OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
May 21, 2019
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, Tim Putnam, Alice Aldrich, Nancy McCrea, Diana Conway, Sue Kelly, Peggy Rafus, Jessica Cooney, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Lewis Sumner requested a FEMA update, and Brad Rafus would like to set times for interviews and to discuss Route 112.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner made a motion to accept the 5/7/19 regular meeting minutes as written. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Health and Junk Code Violations
Health Officer Sue Kelly said that based on the Board’s advice she had not yet taken further action on the health code violation at 10070 Jacksonville Stage Road. Gabriel has spoken to Town Attorney Robert Fisher, and drafted a letter to property owners. Board members reviewed and signed letters to landowners at 10070 Jacksonville Stage and 104 Brook Road; copies will be sent by certified mail and hand-delivered by Constable Andy Rice. Alice Aldrich asked about the location of a leach field at 10070 Jacksonville Stage, and whether residents were driving on it. We could check the records, said Sumner, but the place is old; wastewater installation may pre-date requirements for permits. In discussion, Kelly pointed out that there were two issues, health and junk code violations, and while the health code violation at 10070 had first been noted by State Police, Kelly had not yet been able to inspect the property. Kelly does not have tenants’ names, but the out-of-state landowner has given implicit permission to inspect via email, so Kelly will accompany Rice when he delivers letters.
2019 LEMP Adoption
EMD Peggy Rafus provided the Selectboard with copies of the updated LEMP (Local Emergency Management Plan) and the Board furnished some additional contact information. The document will be reviewed by Windham Regional Commission and the Selectboard will adopt and sign it when it is returned to the Town.
Conservation Commission Vacancy
Sumner announced that Juniper Kozlowski, an appointee to the new Conservation Commission, has resigned due to unexpected family commitments. The Selectboard received eight applications in April and chose five indidivuals from that number to serve on the Commission. Board members reviewed letters of interest from the three remaining applicants not selected in April, and Sumner recommended appointing David Towler to fill the vacancy. Sumner made a motion to appoint David Towler to the Conservation Commission for a two-year term. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
The Selectboard has received three applications for the Highway Department vacancy. As Tim Putnam was present at tonight’s meeting the Board decided to interview him in executive session at the end of the meeting. They then set a special meeting for Thursday, May 23rd, 7:00 p.m. at the Town Garage to conduct the other two interviews.
Peggy Rafus said she had no new information on final reimbursement for the October 2017 storm damage. It’s not FEMA, it’s the State, she added. Discussion of financial details followed: The Town took out a line of credit from the bank last year to cover storm damage repair costs, the FEMA reimbursement has been paid but the State portion is still pending. Meanwhile, the bank loan is coming due, and winter and mud season road maintenance costs were much higher than planned. Peggy Rafus had concerns about the bank communicating with the State, and the perception that the Town was over budget due to lack of State reimbursement. We’re not, said Brad Rafus, that has nothing to do with the budget. Mitch Green recommended extending the line of credit with the bank, and asking Patty Dow to attend the next meeting to discuss the financial situation.
Rafus said he was getting numerous complaints about the condition of Route 112 through Halifax. It’s State highway, he added, and recommended the town send a letter to the State. There are some potholes that go all the way to the base of the road. Board members agreed, and Sumner suggested we send copies to our legislators and the Governor. Rafus will take some photos to include with the letter.
Bid requests for this year’s paving, sand, and fuel oil will be sent out next week, and bids will be opened at the June 18, 2019, regular Selectboard meeting. Rafus said the Town will not have State grant monies for paving or structures this year; we were second from the bottom of the paving grant list so it will probably be two to three years before we get another grant.
Green reminded the Board of an earlier plan to look at other properties in Town with potential junk ordinance violations. We should do that to be fair, he said. This topic will be on the June 4, 2019, agenda.
Hearing of Visitors
Stephan Chait announced the Resilient Roads and Watershed Forum has been scheduled for Thursday, June 13, 2019, 6:00 p.m., at the Community Hall. Windham Regional Commission’s Emily Davis is preparing informational material for distribution. Chait said the aim was to have a large turnout of Halifax residents that evening; notifications will be posted in as many places as possible. Sumner asked whether Chait had considered using the School multi-purpose room, as school closes June 11th, and there’s more space. Chait said Davis wouldn’t need Internet, so she was happy using the Community Hall, but he (Chait) would talk to the School.
Jessica Cooney, who lives on Reed Hill Road, had heard that the Highway Department would be working on Reed Hill to meet Clean Water Act requirements. She asked if the work would impact a historic stone wall along the road. No, said Rafus, the ditch will be wider, but won’t affect the wall. We stay away from the stone walls as much as possible. Rafus also told Cooney that the culvert near her property will not need to be replaced.
Nancy McCrea reminded the Board of her request, earlier in the winter, that a small portion of Thurber Road be discontinued. I know how busy you are, she said, but could we proceed with that now? McCrea’s goal is easier access to pastureland across the road. Green wondered if there were other roads that should be considered for reclassification at the same time. What about Old Stage Road?, he asked. Sumner said the courts had ruled previously that the Old Stage Road classification could not be changed. A public hearing date would need to allow enough time for the statutory thirty-day notification requirement to adjacent landowners and publication in newspapers. Ray Combs asked what was being proposed, and was told the Thurber Road section between the McCrea property boundary and the Class 3 portion would be considered for discontinuance. After consulting the calendar the Selectboard set Saturday, July 13, 2019, 9:00 a.m., for a site visit followed by a public hearing. Alice Aldrich asked the reason for the discontinuance request. McCrea explained they own ten acres on the other side of the road and want their livestock to cross the road freely. Aldrich suggested a gate, which McCrea said would necessitate a pent road. McCrea wondered if the portion of Thurber under discussion was a road at all. Sumner said he had looked it up recently—Thurber Road has a Class 3 section, a Class 4 section, and a trail section.
Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Correspondence was reviewed and filed.Two driveway permits were signed. Rafus had an email from Tristan Roberts regarding an underground electrical installation in the right of way. Roberts has agreed to uncover the installation so Rafus can confirm that it is at proper depth. Roberts also sent a letter requesting permission to perform a variety of maintenance tasks on the trail portion of Thurber Road. Rafus said VTrans recommends trails not be used for vehicular travel, and in his (Rafus) opinion private citizen maintenance on a town right of way could expose the town to liability. This generated further conversation about reclassification possibilities, this time on the eastern portion of Thurber Road. The Board directed Gabriel to write a letter in response to Roberts’ request.
Sumner made a motion to enter executive session to discuss employment, with Gabriel included. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board entered executive session at 8:55 p.m. They exited at 9:07 p.m., with no decisions made.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:08 p.m.