Selectboard Minutes 11/16/20

Town of New Salem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

 November 16, 2020

Held Virtually via Zoom

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Nancy Slator, New Salem News; Bradford Randall, Barznab Khan, V Patel, Ancient Growth; Pete D’Agostino, Tenax; Adam Braillard, counsel for Ancient Growth; Brad Foster, 1794 Meetinghouse; Jackson Goddard

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

  • Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Discussion Items

1794 Meetinghouse Lease & Request to Consult Town Counsel on RFP

Brad started off by elaborating on the current status of the 1794 Meetinghouse. Their current outlook is the planned renovations of the Meetinghouse itself. In this process it was found that the lease on the property has expired. In order to get grants for funding a new lease needs to be signed. That said, it appears likely the town would need to go through the Request for Proposals under MGL Chapter 30B. So the 1794 Meetinghouse has put forward an RFP model that was built off of the one done in Harvard, MA recently for a town building which a nonprofit leased. This of course should be edited and updated to the needs of New Salem. He also added a draft lease to the mix and noted that to his understanding the next step is that this should go to Town Counsel. Nancy noted that what she wants to run by Town Counsel is the RFP. Presumably the 1794 Meetinghouse will be the only respondent and at that point a lease can be negotiated and signed. Wendell did a similar process, although in Wendell’s case it was a sale. The law simply requires the town to go through the RFP process. Randy reminded those present this is simply about the town adhering to the law and process not any action against the current tenants. Jean asked why this has to go back to the drawing board. If it did expire, it was mutually continued and is really more of an extension rather than a new lease. Nancy submitted that the original lease was not valid in the opinion of Town Counsel upon review. Jean expressed the concern that after all this time and investment having been done by the 1794 Meetinghouse might lose out to another entity that could respond. Wayne submitted that the town is simply coming up short with the lease that was in place in the past and the proper process simply needs to be followed from start to finish. Nancy reminded that it is unlikely any other entity would apply.

A motion was made by Wayne to ask Town Counsel to review the proposed RFP and make any necessary changes and/or recommendations to the town. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed unanimously.

Host Community Agreement for Proposed Marijuana Retail Operation

Bradford started off by thanking the town for having Ancient Growth back. He then turned to the review of the draft and asked if the Selectboard if it is in agreement. Wayne responded by asking if a police officer will be on premises during operation hours. Adam noted that isn’t specifically in the HCA, but is required as part of the security plan required by the Cannabis Control Commission for their licensing. Jean reminded that they have to have a security plan and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a police officer. Pete interjected to say that is correct. Typically, what the companies do is work very closely with the local police department and assess the needs for any detail. Adjustments then are taken overtime with the local Police Chief to determine how to proceed. So it’s very collaborative. It works well and gives all parties the opportunity to address any concerns. So this then drives the long term plan. Ultimately the security plan is approved by the CCC and they can make changes. That’s rare as the CCC normally accepts what the company and the local police department work out. Wayne asked about traffic control. Pete responded that police would have to handle that kind of thing, but that’s something that would get addressed through the process. If traffic is an issue, then the detail would stay until a solution could be worked out. If the traffic isn’t an issue then depending, again on the local police departments recommendations, it would likely be dispensed with. Adam noted that there are numerous provisions in this agreement that require Ancient Growth to work with the town and the local police. Wayne clarified that there would be two weeks to work from opening with the police to work this out. He also recalled the road in question falls under MassDOT as a state highway. Pete responded that two weeks is usually enough time for most departments to determine what the needs are and make adjustments. Sometimes it takes longer, but usually that’s the time needed for dust to settle. As relating to MassDOT, they’ll work with Ancient Growth to address those concerns as is their jurisdiction and as they would with any business that’s off that state highway. Jean asked about some of the questions that may arise for a Planning Board special permit process. Randy responded that this HCA has to be settled first and then they go to Planning to address those questions. Randy then asked about the payments and the implications for extension. Adam responded that under the current statute these types of provisions can last for 5 years. Certain things may be able to carry to a new agreement while others may not per the statutory scheme. Randy asked Nancy about the process. She responded that the next step for Ancient Growth is that they go to the CCC and then after that Planning Board. Jean clarified that Town Counsel approves of this current agreement as written. Nancy responded affirmatively. Pete noted that the processes with the CCC can run concurrently with the Planning Board.

A motion was made by Jean to approve the Host Community Agreement as presented. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.

Update on Cooleyville Road Bridge

Wayne provided an update on the situation. He has heard back from MassDOT. They sent out an engineer who agreed from a visual standpoint the bridge appears unsafe. However, he suggested that the town try to find blue prints for the bridge. If it can be demonstrated that the cement slab has rebar and reinforcement, the town could likely impose a weight limit and reopen it. Sadly, he was not confident in the location of such blue prints and asked Nancy Aldrich if she had any knowledge. Nancy responded that Planning Board might have something, but was not aware of any such blue prints or engineering drawings. A few names of residents in town who might know were briefly discussed. Wayne then returned to the engineer. The DOT engineer felt the town made the best decision given the current knowledge and appearance. Wayne proposed alternatives to the blue prints or engineer plans that might help determine the status. Beyond this, the DOT engineer recommended looking at MGL Chapter 85. Wayne stressed that he himself is not an engineer, but felt confident that he could still help the town figure out the way to proceed with further research. He then reported on discussions with a wetlands expert from the FRCOG. This expert agreed that the potential for liability is the big issue and further reported there is a wetlands issue there as well. This may also result in some expense. Hopefully someone in town will have a recollection. Until then the town is on good footing to keep the bridge closed. Randy asked how soon the town could get the information. While liability has to be balanced, there are also other competing interests for residents there as well as safety when considering the alternative routes for them without the bridge. Wayne stressed that the town has to determine the safety of the bridge. So we need someone who can certify its safety. The bridge has only been closed for a year now and while it is understandable that this is inconvenient and may pose other challenges, it is also true that it would be detrimental if that bridge failed. This is going to cost some money. The wetlands issues, the engineering, etc. Jean asked about the type of engineer needed and noted that FRCOG may have engineers. Wayne responded that it requires a special type of engineer for infrastructure and even then FRCOG does not have an in house engineer. This bridge has issues, and it was FRCOG that originally identified it as a concern. He noted the structure of the bridge and the status of the several parts of it outlining many of the concerns. If the 12-inch slab of concrete involved had rebar in it, then it’s not as bad as it might otherwise appear. But if there isn’t rebar, then it could crack. He promised to continue working on this and to continue to provide updates. 

Pole Hearing for 37 South Main Street

Nancy noted there have been two hearings for this. She has spoken with National Grid. They are behind due to the recent power outage. Still, National Grid will be sending over information on the solutions and why a lot of things were rejected by them. There is only really one solution they think is viable under both statute and possible for them. National Grid is becoming fairly frustrated with this process and is not willing to schedule another hearing until they are fairly certain the Selectboard is ready to act upon their petition.

Update/Snow Removal on Private Roads

Wayne very briefly reported on the current status of many of the roads noting he’s gone out with the Highway Chief. The recent heavy rain will likely result in additional work that needs to be done.

Cellphone Tower Question

Nancy Slator asked about a power outage that also resulted in the cellphone tower going out. She couldn’t recall the tower losing power before. Wayne responded that the cellphone companies have backups on sight that help keep the tower running in the event of power interruption, but that only lasts a finite time. He the noted discussions with the cellphone companies in the past about improving and increasing the backups. But in the end that is a Planning Board matter and up to them during the next licensing update. This is an issue that should be brought up to ensure better backups. At least a few days’ worth as many people don’t have landlines anymore.

Minutes

The Selectboard considered the minutes for October 19, 2020 and November 2, 2020. It was agreed to table the minutes from November 2 and to approve the minutes from October 19 pending modification. Wayne noted some wording relating to the paving the tennis court having to do with the price of the asphalt. Wayne provided clarification to the wording. It was agreed to modify as proposed and amended.

A motion was made by Wayne to approve the minutes of October 19, 2020, as amended. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed unanimously.

A motion to adjourn at 7:47 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk