OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
November 25, 2013
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:58 am at the town office. Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Earl Holtz, and Lewis Sumner. Others in attendance were Jessica Bruno, Brad Rafus. At 8:55am Peter Holden and Bill Rossignol arrived.
VT Health Connect
Edwards noted that two employees are still having difficulty getting dependents tied into their accounts. Blue Cross Blue Shield will be contacted today to be notified that they do not want an extension. We will verify that the insurance company has all of the necessary information for all employees and dependents and cancel the VT Health Connect account.
Road Commissioner’s Orders
The road commissioner’s orders were reviewed and signed.
Personnel Policy Update
VLCT has a few issues to look into regarding our policy revisions. The old policy should therefore be signed and updated for a 12/1/13 start date with minor revisions for format, date, and page 7 hours of service updates.
Holtz made a motion to approve the Town of Halifax Personnel Policies & Rules Handbook as amended to change work hours in a standard work week to 40 hours. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.
The group stopped for a break at 8:25am as the engineers from Holden Engineering were not present yet. The group re-started at 8:48am.
Old County North Bridge
Edwards presented a list of property owner concerns:
-Tree removal (spruce trees)- all evergreens on abutting property should be left alone
-Copy of survey requested
-Are easements needed?
-Explanation of stream alteration permit
-Parking area concerns
-Stream fording and private vehicles
-Keep cost low
Peter Holden and Bill Rossignol arrived from Holden Engineering.
Holden assured the Selectboard that they talk with the neighbors during construction and are interested in coming frequently to address their concerns.
The group discussed the temporary river crossing and agreed that that should be a worst case scenario and only constructed if absolutely necessary. Edwards inquired whether they could word the bid document to give preference to a construction company that does not require the river crossing. Holden noted that it would save a lot of money if they don’t need the crossing. It was understood by the group that it is an alternative, but the town does not want to do it if not absolutely necessary.
The engineers discussed their concerns with the stone fill work from the abutment to the river’s edge. The massive stone prohibits water from flowing freely and allows for a tendency for trees to get caught in the rocks. They would like an excavator to try and smooth it out a bit and/or fill in with smaller rocks to make the waterway smoother.
The group discussed the possible need for a crane and the potential need to clear on one side or another. They discussed having an excavator across the bridge that could potentially drag steel across it.
The group discussed the footbridge. The engineers noted that it will be lit along the railing (all night). They decided not to include a pedestrian handrail at 42”.
The group discussed parking and will be looking for alternative parking arrangements. Rossignol inquired whether the property owners would be amenable to trimming some of the low branches on the spruce trees. Edwards noted that it would be beneficial to have a meeting with the property owners so that they can hear each other’s concerns.
The engineers will follow up on the following items:
-Look at the room needed to clear for a crane
-Look at approaches underneath the bridge and stone required to smooth it out
-Look at parking alternatives
-Get ANR opinion
-Meet with neighbors
-Send a copy of plans to AOT district 2 office
The engineers noted that the timetable for the project is driven by the review of the plans. By next Tuesday they should have the plans ready for AOT review for the initial permit. The group reviewed the plans.
A meeting will be scheduled for Saturday December 14, 2013 at 11:00am at the town office (and then for a site visit). The purpose will be a discussion of the project with landowners, engineers, and the Selectboard.
It was noted that the town does want the salvaged stringers brought to the town garage. They do not want any salvaged timber.
The meeting was recessed at 10:17am.
Reconvened On Site
The meeting was reconvened at 10:35 am onsite at Halifax Bridge #37, Old County Road North, near the intersection with Green River Road and cross-road Moss Hollow. Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Brad Rafus, and Bill Rossingnol and Peter Holden of Holden Engineering.
Site Review for Bridge #37 Repair Work (non-Irene)
Parking was discussed first. One option might be at the intersection of Moss Hollow and Green River, across the road from Old County North, on the shoulders, where town equipment is sometimes parked when working on a longer project. Another option would be to seek permission of second home owners to allow those over the bridge to park in their driveways overnight if they were not using their properties at given dates. Concerns about the safety of the vehicles being some distance from an occupied house were noted, but some neighbors might have a view of them, and it is not necessarily unusual with the distance between houses in our rural area for cars to be parked in various spots near a property. The distance from the pedestrian bridge is still a concern. The party then walked further down Old County North, where the idea of using a roadside parking area which would not impact the large spruce trees, but allow for 2-3 cars to park, likely face in, with perhaps room for a few more if some lower branches were removed. Adding some fabric with a little crushed stone on top of it would keep cars from sinking in, but be easily removed and restored without impacting the vegetation. Construction vehicles will need access during the day, so direct roadway parking won’t work. Rafus noted that this is a 4-rod road, with the town right of way extending roughly 33 feet from the center line on each side.
The crane swing area was viewed next. The right side of the road, walking towards the bridge from Green River Road, is noted as the direction that the crane would swing. Several trees will need removal here, however, it was discussed that they may be able to regenerate by sending up suckers from the stump, and that preserving the stump would allow the root systems to stabilize the banks. On the opposite side of the bridge, still on the right side of the road, there is a tree near where the pedestrian bridge will be placed, which was thought to not be a problem.
Access to re-site some of the large rip rap stones on the bottom part of the bank below the bridge abutments was also discussed. The placement of the stone is a bit haphazard, and by settling the stones down flatter, it would be less likely to catch river debris that could damage the abutments. Therefore, excavator access lower down near the river may be necessary, so access methods for the equipment was discussed by putting rocks out to create a path partway down the embankments on each side of the river. One concern would be not to damage the old abutments.
Discussion of driveway and guardrails: The radius of the new guardrail will partly impinge on the lower driveway access for one property owner. LP Gas tanks are visible here, so the general thought is to preserve the existing driveway culvert, but help move and grade the driveway access a little further above where it is. There will also need to be some tree removal on the left far bank for the approach guardrail.
Edwards and Sumner noted that we think river access is generally allowed from around June 15 to October 15th, with regular permits.
Rafus asked about the preservative that is needed for the railing on the bridge. Rossingnol replied that it needs to be done every 2-3 years, and can be done with a garden-type sprayer. He didn’t believe there are any environmental concerns in spraying it. Edwards asked about the height of the bridge railings (slightly higher than what is there now), since earlier we had discussed and decided against handrails due to an additional $1900 estimated cost.
Hearing of Visitors
No other visitors were present.
Meeting was closed at 10:58 a.m.