Please Note: Newfane will now require Zoom participants to remain muted. If they wish to be recognized, they will need to raise their hand and the Chair will recognize them before being unmuted.
https://zoom.us/joinameeting Meeting ID: 972 2791 1757 Passcode: 352680
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:
Chair Angela Sanborn, Vice Chair Ann Golob, Katy Johnson-Aplin (by Zoom), and Mike Fitzpatrick (by phone) Absent: Jeffrey Chevalier
Planning Commission Chair Ken Estey, Lister Doris Knechtel, BCTV Producer Austin Rice, and Administrative Assistant Wannetta Powling
By Zoom: Road Foreman Jay Wilson, Treasurer Melissa Brown, Planning Commissioner Jane Douglas, Edward Collins, Town Clerk Carol Hesselbach, Town Moderator Deborah Luskin, Patty Johnson, and Henriette Mantel.
CALL TO ORDER:
Selectboard Chair Angela Sanborn called the meeting to order at 6:00 P.M.
Wannetta Powling confirmed that she warned about tonight’s Selectboard meeting.
ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO AGENDA:
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
July 18, 2022, Regular Meeting
Golob made a motion to approve the minutes of the July 6th regular meeting. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0.
ROAD FOREMAN’S REPORT
- The town attorney sent the ROW (Right of Way) attorney certification on Friday. I have passed it along to VTRANS with the hope it’s the last piece we need.
- The roadside mowing is delayed until the end of August due to a broken windshield with the tractor.
- The Arch Bridge has work starting again today.
- The Sand/Salt shed plans are being revised to the new buy America standards in hopes it can go out to bid this fall.
- Last week I sent out the proposal from Hartgen about the archeological study for the gravel pit that needs to be approved. The small pond has been removed, and we are now ready to design the new intermittent stream bed.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve the Hartgen Archeological Associates for the archeological study. Golob seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0.
- Vermont Protective Coating is working on Monroe Bridge.
- I have contacted Ben Green, the state dam inspector, about the dam’s repairs on the backside of Newfane Hill; we are waiting for his comments on the plan.
- I have the (MOU) Model of Understanding signed by Dover for our hydroseeder for you to sign.
For the record, Sanborn read the Model of the Understanding agreement into the minutes. Golob made a motion to sign the Model of Understanding. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion.
Motion passed 4/0
- Access permits for the Jail Street property are complicated; it is unclear if the property line goes to the road. The Newfane Village will need to approve the sidewalk access.
Access permits will be tabled until the August 15 meeting.
Golob made a motion to approve the Road Foreman’s report. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion.
Motion passed 4/0
Traffic Control Issues:
Responding to a number of questions that had been raised by community members on Front Porch and at the recent Selectboard meeting, the Road Foreman reported on a number of topics.
- Newfane Streetscape Study Scoping group met on Thursday, July 28; there will be a public meeting on September 8 at 6 P.M. to discuss residents’ issues and concerns further.
- Our area has had an increased number of traffic patrols throughout the day, and studies have shown that increased enforcement will show a positive result.
- A new speed sign will be going up in South Newfane. A large amount of data is available from these signs so we can create a wide range of possible reports.
- With the strict limitations on Federal classed roads, it isn’t easy to know what needs to be done on Depot Road and along Dover Road.
- Speed bumps are costly, about $5,000 for each one. They need to be ordered for a specific location because they are configured for the width of the road and the speed. Further, they must be removed between November and April when plowing may occur. Homes that are directly in front of the speed bumps often complain of the loud noise when trucks go over them.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT REPORT:
- Last Thursday (July 28) I was able to attend VLCT’s training “GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL OVERVIEW for SELECTBOARDS.” When I receive a copy of the training material, I will forward this to you.
- At the 7.18.2022 meeting, you asked me to contact the Attorney at VLCT for advice on the WinDart appropriation which had been accidentally left off the town voting as a separate article for funding. I have included the email for your review with three recommendations. How would the Selectboard like to proceed?
Johnson-Aplin made a motion to make the appropriation of an article for the Special Town Meeting on September 20. Golob seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
- I received a letter from Max Vandervliet expressing an interest in the vacant seat on the Planning Commission. I have made copies of his letter for you.
Golob made a motion to appoint Max Vandervliet as a Planning Commissioner. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
- I have a DRAFT of the WARNING for the SPECIAL TOWN MEETING for you tonight. Are there any changes?
- Several employees, members from the Planning Commission, and the Selectboard have already toured the Sheriff’s Department. If anyone has not had a tour and would like one, please let me know and I can schedule a time for you.
Discussion ensued about the use of the Newfane Sheriff’s office for the town. Several people spoke about the difficulties of the building including the fact that there are multiple levels making large areas inaccessible for the handicapped; it appears to need major renovations including possibly a new roof, and removal of lead paint. Overall, those who had already toured the building felt it would cost too much and take too long to renovate the building to meet the town’s needs for use as a town office. Further, there was concern that since the county does not want to consider a long-term lease, possibly no more than ten years, this was too big an investment for a potentially short lease.
Mike Fitzpatrick raised several questions about how much of the repairs the county would cover. Sanborn recommended that Fitzpatrick arrange a time to speak with Judge Barnett to get more clarification on the building’s condition and that the Administrative Assistant could help set up the call.
The Newfane Inn was mentioned as another property for the Town to consider and it was agreed that Doris Knechtel would look into it and report back to the Board.
3. Our webmaster Bahman Mahdavi has created the space on the town’s website for the ARPA information.
- Due to personal reasons, Jenna Wilson cannot accept the 90-day trial offer to clean for the Town Office.
The Board recommended that the Administrator follow up with the two cleaning services mentioned at the previous Selectboard meetings and report back at the next meeting.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve the Administrative Assistant’s Report. Golob seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0.
Planning Commission (P.C.) Chair Ken Estey thanked the Board for appointing Max Vandervliet to the P.C. Estey expressed the commission’s continued support in working with the Selectboard with plans for the ARPA funds.
Estey wanted to know if the Selectboard would support the P.C. in reviewing the creation of a town by-law for the River Corridor and Flood Plain with assistance from Alyssa Sabetto at Windham Regional Commission. The Selectboard agreed with Estey to extend a special invitation to Sabetto to attend the August 15th Selectboard meeting and explain the process in more detail to the board.
This type of by-law is often controversial because it places building limitations on properties in the flood plain. The Zoning Administrator will need to be trained to navigate these additional requirements so the law is enforced.
The town is already engaged in updating our Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation plan and if the town moves forward with this by-law, it will be incorporated into the larger plan.
SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:
UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:
ARPA Funding Opportunities
Cannabis Law – Katy Johnson–Aplin discussed changing the Article for Cannabis into two separate questions to cover both retail cannabis sales and integrated licenses in town. Previously we had only one question about retail cannabis. Johnson-Aplin will get updated wording to the Administrative Assistant to include in the warning.
Meg Gonzalez, Director of the West River Thrives, will be available to answer questions and address any concerns regarding cannabis sales at the informational meeting to be held on August 23 at 6 P.M. at the Town Office and available on Zoom.
Gonzalez mentioned that Cindy Hayford, the director of Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, would be a good resource. She also recommended inviting Sue Westa from the Windham Regional Commission to the meeting to discuss the importance of the town setting up a cannabis control commission. Gonzalez stressed that her organization was non-partisan on whether a town votes for or against cannabis. If the town chooses to go forward, there are several steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk factors including the impact on youth and those in recovery, as well as the potential for increased traffic.
It was agreed that Gonzalez would share the contact information of the additional speakers that she recommended with the Administrative Assistant.
Tax Rate – Lister Doris Knechtel explained that an error in the calculation of the tax rate had recently come to light. The municipal tax rate was set at 0.5501 instead of 0.6695. The impact of the error is that the town would collect $300,197 less than it needs to cover its expenses. Two possible solutions were discussed to resolve the problem: either send new tax bills with the corrected amount or use the town’s surplus to cover the shortfall. Discussion ensued covering the pros and cons of both options. Some of the points raised were:
- Sending out new bills is both expensive and complicated for the Town Office and will result in a large number of confused residents calling for clarification.
- If new bills were sent out the financial impact to homeowners would be an additional $120 annual taxes owed for every $100,000 of home value. Therefore, a home valued at $200,000 would owe an additional $240 (or $60 per quarter); a home valued at $400,000 would owe an additional $480 (or $120 per quarter).
- The Town currently has approximately $500,000 in surplus funds which is a much larger surplus than we typically have due to the recent reimbursements from FEMA for expenses incurred during Tropical Storm Irene, over 10 years ago. If the Town wanted to use the surplus, we would need to vote to do so at the next Special Town Meeting.
- Some spoke to the preference to maintain the surplus because we cannot predict what expenses might rise and having a cushion is a safety valve for the town’s finances. Inflation is running high right now and the surplus allows the town to absorb those increased costs more easily. If we were to have another flooding event similar to last July’s rain storm which incurred significant damage to our roads, we would have a cushion to cover those expenses more easily. Further, it would give us more options to spend money on items that the town has expressed interest in improving or expanding.
Fitzpatrick made a motion not to change the tax bill that had been mailed and to use surplus funds for the expected shortage. Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion.
Brown spoke with the VLCT attorney; an article can be added for the September Special Town Meeting, asking the voters to allow for a “Rainy Day Fund” to be set up from surplus funds to be used to cover the potential deficit.
Sanborn stated the motion on the table and called for a vote.
Motion failed 1/3
Golob made a motion to table further discussion until the August 15 meeting so the town can be apprised of the issue and be given a chance to weigh in on their preference. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Golob made a motion to write a press release with an explanation of the error and make it widely available on the town website, The Commons, Brattleboro Reformer, Front Porch Forum, and social media. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Proposal to Address Traffic Control Issues
Selectboard Chair Sanborn read a proposal to address the issue of speeding into the meeting minutes. (The full proposal is available from the Administrative Assistant.) The proposal suggests that at the next 6 to 10 Selectboard meetings, we would dedicate 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting to discuss traffic calming strategies (to make it easier for townspeople to join in the conversations) and make decisions on what we want to do. The goal is to bring in experts to discuss specific concerns and get their advice on possible options to pursue. Some of the experts would include VTrans to discuss Dover Road, in particular, the Sheriff’s office to discuss increased patrols, and Windham Regional Commission to discuss other traffic calming options including increased sidewalks. In addition to reviewing the minutes and notes from previous traffic calming work over the years to see which ideas should be re-evaluated, there were many suggestions from the discussion on Front Porch Forum that warrant further research. These will be included in the meeting agendas.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to add the traffic proposal discussions to the first meeting in September. Golob seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Golob made a motion to move the first meeting in September from Monday the 5th (Labor Day) to Tuesday the 6th at 6:00 pm.
Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
- Ruck Up- Thank you for allowing the Coin Drop on July 16; this fundraiser is for all Veterans.
- Aids Project, Health Care & Rehabilitation Services (HCRS) and Brattleboro Area Hospice sent thank you letters for approving financial support.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to authorize Golob and Sanborn to approve pay orders. Golob seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Golob made a motion to suspend the Regular Selectboard Meeting to open the Board of Liquor Control. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0.
Regular Selectboard Meeting was suspended at 8:04 PM.
(See the Board of Liquor Control Minutes posted separately.)
Regular Selectboard Meeting resumed at 8:05 PM.
After the Selectboard meeting resumed, Mike Fitzpatrick, who attended via phone, and Katy Johnson-Aplin, who attended via Zoom, left the meeting at 8:07 P.M.
- Payroll Warrant No# 11579 Amount $ 4,537.79
- Payroll Warrant No# 11580 Amount $ 6,286.71
- Accounts Payable No# 23003 Amount $ 64,145.61
Ann Golob made a motion to adjourn. Meeting adjourned at 8:47 P.M.