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Meeting Minutes

Town of Leicester
Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Monday October 5, 2015
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present: Diane Benware, Tom Barker, Ron Fiske, Brad Lawes, Ken Young
Others Present: Julie Delphia, Arlan Pidgeon, Mary Anne Sullivan, Sandra Trombley, Secretary
Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 6:30 p.m. by Chair.
Pledge of Allegiance:
Review of Agenda:
Added: Beaver discussion & Zoning Permit Form. Move Leicester Whiting Road Crossing to the beginning of meeting.
Leicester Whiting Road Crossing:
Diane introduced the Board to Brian Stoy of Frontier Railroad Services. Julie has been communicating by email with Brian on behalf of the Board. Diane asked Brian for an update.
Brian said he had communicated with Arlan and discussed a run around on the north side onto the feed mill’s property. The only issue would be tractor trailers or longer trucks; most likely would not be able to use the run around. The railroad has steel plates to put over the road to allow long trucks to get by. They want to start next Monday, October 12th. They will have flaggers at the intersections of Swinington Hill/Leicester Whiting Road, Route 30, and Route 7. Brian honestly thinks it won’t be more than two days. Brian will make calls for noticing the school, emergency, etc.
Brian will provide a Traffic Control Plan to Julie.
Arlan will be Brian’s contact person.
Brian needs a letter from the Selectboard with their approval.
Approval of September 21, 2015 minutes:
Motion by Brad and second by Tom to approve minutes of September 21, 2015 as written. All in favor. So approved.
Reports from Town Officials, Committees:
Town Clerk/Treasurer:
Motion by Tom and second by Ron to authorize Treasurer to refund tax over payments as they occur, pay appropriations and assessments per approved budget. All in favor. So approved.
Julie reported that delinquents are at $76,900.
Julie has a bill from Kurt Kimball for removal of beavers that she would like to add to bills.
Julie received a call last Thursday afternoon from Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union that Otter Valley decided to have a bond vote on November 10th and they needed to have everything posted on Sunday or Monday. They had decided to have an election without contacting any of the Town Clerks. Now they have decided, because it is Pittsford’s tax day, to push it out to November 17th. After everything was posted, they had to go out and take all the postings down and now wait for them to do the new one and go re-post them.
Julie was here yesterday getting the checklist ready. The Secretary of State’s Office is rolling out new election software next Monday that needs to be used for this election and it has not been tested in a live environment.
Julie is looking for some support by the Selectboard that would allow her to write a letter on behalf of herself and the Board that would request that in the future, should a board that is part of the Rutland Northeast District decide to have an election, that they check with the Town to make sure there are personnel and locations available for such an election.
Motion by Tom and second by Ken to support Julie in writing a letter to the Rutland Northeast Board. All in favor. So approved.
Julie has a letter from Comcast stating they are going before the Public Service Board for a renewal of their Certificate of Public Good.
Julie has a letter from a resident that has concerns about the invasive species of Japanese Knotweed on a private property. Julie will send a letter to the property owners.
Julie reported that this year the State has decided to change some of the payments to the Towns to a grant. It means more paperwork. They listed Julie as Grantee.
Board authorized Julie to sign to get the money.
Zoning Administrator:
Mary Anne reported that ACRPC information that’s coming out on solar was developed by the 250-248 Committee at Regional Planning that she sits on. There is some good language and they are suggesting that this could go into the plan or in the regulations. According to Act 56 the Town now has party status. But, if you don’t have specific language in the plan or the regulations, the PSB doesn’t have to listen to you, but if you do have specific language in those, the new law says the PSB must give it due consideration. If they venture too far from the municipality’s regulations, it won’t be approved.
There will be two things coming to the town; one, that ACRP is going to send notice anytime there is a 45-day notice of a 150 kilowatt plant and it will show what they are going to say and what their party status is going to focus on. Also, there has been a 45-day notice on a 40 acre solar array in Panton in the middle of a corn field of which Green Mountain Power is the body that is asking for this.
Mary Anne had comments and questions specifically about zoning. Mary Anne explained that when she asks a body or a person or emails questions, she never gets a response. She went to the PC over a week ago with some very specific questions that she needed answers on before she can take any more action on a couple cases. One involves a violation. She explained that you can’t let these things sit forever.
Mary Anne was quite concerned with the language in the last PC & ZBA minutes because the language seems to have pretty severe micromanaging of the Zoning Administrator.
Mary Anne explained that the Zoning Administrator’s Handbook and Act states the Zoning Administrator is an independent office. She doesn’t think it is very independent right now.
Mary Anne stated that when you look at the minutes; when she wants to write up a violation, she must bring it to the Selectboard, and get approval to send it out and then approval to send it to the town attorney. She finds this very condescending and extremely insulting. She has written two notices of violations and they have been absolutely in accord with the Statute recommendations, to the letter. She sent two notices of violations by certified mail. Both of these were settled without further action.
Mary Anne said she needed the Board to tell her if she needs to bring any notice of violation to the Board to have the attorney and the Board o.k. it. She explained the timeframe involved.
The other language in the minutes Mary Anne was concerned about was; a certain period of probation time, and things should be checked by the Selectboard and PC. She has never heard anything about this before.
Mary Anne said she asked the Board for a contract and hasn’t received one. All she knows for sure is that she was appointed Zoning Administrator, the hours are 9:00 – 12:00 on Monday, and she makes $15 per hour. Nothing was said about probation time, nothing was said about having her work checked on every little thing. She’s getting different vibes from the State versus Leicester. She is thinking that the PC has no confidence in her or they have some kind of problem with her. No resident she has worked with has had a problem with her.
Mary Anne explained that the Town of Leicester has a lot of wetlands, but the maps of resource areas and the land use map don’t jive. There is a permit request that is going to come in and there is nothing about wetlands in Leicester’s regulations. The State considers some things, but the ultimate choice granting permits is up to the Town.
She explained that the regulations do not have definitions about buffer and screenings. This is serious and needs attention.
Mary Anne explained she was upset with the Selectboard minutes by a sentence that was put in the minutes that referred to her directly. She wants an explanation why the sentence was in there.
Ron explained the Zoning Administrator is an independent office.
Mary Anne explained the ZA Statute and her qualifications.
Tom and others on the Board stated they hadn’t heard anything about the probation period.
Julie explained that she was at the PC meeting and there was some confusion in reference to the zoning violations as to who was directing the responsibilities of the Zoning Administrator. Jim clarified to the PC that they are the judges for quasi judicial hearings and the Zoning Administrator is like the public defender or defense attorney. So, the lawyers don’t share their information with the judges ahead of time. It would be inappropriate for the ZA to bring a notice of violation to the Zoning Board for approval or question if it should be sent out. That would be like an attorney going to the judge to ask if they should do this. The Zoning Administrator doesn’t need permission. The determination to send out a zoning violation lies with the ZA. The determination whether or not the ZA has authority to go to the lawyer to get a legal opinion on the letter lies with the Selectboard. Jim said that many towns have the Selectboard authorize the ZA to contact legal counsel on behalf of the Town for zoning violations. Not other stuff, only zoning violations. That is one option. The other option is if the ZA feels they need a legal opinion on a letter of zoning violation, they would have to request from the Selectboard, permission to seek legal counsel to spend the money. While the ZA has authority to issue the zoning violations they don’t have control of the purse strings. That was a simplified clarification made by Jim that night about who was responsible for what.
Mary Anne wished that all the people who talk about what the ZA is supposed to do or not do, would read the Zoning Administrator’s Handbook, and read Title 24, Chapter 117.
Mary Anne explained the process of issuing a notice of violation according to the Statute and Zoning Administrator’s Handbook. She stated that she knows what she is doing and she knows what the job is, she just wants to be able to do it. If everybody is going to be an authority on zoning, then it’s not going to work.
Mary Anne feels she is being monitored. She’s very disturbed about the things that went into the minutes.
Tom stated that what was in their minutes was a fact and nothing more.
Ron stated that they hired her as Zoning Administrator and she is an independent office. There is no probation.
Mary Anne stated that she will not have the PC lecturing her about forms. Mary Anne asked if the Board read the minutes. Some members had; some had not.
Diane explained that Mary Anne is employed by the Selectboard. Notices of violation are Mary Anne’s responsibility. At no time had the Selectboard mentioned a probationary period.
Diane will have a conversation with the ZBA Chair.
Road Foreman:
Arlan reported that some grading was done on Delorm and Shackett Roads. Old Jerusalem Road is next on the grading list.
Arlan ordered the hopper/sander.
Mr. Dutton talked with Arlan about trees that need trimming on the corner by Roger Scarborough’s. Arlan will talk with Roger Scarborough to see if he would be willing to talk with property owner and perhaps be willing to trim the trees.
Arlan asked about the corner of the old Huntley Store. The wall and ledge needs to be taken back.
Ken asked about the Hanson culvert. Arlan reported he looked at the culvert with no action taken.
Cemetery Committee:
Tom reported he has maps from Mike Magoon and has the bill to be paid.
Health Officer:
Diane made another visit to the Leicester Junction residence. They will accept the dumpster. They are willing to separate and put tires in one pile and scrap metal in another. The septic will be pumped in the spring.
Motion by Ron and second by Tom to authorize Chair to contact Van Denton to proceed taking his largest dumpster to Leicester Junction residence. 3 – yes and 1 – no. So approved.
Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association:
LDFLA is going to be exploring the use of long term herbicides. They will continue to report.
There was also a letter from Regional Planning about seeking to assist us with sighting of solar facilities.
Motion by Brad and second by Tom to approve bills with the addition of Kurt Kimball’s bill. All in favor. So approved.
Tom brought up concerns about the Town trapping beavers on private land that weren’t causing any culvert problems. He wondered if there should be a policy stating that unless the beavers are causing a problem on town property or with town culverts the Town should not pay for trapping on private lands.
Ken mentioned that since day one, the Town has paid to get rid of the beavers because eventually they were going to cause a problem. Beavers don’t go away.
Tom stated he was just bringing up what was brought to his attention.
Diane thought in the future they should look at each situation on a case by case basis.
Siding Town Shed Status:
Julie reported that she received no responses for bid requests.
Ken thought they should put it off until spring.
Tom will research Butler Buildings and report back.
Certificate of Compliance Discussion:
Ron researched and found that you do not have to have Certificates of Compliance in the regulations.
Julie reported that Certificate of Compliance was removed from the interim zoning regulations adopted 9/23/13.
Board approved Zoning Permit Number Form after the removal of items #3 and #4.
Meeting House:
Ron reported they had to go to the second candidate, Jerry McCray for repointing of the foundation, pressure washing all the stone and fixing bricks. Jerry wants the job and will come in to complete paperwork with Julie.
Heat Pumps:
Julie reported that GMP recommended a 12,000 BTU system in each half of the building with a hyper heat model which adds $2-$3 a year. It would cost approximately $160 a month for payment and electricity. In the winter the current electric bill is about $600.
His only concern would be if we needed a separate breaker box, we would need an electrician and also because we were a municipality, whether we would need a permit through the State.
Julie will get a quote for electrical work for 200 amps by next meeting.
Bridge/Culvert Review:
Diane reported that Julie received an email from Jennifer Fitch from VT.gov. They want the town’s input on a bridge project to begin working on soon in their scoping section. It is the culvert over the Leicester River on Old Jerusalem Road. Local funds would be required. They need to gather information and she provided a list of questions to help us respond to the letter.
Diane will contact Jennifer Fitch for details.
The final inspection for railroad crossing on Old Jerusalem Road is Thursday, October 8th at 1:00 p.m. on the site. Arlan and Ron will attend.
Limited Public Opinion: None
Executive Session:
Motion by Ron and second by Ken to go into Executive Session to discuss personnel matters and pending legal action at 8:53 p.m.
Motion by Tom and second by Ken to come out of Executive Session at 9:24 p.m. with no action taken.
Motion by Ken and second by Brad to adjourn at 9:25 p.m.
Next Meeting: October 19, 2015
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra L. Trombley
Selectboard Secretary