OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
September 5, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Bradley Rafus were present; Mitchell Green arrived at 7:13. Stephan Chait, Raymond Combs, Tim Putnam, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Brad Rafus asked for a conversation about Green Mountain Power, and an update on the Selectboard’s meeting with Windham Regional Commission’s Emily Davis.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 8/15/17 regular meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 8/29/17 special meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
We have received a grant for $14,200, Sumner told the meeting, and will use it to upgrade some of the culverts on Stark Mountain Road. Ray Combs asked how many culverts there were on Stark Mountain Road. Rafus estimated there were 16 or 17, with 10 or 12 of those qualifying under the grant requirements. The grant will pay for a portion of the upgrade work. Are these culverts high priority?, asked Stephan Chait. Rafus said Stark Mountain has more non-compliant culverts—culverts too small to meet current State specifications—than other town roads, and has been on the project list for a long time. State minimum culvert diameter is now 18”, while many of those on Stark Mountain are 12” to 15”.
On August 29th, Rafus and WRC’s Emily Davis, along with Chait, conducted a site inspection on Stark Mountain. Davis identified the areas in need of upgrade which qualified for grant funds, took pictures, and made notes to be included in a written summary. Under grant guidelines, the work will need to be completed by June 30, 2018. The grant amount, Rafus told Combs, is calculated based on the number of hydrologically-connected road miles the town will be required to improve prior to a 2020 deadline. The Town will provide a 20% match, which can be in the form of labor and materials. It is State money, Chait added, administered by Windham Regional Commission.
Rafus also described the two-year-long culvert inventory project WRC has just completed. During that process, WRC and Rafus examined every culvert in town, and documented pertinent information and GPS coordinates for mapping purposes. WRC then began mapping the culvert system. Those maps were just completed this spring. Chait, as the Town’s Windham Regional Commission representative, spoke of the many ways WRC assists towns, and offered to investigate any particular area that interested the Selectboard.
Old Town Garage Monitoring Completion
Sumner announced the town had received permission from the State to discontinue testing of the monitoring wells at the old town garage site on Brook Road. The wells were put in place in 1995, where underground petroleum tanks once resided. They have been tested every year for pollutants, and in recent years have shown no petroleum compounds above detection limits. The pipes will be removed, the cavities filled, and the land graded in the near future; project cost will be $1,949.00. Sumner made a motion to accept the KAS Engineering work plan to close the old town garage monitoring wells. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board is hopeful that the work can be completed prior to the Halifax Community Celebration. Chait asked whether the work would interfere with removing the old town garage building. No, said Rafus, the wells are on the opposite side of the road from the building.
Mitch Green arrived during the monitoring well discussion, and said he would like to have a discussion about the PFC testing presently underway.
Open Welder Bids
The town received one bid for $50.00 from Peggy Rafus for their used Millermatic MIG welder. Sumner made a motion to approve Peggy Rafus’ bid for the used welder for $50.00. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Brad Rafus abstaining. What is the welder?, asked Chait. It’s a 23-year-old welder at the town garage, answered Rafus; we just upgraded. We’ve had the old one since before I started working for the town, and have had it rebuilt once, but the transformer is getting weak; it gets hot and shuts down. He told Combs the welder is a 220 volt. When we replaced it, the vendor didn’t want the old one in trade, added Green; it’s not resaleable.
Municipal Planning Grant Resolution
The Planning Commission is requesting Selectboard permission to apply for a State grant to assist in a Town Plan update. Chait explained that the current Town Plan expires in 2019. This grant would fund Windham Regional Commission technical assistance in updating the plan prior to its submission for voter approval in March 2019. The primary focus, said Chait, will be on adding language pertaining to flood resilience. State regulations have changed and our Town Plan does not include the most recent statutory revisions. There will also be a slight update on the energy section. How much money are they asking for?, said Combs. $8,000, responded Chait. The application submission deadline is October 2nd. No town match is required for grant requests $8,000 or under. Beginning next year, all municipal planning grants will require a town match. Rafus said he was in favor of applying for any available grant monies. Sumner made a motion to approve the Planning Commission’s request to apply for Municipal Planning Grant funds. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Board members filled out and signed the Resolution, which will be sent to the State.
Green Mountain Power
Rafus described an occurrence last week during which the Highway Department encountered underground electrical lines in the Town right-of-way while ditching on Branch Road. Green Mountain Power looked at the break but said they could not repair it because it was customer-owned. They also told Rafus that there were no regulations governing private installations; power company jurisdiction stops at the meter. This particular line was only four inches beneath the ground, was not enclosed in a conduit, and was only 14 inches from a culvert. Rafus asked the power company to make the repair and bill the Town, but GMP said no. Rafus then hired a private contractor to make the repair. Subsequently, GMP requested permission to bury a line under Hanson Road and Rafus, who said he was still frustrated by GMP’s response to the earlier issue, refused. Rafus has concerns about liability for potential incidents involving installations in the Town’s right-of-way. Who is responsible, he asked, the power company, the private landowner, or the town? Green said any electrical lines in the right-of-way should be buried at least 18 inches, enclosed in conduit, and marked. He recommended developing a set of specifications for lines in the right-of-way. Rafus suggested making that requirement a part of the local building permit. Further discussion covered whether the town was required to allow utility companies to place power poles in the town right-of-way. For auditing purposes, Patty Dow has asked for receipts detailing the cost of generator fuel used by the landowner during the 24-hour power outage at the private residence on Branch Road.
At their August 15th meeting the Board voted to approve PFC testing for four private wells in the vicinity of the landfill. One of those landowners declined testing, while another—not on the original list—requested a test. Green said he had received email notification of the change, and felt that decision should not be made without Board member discussion in open meeting. Gabriel, who had given the okay for that change, apologized. As the property owners were not available at the fourth site on the test date, only three wells were tested. The Board agreed to await results of those tests before deciding on further action. The next round of tests will be done in October.
Rafus and Green had a brief discussion about removing the building at the Brook Road old town garage site. They hope to have the job completed before the September 23rd Halifax celebration event.
Hearing of Visitors
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
New correspondence was reviewed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:07 p.m.