Town of Halifax, Vermont
August 4, 2015


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards, and Doug Grob were present. Stephan Chait, Joe Tamburrino, Ray Combs, Blaise McGarvey, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

None. Edee Edwards noted that the State has sent winter salt price information; this will be on next meeting’s agenda.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Edee Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/20/15 special meeting minutes as written. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board met with VTrans structural engineer Sven Scribner on July 20th to inspect the Branch Road bridge at the Hubbard Hill intersection. Doug Grob asked whether any information had been received yet regarding conrete contractors. Sumner said Scribner was going to forward his findings to District #2; they will then give the town contractor names.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/21/15 regular meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/22/15 special meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 7/25/15 special meeting minutes as written. Grob seconded the motion. Sumner amended with one correction. The motion passed, 3-0.

New Business

Act 250 Quarry Roads Discussion
Edwards set up the projector to display a document she had prepared summarizing Selectboard findings and conclusions on several Act 250 Denison quarry permit application criteria. The Board is considering presenting this material as a final submission in the Act 250 process. Sumner had hoped Brad Rafus would be present for this discussion; Edwards agreed but thought the Board should proceed in Rafus’ absence, as the work had been postponed previously. The summary addresses road-related safety and potential damage, and suggests a number of conditions designed to mitigate impact of same. It also suggests a condition requiring noise studies yearly for three years, and every five years thereafter, and makes the statement that the project is not in compliance with the town plan. After the Board had read and discussed the document Edwards advised they should ask Brad Rafus to provide projected road repair/upgrade costs, and request town attorney review of the summary.

Broadband-Cell Economic Development Committee Membership
Edwards announced a vacancy on the Broadband Committee. Curtis Carroll, who has been on the committee since its inception, announced his resignation at their most recent meeting. Edwards said Carroll’s technical expertise had been of great value to the committee and recommended the Board send a letter of thanks for his service. The Broadband Committee will be looking for volunteers to fill the open slot.

Hearing of Visitors

Blaise McGarvey has purchased an $80 modem from VTel and is getting partial service at his residence on Whitneyville Road. The service charge is $25 a month for 10gb. VTel has advised him he may need the more expensive outdoor antenna at his location. He is not certain that the signal is coming from the new Halifax Center tower; he may be picking up signal from the towers in Whitingham or Marlboro. VTel is not able to confirm that, and Edwards said there has not yet been an official announcement that the Center tower is live. Grob mentioned he had heard there were several antennas still to be installed on that tower. McGarvey said he had driven various Halifax roads, taking the battery-operated modem with him, and had picked up a stronger signal on Jacksonville Stage, leading him to assume his signal might be coming from that tower. It is probably coming from Whitingham, said Sumner.

Old Business

Road Reclassification
The Halifax Selectboard has now made decisions on all four of the roads it considered for reclassification, said Edwards, and the written findings have been published. The upper section of Whitneyville Road was changed to Class 4, the lower section of Woodard Hill became a Town Trail, Sumner Farm Road has been upgraded to Class 3, and Weir Road remains the same. I was not in favor of the latter two decisions, Edwards said. While she had originally wanted this opportunity to address questions which remained unanswered following the road reclassification public hearing, Edwards ultimately decided many people come to hearings and meetings with their minds made up, so rather than explain her logic she chose to share her perspective. Edwards went on to describe her experience as a new Selectboard member during a Whitingham/Aldrich Road reclassification appeal; she compared some of its elements with the recent Halifax process. We need to separate the people from the problem, she said. She sees herself as a problem-solver whose primary considerations are fairness, money, priorities, and policy, and stated that her decision not to sign the findings on Sumner Farm and Weir Roads should not be construed as an attack on a family, on business, on agriculture, or on a way of life. What I want in the long term, is to find ways to have more civil discussion, she continued. What we need to do now is determine what repairs are needed on Sumner Farm bridge, get an engineer’s inspection and a hydrology study from the State, and measure the four roads we discussed. Joe Tamburrino responded with two comments; first, that monies the town might save by not maintaining those portions of road would not compare to the $25-$35,000 lost in property assessments, and, also, Selectboard members should be a team. If two members sign a decision, all should sign, even if one has cast a dissenting vote. I do apologize publicly for losing it on Saturday, Tamburrino added.

Town Garage Roof
The Board has been investigating temporary measures to resolve the town garage roof leaks and condensation problems for the coming winter while they explore a permanent fix. They have received a $2,183.00 price on a custom-made heavy-duty tarp, 60’ x 140,’ to cover the roof until next construction season. Installation and strapping would be at additional cost. Grob said that Don Yanke of Catamount Environmental, who has inspected the garage, does not believe the building has a mold issue, as mold needs an organic environment to grow, and the steel, fiberglass, and plastic material composition of the roof and insulation are not conducive to mold growth. Yanke said if the insulation can be dried out it might still be viable. It may be really hard to dry it out, said Grob, because of the plastic covering the insulation. Tamburrino recommended asking roofers to inspect the building during the winter and advise the Board on the best means of permanent repairs or replacement. Grob said they should pursue ventilating the garage, and an electrician was needed to rewire the detached fans. The Board will request samples of the tarp material from the vendor, and ask Brad Rafus to talk to electricians and get price estimates on installation. All agreed on the importance of having a roof replacement plan in place by January, so the project could be included in next year’s budget and put before the voters.

Other Business

The Board signed a letter to Hans Hammarquist summarizing their discussion of his drain pipe situation.

Grob asked about having the Planning Commission speak to the Board on the zoning regulation bylaw amendments which are now before the Selectboard. Stephan Chait briefly described the work done by the Planning Commission on the amendments, and the Commission’s reasoning behind their decision to separate those amendments from the main body of the zoning regulations. Gabriel will research answers to several questions on the review/public hearing process. The Board has chosen tentative dates in the last full week of September for a hearing on the amendments. Edwards suggested engaging the services of a neutral moderator for that hearing.

The Selectboard will meet on Thursday, August 6th, at 7:45 p.m., immediately following the BCA meeting, to discuss employee wages.

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.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m..

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary