OFFICE OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
Town of Halifax, Vermont
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES–DRAFT
May 14, 2019
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m. Planning Commission members Turner Lewis, Bill Pusey, Alice Aldrich, and Kaitlin Stone were present; Jason Ashcroft was unable to attend. Stephan Chait, Tina Blais, Jessica Cooney, and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and Additions to Agenda
Gabriel told the Commissioners Windham Regional Commission’s public hearing on the voter-approved Town Plan was held on May 7th. The Town should be receiving WRC’s Findings soon.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Alice Aldrich made a motion to approve the 4/9/19 regular meeting minutes as written. Turner Lewis seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0-1, with Kaitlin Stone abstaining.
Enhanced Energy Project Update—Bob Leete
Bob Leete could not be present tonight but sent an email, which Lewis read for the record: “I went to the county meeting and received the Vermont State recommendations for energy. Because of the remoteness of Halifax most do not have any bearing on us. The few that do most are for the general public, working through Efficiency Vermont. The good news is I and others sent complaint letters to Efficiency Vermont because at first you had to use one of their contractors. Now you can do some of the work yourself and get reimbursed for material. I believe that Halifax only owns one building the DPW garage, If the board wishes we can set up an appointment to go through the DPW garage to see if we can upgrade anything. I can also talk to the Fire Chief to see if there is anything we can do for the Fire Department building.”
Lewis said he had a list of questions regarding Act 174 and Section 248, and Aldrich expressed doubts about the goal of reaching 90% renewable energy efficiency by 2050.
Conservation Commission Start-Up—Stephan Chait
Lewis said he had asked Stephan Chait to update the Board on the new Conservation Commission’s activities. Chait introduced Jessica Cooney as a member of the Conservation Commission, and said their first meeting was held on April 23rd. We decided we wanted to work together a bit and get to know each other before electing a Chair, a Clerk, and a Treasurer, he continued. We will be addressing several topics, including learning our powers and duties per State statute and developing a mission statement. Once we are organized we plan to communicate with other established Conservation Commissions, Windham Regional Commission, and some of the towns to our south, such as Colrain and Greenfield. Marlboro has received a High Meadows Fund grant which will be used in some as yet unspecified way to further the goals of Act 171—forest blocks and habitat connectivity—and we hope to work with Marlboro and other towns on that topic. We will be addressing Act 64 (the Clean Water Act), and are planning a Resilient Roads and Watershed Forum to be held at the Community Hall on June 13th, at 6:00 p.m. A similar gathering was held last year on May 30th in Guilford, arranged by the Green River Watershed Alliance and funded by a High Meadows grant. Chait said he is working with Brad Rafus on the upcoming gathering in Halifax; they hope Road Commissioners from adjacent towns, and WRC, ANR, and VTrans representatives will attend. Chait spoke of the adverse impact State-mandated ditching upgrades are having on small-town budgets and work schedules, and there was general discussion about deadline requirements to complete the required work. The purpose of the June 13th meeting, said Chait, is to talk about difficulties in implementing the requirements of Act 64, and to make citizens aware that recent changes in road maintenance methods were not happening due to decisions of the Town Highway Department but were the result of the new State legislation.
Other topics under consideration by the Conservation Commission include the importance of maintaining clean, high-quality water in the Green River watershed, which supplies Greenfield with drinking water, and an inventory of natural resources. Such an inventory would be a very complex project, said Chait. The next Conservation Commission meeting will be held Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 7:00 p.m. at the Town Office. Jessica Cooney asked whether this is the first time the Town has had a Conservation Commission. She was told that Halifax has not had a Conservation Commission in the past, although there is a private group with a similar name—the Halifax Conservation Group.
Hearing of Visitors
Jessica Cooney, who with Hope Phelan is Halifax Green-Up Coordinator, said this year’s May 4th turnout was lower than they had hoped for, perhaps because of the inclement weather. We’re hoping to be bigger and better next year, with earlier noticing, and more participants. Cooney would like to get the Halifax School students involved. Tina Blais said that when her children were attending Halifax School the students participated, and they had a cookout. Lewis recommended computing how many people would be needed to cover the entire town. Cooney wondered if there was a municipal ordinance against littering; those present thought not, but said there is a State law.
Just prior to adjournment Keith Stone and Mike Fournier stopped in for a road maintenance discussion, which all agreed would be best addressed in a Selectboard meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:51 p.m.
Planning Commission Interim Secretary