OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
September 6, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 8:00 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards were present. Robbin Gabriel and Janet Taylor were also in attendance, with Joe Tamburrino and Patty Dow joining the meeting in its final minutes.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
No alterations were made to the agenda.
Discussion of Act 250 Hearing: Selectboard Preparation and Response to Application for 9 September Hearing
Edwards began with a review of the Planning Commission’s work on Act 250 questions at their September 3rd meeting. The Selectboard wants to assure all aspects of the Act 250 criteria are adequately addressed and Selectboard contributions are offered in a format similar to that of the Planning Commission’s. Edwards designated Criterion 5 (Highway and Other Means of Transport), Criterion 7 (Municipal Services), and Criterion 9 (Earth Resources and several other sub-criteria), as specific areas for Selectboard focus.
Following this introduction, and using the Act 250 written guidelines given them by WRC’s John Bennett, Board members discussed the above-mentioned criteria, while Edwards used keyboard and projector to create a word file recording the results of their decisions. The content of that file follows.
Criterion 5 (Traffic)
Congestion: While congestion in the traditional sense is not expected, the potential worst case for Amidon and Stark Mountain Road is up to 100% increase in traffic (presuming 100% of the employees were coming up those roads), given the 55/day average on the traffic study on those roads); and for Jacksonville Stage Road maybe a 15% increase. (Note: After further discussion at the September 8th Selectboard meeting, the 100% traffic increase figure for Stark Mountain Road was amended to 50%.)
School buses only go to Old Stage Road, western end. They do not use Amidon / Stark Mountain.
The traffic study showed that during the late morning and early afternoon, there is less chance of traffic conflicts.
Safety: The issue of road width and steepness of road is primarily on Stark Mountain. One option for increasing safety would be to widen the road and install guardrails. Given the physical characteristics of this road, this would be cost-prohibitive. A second option would be to consider an alternate route. A general recommendation for increasing safety would be to improve signage, such as steep grade ahead / trucks use lower gear; possibly trucks entering signage.
Frequency of trips is one factor in safety; the size of the vehicles colliding is another. While there have been trucks of larger sizes on these roads at times, our 1 week M-F traffic study showed 97% of the vehicles on Stark Mountain were cars/pickup trucks.
Questions pertaining to Criterion 5:
- Is there any reason AOT would need to know if loaded vehicles for this project were to enter onto 112 in Vermont from a town highway?
We know this is duplicative, but we share the list of questions from the Halifax Planning Commission to ensure they are answered:
Comment 16: General traffic concerns
- How many truck trips (trip ends) per week?
- What size are the trucks?
- What model, make, and year are the trucks?
- How much will the trucks weigh (GVWR)?
- What days will they operate? Weekdays only, or seven days a week?
- How many employees will use the road access?
- Will employees need to leave the site frequently during the day or will there be just one arrival and departure per day per employee?
- Who determines when the roads are traversable?
- Could a condition be set that no rock will be transported when the roads are posted?
- How many total trip ends will there be?
The town has some data based on AASHTO which indicates that increased usage by heavy vehicles increases the strain to the town road by a power of 4 over the strain from standard passenger cars. However, these calculations bring us to the incredible figure that there may be an equivalency of the quarry traffic to 2.9M cars. We find this difficult to believe, but we are not civil engineers. It also does not factor in the general capacity of the roads in the first place. Therefore, we are struggling with what information can prove that these trucks will have a sizable impact beyond the current traffic.
By law, we must maintain the roads
- What data does the board need to come up with an appropriate impact fee?
- Who is required to provide this data?
Criterion 9D and 9E: Earth resources
c. ii. Again asks about the impact on the Highways.
Criterion 9K: Public Investments
Although the public investment in highways is considered routine, it is not clear that we do understand any additional burden to this.
If the owner decides to sell the property, does the permit follow the sale to the new owner? If yes, we assume the new owner would be bound by these permit conditions?
Hearing of Visitors
Joe Tamburrino told the board that during last Tuesday’s meeting he was upset and disappointed by the way things went. He felt it wrong, and unproductive, for people to challenge board members, and suggested using a gavel and perhaps outlining rules of conduct at the beginning of a meeting to keep discourse on an even keel. Edwards said her primary concern is that people would avoid meetings for fear of personal attack. Most meetings, she said, are civilized and well-run. “Sorry I missed it!” said Sumner. Janet Taylor praised the Board for their long hours of effort devoted to the current Act 250 permit process.
Patty Dow presented two interest rate alternatives from TD Bank for the new truck loan. A variable rate would start with a lesser percentage, but would be subject to yearly change.The second choice is a fixed rate, but the bank has not yet provided the specific percentage. Edwards recalled an earlier communication from TD Bank quoting a 3% fixed interest rate. Holtz preferred the permanence of a fixed rate, and the Board agreed to that choice. Dow asked the Board to warn signing of the loan paperwork on their September 16th agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 a.m.