Public Hearing Minutes – October 29, 2016




October 29, 2016

Members Present:     Todd Lawley (Chair); Carol Hatcher; Gary Delius; Marion Dowling; Michael Fitzpatrick; Karen Astley (Recording Secretary Town Office Committee)

Others Present:          Doris Knechtel (Chair Person); Frank Suponski; Mel Martin;
Moderator – Piet van Loon

Public Present:            William A. Tabell, John Flores, Hilly van Loon; Arthur Reynolds, Bea MacFarland, Janice Guminak, John Guminak, Alice Culver, Fred Lawrence, Gunther G. Garbe, Robert Litchfield, Archer Mayor, Margot Mayor, Tana Lilienthal, Edward Druke, Jr., Elaine Lambert, John Klein, Norman LaMoria, John Spicer, Chris Triebert, Carol Ross, Pat Howell, David Cotton, Priscilla Cotton, Steve Squires, Patricia Ballard, Stan Ballard, Polly Casanova, Lynn Forrest, Joanne Leone, Henriette Mantel, Walt Dadik, Ken Estry, Helen Prescott, Gloria J. Cristelli, Tristan Johnson, Wendy Johnson, Craig Arnold, Tom Vickers, Jean Wilson, Richard Wilson, Edward J. Druke, Sr, Emily Long, John Long, Carleen Pelsue, Neil Pelsue, Meg Spicer, Adele A. Graham, Sidney Johnson & Kathy Squires.


  1. CALL TO ORDER: Moderator Piet van Loon called the Public Hearing to order at 1:05 pm allowing for more people to come in late. Todd Lawley Select Board Chair read the town warning re-vote to the public. Piet van Loon explained Robert’s Rules of Order and how he would like to see the hearing proceed. The Town Office Committee would present the information via PowerPoint Presentation and all questions would be open at the end of the presentation. The moderator would acknowledge people to speak.


  1. NEW BUSINESS: Mel Martin represented the Town Office Committee and presented the informational PowerPoint Presentation. Mel Martin stressed there were two parts of the presentation. The first being a New Town Office building for $950,000 which required a bond and was scheduled for a re-vote; and second the “unique opportunity” which had developed between two parcels adjacent to the town office parcel that will affect the public on November 8, 2016. Questions and answers commenced after the presentation and continued through to 2:58 p.m.


The following are key elements from the Public Hearing: Ed Druke was present to indicate what his intent is for the town office property if it were offered to him. He would like to keep the business local and would build a new store front in the area of the current Nutique building. He would rent out the existing town office building. His intent would be developed in stages as it would take some time to develop.


Doris Knechtel was asked with the town wide reappraisal happening how would values be affected? Could this be a factor?  Doris didn’t know whether values would go up or down at this time. The appraisal is scheduled to be completed May 2017.

There was strong opinion of building new and renovation from the residents. Renovations could cost up to 500,000 – 600,000 where a new building would cost close to 1 million. Several residents mentioned people live in 100 plus year homes that require maintenance and are in the flood hazard area. We renovate when we can so who dropped the ball with respect to predictable maintenance of the town office?


Renovation figures were not available at this hearing as the TOC focused on the New Building and the bond re-vote as read. Residents did want numbers as they did not know how much an elevator or jacking up a building would cost or entail. The loss of housing was a concern as well as a real estate business if the new building were to build on the North parcel. More than one resident stated they had land available if the town wanted to consider their property for a new building.

Gary Delius reminded the community of the current deficiencies and stressed construction of a new building would last well into the future for the next generation.


If we were to renovate and relocate municipal business does the committee have a cost on this? Gary Delius stated we only had a preliminary cost for renovations that was presented previously to the Select Board and the cost to relocate business was not in the price for temporary relocation.


Gary Delius reiterated that in previous Select Board meetings figures were revealed on both renovation and a new building based on a Property Assessment Report. The report can be found on the town website. He also stated depending on the result of the bond re-vote on November 8 the Committee would revisit the renovation in the same way they approached a new building.


Some residents expressed discontent with the way the town warning was worded and stated is should have “a not to exceed” figure. The warning can be found on the town website and does state “a not to exceed”. Residents want more transparency from municipal officers. Marion Dowling spoke about the re-vote. She also stated more than once the community were invited to attend meetings so they knew what was going on.


More than one concern expressed from residents was the value and importance of the land records for history purposes. Records require space and climate control that will assure their longevity. Mold is currently an issue in the vault. There are different forms of mold. Records retention is sometimes for a lifetime with some documents and we really need to deal with the situation. The vault does not currently support growth or protection from environmental elements.


A question was raised with today’s technology why are documents not on the computer. Gloria Cristelli stated although we can digitize documents, State records regulations mandate municipalities to retain hard copies for a specified time period.


Residents stated they did not want the Village Center to become a commercial monopoly like Castleton, Vermont. The TOC stated there are zoning bylaws which would control development while keeping the character of the Village.



Tax impacts were discussed. With an increase to all property owners, is there any other way to do build or renovate? A project of this magnitude would need to be level funded and would require a bond per Mel Martin.  Long term the worth will increase and is the most fiscal responsible based on validation of the facts.


One resident did ask if renovations cost as much as building a new building can we change our minds later?  Gary Delius stated maybe. He elaborated by stating we have three options build new which is what the re-vote is about and this hearing, renovate or do nothing. If the bond fails we have the option to research renovation preliminary cost budgets at which time if the Select Board so chooses can charge the Town Office Committee with a different direction.


Selectman Michael Fitzpatrick reminded the public that it is important that we consider this option as it will benefit more than just daily municipal business. It will support local business and add to the tax base based on plans that were heard in this hearing. As a community we have control over this unlike the education tax rate that the state sets.


One last question was raised to Todd Lawley. What other large projects did Todd see or had knowledge that may require securing a bond in the near future?  Todd stated River Road Bridge is in need of replacement, the Arch Bridge in Williamsville is slated for repair ($200,000), and Act 46 may have a financial impact ($100,000) for residents. There was no further discussion on this matter.


  1. Adjournment: Moderator Piet van Loon called the meeting after approximately two hours. Meeting adjourned at 2:58 pm.




_________________________________                  __________________

Signature of Select Board Member                                Date


Prepared by: Karen M. Astley, Recording Secretary
(Note: These are unapproved minutes. Corrections, if necessary, will be found in the minutes of the next Town Office Building Committee meeting minutes.)