NEWFANE SELECTBOARD

Regular Meeting Monday, March 4th, 2024

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BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:   Angela Litchfield, Katy Johnson-Aplin, Ann Golob, Jeffrey Chevalier, and Mike Fitzpatrick.


PRESENT
:  Deborah Luskin (Town Moderator), Jon Julian (Williamsville Hall Committee), Marion Dowling, Cristine White, Priscilla Cotton, Greg Lopiccolo, David Hull, (Newfane Anew) Henriette Mantel, Kate Gehring (Planning Commission), Melissa Brown (Treasurer), Austin Rice (BCTV), and Wannetta Powling (Administrative Assistant).

Zoom: Jane Douglas (Planning Commission).

CALL TO ORDER:  The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Selectboard Chair Angela Litchfield.

CONFIRM PROPERLY WARNED:  Powling confirmed the meeting had been properly warned.


ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS
TO AGENDA:  
Correction to the approval of the minutes for Tuesday, February 20th, 2024.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Tuesday, February 20th, 2024, Special Minutes

Johnson-Aplin made a motion to accept the February 20th special minutes, and Chevalier seconded.
Motion passed.

 ROAD FOREMAN’S & ROAD COMMISSIONER’S REPORT:
(Road foreman sick- no report.)

TREASURERS REPORT:
None

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT: 

  1. I have written out explanations for some of the articles for the Town meeting tomorrow.
  2. I will be out of the office all day on Thursday, which is normally the Selectboard Reorganizational meeting.
    Would you like to move this meeting to Monday, March 11th?
  3. I have followed up with Steve Levine regarding the request for the large antique wagon wheel at the Williamsville Hall; Steve and the Hall Committee agree that it would be better preserved at the Historical Society.

Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept the Administrative Assistant Report, and Golob seconded. Discussion:
It was agreed that the Organizational meeting would be held on Monday, March 11th, at 6 pm.
The vote was called;
the motion passed.

COMMITTEE REPORT:
Planning Commission – Kate Gehring, the following is a letter emailed to the Selectboard. Litchfield read the letter.

To the Members of the Newfane Selectboard:
I write on behalf of the Newfane Planning Commission to let you know that the Planning Commission is working on a proposal for a revolving loan fund for housing that would be funded by a portion of Newfane’s ARPA monies. The primary goal is to offer low-interest loans for Newfane property owners to upgrade existing rental housing or to convert or create apartments or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in existing buildings and properties.

Housing was one of Newfane residents’ top priorities in the Planning Commission’s 2022 Survey of Newfane residents’ priorities for ARPA funding allocation. Housing needs for local residents have grown more acute over the past two years – and this local issue is compounded by state and national housing shortages.

The Planning Commission has looked at ways to address this issue from several angles. Among them, last year we hosted a panel of speakers who discussed ways to increase housing through incremental development, and loan and grant programs for apartment upgrades available from Windham and Windsor Housing Trust and the state of Vermont. As you know, we are currently working with the Windham Regional Commission on bylaw amendments that are intended to support increased housing access as part of Newfane’s Bylaw Modernization Grant.

Given the time pressure for ARPA funding and, we understand, a growing number of individual requests for private and project-specific grants to be paid from Newfane’s ARPA funds, we want to confirm that we are working on a housing-related proposal. We respectfully suggest that the Selectboard reserve remaining ARPA funds for investment in a public project that responds to the community priorities identified in the Planning Commission’s 2022 survey.

Ann Golob has been assisting us – including the suggestion to explore the possibility of a revolving loan fund – and we appreciate her engagement. Feel free to reach out to me, to Ann, or to Nolan Edgar, Jane Douglas, or James Bressor with any questions.

Many thanks, as always.
Kind regards,
Kate Gehring

Discussion ensued:
Comments and questions were heard from members of the Selectboard, Deborah Luskin, Marion Dowling, and Henriette Mantel.

Golob made a motion to reserve $150,000 for the Revolving Loan fund. Chevalier seconded.
Motion passed.

 

SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:
Town Moderator Deborah Luskin complimented the Selectboard on this year’s town report. A recommendation would be to include the Traffic Calming Committee report in future town reports. Luskin encouraged the Selectboard to apply the auditor’s recommendation to implement Fraud Risk Assessment Protection found on page 82.

Discussion ensued.
Luskin shared Roberts Rules of Procedure and the sequence for discussing Articles and when and how to make a proper motion.

 Newfane Anew Music Committee – Greg LoPiccolo and David Hull
Follow up regarding ARPA request from Tuesday, February 20th Selectboard meeting: Request had been made by the Selectboard for a more detailed estimate of the sound and lighting upgrades proposed for the Union Hall. Greg LoPiccolo and David Hull submitted the request which included an itemized list for equipment totaling $17,844.00 and electrical and carpentry work of $8,000, bringing the total request to $25,844.00.

Discussion ensued:
Local contractors who would do the work included Jerry Stockman, who helped with similar upgrades at the Williamsville Hall, and David Lyons from Townshend. Stockman is a professional technician who has worked at the New England Youth Theater and was able to help get wholesale prices for the equipment to maintain quality and keep the cost affordable.

Fitzpatrick made a motion to grant the total amount of $25,844.00 Johnson-Aplin seconded.
Motion passed 4-1, and Litchfield abstained.

Williamsville Village—Jon Julian and Walter Phelps request ARPA funds to repair and, in some places, replace the sidewalk in Williamsville Village. Julian stated that over time, the sidewalk has suffered neglect. With the road surface being raised, it has been buried in areas. Many sections are broken, and in other areas, they are missing, becoming essentially unusable.

The proposed work would be at the same grade as the roadway, facilitating snowplow work and keeping access to the existing driveways. Julian will follow up with a cost from Evans Construction on the repairs for the sidewalks in Williamsville.

Discussion ensued: The question was raised whether the State offers any grants for sidewalk repair. No one knew. Golob mentioned that the town’s procurement policy would still need to be followed if the town agreed to the expense which would mean putting the request out to bid. It was agreed to continue with Evans Construction to get an estimate so we would know the potential size of the job.

Newfane Cemetery Association Henriette Mantel—Requested $5,000.00 from the ARPA funds; all money will be used to repair and maintain memorials and grounds at the Hill and Woodlawn cemeteries.


Discussion ensued:
Jane Douglas, a trustee of South Newfane Cemetery, commented that there are over 20 cemeteries in Newfane, of which three are privately operated and have their own endowments. This includes the Hill and Woodlawn cemeteries as well as the South Newfane Cemetery and one more on Depot Road. Douglas said this could set a bad precedent and “be heading down a slippery slope” if the town was supporting private cemeteries that had established endowments for this purpose. Otherwise, you would need to consider requests from the other private cemeteries. Douglas raised the question whether the Town of Newfane should reconsider establishing a Cemetery Commission that would include all the cemeteries in Town that wanted to join. The Board asked Douglas if she would investigate whether there would be interest in doing so among those involved in the private cemeteries.


Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve the $5,000 ARPA request for the Newfane Cemetery Association. Golob seconded.
Motion passed.

UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:
None

NEW BUSINESS
None

OLD BUSINESS:

  1. Town Beautification (Chevalier)
    Making progress, I will speak with Wilson regarding the steel from the Arch Bridge being moved to his location.
  2. FEMA buyout of South Newfane General Store (Golob)

Waiting for the Sub-Grant approval letter from the Emergency Management, and then to proceed with the appraisal of the property.

Golob contacted four building appraisers,

  • Shawn Sargent estimates $2,500.
  • Leslie Shaw estimates $950.
  • Brian Audio estimated between $1,500-1,800
  • David Buckley estimates $4,000.

Golob recommended Sargent who had the most experience dealing with these types of FEMA buyouts. This would help to ensure that Newfane did its due diligence by offering the property owner a fair appraisal of the property.

Chevalier made a motion to approve Shawn Sargent at $2,500 for appraising the South Newfane General Store properties. Golob seconded. Motion passed. 4/1.

Golob made a motion to authorize Litchfield to sign the contract. Chevalier seconded. Motion passed.

  1. ARPA Funds Updates (Golob) Resolution for ARPA Allocations
    Tabled until March 18th, 2024, meeting in order to allow the Treasurer to calculate the updated account figures.
  2. Personnel Policy changes/ recommendation (Johnson-Aplin/Chevalier)
    None

February 20th Selectboard Meeting-Follow-up:
Selectboard has drafted a letter to address Bill Morse’s letter regarding zoning concerns. It will be mailed this week.

CORRESPONDENCE:

PAY ORDERS

  1. Payroll # 11668                 $  5,730.75
  2. Payroll # 11669                 $  6,592.20
  3. AP # 24019                        $ 35,703.09

Johnson-Aplin made a motion to approve the pay orders. Chevalier seconded.
Motion passed.

 ADJOURN:

Johnson-Aplin made a motion to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 8:11 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,

Wannetta Powling,
Administrative Assistant
AL/AG