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Minutes - 06-20-2022

Town of Leicester
Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Monday, June 20, 2022
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present: Diane Benware, Diane Randall, Brad Lawes, John Rouse, Tom Barker
Others Present:  Julie Delphia, Arlan Pidgeon, Galina Chernaya (Goshen resident), Chris Mattrick, District Forest Ranger, Sandra Trombley, Secretary
Call to Order:  Meeting called to order at 6:30 p.m. by Chair.
Pledge of Allegiance:
Review of Agenda Added Cemetery Recommendations.
GMNF Chris Mattrick Hut Application Update: 
Diane B. introduced the Board to Chris. 
Chris Mattrick introduced himself as the District Ranger from the Rochester and Middlebury Ranger District of the Green Mountain National Forest.
He started with an overview of what has happened in Leicester in the past couple of years.  He will do the Silver Lake Hut last.
Over the past few years at Silver Lake he reported that they have added some picnic tables, some new interpretive signs, added a camping fee, added a shed and a lean-to at the host site.  They are also adding some picnic tables at the picnic grounds and some new grills.  They are replacing the toilet structure at the beach site.  
Unrelated to Leicester, they are improving the Falls of Lana parking lot this year on Rte.53 to accommodate a few more cars for organized parking and improve easier maintenance.  
Last year they did a little work to the Goshen parking lot that is accessed off Forest Rd 27 to try to improve traffic flow creating in and out access.
Other things in the planning phase for Silver Lake is a horse corral on site 16, installing some steps on beach and improve access, make a trail that would connect Moosalmoo and Silver Lake campgrounds.  This would use part of the snow mobile trail.  Tread work on the Mini Baker Trail is planned.  Install an interpretive sign and kiosk at the Mini Baker Trail parking lot.  Fix a current wash out in the parking lot.
Chris stated that the Forest Service received a proposal from Vermont Huts Association and their partner the Moosalmoo Association for a Special Use Permit to construct and operate a four-season hut at Silver Lake at a specific location near the intersection of the Leicester Hollow Trail and the Goshen Trail.  Chris stated that they are in the process of evaluating that proposal.  The Resource Specialists have done most of their work.  The Wild Life & Fisheries Biologist and Archeologist have not completed their reviews. 
Chris stated they had a public meeting in Brandon, downstairs at the Café Provence on June 8th sponsored by the Vermont Huts Assn and Moosalmoo Assn, and it was well attended.  Chris stated he was largely there to listen and correct any misinformation.  The public comment period is open through July 11th.
Diane stated that if she hadn’t known better, she would have thought that the Forest Service was the organization applying for the permit.  Chris answered most of the questions.
Diane B. asked when Chris was approached by the Vermont Huts Assn?  
Chris answered that he was approached informally, sometime last year.  The formal application was received about a month ago.  They applied with a letter and a document but neglected to fill out an actual formal application.  Chris stated they knew it was coming before they received the formal application.
Diane B. asked whether anyone even gave it a thought that the town in which it was going to be located, Leicester, should be informed, notified or included in the conversations.
Chris apologized again; that it was his error in not contacting the Leicester Selectboard prior to the June 8th public meeting.  He stated that typically they don’t go out to towns until they have the solid proposal in hand. 
Diane B. shared her frustration with Chris personally and the Vermont Huts Assn and the Moosalmoo Assn for not contacting the Leicester Selectboard.   She plans on contacting Angelo Lynn about it and finds it incomprehensible that they get to this point of the process and not have considered things such as the fire response and emergency response.
Diane explained that construction in the Leicester community; whether it be at Silver Lake or any part of town, has an impact on the town.  Leicester doesn’t have its own fire department or emergency services.   
Chris explained about wild fires and search and rescue and their responsibilities and gave examples of cooperative services.  If towns choose to respond, the town will be reimbursed.
Chris stated that the town holds no responsibility on federal land.  It is permitted by the federal government.
Diane B. questions the impartiality of the Forest Service in this process.  Diane asked if this project was a done deal.  Other board members were feeling it was a done deal; as well.
Chris stated it was not a done deal until all of the comments are reviewed and whether there are any substantive issues to be looked at.   Public comment of not wanting it alone, is not a reason.
Diane R. shared some of her concerns; as well, and stated that she has not heard any positive comments from residents about this project.  She shared her concerns about vandalism and fire.
Brad asked Chris when they got their formal application.  
Chris stated about a month ago.  
Brad stated he found it difficult to believe that the federal government could have all these studies done in a month’s time.  Brad asked if they usually act so quickly on an informal application.
Chris stated that it hasn’t been a month’s time.  They knew that an application was forth coming, so they moved on it based on that.
Julie stated she finds it hard to believe that they have no concerns of wild fire or any concerns of various campers using propane and emergency response time for injuries and such.
Chris stated law enforcement is in charge of this area.
Diane R. brought up the concern of vandalism at Silver Lake.  She stated there have been problems at Silver Lake for many years, not just in recent years. 
Chris stated he hasn’t seen vandalism.  
Diane R. stated she thinks he should look a little closer.  She would be happy to show him.  Diane feels it has an impact on the town and its reputation.  It is a concern.
Diane B. brought up the misleading promotional marketing about mobility challenged and disadvantaged.  They should focus more on stating ADA compliance and not trying to sell the project to mobility challenged and economically disadvantaged. 
Julie asked who determined the site and was the Forest Service involved in that?   If you are mobility challenged, and can afford the expensive bike, and you manage to get to the hut, you can’t go in the hut, and you don’t have your wheelchair, so if you can get there, you can’t even use it.  So why wasn’t Moosalmoo Campground considered, which has vehicle access, why wasn’t that considered more for the mobility challenged?
The second thing that was touted was the economically disadvantaged.  If you are a member of the Vermont Huts Assn you get first dibs; so, then there is no room left for the disadvantaged.  Julie feels it is misleading as to their intent.  If it was really meant to be for everyone, why wasn’t it considered for Moosalmoo Campground; where it has vehicle access?  Why don’t you take a campsite and convert it, if that is truly the intent?  Julie felt that it was all very misleading and deceptive about what the intent of this is.  Julie is really interested in who decided on this site.
Chris stated that toilets was a restricting factor.  That narrowed the scope down to Moosalmoo, Silver Lake or Robert Frost.  The Moosalmoo Assn and Vermont Huts Assn made the decision.  Chris stated that how they are pitching it; has nothing to do with the Forest Service.
Diane B. asked if the Associations already knew when they applied for a Special Use Permit that it was going to be a categorically excluded action.  They knew that when applying for this permit that it wouldn’t have to go through an extensive environmental review.
Chris stated, yes.  It wouldn’t need an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement.
Diane R. asked if they were putting this hut into the same category as a lean-to?  This is not a lean-to, it’s a house.  Diane’s worried down the road about them wanting parking.
Chris stated he wouldn’t approve it.  Diane asked how he could guarantee that?  He couldn’t.
Diane R. asked who the committee is that is reading the public comments.
Chris stated the committee was made up of himself, two planning staff at the Forest Service, and his recreation staff person.
Galina asked to speak.  She reported that back in September 2021, three Moosalmoo Assn board members, RJ Thompson, Angelo Lynn and Dave Sabatini went on a site scouting trip.  When they looked at Moosalmoo, they said that site didn’t feel right and compared to Silver Lake, it paled in comparison.  That was the scope of their site selection process.  She has the document dated September 30, 2021 to prove it.  The proposal arrived in Chris’s office on March 30th.
Chris wanted to give some context on Special Use Permits.  As far as the National Forest Service, the issuance of Special Use Permits is very commonplace.  Both to non-profit organizations and for-profit organizations.   They all have liability clauses, insurance and they all pay a fee. 
Julie asked if she personally could request a Special Use Permit and be given the same consideration as these Associations.
Chris said yes, and would go through the same analysis. 
Chris stated this was a non-profit organization.  All non-profits are income generating.  They pay their operating costs, their government costs, and whatever is left they reinvest back into their endowment.  Their financial feasibility analysis was done and found they had the ability to do this project.
Galina stated that the estimated revenue from the hut is between 27,000-30,000 a year.  Estimate of the cost of construction is a quarter million and up.
Galina stated that the meeting in Goshen on March 28th, Chris stated that the National Forest does not look into the finances.
Chris explained that they don’t look at their debits and credits on an annual basis.
Chris stated their engineering staff will be periodically checking in if the project goes forward.
Diane stated that they anticipate heavy equipment and excavators are going to be brought in and they are going to remove twenty trees.
Chris stated that they will look at the least impact to the site.  Hopefully, they won’t remove twenty trees.
Galina explained that the Categorical Exclusion is the lowest possible level for approval.  If Chris had not approved this project at the lowest level and used the easy route, they would not be here today.  
Chris stated that it met the three categories to be approved.
Diane R. stated that they are totally changing the use of Silver Lake by adding a hut; which is actually a house with solar panels.  The beauty is that you can now walk into Silver Lake and other special uses don’t stand out like this hut will.  This is the difference.
Diane B. stated that the pictures that she has been seeing for the hut, is totally out of place for that particular setting and environment.
Diane B. again shared frustration in the lack of communication and the whole project in general.  
Board thanked Chris for coming to answer their questions.
Motion by Tom and second by John to send the letter the Chair drafted on behalf of the Board to the Addison Independent.  All in favor.  So, approved.
Approval of June 6, 2022 Minutes:
Motion by Tom and second by Brad to approve minutes of June 6, 2022 as written.  All in favor.  So, approved. 
Review/Authorization to Pay Bills:
Motion by John and second by Brad authorizing Julie to pay the bills.  All in favor.  So, approved.
In the event Julie needs to, she may call one Board member to pay extra bills before next meeting.
Reports from Town Officials, Committees:
Town Clerk/Treasurer:
Julie provided an Access Permit for a driveway on Shackett Road which Arlan and Brad signed.
Julie got a request about placing campaign signs on town land.  Julie sent them her policy about signs which applies to the polling area only.  We do not have a policy for other property of the town.  Residents can put signs on private property.
Motion by Tom and second by John to not allow political signs on town property.  All in favor.  So, approved.
Julie received a request from Heather McDonough for $790 for a contractor fixing her driveway and lawn cleanup that she wants to be reimbursed.   Arlan fixed their driveway, but never was asked for any more than that.
Motion by Tom and second by Brad to authorize Julie to write a letter explaining that all requests come through the town for reparation and to compensate her $300.  All in favor.  So, approved.
Julie has a complaint from Jim Grenemeyer on Hooker Road for storm damage.  The driveway was washed out.   
Arlan talked with Grenemeyer today and feels it’s taken care of.
Clover Blossom has a complaint about ditching on Shackett Road.  
Arlan stated there was culvert work to be done and her work will be taken care of.
Arlan needs more information on Shelly Mason’s property before he can do anything.  They need to mark out her north line and put something in writing.  John will stop down and talk with her again.
Julie shared that there is still a garbage situation on Indian Trail.  Cree has made no progress.
Julie reported that the school’s water is now reported good to drink.
Diane R. felt the biggest problem was that due to the Covid shutdown and water not being used for a very long time, the water needed to be run for a long period of time.
Diane stated that a taxpayer has requested the White Building for a shower in August.  Board approved for public use.  The fee is $35 to the Town of Leicester.  
John will run and flush the water in the White Building.
Julie stated they are lodging the Grant List tomorrow.
Julie shared her frustration with Comcast.  They audited their account and are raising their rate for internet and phone to $209.  They are coming to install internet next week.  Julie is trying to get the free internet over to the Town Shed.
Julie provided a fireworks permit request for sponsors Jerry & Debbie Greeno at 662 Shackett Road.
Board deferred the request to the Brandon Fire Chief.  Julie will email them.
Road Foreman:
Arlan reported they have been working on Hooker Road for the Municipal Roads Grant work and cut the tree.
Sander Update:
Arlan reported that both vendors said it will take four months to get the sanders.
The quote from Viking-Cives for a Swenson 10’ 7-yard Stainless Steel V-box Spreader for $27,300 and a Tailgate Spreader for $7,200 for a total of $34,500.  Quote is still good until July 3rd.
HP Fairfield will not honor their quote after June 16th
Arlan’s recommendation is to order the sanders from Viking-Cives.
Motion by John and second by Diane R. authorizing Arlan to contact Viking-Cive and confirm that the Town of Leicester is purchasing the two sanders for a total of $34,500.  It will take four months to get.  All in favor.  So, approved.
Julie has not heard back from VLCT about the ARPA funds procurement.
Weight Permits:
There were no weight permits.
  •   Triathlon this Saturday, July 17th & August 14th
  •   Hazard Mitigation Money
  •   Amtrak 7/29
  •   Co-existing with Bears 
  •   Emergency Preparedness
Due to time constraints, the three items under New Business are tabled until next meeting.
Building/Grounds Needs:
VTrans Recommendations US 7 Intersection:
Cemetery Recommendations:
Motion by Tom to adjourn at 8:55 p.m.
Next meeting due to the holiday:  Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra L. Trombley, Secretary