Brandon Select Board Meeting
July 9, 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, Alan Leavitt, Charles Rivers, Bernie Carr, Norm Milot, Judy Bunde, Terry Kline, Phyllis Reed, Janet Mondlak, Lee Kahrs, Linda Stewart, Tina Wiles, Maria Ammatuna, Seth Hopkins, Buzz Racine, Fern Faivre, Steve Beck, Lou Faivre, Melissa Strauss, Pete Thompson, Heather Shea, Donna Taylor
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:27PM by Devon Fuller, Chair.
a) Agenda Adoption – Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to adopt the agenda as presented. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
2. Consent Agenda
a) Approval of Minutes – June 25, 2012 – Select Board
Motion by Ethan Swift/Dave Atherton to approve the minutes of the June 25, 2012 Select Board Meeting with the amendments noted below. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
On Page 4, a spelling correction to VHB from VHP.
On Page 2, the addition of a statement from Anna Scheck that financial statements are traditionally compiled by a CPA.
On Page 3, the addition of a statement the audit proposal would have a much higher cost if Glenna Pound was not used and the motion regarding the fund reserve was seconded by Ethan Swift, not Devon Fuller.
On Page 1, regarding the DRB appointments, Devon Fuller requested letters of interest, not an interview process.
b) Consider Appointments to DRB: Robert Clark, Eric LaRock, Kellie Martin, Phyllis Reed
It was a consensus of the Select Board to postpone the DRB appointments until further discussion. Mitch Pearl stated the candidates were interviewed earlier this evening and there had not been time to discuss the candidates prior to the regularly scheduled meeting. Because of the number of vacancies, if other people are interested in applying, the Select Board would still accept applications. There is currently a sufficient number of DRB members to make decisions until the appointment process is completed.
a) Warrant – June 30, 2012 – $27,709.05
Motion by Ethan Swift/Mitch Pearl to approve the warrants of June 30, 2012 in the amount of $27,709.05. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker provided a friendly amendment that the warrants are some of the last fiscal year’s bills. Keith Arlund stated these are items that came in later in the month and there should be fewer going forward.
b) Warrant – July 9, 2012 – $57,168.81
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Richard Baker to approve the warrants of July 9, 2012 in the amount of $57,168.81. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
c) Consider Animal Control Services Contract with Rutland County Sheriff’s Department
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to sign a contract with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department in the amount of $8,000.00 for animal control services for this fiscal year. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Bernie Carr questioned if the town has considered having someone do this service locally. Devon Fuller stated he feels the town has been served well by the Sheriff’s Department. Ethan Swift stated there is a process that is followed and the steps are carefully articulated and provided to residents when there are issues. Mr. Swift noted due diligence has been done and it takes more of a professional approach with this process as there could be liability issues. Mr. Swift also feels the town has been well served by the Sheriff’s Department.
d) Consider FY13 Tax Rate
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to approve the local municipal tax rate @ $.65854. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to approve the special appropriations approved by the voters @ $.0216, the exempts @ $.004321 and the veterans’ exemptions @ $.003461. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
It was noted the Fire District is on a different fiscal year than the town and the total amount fluctuates from year to year.
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to approve the Brandon Fire District tax rate @ $.050834. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to approve the residential homestead school tax rate @ $1.2814 and the non-residential school tax rate @ $1.3872. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Mitch Pearl stated the Select Board is adopting and approving the rate that had been provided by the Vermont Department of Education. Richard Baker stated the homestead tax rate, regardless of income sensitivity, is down $.0108 with a total of $2.02 for residential or $2.40 for non-residential.
c) Consider P. O. 23251 to Irving Energy for Propane (Police Station)
Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to approve P. O. 23251 to Irving Energy for the Brandon Police Station propane. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker provided a friendly amendment that the rate is $.3201 over the rack rate.
5. Scheduled Reports from Committees and Officials
There was no discussion held.
6. Town Manager’s Report
Keith Arlund stated VHB finalized the DBA design issues that were raised, which has gone back and forth with CLD. There was a meeting with CLD for repairs of Kennedy Park, Green Park and Briggs Lane. Mr. Arlund contacted the state concerning the question of a four-way stop at the end of Park Street. The Safety and Design Department suggested obtaining traffic counters to establish the need, which will be obtained later this month. Parent Construction visited to examine the retaining wall for 4 Conant Square and they will provide costs for the repair. Richard Baker asked when Parent Construction will provide figures and Mr. Arlund advised they will be providing information by tomorrow.
Terry Kline asked for clarification of the four-way stop sign at Park Street. Devon Fuller advised the town needs to do traffic counts before a decision is made. Mitch Pearl questioned if anyone has looked into a sign for a three-way stop for the interim to alert vehicles that it is currently a three-way stop. Mr. Kline stated the request was to have a designated crosswalk and this could not be done unless it is a four-way stop. Mr. Fuller reiterated the town needs to obtain traffic counts to know whether it is reasonable to have a stop installed and for back-up information of their decision. Judy Bunde questioned who has the authority to make this decision and whether the state will assist with this effort. Keith Arlund stated VTrans indicated the town has the authority to make the decision, but they advised obtaining counts prior to making the decision and determining site distances. Bernie Carr stated there should be plenty of advance signs if a stop sign is added. Mr. Arlund advised the counters should be installed later this month and a change to the traffic ordinance would be required. Richard Baker noted for modification of the ordinance, it would require going through the public postings before it could be finalized. Keith Arlund advised VTrans recommended having someone observe and he will work with Brian Sanderson on this project. Devon Fuller stated this will take a while and will be a process.
Devon Fuller questioned when the VHB plans to meet with the design committee. Mr. Arlund stated after the document is reviewed, they will come up with a meeting date and he will provide the information electronically to Mr. Black. Mr. Fuller stated this also affects the ASR, as the town cannot go to the state until a decision is made. Richard Baker stated the design has been established and approved and he does not feel it should be held up for a meeting. Devon Fuller stated the right of ways have delayed the process and the design committee indicated they do not want to delay the process, but they want to review the safety issues. Mr. Fuller stated it would be foolish not to take one last look, if it is not going to delay the project. Mr. Baker stated that almost two months have gone by and two ASR’s have been held back from processing. Mr. Baker stated the town has been working on this project for 20 years and it should not be started over. Mr. Fuller stated this group asked to have an audience with CLD, VHB and the Select Board in June and then it was pushed off due to delays by CLD. Mr. Fuller stated the Select Board is still in charge of this project and have the authority to request a review and as long as it does not change the footprint and it is something worthwhile, it could be done. Mr. Fuller agreed if it caused a delay, he would then agree to move on. The design committee has been delayed and he feels they deserve to be heard. Mr. Baker stated this is delaying the right of way work. Mr. Fuller stated the design committee has not delayed this process and had asked that the meeting take place by the end of June. He stated CLD and VHB work for the town and the Select Board can request they have a discussion with the design committee. Mr. Baker stated there have been 502 hearings and Act 250 hearings and there have been several delays, with the project continually pushing out. He stated when he arrived in 1994 there was a 1993 plan that is basically what was approved 3 years ago through Act 250. Mr. Fuller stated there is no reason that it can’t be tweaked, however, Mr. Baker noted since it is a federally funded project, it cannot be tweaked. Mr. Fuller felt it is fair to provide the design committee a voice as long as it does not cause a delay. Bernie Carr stated he understands Mr. Baker’s frustration, but information is not a bad thing as long as it does not cause a delay. Mitch Pearl stated the memo does seem to address some of the issues and it is not a question of being heard or not heard. Mr. Pearl questioned what the practical impact was of what Mr. Fuller advocates versus what Mr. Baker advocates. Mr. Baker noted it is the submission of the ASR’s. Mr. Baker stated if there is a strong argument that there are not going to be traffic lights; this has already been debated. Mr. Pearl stated there had been multiple public hearings for public input and the town has been through the permitting process; and at some point the project has to keep moving. Ethan Swift stated there are minor design elements that can be discussed that don’t constitute significant changes, such as some of the changes made in Segment 5. Judy Bunde stated since the year she moved here, she knew this project was going to happen and as a new business owner eight years ago, she paid attention to it. From the beginning, she was told this was a done deal and there can be no changes. Ms. Bunde commends the people that have looked at this project to tweak it and that many people will be glad to know that one more look is being done. Richard Baker asked what the disposition of the ASRs were and Devon Fuller stated they are currently with the town manager. Mr. Baker asked when the meeting can take place. Mr. Fuller stated the two main people on the design committee are out of town until the end of the month and suggested revisiting this item at the next Select Board meeting. Mr. Fuller did not think that delaying the ASR’s another couple of weeks is going to hurt. Mr. Arlund stated if there are going to be design changes; it would require additional funding and changes by CLD. If there are no significant changes, the ASR’s could be submitted. Mr. Fuller stated some of the changes may save design money. Bernie Carr stated the traffic studies were good for 20 years through 2013. Keith Arlund stated the studies evolved around the discussion of traffic signals. Ethan Swift stated it was his understanding from the last meeting with VHB, there was an agreement to do the H & H study concurrent with the Bridge 114 ASR and he thought that they were urging the town to submit it. Mr. Arlund stated the H & H study will be concurrent with Bridge 114 and it is very close to moving forward. There was a question whether they can use Otter Creek Engineering. The ASR is very close to finalizing and they are developing the scope of work to come up with a contract for CLD. Mr. Fuller felt it is more important to concentrate on ASR 8 and then meet with the design committee prior to submitting ASR 7. Buzz Racine questioned if there is a hydraulic study being requested and Mr. Fuller stated the H & H study will be the Bridge 114 study. Mr. Racine thought the town could request an H & H study separately and that could be facilitated. Mr. Arlund stated there has been a recommendation to model this in the Bridge 114 project. Ethan Swift advised the decision was made to go with a one-dimensional hydraulic study, as a more advanced study would not be required. Mr. Swift stated the best way to move the hydraulic study along is with the bridge, and as soon as the contract has been finalized with CLD, it can move forward. It was suggested that efforts should be concentrated on ASR 8. Mr. Fuller stated if the project is going to be pushed out for anything other than flood mitigation; he agrees it should be moved forward. Mr. Fuller will contact the design committee to determine when they can meet with all parties concerned.
7. Public Works Report
Keith Arlund stated Mr. Sanderson advised that ongoing preparation of the roads is being done. The Department had recently done the preparation for the parade and the water fountain has been fixed. Devon Fuller requested Mr. Arlund speak with Mr. Sanderson regarding the crosswalk going up Prospect Street, as it is in an odd location and he would like him to come up with a better solution.
8. Town Infrastructure
Ethan Swift asked if there has been an opportunity to investigate the leads for the Churchill Bridge. Keith Arlund received the document and Mr. Sanderson has researched the cost for the timber to repair the existing VAST Bridge to enable pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Dave Atherton has been working with Mr. Sanderson regarding the replanking of the existing bridge.
Richard Baker questioned the status of a sidewalk for the Safer Society. Keith Arlund stated this item is included in the Briggs Lane project and he has been working with CLD to try to come up with a temporary sidewalk to access the building. Mr. Arlund has proposed doing the new retaining wall for the Route 7 project ahead of time. He has been researching what can be done; however, he has not been success in contacting the Poiriers. Bernie Carr asked if the Poirier building is a safety issue. Tina Wiles stated there is currently no ordinance for condemnation. Mr. Arlund is pursuing the public safety issue of this building with VLCT. Devon Fuller suggested contacting the Poiriers one more time. Lou Faivre asked why there is no condemnation ordinance and Tina Wiles stated the town would have to take title to the buildings to do this and what the town needs is an abandonment policy. Janet Mondlak asked if an abandonment ordinance is being considered and Ms. Wiles stated this would be a Planning Commission action. Mitch Pearl suggested discussing this matter with the town attorney to determine if there are actions that can be taken. Mr. Fuller stated something has to be done soon as this is going to turn into a safety issue. Mr. Arlund will follow up with Attorney Carroll.
9. Citizen’s Public Forum
In Wayne Rausenberger’s absence, Maria Ammatuna questioned if there is an expiration date on the Maple/Union Street Sidewalk grant and whether it is still in process. Keith Arlund reported Brian Sanderson has met with Markowski regarding this project and it was reported it is a matter of scheduling.
Linda Stewart agreed as vehicles come through town, a few outside tables and chairs are attractive and it slows traffic, however, there should be considerations as to how many tables one establishment can have without restricting pedestrian traffic. There should also be considerations as to what is going to be allowed to be served, whether it is just alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and food, and considerations regarding smoking as well. Devon Fuller agreed the Select Board will need to make these decisions. Tina Wiles stated this should be a Select Board discussion, as it is a public use discussion.
Ferne Faivre read the following letter:
“My name is Ferne Faivre and I am a resident of Brandon. I know you are aware of the industrial wind turbine project that is proposed by Reunion Power and would put 20 nearly 500 foot tall turbines along Pittsford Ridge. I know that Mr. Howland spoke to this group about this project nearly 3 weeks after Mr. Eisenberg of Reunion LLC told us that they had already informed you of the project. This is typical of the lies and half truths that we are encountering. I am not opposed to wind energy in the appropriate place. This project will not produce a significant amount of energy and will not make an impact on our need for renewable energy.
The project is opposed by a large group of citizens representing the towns of Pittsford, West Rutland, Castleton and Hubbardton. Citizens of several nearby towns have joined us in opposition. The Select Boards of the 4 towns have voted to oppose this project after listening to all of the evidence. The Agency of Natural Resources has issued a statement opposing the project because this is a rare and irreplaceable natural area. The Audubon Society has made a statement opposing it because there are so many bird species that inhabit that area. There are many other factors that concern us – environmental impacts such as storm water runoff, habitat destruction and fragmentation, impacts to birds and bees – social impacts such as noise and health, safety, community division, aesthetics and access to land. There are also economic impacts like tourism and property values. I have climbed Lowell Mountain and observed the destruction. It is unbelievable unless you are there to see how the whole mountain tops are blasted away.
I would ask that you consider supporting the adjoining towns with some type of show of support for the stand they have taken. This could be in the form of a letter and needs to go to the Select Boards directly, not to the Town Managers. I would also ask you to direct our planning commission to take a strong stance against any ridgeline development in the Town of Brandon. The town plan needs to be very clear on this point. Remember, our ridgelines could be next and you will be affected by all the others that are proposed in our state.”
Buzz Racine questioned when the contract for the town manager ends. Devon Fuller advised a contract does not exist for the town manager. Bernie Carr questioned whether Public Works was trimming the correct trees that were requested to be trimmed in front of the Farnsworth house; noting the trees in question are the overhanging Maple trees. Devon Fuller asked the town manager to check with Mr. Sanderson to assure the correct trees are being trimmed. Mitch Pearl stated the town bulletin board is leaning and asked Public Works to look into this as well. Mr. Pearl would like to see the sign more regularly updated.
9. Old/Other Business (If Needed)
Richard Baker stated last year the Select Board approved the salaries not under contract and asked if that should also be done this year. Keith Arlund advised it is the same increase as the union contract. Mitch Pearl noted that although the increase had been included in the budget, it does not mean that it automatically happens. Devon Fuller suggested in the future this information be provided sooner.
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Richard Baker to approve the salary increase for the non-union employees. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker stated the town manager and Tina Wiles will meet with FEMA on the acquisition of the property owned by Bob McManus. It is speculated the town will own that property and he suggested getting voter approval. Mr. Baker stated since the Primaries will be in August, it would provide for a voting opportunity for this item. Mr. Baker suggested warning a special town meeting for August 27th, with a vote on August 28th. Mitch Pearl asked if VLCT has stated a position of whether the town has to do this with a FEMA buy-out. Tina Wiles indicated the VLCT did not know and she has contacted the Regional Planning Commission and they have indicated the town needs to act according to the statutes. Richard Baker stated this would require voter approval. Tina Wiles indicated the people who are visiting on the 20th are coming only to do an inspection and Ray Dougherty would be the person to contact regarding this issue. Devon Fuller asked if there are other properties that the town will want to acquire and Ms. Wiles stated a conversation should take place concerning this subject.
Keith Arlund stated he received a document concerning the laying out of a right of way for a private property that he suggested discussing during an executive session. Ethan Swift also felt that it should be discussed during executive session.
10. Possible Executive Session (If Needed)
There was not executive session held.
Motion by Ethan Swift/Mitch Pearl to adjourn the Select Board meeting at 9:00PM. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.