this was a correct amount.
b) Warrant – May 15, 2012 – Mosquito Control District – $6,099.75
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Richard Baker to approve the warrant of May 15, 2012 in the amount of $6,099.75 for the Mosquito Control District. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
c) Consider Audit Firm
Richard Baker felt this item has a potential personnel matter and it was suggested to hold that discussion during executive session. Mr. Fuller noted a portion of the discussion will be held during the public session.
Motion by Richard Baker/ Mitch Pearl to approve the proposal of Mudgett, Jennett &Krogh-Wisner, PC for next year’s audit report.
Mitch Pearl asked Mr. Arlund to provide comments on his dealings with this firm. Mr. Arlund reported this year went a lot better and it is his recommendation to stay with them. He noted it is difficult to change from year to year, and would likely be more costly. He pushed them on timing and they did a lot better this year, and all in all their work was satisfactory. Richard Baker has an issue with the growing personnel costs and suggested tabling this item for discussion in executive session.
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to continue discussion of this item during executive session. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker suggested the ratification of the Naylor/Breen purchase order for work done at the town office.
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to ratify P. O. #51508 in the amount of $5,400.00 to Naylor/Breen for work that was done at the town office. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Devon Fuller advised this was a project done to the sidewalk and Mr. Arlund had received a favorable pricing due to the fact Naylor/Breen was doing work in the area.
5. Scheduled Reports from Committees and Officials
There was no discussion.
6. Town Manager’s Report
a) Consider BR 114/Segment 6 Planning Alternatives
Keith Arlund reported he received two statements of qualification from CLD and Weston & Sampson for Bridge 114 and have forwarded copies to the VHB. There will be a meeting with VTrans on May 15th regarding this subject, with a time and place to be determined.
Mr. Arlund advised the Segment 6 documents were sent to the attorney and he has made a request from VTrans that the project be built first. The cost estimate was obtained from CLD and VHB and the Fire District is reviewing the information. Mr. Arlund also advised that Rob Howland, representing Reunion Power, was present at tonight’s meeting to discuss the Grandpa’s Knob Power Project.
Mitch Pearl questioned the timing of the water line issue and whether the state has approved removing it from the rest of the project. Keith Arlund stated he has provided significant documentation on this subject to the five-district permitting authority to weigh in; however, there has been no approval yet. In terms of bidding, he noted it is getting late in the season. Mr. Arlund advised the operating permit requires the Fire District to do something about the water line that was compromised in the storm. Ethan Swift asked if there is a timeframe as far as submitting to the AOT for design funds. Mr. Arlund has a draft ASR from CLD that they are reviewing. Ethan Swift asked if the CLD will provide recommendations on hydraulic issues for the bridge. Mr. Arlund spoke with Patty Coburn regarding this subject and she suggested it be incorporated with the bridge project, which would mean funding would have to be put into that project. Mr. Swift thought it would be good to separate it and then AOT could increase their cap, which would be more of an economic advantage for the town. Mr. Arlund noted Ms. Coburn is reluctant to tie it to the road project. He advised there should be a response on the ASR sometime this week. Mr. Arlund noted he has asked for everything that is needed for the construction phase. Devon Fuller stated there are several questions on smaller items in the construction phase, such as the parking spaces and the location of the gazebo. He questioned whether these types of items fall under the design phase. Mr. Fuller stated the details of these items need to be noted to assure they are not missed. Mr. Fuller also noted there was previous discussion regarding the existence of an architectural drawing of what the project will look like. Mr. Arlund stated there was a set at the Brandon Library at one time, but it is uncertain where that one is, however, he is looking for the one that had been placed in storage. Ethan Swift requested a draft of the final letter that will be sent to the AOT requesting the release of more design funds. Devon Fuller stated it appears the town is looking at around a $170,000.00 shortfall for the project. Richard Baker stated there had previously been $114,000.00 earmarked for sidewalks. Mr. Fuller noted it needs to be determined where to come up with the funds for any shortfalls.
b) Consider Request of Franklin Street Residents
Norm Milot requested discussion of this item be postponed to the May 21st meeting, as the residents are not prepared for discussion this evening.
c) Reunion Power Wind Turbine Farm Project
Ethan Swift stated in Mr. Howland’s email to Keith Arlund, it was noted there would be a summary update on this project. Keith Arlund will provide the Board with the attachment. Ethan Swift stated there has not been proper notice given to other people in town, noting it is realized that this is an informal presentation. Rob Howland stated the purpose of his visit was to introduce the project to the Board, however, he would be glad to come back to do a more in-depth discussion. Mr. Howland advised he is a consultant in the electric power business and was present on behalf of his client, Reunion Power. When the project goes forward, it will require a Certificate of Public Goods from the Public Service Board, which will require notification to adjacent towns. The project envisioned will be the installation of 20 wind turbines on the northern ridge of Grandpa’s Knob. Currently, the site layout for the placement of the turbines and power lines to West Rutland is ongoing and is not finalized. There is a reasonably good idea of where they will be placed, but considerable work will still need to be done prior to filing. Numerous studies have been performed on the ridge regarding wetlands, mammals, and significant bird and bat studies to learn about the eco-system on the ridge. The project design takes into account the findings and seems quite reasonable that the project will be designed to not interfere with any of the area. The land is privately owned and boundary lines have been confirmed along the ridge. While not yet announced, there is little doubt that this project will be completed and discussions will continue with Vermont utilities, as it is hoped all power will be sold to Vermont utilities. Mr. Howland provided the Board with a document regarding the project. He stated the history of the site is unique, as this was the site where the first large wind turbine had been constructed in the world, though it was not an economic success at the time. Bringing wind power back to the ridge where this design began is a very exciting concept. With regard to snowmobiling, there are VAST trails on significant portions of the ridge and it may require some rerouting of portions of the trails, however, there will be coordination with VAST on this subject. The project will not interfere with hunting, with exception of common sense and safety around the top of the ridge. Mr. Howland stated the tower to the cell is about 300 feet high, which is about the height of the existing tower and the blades are about 150 feet long, and will be visible from a long distance. David Atherton stated there had been discussion about this project at a Regional Planning Commission meeting and it was noted that this will be a 25-year project. Rob Howland stated it is suspected there will be a request for a 20-year license and at the end the project it could be repowered, but a new permit would have to be issued. Dave Atherton stated at that same meeting, it was noted this would service 15,000 residents. Rob Howland stated the amount of energy generated would be the equivalent to serving 15,000. Mr. Howland noted it is expected the machines will run between 30 – 35% and it is not assumed that they will run at full power throughout the year, which is a reasonable standard for wind projects. Mr. Atherton questioned how loud the equipment is and Mr. Howland stated part of the application will be a study that provides this type of information. Mr. Howland advised if one is standing directly underneath them, they would make a considerable noise, however, he noted that in viewing another project, he was ½ mile away and it was not loud. He advised there is a project in Sheffield and Leominster, NH and he encouraged people to visit the projects. Mr. Howland also noted that Reunion Power is working with Nordax that has a manufacturing firm in Arkansas, which is an important factor, as it provides jobs in America. He noted the machines are heavily computerized, so the local jobs will be limited, with the majority of the jobs created for the construction of the project. Ethan Swift stated around 7 years ago, there was another wind development firm, Noble Power that had proposed a similar project. Mr. Howland advised Reunion Power purchased the rights from Noble Power for this project, which is essentially the same project. He noted that Noble Power fell on hard times during the downturn in the economy and they put this project on hold, but continued to monitor the wind speed. They made the decision to continue with projects that were operating or nearly finished. Reunion Power was aware of the project and made an offer to purchase the project. Rob Howland thanked the Board for their time and advised that he would be willing to attend an additional meeting to further discuss this project.
7. Public Works Report
a) Newton Road Gravel Alternative
Keith Arlund noted Brian Sanderson had submitted a written report. The Department continues with grading and cleaning. There was an issue on the Middle Road, with more information to follow on this item.
Mr. Arlund reported there are two bids received for the Newton Road gravel issue. The idea of crushing it for use many not be feasible, as the cost would be $90,000.00. Mr. Sanderson will also speak with the two bidders on the concept of taking the material, but Mr. Arlund feels that the town should realize something from this material. Ethan Swift will follow-up on this issue. Richard Baker questioned if there is a plan to rebuild this road. Mr. Arlund advised he has submitted information to FEMA and needs to get concurrence from them with regard to the cutting and paving of the road, as FEMA has to conceptually approve higher dollar projects. Devon Fuller questioned whether it would be possible to fill and repair Kennedy Park back to the point that requires the sewer line repairs to enable use of the park during the upcoming summer season. Keith Arlund stated the sewer line is being studied and has asked for a quote for removal of the steps. The FEMA project representative indicated the steps are totaled and the idea is to excavate them and rework this area as a ramp. He noted there is an estimate to put all of the pavers back, but it would not make sense to do that without a determination on the sewer line. Mr. Arlund also noted that depending on the hydraulic study, Green Park is also up in the air as well. Mr. Fuller advised that the owners of the property near Green Park need to be contacted to discuss their intention. Mr. Fuller noted he would like to see more than one park available with the summer season coming. Richard Baker questioned when letters are going to be sent to the property owners of the abandoned buildings that include the Watershed, 11 Conant Square and Ernie Chamberlain’s building. Mr. Fuller noted the Watershed is for sale and they were in town recently discussing options with the potential buyer. Mr. Fuller saw no reason why a letter should not be sent to the other two property owners. Keith Arlund will contact the owners of these properties.
8. Citizen’s Public Forum
Warren Kimble stated a lot of bricks were sold and he is concerned when the parks will be repaired. If it is a long way off, he questioned how the parks could be made usable and visually attractive, or at the least the installation of an attractive barrier, such as a 4 to 5 foot fence that could be decorated by the local art students. Mr. Kimble felt the areas look very bad and are very unsafe. He noted the other towns are doing good repairs from Irene and he wants to make this more of a positive effort. Devon Fuller stated there had been a miscommunication with the Prudential Board concerning the first fence. He noted the water lines are partially exposed and trucks cannot be driven over them. As a fence is feasible, Mr. Fuller felt a better system of fencing for both parks needs to be acted upon. Mr. Kimble asked the Board to make a decision to at least make the parks visually attractive for not only the townspeople, but also for visitors to the town. Mr. Kimble and Bette Moffett are being asked daily when the bricks are going to be installed and they would like to be able to provide an answer. Mitch Pearl stated there is a lot of engineering and planning that is going on with the parks, though it appears that nothing is happening. Mr. Pearl would support doing something temporarily, whether it be a fence or barrier, as he feels that to do the parks correctly, it may take a while. Keith Arlund will meet with Ray Counter and Brian Sanderson to revisit the plan and noted he is certain that something can be done to make them look better. Mr. Kimble asked if he and the art teachers in the area could be advised when something will be done. Devon Fuller requested Mr. Arlund to meet with Mr. Kimble next week.
Judy Bunde stated the sidewalk on Park Street looks great. She stated Naylor/Breen laid the dirt along the sidewalk and seeded it, but there has not been anything heard about the work to reconnect all of the driveways and sidewalks to the sidewalk path. She stated a person from Naylor/Breen indicated this will be done by the town and she questioned if there is a plan and who should be contacted. Keith Arlund noted the town did some of the reseeding and he has talked with Brian Sanderson about doing some patch paving. He will check with Mr. Sanderson on when those segments will be cleaned up. Mitch Pearl stated the pavement patching is on Mr. Sanderson’s radar and he would be the person to talk to.
Wayne Rausenberger asked when storm sewers and sidewalk work will begin on Maple Street. Mr. Arlund advised it is supposed to be started this week.
Kathy Rausenberger stated she had requested additional funds for the town hall at the March 26th Select Board meeting and advised the project is almost complete and the bills will need to be paid shortly. She stated the total is $10,940.00 for the additional repairs. Devon Fuller asked if the books have been reconciled for the town hall. Ms. Rausenberger stated the McKernon invoice has been adjusted to $49,000.00, but this is not the final bill. Richard Baker stated the Board would need to know the final number and questioned if the Friends of the Town Hall have contacted the Trustees of Public Funds to request additional monies. Ms. Rausenberger stated they have not been asked for additional funds, other than what has already been allotted from them. Mr. Arlund requested an invoice be provided for the May 21st meeting for the Select Board to consider approval of; noting the town will not default for on bills for the town hall. Ms. Rausenberger advised the Governor will be in town tomorrow to view the town hall.
Jim Leary stated that Kennedy Park has become an eye sore and there are a lot of people in town who would be willing to spend time and perhaps funds to help with the renovation of this park.
Phyllis Reed asked if there had been appropriations approved for the Friends of the Town Hall at town meeting and also questioned if there is money allocated in the budget. Mr. Arlund reported there is a budgeted line item of $10,000.00 per fiscal year. Ms. Reed questioned why the town does not go back to the original architect for the architectural drawing of Segment 6. Keith Arlund stated the engineers are currently busy on other projects. Devon Fuller noted information on this subject will be provided by the next meeting. Ms. Reed also requested a hard copy of the audit report.
Wayne Rausenberger asked where the applications for the Recreation Director stand. Mr. Arlund has interviewed four people and is working with the leading candidate and there should be a decision in a week or so.
Judy Bunde questioned if the DRB has met in 2012, as she attempted to obtain information on the town’s website and found there were no minutes for this year. Phyllis Reed stated they met last month. Devon Fuller advised there is a new webmaster and it will take some time to get the website up to speed and suggested Ms. Bunde send an email to either Mr. Arlund or Mr. Fuller to request information she is looking for. Mr. Arlund stated hearing notices are manually posted and he will be sure that Tina Wiles puts them on the web site. It was noted the meeting warnings are posted in town and are placed in the local papers.
Mr. Kirby questioned the status of his complaint. Mr. Fuller advised that Ms. Wiles has sent a letter to the owners of the property and they have until May 15th to act on this matter.
Bernie Carr questioned if anyone else is concerned that it took 22 months for a determination on the Hannaford project. He felt this was excessive and perhaps a letter should be sent to the court system. Mitch Pearl stated he does not know enough about how this particular situation went through the courts, as the Board tried to stay out of the issue; however, he felt that contacting the legislature level should be the way to go, rather than the court system.
9. Old/Other Business (If Needed)
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to adopt the amendments to the Brandon Land Use Ordinance, subject to the typographical error corrections.
Mr. Baker noted that Tina Wiles advised if the amendments are adopted tonight, there will be 21 days available for technical corrections. Mitch Pearl advised the meeting attendees that the second of two public hearings was held earlier this evening at the Brandon Public Library with regard to amendments to the BLUO and the Select Board is satisfied with the Planning Commission’s recommendations. Richard Baker stated there is a provision in the ordinance where a building that is abandoned for one year will have difficulty with reestablishment and he noted the sandwich shop and the Watershed are going to be very close with this timeframe if the Board adopts the ordinance this evening. He noted it is unlikely the Watershed will be redeveloped.
The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to enter into executive session at 8:32PM for the purpose of discussing a personnel matter, with the session to include the Town Manager. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
10. Possible Executive Session (If Needed)
The Select Board came out of executive session at 10:35PM. There were no actions required.
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to adjourn the Select Board meeting at 10:37PM. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.