Town of Halifax, Vermont
September 2, 2014


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Edee Edwards and Earl Holtz were present; Lewis Sumner was absent. Also in attendance were Robbin Gabriel, Brad Rafus, Peggy Rafus, Joe Tamburrino, Blaise McGarvey, Ray Combs, Stephan Chait, Charlene Martynowski, Margo Avakian, Ronald Bell, Cara Cheyette, Jim Bialowski, Marilyn Allen, Rick Gay, Susan Kelly, Kathy McLean, Patty Dow, Lynda Copeland, Laurel Copeland, Art Copeland, Russ Denison, Wayne Courser, Keith Stone, Christina Moore, and Ross Barnett.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

As Lewis Sumner was not in attendance and Edee Edwards was feeling unwell, the Board agreed to pare the evening’s agenda down to essentials. Approval of previous meeting minutes, discussion of Vermont local roads model highway ordinance and winter roads policy, and approval of the VTA cell tower lease were postponed to a later date.

New Business

Open Bids on Addition to the Salt Building
The town received three bids on this project, as follows:

Jim Bialowski/Ron Bell, Spofford, NH: $22,100, all materials delivered to job site, containment vault by owner, fully insured, proof on request.

Sheldon Dix, Jacksonville, VT: $23,385 plus dump fees. Estimate does not include electrical work Insured.

SMR Contracting, Inc., Jacksonville, VT: $16,600. Supply and assist Town of Halifax crew setting 8 pre-cast piers. 8×8 pressure treated posts with steel base plates to bolt to piers, beams to be 1¾ x 9½ LUL’s, three layers. Roof to be one pitch without step-in rafters (shown on plan). 5/8 CDX on roof covered with ice and water shield before metal is installed. Where attaching to existing building, metal siding will be cut out and a ledger will be bolted in. Joists and rafters will be put on with joist hangers. Building is open on three sides as outlined in the plan.

Cara Cheyette asked whether the town checked references or gathered other information about companies who responded to bid solicitations. Earl Holtz answered that Road Commissioner Brad Rafus is in the process of constructing an approved vendor list. Rafus said he had sent bid packages to the three contractors listed above prior to placing the newspaper ad, as he is familiar with their work.

Stephan Chait wondered whether the details of the bid responses were comparable. Edwards proposed passing the three bid packets to Rafus for an analysis of the contents.

Discussion of Act 250 Hearing: Selectboard Preparation and Response to Application for September 9th Hearing
Edwards began by proposing the Selectboard address–at the Act 250 hearing–Criterion 5, highways and other means of transport; Criterion 7, municipal services; and possibly Criterion 9(a), the impact of growth, having to do with economic development and the contribution of the project to same. Also under Criterion 9, earth resources might be considered. She explained that, as advised by Windham Regional Commission, the Planning Commission would be holding a special meeting September 3rd for the purpose of finalizing their own list of questions to be submitted to the Environmental Commission prior to the hearing. Edwards’ goal is to have a completed list of questions in hand by the time of the September 9th hearing. Holtz agreed, but said full Board participation was needed. With Sumner absent, another special meeting should be scheduled. Holtz suggested the 4th, 5th, or 6th of September but wished to hold off on a decision until Sumner could be consulted.

Ray Combs, after requesting confirmation of the 50-year lease term, asked whether the contract would remain in place should the land be sold after the operation was underway. Cara Cheyette proposed that Criterion 9(k), public investment, could be another avenue of approach to the question of potential road damage and increased maintenance needs. Edwards thought there might not be enough to go on, given the standards of that particular sub-criterion, but said she would look at it again. The concern can be raised under other criteria. Joe Tamburrino recommended asking the town attorney’s advice regarding Combs’ earlier question about ownership transfers as they might pertain to the Act 250 permit.

Did anyone consider logging trucks a hazard?, asked Charlene Martynowski. Edwards said yes, concerns had been expressed about the damage logging trucks did to town roads. Recently the Selectboard has become aware of options available to them which involve establishing fees, based on multiple criteria, for heavy trucks using public roads. The Board will be researching this possibility in the future. Responding to a comment from Rick Gay, Edwards said such a policy would not require enforcement mechanisms or scales. It would be implemented using the current fee-based application mechanism, but with a rate scale dependent on varying vehicle specifications rather than the flat ten-dollar-a-year charge now assessed.

Art Copeland mentioned having done some online research; he said that heavy vehicle road damage is not computed based on the weight of the truck, or the weight of the axle, but by the weight and width per wheel. Wayne Courser opined that the log trucks presently traveling town roads are generally heavier than the stone transport trucks which will be employed by the quarry. Courser also spoke of his distress over some recent events related to the ongoing quarry permitting discussion. He ended by introducing Russ Denison, seated beside him in the meeting, as a landowner of many years standing whom Courser believed should “have the right to do something within reason.”

Returning to the subject of the 50-year quarry lease and possible change of property ownership, Cheyette recommended waiting on Environmental Commission input, as she expects the Act 250 permit will dictate how that eventuality might be handled. Keith Stone asked about the next scheduled Planning Commission meeting and whether the Commission had violated open meeting law in any way. Edwards said the September 3rd meeting had been warned and its agenda published. Following the August 26th Planning Commission meeting a decision was made to distribute meeting notes. When a single response was received to those notes, a new meeting was immediately scheduled to allow further discussion and finalization of the notes list in an open forum.

Brad Rafus voiced his frustration over an email distribution pertaining to winter road policy. The document included his name and phone number, although he was not the author and felt it contained incorrect information. He had, he said, submitted a winter road policy draft last year, but it had not yet come before the Board for discussion. Peggy Rafus, too, expressed disapproval of the manner in which the communication was signed. Edwards, who had sent the email in question, apologized for the error, and both Holtz and Edwards asked that Rafus give them a fresh copy of his policy draft. Stone added that the entire highway crew was vexed lately by the large number of townspeople—including some non-residents—who were stopping department members on the job to ask what was happening with the Selectboard. Stone said he advises these inquisitors to speak to the Board members. Holtz and Edwards invite residents to call them directly with any questions or concerns. In the matter of the road policy email, Cheyette suggested Edwards might send a follow-up email correcting the record. Speaking for the listers, Charlene Martynowski encouraged anyone looking for information to call the listers at home, as they are only in the office one day a week and emails do not always get read immediately.

Hearing of  Visitors

Joe Tamburrino requested a date for the next Selectboard special meeting. Holtz tentatively suggested that meeting would be held on Friday or Saturday, but will confer with Lewis Sumner before setting a firm date.

Kathy McLean, displaying a sample of stone she’d picked up from Jacksonville Stage Road, asked why the town was buying this unsuitable material for gravel. It made biking and walking very difficult. Rafus explained the stones were not gravel; they were rocks which had been put down during mud season to help alleviate spring thaw conditions. As the summer progresses and the road is graded, some of that rock works its way to the roadbed surface. The town highway budget does not allow purchase of sufficient quantities of gravel to refurbish all our roads each year; now that the town cannot call on its own gravel supply we are paying three times as much as previously. Also, increased traffic requires more frequent grading. Rafus said that in past years he would grade Jacksonville Stage Road once per season, but this year he has made three passes and will grade once more before winter. McLean also questioned the wisdom of widening the roads. Rafus explained that the town has a set of codes and standards it is required to meet to be eligible for state funding. Gravel costs $32.00 per cubic yard, in place, and the roads lose one inch of gravel surface every year.

Rick Gay has been reading about paving roads and new guardrails on Stowe Mountain Road. He asked where the money for these activities would come from. Edwards explained that the road improvements under discussion were related to the Act 250 permit, and if the improvements were actually undertaken costs would hopefully be picked up by the applicant. Gay also wondered why have there been so many special meetings recently. Holtz said the anticipated hiring of a Selectboard administrative assistant would reduce the Board’s workload and should also cut back on the number of meetings held.

Old Business

Town Office Roof Replacement
Edwards told the meeting that while there had been a delay due to late material delivery, the project was essentially finished. Snow guards are in place, but one ladder remains on the roof, indicating something left to be done.

Old County North Bridge
Holtz reported the bridge construction is now complete, with the exception of a small amount of cleanup. I-beams are scheduled to be removed to the town garage Wednesday. Guardrails are up, the deck has been paved, and the road has been graded. Also, the guardrails have been replaced on the Green River Road bridge adjacent to Ballou Mountain Road. Combs asked whether the town planned to turn the Old County North section over to the property owners on the other side of the bridge. No plans for that at present, Holtz said. Tamburrino suggested cutting costs by giving up two other bridges in town, each of which services one residence only. This would be a lengthy and complicated legal process, said Edwards, and is not currently up for consideration.

Other Business

Edwards announced receipt of a Windham Regional Commission email communication inviting the town’s participation in the Forest Stewardship grant-funded outreach project. She will forward this to the Planning Commission.


Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately signed and/or filed. Edwards made a motion to sign the Ward Electric annual generator service contract for the town garage. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. Courser asked whether the Board had received an unofficial letter in support of the quarry project. Edwards said yes; she believed the letter had 60 signatures.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary