Town of Halifax, Vermont

August 5, 2014

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members present were Lewis Sumner,  Edee Edwards, and Earl Holtz. Others in attendance were Robbin Gabriel, Ray Combs, John LaFlamme, Stephan Chait, Margo Avakian, and Blaise McGarvey.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/15/14 regular meeting minutes with ten additions or corrections. Holtz seconded the motion with corrections as stated. The motion passed, 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/21/14 regular meeting minutes with a one-word deletion. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/22/14 special meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Holtz made a motion to approve the 7/24/14 special meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.

Sumner made a motion to approve the 7/25/14 special meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Edwards abstaining.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/28/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Holtz abstaining.

Sumner made a motion to approve the 7/31/14 special meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

New Business

Update on Road Closures (Hale Road and Jacksonville Stage Road)
Sumner told the meeting he had seen the Hale Road closure sign in place earlier in the day; it lists the anticipated close dates as August 25th through September 15th.

Edwards initiated a conversation regarding the most concise and efficient means of communicating information on road closures. She remarked on the somewhat confusing series of status updates she had received from multiple sources on the day of the Green River Road culvert repair closure, and apologized to Holtz for not including him in one round of notification calls. John LaFlamme mentioned he had only learned about Guilford’s Jacksonville Stage Road covered bridge closing twenty-four hours before the event. A lengthy exchange of ideas followed, during which Edwards advocated disseminating only those status updates received from an official source, such as the Road Commissioner. Board members weighed the pros and cons of using Internet sites such as Vermont Alert or 511, or Vermont Emergency Management email lists, to get notifications to the public and town officials in a timely manner. In summary, Edwards recommended continuing the current policy of posting Halifax town road closures and construction projects on the Halifax town web site, and perhaps providing additional training for Road Commissioner Brad Rafus, enabling him to directly post similar information from the highway departments in adjacent towns as he receives it.

Update on VTel Tower
The Board spent some time studying the contents of a letter received from Vermont Public Service Board. The July 21st letter, written by PSB special counsel and addressed to a clerk at PSB, indicates that PSB counsel has reviewed the Halifax/Old County Road wireless broadband tower application and, finding the project furthers State telecommunications and planning goals and presents no conflict with Section 248a criteria, recommends PSB issue an order approving the project without further investigation or hearing. The letter also acknowledges receipt of the Selectboard’s feedback regarding tower structure. While it appears the PSB now has a green light to proceed, the Selectboard could not immediately determine whether an order has actually been issued. Sumner thinks it likely that a letter will be sent to the landowner in advance of project start-up, and the Selectboard will receive a copy of that missive. Stephan Chait suggested calling the PSB clerk addressed in the existing letter, in hopes of learning more about the anticipated permit and scheduling.

Update on VTA (Vermont Telecommunications Authority) Grant for Cell Tower
In conversation with Edwards recently, Town Attorney Robert Fisher acknowledged receipt of VTA’s letter concerning the 112 corridor Resiliency Project, but had not yet fully reviewed the document. A meeting with VTA will be arranged as soon as the Board has input from Fisher.

Update on Town Office Roof Replacement
Kandu Construction will be working on the town office roof Monday through Friday over the next two weeks, at which time they hope the project will be near completion. Arrangements have been made to pay the deposit for materials. Edwards will check the previously agreed-upon completion deadline and verify with Kandu.

Sign Annual Budget for Vermont Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Sumner said the deadline for submitting the FY16 budget is August 15th. After reviewing details with LaFlamme, Board members signed the document. LaFlamme mentioned that while the EMDs do not dispense potassium iodide tablets, private citizens could obtain them from the state, and Edwards recommended posting specific contact information on the town web site to guide residents wishing to request a supply of the tablets.

LaFlamme told the Board that an ICS (Incident Management System) course is to be held in Brattleboro on October 9th. This is a full day course and may be the best available opportunity for Halifax town employees (road crew, town clerk, and some fire department members) who need to take the training. There is a pre-registration requirement. Sumner will notify road crew members.

Blaise McGarvey had a few questions for LaFlamme on emergency notifications. LaFlamme said that no, Halifax does not have an emergency siren. No Emergency Alert System radio station is listed for Halifax, but regular stations would carry the information and, for those citizens without a telephone, tone-alert radios are available. In a full-scale emergency residents would also be notified by rural route alerting–emergency personnel driving town roads with bullhorns. Edwards said that drills involving the Selectboard were warned as are all public meetings.

Hearing of Visitors

Planning Commission
Stephan Chait asked for an update on the Planning Commission status. In reply, Edwards said the Board has just received a letter of resignation from John Brimmer but the Board has not yet taken action on the matter.

Property Cleanup
McGarvey suggested that a property owners’ cleanup day discussion be included on a future Selectboard meeting agenda. He proposed engaging a metal recycling business to collect scrap or old cars, scheduling a fall cleanup event, or hiring a shredder/chipper for brush cleanup, and hopes putting the topic on a public meeting agenda might encourage others to come forward with their ideas. The town does have a resource sheet available, Edwards said, listing businesses able to pick up scrap. Chait mentioned there are charities which take donations of junk vehicles. The Board will post this item on their August 19th agenda.

New Poles on Reed Hill Road
Combs asked why poles were being replaced on Reed Hill Road. Sumner and LaFlamme explained this is an Act 250 project involving Fairpoint in conjunction with Green Mountain Power. Taller poles, capable of carrying electric and phone lines simultaneously, are being installed closer to the road for better repair access.

Old Business

Update on Old County North Bridge
Holtz reported the ironwork is fully in place following the satisfactory resolution of a misunderstanding between Latulippe and Holden Engineering involving the galvanizing. Delay continues on the deck installation; the current projected delivery date is now either Friday August 8th or Monday August 11th. If the decking arrives on the 8th Latulippe plans to install on the 8th and 9th. Otherwise the work will be done August 11th and 12th. Once the deck is in place, temporary sides will be put up, and the walking bridge and steel I-beams will be removed. Holtz has notified abutters of the delay in reopening the bridge. The question of paving the segment of Old County Road between Green River Road and the new bridge is still open, as no quotes have been received yet.

Vermont Rec, the company hired to set guard rails on the project, has submitted a $3,600 quote for 300 linear feet of guard rail or $5,550 for rails plus post. This quote pertains to setting rails on a Green River Road bridge not far from the bridge #37 project. The Board will apprise Road Commissioner Rafus of these figures from Vermont Rec, and Sumner will list the item on the Monday, August 11th agenda. Edwards reminded the meeting of the purchasing policy criteria, and Holtz recommended modifying the clause stating purchases greater than $2,999.99 are subject to the bid process. Holtz said the $2,999.99 amount is too low, and often prevents the road crew from making standard purchases through their usual suppliers.

Update on Culvert Replacement on Reed Hill near Post Office
As Brad Rafus was not present at the meeting, no new information was available on this subject. Combs asked whether an estimate had been received for replacing guard rails on the Branch Road cement bridge. Yes, Holtz responded, but the cost of approximately $100,000 was prohibitively high.


Lane Construction
A letter from Lane Construction concerning the three sections of defective paving in town will be referred to the town attorney for advice. Edwards suggested reviewing the original contract, in particular the details of the warranty. Sumner will put the topic on next Monday’s meeting agenda.

Planning Commission
Edwards made a motion to accept John Brimmer’s resignation from the Planning Commission with regrets, noting that the Board looks forward to his continuing service on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and that the Board post a vacancy on the Planning Commission. Holtz seconded the motion, amended to include a letter of thanks for service to Brimmer. The motion passed as amended, 3-0. Margo Avakian questioned the wisdom of returning to an arrangement wherein the personnel on the Zoning Board and Planning Commission were not the same individuals. In the past, she said, that situation has created confusion. Edwards said the Board felt that this was the best way to take advantage of available experience while resolving the difficulty presented by volunteers’ time constraints. An alternative, Edwards noted, is VLCT’s recommendation to consider a Development Review Board, rather than a Zoning Board.

With the Act 250 Denison Quarry hearing scheduled for September 9th, Edwards suggested that the August 12th Planning Commission meeting should perhaps be a joint meeting with the Selectboard. She will call Planning Commission members with that proposal.

Various other pieces of correspondence were reviewed and filed.

Selectboard’s Order to Town Treasurer for Bill Payment
The order to the treasurer was reviewed and signed.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:24 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary