Town of Halifax, Vermont
April 21, 2015


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Earl Holtz, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards were present, as were John LaFlamme, Ray Combs, Stephan Chait, Susan Kelly, and Robbin Gabriel.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

Edee Edwards requested, under Other Business, a summary of the contract writing workshop Earl Holtz had attended, along with discussion of the letter to Lane regarding repaving, the quarterly financial report, and the collapsed bridge pier.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Holtz made a motion to approve the 4/7/15 regular meeting minutes as written. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.

New Business

Emergency Management—John LaFlamme
John LaFlamme discussed details of his EMD quarterly report with the Board. There has been further delay in grant funding for the development of the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Holtz asked about WRC’s role in the work, while Edwards wondered whether it might be possible for the town to proceed without external support. LaFlamme suggested the Board take that latter question to WRC’s Alyssa Sabetto. Holtz will communicate with Sabetto. The Hazard Mitigation Plan is boilerplate, said LaFlamme, with the exception of incorporating detail specific to the town. The process of submitting it to FEMA and getting it approved might take outside assistance, however. Holtz also asked about the repeater, which is not performing satisfactorily. Power output is insufficient, said LaFlamme. It is a 45-watt repeater; the recommendation is an upgrade to a 125-watt unit at an estimated $5,500 cost. This topic will get further consideration. Sumner will arrange to have maintenance done on the school generator before the end of the fiscal year. The Board reviewed completed LEOP and RERP forms provided by LaFlamme, discussing methods, procedures, agency interaction, and potential changes for next year. Edwards made a motion to adopt the LEOP as presented by the EMD with the following changes: Update the cover letter to read “volunteer” emergency service, delete “qualified” before “constables,” add the name of the Halifax health officer on page 6, #8, in the LEOP itself, and correct the spelling of “garage” on the same page. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Edwards made a motion to adopt the RERP plan for the year. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. The Board signed both documents.

LaFlamme told the Board he is now getting reimbursement funds for highway department pay for staff members who participate in VY emergency drills. These monies will be available for the next several drills; the future of VY funding is uncertain. LaFlamme also said the hourly rate of pay for volunteer EOC participants has been increased to $20. What happens when the VY grant ends? asked Edwards. At that point we will have no funding in the event of an emergency. Sumner believes volunteers would be eligible for reimbursement from FEMA, at rates set by that agency. There was some additional discussion of the next day’s (4/22) VY drill.

Rescue Inc., Representative Search
Holtz has spoken with Kate Staman, who will give some thought to acting as Rescue, Inc., representative but is not sure she wants to do so. Staman also suggested several other people from the Thomas Hill area who might be candidates. “We’re still working on it,” said Holtz. Edwards commented she was rather discouraged by the lack of volunteers.

Google Maps/MapQuest Issue
Delivery trucks have once again been relying on MapQuest for directions and, as a result, are traversing Hall Road when attempting to reach Honora Winery. Hall Road is suffering damage due to heavy vehicles driving on a soft, mud-season roadbed. Holtz has asked AOT how they handle such situations, as his attempts to communicate with Internet map providers have not been successful. Sumner pointed out the roads are posted and, furthermore, Hall Road is marked as a dead-end road. Edwards will follow up on an earlier conversation with WRC’s map specialist Jeff Nugent; Nugent was going to talk to GPS vendors.

Discuss List of Possible Selectboard Projects
The Board reviewed a list of projects needing their attention this year. The list, created by Holtz with additions contributed by Edwards, numbers 27 items. Some of the these, such as the road reclassification, Sumner Farm Road petition, Act 250 application, zoning update, and truck replacement, are already in process. Board members discussed prioritization of the remaining items; the town garage roof is in need of immediate attention, updates of various town policies and ordinances will be time-consuming, while acquisition of a printer, whiteboard, and better speaker phone will be fairly simple. The culvert replacement on Reed Hill Road near the post office, and guardrail replacement on the Branch Road bridge at Hubbard Hill, are safety issues in need of prompt resolution. Aside from the immediate pressure to place temporary guardrails on the Branch Road bridge, that bridge will need to be fully replaced in the future; Edwards advised putting it out to bid again, this time with the correct design information. Sumner said no monies were budgeted for the second salt shed addition at the town garage. We could design it and cost it out for next year, offered Holtz. Edwards advised research to determine whether the town highway crew could remove a berm built after Irene on Green River Road. Evan Fitzgerald, of Fitzgerald Environmental, made this suggestion at an October 2014 joint Planning Commission/Selectboard meeting where he discussed the Green River Corridor Assessment project. The Selectboard needs to ascertain the exact location of the berm and find out what state permissions and regulations, if any, might apply to changing the structure. Holtz suggested scheduling a special meeting for the express purpose of re-organizing the task list according to priority. Brad Rafus should also be at that meeting, said Sumner, as many of the projects involve the highway department, and Patty Dow should be there to discuss financials. The Board will hold a special meeting on Saturday, May 9th, at 8:30 a.m. Ray Combs asked about the timeline for the projects. A few of the items will fall within this fiscal year, responded Sumner, but the general time frame is the next 12-14 months.

Hearing of Visitors

Act 250 and Conditional Use Permit
Stephan Chait had comments and questions regarding the various processes underway relating to the proposed Denison quarry project. The Zoning Board of Adjustment, he said, is now in receipt of a town conditional use application, and the ZBA will be scheduling a public hearing to address the request. Meanwhile, parties in the Act 250 application process are waiting for word from the Environmental Commission; once all supplemental information has been received by that body, the Commission will invite parties to submit written proposals outlining, under each criteria, the decision they would like to have the Act 250 Board issue regarding the application. Thereafter, the Environmental Commissioners will write their decision. Presently there is no set schedule for these events. Both the Planning Commission and the Selectboard are statutory parties and have contributed commentary to the Act 250 proceeding, said Chait. Does the Selectboard need to take any action in anticipation of an Environmental Commission request for parties’ opinions on what the Commission’s findings should be? Chait said he would be asking the same question of the Planning Commission. Should the two Boards consider a joint meeting to discuss this subject? Edwards read through the pertinent paragraph in the Environmental Commission’s Recess Order #3, saying she had asked for conversation on the quarry project under Other Business this night both to assure everyone was aware of the local conditional use permit application and to consider setting a meeting to discuss a possible submission to the Environmental Commission at the appropriate time. We’ve done this much work on it, she added, perhaps we should sit down and summarize that work. The Planning Commission, Edwards pointed out, might choose not to contribute further commentary on the Act 250 application, as the Zoning Board shares the majority of its members with the Planning Commission, and the ZBA is about to take the conditional use permit request under advisement. I don’t know what is right or appropriate here, concluded Edwards. Holtz expressed surprise that the local permit application had come in before an Act 250 ruling was handed down. Edwards’ understanding is that local permitting is dependent upon having state permits in place, but there is no requirement for Act 250 permit approval prior to the submission of a local permit request. The Selectboard, Holtz clarified, does not play a part in ZBA consideration of the conditional use permit application. On May 12th, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment to definitions in the zoning regulations. Should the Selectboard attend that meeting? asked Holtz. Edwards replied that the Selectboard will be holding its own public hearing subsequent to the Planning Commission’s hearing—I’m fine with not attending the first hearing, she said.

Ray Combs
Ray Combs asked about the status of the old town garage on Brook Road, and the leaking garage roof on Branch Road. Both are in process, answered Holtz. In pursuing a resolution to the garage roof leaks, Chait and Rafus will be conferring with a firm specializing in assessment of structure integrity. Holtz also told Combs bid requests had been sent out for the new town truck. Bids will be opened at the May 5th Selectboard meeting, added Sumner.

Old Business


Other Business

Denison Quarry Update
The Board agreed this topic had been sufficiently covered during their discussion with Chait under Hearing of Visitors.

Woodard Hill Road Pier
Edwards announced that the last remaining vestige of the old Woodard Hill Road bridge—the pier in the center of Branch Brook—has fallen, just as the Selectboard is about to consider reclassification of that section of Woodard Hill Road.

Quarterly Financial Report
The Board asked Gabriel to check with the Town Clerk regarding distribution of the quarterly financial report. Sumner said Bill Moore had been working on financial reconciliation earlier in the day.

Lane Construction Letter
Holtz is awaiting photographs of Green River Road paving damage. He will then forward materials to town attorney Robert Fisher with a request that Fisher compose a letter to Lane urging repairs be made.

Contract Writing
Holtz recently attended a VLCT seminar on correct construction contract-writing. The session focused more on insurance issues, he reported, then on the legal aspects of contract content. Speakers stressed the importance of requesting VLCT assistance and involving the town attorney in the contract-writing process. All projects should be assigned a Clerk of the Works, to assure adequate town representation during any ongoing project. Edwards had been hoping for advice on the inclusion of a clause in contracts covering the eventuality of delay in project work. Holtz said this subject was not specifically covered, but he does have contact information for a Minnesota group qualified to make recommendations.

Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment

The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.


Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed or processed. Sumner will call KAS to arrange to have a new set of test samples taken from the monitoring wells on the Brook Road old town garage property. The Board signed prepared Notices of Public Hearing for the Sumner Farm Road reclassification petition and the Selectboard’s consideration of Weir Road and portions of Woodard Hill Road and Whitneyville Road for reclassification to Class 3, Town Trail, or discontinuance; and Sumner Farm Road for reclassification to Class 3 or discontinuance. At a future meeting, said Edwards, we need to set up an itinerary that reflects the most efficient way of handling the site visit to those four locations. Town Attorney Fisher has advised, said Holtz, that the May 27th, 7:00 p.m. public hearing portion of the road reclassifications process should be handled as four separate meetings, one for each of the roads under consideration. There are fliers available in the Town Office with information on the Aging in Place Initiative. The FCC license has been renewed.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:14 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary