December 19, 2023



6:02pm Recording started.

Chair Pete Silverberg called the meeting to order at 6:03 PM.  Selectboard members present in person were Silverberg, and Karen Christofferson. Selectboard members present virtually included Edee Edwards and Tristan Roberts, who was in attendance through approximately 7 pm. Others in attendance in person were Michael Fournier and State Senator Wendy Harrison. Also in attendance remotely was Stephan Chait.


Edwards asked to add to the agenda under New Business section “Communications during Emergencies”. Edwards further asked to postpone the approval of previous minutes, as she had not had time to review them in detail. Michael Fournier asked the board to add an Executive Session for a personnel matter. The order of the Agenda was adjusted to facilitate visitors ability to leave after their agenda items, including having two separate Executive Sessions on two different matters.


Edwards made a motion to go into executive session for a personnel matter with board members and Highway Supervisor Michael Fournier. Silverberg seconded. All in favor 4-0.  Given some difficulty with creating breakout rooms, Stephan Chait offered to leave the Zoom meeting, and Senator Harrison retired to the Town Office waiting area.

6:09pm Recording stopped.

6:26 pm The board returned from Executive Session. No decisions were made in Executive Session. Edwards proposed that Silverberg follow up on the personnel issue alongside Fournier. Fournier called Stephan Chait to let him know the meeting returned from Executive Session.


The board postponed approval of the following minutes: December 12, 2023 Selectboard Special Meeting Minutes, December 5, 2023 Selectboard Regular Meeting Minutes, December 2, 2023 Selectboard Special Meeting Minutes, November 28, 2023 Selectboard Special Meeting Minutes


Vermont State Senator (Windham District) Wendy Harrison was in attendance to talk about the upcoming session and any issues of interest to Halifax. She discussed:

  • The Housing Bill from the last session which went into effect on July 1, 2023. Changes include allowing duplexes on any parcel and a “by rights” provision that prohibits Zoning boards from requiring more stringent codes than what is in effect. Owners of property are entitled to develop property according to Zoning Codes.
  • She discussed town water and sewer provisions that leave some development projects from getting certain grant funding. She noted a Vermont Housing Improvement Program (“VHIP”) which allows funding to private property owners to update units which are not up to code. This is administered through the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust.
  • She also noted a bill she is sponsoring to create stormwater “utilities” which can create an assessment-based funding mechanism towns could use to help pay for stormwater improvements. Board members observed that our need for continued ditch work in Halifax to reduce stormwater runoff is extensive, but that our ability to administer another program to collect these separate assessments would be a big stretch.
  • Finally, Harrison noted and confirmed that Halifax does not have a “Village” designation, which might allow for additional grants or development efforts. Roberts noted the special state designation using Jacksonville as an example and noted that Halifax has a Village “Zone” but is not a “Village” at the state level. Edwards and Roberts also noted that with potential changes to the various zones or districts towns can create, the time may not be suitable for Halifax to explore that further. Harrison noted that Halifax has different regulations because we do not have water and sewer services.
  • A discussion ensued regarding VHIP grants of $30k – $50k allowing updates to residential units to bring them to code. Harrison noted that more funding is coming to bring existing housing up to code.  The process is for the resident to apply.
  • Harrison then described how smaller towns can address storm water utilities and use assessments versus property taxes for restored flood plains, culverts, and funds ditches. Harrison noted that she can help explore how smaller towns can work together with the same consultant.  Harrison clarified that “utilities” is not like a Fire District.  Fees are charged based on generation of storm water off site and the assessment is based on the square footage or coverage.  Edwards noted this might add a layer of complexity to our small tax base and that we don’t have a lot of coverage and may be too small.  Harrison added that it could be a reliable source of income to get a loan to finance storm water but agreed that Halifax is one of the communities this would be less obvious for.
    • Edwards noted that Halifax has vacant properties and that the Hazard Mitigation Plan noted the existence of vacancies. How do we address them?  Are the vacant properties able to be rehabilitated via VHIP?  Silverberg noted that these properties in their current condition could be acquired by owners willing to put in sweat equity and that is a way for some to get access to home ownership.
    • Harrison added that the state only gets involved in rental properties for safety codes to which Edwards noted that we don’t have a sense for the Town’s rental demographics at this time. Harrison added that Towns have the authority to require a registry of rentals.  Harrison noted that there is a process to turn ARPA into “savings” and reclassify it as revenue.[Note I am unclear how this ARPA comment tracks to rest of discussion here].  Harrison thought the Listers may have input about rental and other demographics.  Edwards suggested the Selectboard invite the Listers to speak with the Selectboard about the trends they are seeing.

7:05pm – Roberts had to leave the meeting.

No other Hearing of Visitors issues were brought up.


Town budget/meeting preparation: deliverables, timelines, accountability. Discussion around the timelines for elements and of the town report and who was responsible for which sections was held. Budget preparation is ongoing and of concern due to expected large increases in need for equipment that is aging out of service. Chait asked that the board note what was deemed essential and where there is discretion. Christofferson volunteered to create schedule showing discretionary vs fixed expenditures. Chait further noted that the Selectboard should posture its narrative on discretionary items and noted that State tax increases are coming.  A discussion regarding the informational meeting 10 days before Town Meeting as the venue for providing budget rationale ensued.  VLCT training is now available for Town Meeting preparation.

Edwards stated that she plans to update the appointments page and attend VLCT training on writing the warning articles. Much assistance from Patty Dow, Town Clerk and Town Treasurer, is always needed and appreciated.


Communications During Emergencies: Given the recent rainstorms and a temporary road closure, Edwards noted she would make a renewed attempt to connect with the town’s Emergency Management Director to help prepare for a full board discussion.

OTHER BUSINESS—none noted.


Chait left the meeting.

Edwards made a motion following VSA § 313.a(1)(F) that premature knowledge of the public would put the town at a disadvantage with regard to discussions held with attorney-client privilege. Silverberg seconded. Motion carried 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to enter executive session. Christofferson seconded. Motion carried 3-0.

7:43pm Recording Stopped

7:57pm. The board returned from executive session. No decisions were made in executive session. Edwards was empowered to follow up with an attorney under the guidance of town legal council.


There were some questions with some of the material on Selectboard order; Christofferson was to follow up. Only two members present in the room.  If order needs to be signed before next meeting we can call a Special meeting.



7:59pm Meeting was adjourned, following a motion by Silverberg and second by Edwards, and all in favor 3-0.

Respectfully submitted,

Edee Edwards, secretary pro tempore

Meeting Recordings: (Part A, to start of first executive session) (Part B, including VT State Senator Wendy Harrison to second executive session) (Part C, after executive session)