Town of NewSalem Selectboard
February 12, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Lisa DeWitt, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright; Carla Halpern, Rabbit Run; Kathy Soule-Regine, MaryEllen Kennedy, Broadband; Amy Lovell, Agricultural Commission; Sarah Kohler, David Cramer, Planning Board; Cameron Woodcock, Athol Daily News Reporter
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Appointment Slip for Assistant Treasurer
Discussion of MGL Chapter 40, Section 8L with Agricultural Commission
Amy started by introducing herself as a member of the Agricultural Commission. She then explained that MGL Chapter 40, Section 8L allows the commission to acquire land on behalf of the town for agricultural uses. Recent meetings have been held to try and help Agricultural Commissions to learn about this provision of the law. The law would have to be enacted and accepted by the town at a town meeting. Randy asked a few questions concerning the specific statute and how it would be adopted. Wayne inquired about where financing would come from. Amy responded by elaborating further on the mechanics of the law and explaining that no specific land is in mind for purchasing at this time. It’s simply an option to have in place. Nancy noted that any purchases would still have to be approved by town meeting just as an acquisition by Conservation Commission or other the Selectboard would. There was then a question about Amy moving out of town. Due to recent events, Amy admitted it is a possibility. Nancy reported that she’s spoken with Town Counsel and since the position is not elected, but appointed, Amy may continue to serve on the Commission. Discussion shifted back to the adoption of MGL Chapter 40, Section 8L. The Selectboard expressed support in favor of placing the adoption of the statute on the Annual Town Meeting warrant. Amy then went briefly over some of the future programing and workshops that Agricultural Commission intends on sponsoring including one that involves growing mushrooms. Sarah then reported on a few other programs including some in Wendell that may be of interest as well.
A motion was made by Lisa to put adoption of MGL Chapter 40, Section 8L, on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed without objection.
Rabbit Run/Village Ultra Races
Nancy reported on some of her discussions with the Town Accountant about the possibility of setting up a donation account for the race. Carla noted some thoughts, primarily of which is that the Rabbit Run was started for by the Recreation Committee to fund raise. She doesn’t see a reason to have its fund raising change from going to a revolving fund that falls under the Recreation Committee. Discussion then turned briefly to the issue of budgeting on the part of the Recreation Committee in regards to the funds raised by the Rabbit Run. The Rabbit Run is currently scheduled for May 19th, 2018. DCR has orally confirmed that it is likely to approve the event for the part that runs through Quabbin property. Carla expects formal approval to be received. She then briefly went over plans for the next Village Ultra Race. She wanted to give the Selectboard a chance to comment and make any suggestions or put forward any concerns it might have. She would like to plan the event for Labor Day Weekend. She listed a few reasons why that date makes sense to her. It is early enough in the year that the weather should still be good and sunlight should last into the evening. She sees the date as likely being September 1st. There would be setup and clean up. She would like to use the Rabbit Run route, but DCR is not yet certain that route would work on that date. Randy inquired as to whether that time frame runs into any hunting seasons. Carla was uncertain, but intends to follow up with DCR. She then outlined some other thoughts about the race and how it would be handled. Including if it would have to occur later in the year. She also outlined safety measures that would be implemented. Other things to consider, she noted, is that a lot of people that do these things, include possibly camping as part of the event. So she’d like to know if that would be permissible. This would not likely be a noisy group, but there would be people outside and people do run together and chat, etc. This year the fund raising would be for Mahar Regional School District and intended to help support some programs. Wayne inquired whether Carla would be willing to join the Recreation Committee. Carla responded that she is spread thin and doesn’t think she could make the commitment. Nancy noted that in the future for private individuals, fundraising cannot be done through the town according to the Town Accountant. However, if the fundraising is doing via Mahar, it should be fine.
It isn’t about the event, only if the money goes through town coffers. Lisa inquired as to the sale of food at the event. Carla noted that food isn’t usually sold, most participants bring their own food. There would be an aid table, but it is potluck style. Any money for food would have to be donated or factored into the registry fee. Lisa then noted she would be willing to help fundraise and thanked Carla for her efforts. Wayne then inquired about whether police or security is needed. Carla responded she intends to speak with Chief of Police Joe Camden about it. For the Rabbit Run a police detail isn’t required by the department or the town. For this event, it might need to be. Lisa inquired about whether a good place to allow any camping might be the Soccer Field versus the Town Common. Carla felt that was reasonable assuming its acceptable to the town. Lisa noted that the area isn’t used very much and would be more sheltered. Carla noted this could also work given the course and where it runs close to the field. Randy expressed concern about camping and any possible liability for the town if it permits it. Nancy agreed to research the matter and see if there would be any possible liability for the town. Carla suggested a waiver be implemented, noting she is an attorney, and could draft a waiver that addresses overnight liability for the town. Carla then agreed to speak with organizers of other events about how they handle these kinds of events and any possible liability. Randy explained that his concern is more for injury either through accident, or through incidental exposure to wildlife. Carla responded with some thoughts about how to address those concerns and then wrapped up by asking the Selectboard to think about any further concerns or questions for her and expressed willingness to appear at another meeting of the Selectboard to address them. It was agreed to put Carla on the agenda in a few weeks.
Discussion of Marijuana Regulations with Planning Board
David started off by presenting a proposed zoning by-law amendment to establish a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments. In 2016, Question 4 was passed approving marijuana for recreation purposes. That was followed by legislative action by the General Court. This moratorium is advisable, in his opinion, due to the timeline for regulations being issued by the Cannabis Control Commission. This would not say whether the town approves or disapproves of marijuana, it simply buys time for regulation implementation. Wayne asked several questions regarding the question matter, and noting that there don’t appear to any establishments in town even being interested in selling at this time. David responded by noting that just because such a business doesn’t exist yet doesn’t mean someone can’t come into town to set one up. Nancy reminded that such a by-law change would require a hearing first. She then asked whether Planning Board wants to put this on the Special Town Meetings warrant or the Annual Town Meetings warrant. David responded it would be on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting with the public hearing occurring before that. The ATM would likely be in June. The moratorium would last until December of 2018. David then went over the proposed timeline and how it would intersect with other proposed zoning by-law changes. Sarah noted that this has been proposed, the Selectboard now has so many days to respond to it. The Planning Board is taking no position on marijuana legalization.
Lisa inquired as to why this moratorium would end on December 31st, and what that means. Nancy responded that it allows the town time to respond with by-laws and regulatory action in response to any decisions by the Cannabis Control Commission. Sarah noted it is 2018 and there still isn’t a set of regulations from the Cannabis Control Commission as of yet and there remains ongoing debate and dialogue within the Commonwealth level government. Wayne noted that a lot of this would be governed by permit and the town wouldn’t lose control of the issue assuming the moratorium isn’t approved. Sarah outlined some of the issues behind the moratorium and why Planning Board is asking. Currently no town by-law addresses marijuana at this time, so whether a permit or special permit is required is unclear. Wayne responded any business would be covered by zoning and by a special permit. There was a question of where the template by-law came from. David got it from FRCOG and has edited for the towns unique needs. Wayne noted that the Cannabis Control Commission is moving forward and will announce regulatory decisions as early as March. Randy then inquired as to feedback that is being looked for. Nancy noted that it involves comment and the Selectboard may offer comment or not. Wayne went over some of the peculiar issues the Commonwealth is facing on the topic and where things stand at the moment. David noted that this is a controversial issue, many voters are on different ends of the spectrum. This is simply to buy time for the town to figure the matter out.
Letter in Support of Rail Service in Western Massachusetts
Nancy reported on the letter she has drafted. At the hearing that was held in Springfield, a pilot program for Greenfield to Springfield was announced to already be in the works. However, the Selectboard is interested in seeing Western to Eastern Mass in essence from Western Mass to Boston. This route would hopefully be a high speed rail project. Lisa inquired as to how New Salem would tie in. Nancy reported it would likely be that residents would have to go to Greenfield.
Roadway Mileage – Update on MMA Directory
Nancy reported on the research she did for the Selectboard into the official road number provided by MassDOT. The information is from DOT. The town has 35.6 miles of town accepted roads, 12 miles of Mass Highway, 2.3 private roads, and 54 “other” which are Quabbin Roads.
Update on Nuisance Dog Court Date
Wayne reported, having gone to the hearing, that the case has been continued until April 3rd, 2018.
MLP Manager Position
Kathy started off by going over her conversations with the Personnel Board on this topic. Personnel Board has formally deferred the matter to the Selectboard. All the other MLP boards are putting together proposals for a stipend for their MLP managers. Most seeking greater funds. All Broadband wants is about $1,500 for a year. This would need to be added to the warrant, and would be an unelected appointed position. Wayne inquired as to whether the Finance Committee has had a chance to consider this. Kathy reported that she is attempting to do this in the correct order starting with Personnel then Selectboard and then Finance. Nancy agreed that this was the right order and noted that Finance Committee had she gone to them first would likely have deferred to the Selectboard for its opinion prior to making any decisions. Randy clarified as to how the appointment would occur. MaryEllen explained that if there was an MLP Board, it would be elected board that would appoint the MLP. For the time being the MLP Board is also concurrently the Selectboard, so the Selectboard would make the appoint. Kathy then went over the work that the MLP manager has to do and noted that paying that person is valid. Once the MLP is up and operational as an entity, this cost would be absorbed into its budget. Wayne inquired about how the MLP and whether its documentation would support this. Kathy responded that nothing specifically in that paperwork would answer this question. But once the MLP is running, it will generate revenue of its own that will be able to pay for this and other associated costs. Currently things are in a bit of a weird place. FY19 will be the cusp of operations for the MLP. So, it’s all about figuring out budgeting for an entity that isn’t fully in existence yet. The consensus of the Selectboard was to recommend the creation of a line item for the stipend and to agree to place the matter on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting.
Wayne made a motion to recommend creating a line item for $1,500 stipend for the MLP manager. The motion was seconded by Lisa and passed without objection.
Use of Town Hall
Lisa inquired whether the 1794 Meetinghouse can get permission to use the Town Hall on May 26th, 2018. The event is a fundraiser. Randy expressed no issue with it assuming they clean up afterwards. Lisa noted it’s a dinner dance and they’d likely be willing to take care of any clean up. It was determined to approve the request.
Nancy reported on the towns copier. It is down currently and needs to be repaired. The repair will run about $200. There is some kind of worn area on the drum. To replace the drum would cost about $600 with labor. No replacing it means a very fine line on copies. Assuming nobody is bothered by the line, it should be fine. Wayne inquired as to how old the machine is. Nancy was somewhat uncertain, but thought it was likely about 5 to 6 years old. There was brief discussion about whether the machine should be replaced or not. At this time, it makes more sense to just do the small repair.
Old Academy Building Lease
Wayne noted some thoughts about the proposed lease, mostly having to do with some minor edits that need to be made. He was also concerned about a provision regarding liability. Nancy noted that she hasn’t heard back from Town Counsel regarding the lease yet. Lisa elaborated on some of the insurance issues and her understanding as to why the Trustees don’t want to have liability. Wayne further noted that they appear to seek to disclaim any liability for use of the bathroom when used by other parties, this might get complicated. Nancy reminded that this matter is scheduled for the next meeting of the Selectboard and some of these questions may be answered then. Randy stated he would like to get the lease signed and this matter dealt with. It was suggested that the specific concerns of the Selectboard, including about section 10.3 of the proposed lease, be expressed to the Trustees so that they are prepared to discuss it. Lisa then outlined some things that are in the building that should be disposed of that don’t belong to the Trustees. These include some things from the Library that the Library isn’t interested in keeping as well as odds and ends nobody has claimed. It was agreed that she could speak with the Highway Chief about disposal of those materials. Nancy agreed to email the Trustees about 10.3 and the other concerns expressed.
The Selectboard approved the minutes from January 16th, 2018 and January 29th, 2018.
A motion to adjourn at 8:07 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Lisa and carried without objection.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk