Town of NewSalem Selectboard
June 4, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright; MaryEllen Kennedy, Kathy Sole-Regine, Broadband; Tamara Conde, Recreation Commission
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Signing of Annual Town Meeting Warrant
Kathy started off by explaining that there has been discussion with the engineer about Wendell Rd. Because of the way the wires are and the electric is buried at a certain point, there would have to be some pole replacements and the costs could be around $50,000 dollars. This is whether it would even be allowed, as the same company was unwilling to allow it in Shutesbury. They’ve looked at Faye Rd as well. Most of the issues there are avoidable. All parties on Faye Rd have been accommodating. Wayne noted that a great deal of the work on that road was done by the town in the first place years ago. Kathy then reported on a tree that might need to be removed. It’s been confirmed that this tree is not unique in its area as there are other members of the species that are in proximity. Wayne asked some questions about how some of the work that could be avoided. Nancy asked some questions about some dead trees as well as trees that are supposed to be limbed. Kathy reported that no work will be done until after the start of the new fiscal year. Nancy noted some concerns about tree hearings and making sure that the matter is considered properly and suggested putting this topic on the Board’s agenda in two weeks. Kathy and MaryEllen agreed. Nancy suggested there is a process that involves Planning Board so it should be considered carefully. Kathy then reported on a somewhat major snafu with DCR. There had been ongoing discussions with DCR since January.
They were informed of Broadband’s plans for some private roads in town that DCR owns land on both sides. DCR was fine with it the entire time. It wasn’t until they were sent the agreements that DCR realized it could not sign easements. For such an easement to be granted the General Court would have to vote on it. Work has been taken with Representative Whipps Lee to get such a vote as soon as possible. A legislative vehicle has been identified and the matter is being dealt with. MaryEllen then explained why these private roads need to be part of this or a whole section of the town will be left out. Wayne noted this should get the support of Governor Baker. Kathy then outlined all alternatives. All of them would be substantially costlier. Ideally it would be covered by the Commonwealth, especially since the Commonwealth would be saying no through DCR and creating the problem in the first place, but that isn’t guaranteed. One of those alternatives would be to make one of those private roads a public way. Discussion then shifted back to the matter of legislation. Wayne and Randy both expressed support for any legislative solution that can be achieved. There was side discussion about whether there were any pre-existing easements. There had appeared to be an easement on a plan for one of the roads, but the Commonwealth made it clear that this doesn’t count since it only shows up on the one plan. Nancy then discussed setting up a pole hearing, in addition to any tree hearings, and elaborated on what paperwork she must receive. Nancy noted she has to describe the poles, so she will need to have an accounting of how many poles and where they will be located.
Tamara started off by asking some questions about the Rabbit Run funds and how they were handled. Randy explained that the money was counted by Nancy and submitted to the Town Treasurer’s office. Tamara then had a question about some payments to be made from the funds, specifically for services like Police detail. Nancy recommended checking with either the Town Accountant or Town Treasurer.
Cemetery Commission Concern
Tamara then reported that Cemetery Commissions file cabinet in the Stowell Building appears to be have been broken into and moved from its original location. They would like to have a new cabinet and would prefer not to pay for it since it was damaged by another party in town. They were surprised and disappointed to find it broken. Wayne asked if it was locked. Tamara reported that it did have a lock, but has been pried open and now the lock is broken. Randy inquired as to the records. The types of records, Tamara noted, are mostly deeds and should be secured. Nancy noted that there are funds available to purchase a replacement. There was then some discussion about whether the cabinet should remain in the Stowell Building or be moved elsewhere. The only available space in the Annex is not ideal. It was decided the new cabinet should go where the old one is.
Tamara spoke about a property on Blackington Rd. There continues to be an accumulation of junk items. Nancy reported that the Building Inspector is working on this particular property and promised to let him know that it appears to be expanding. Tamara apologized for complaining but said its getting really bad. Wayne assured her that many other parties in town are concerned about this property and she shouldn’t be. Nancy then reported on the work that Board of Health has also put in on this property. The property is heading into foreclosure at this point and the buildup of more junk may be in anticipation of this.
Proposed ATM Articles from Board of Assessors
The Assessors are looking to rescind three votes previously taken at prior town meetings. This is a purely housekeeping issue and Town Counsel says it has no affect otherwise. This will make it easier for the Assessors to do their work.
Review/Sign Annual Town Meeting Warrant
Randy started off by suggesting the Selectboard carefully go through the warrant to see if anything pops out. Nancy spoke briefly about setting up a meeting prior to the Annual Town Meeting. It was agreed that such a meeting should be set up. Randy then went over the articles noting areas that jumped out to him and what questions he anticipates. Nancy elaborated on several and suggested which department heads might be best placed to answer any questions. There was some discussion of articles that would be particularly controversial for some in town. One such article involved the purchase of a new police vehicle. Randy suggested some ways to approach the matter including some thought as to where the vehicles are stored and how to assign them in town. These include thoughts about mileage and wear and tear. Nancy noted that some of these considerations apply to other town vehicles as well and that may be applicable. Wayne had some thoughts as well on what issues might be brought up regarding town vehicles. Nancy suggested that the Town Moderator would have to keep discussion on topic. Discussion then shifted to the highway barn. Nancy reported on future work that might happen. The last piece to put in would be a floor. Wayne noted that the town was barely able to squeak in a new highway garage in the first place so that’s why the floor wasn’t done with the initial build. There was then discussion regarding the Police Departments service side arms. Wayne noted how the town can get some of its money back so the cost really won’t be that high.
Discussion then shifted to the articles from Planning Board. Randy suggested the Town Moderator may want to dispense with reading these. Nancy suggested including in the motion dispensing with reading the articles in total. From there discussion revolved around the Marijuana moratorium. Wayne noted it will only be effective through the end of the calendar year. Nancy explained that many towns put moratoriums in place months ago. Wayne elaborated on the powers that the Planning Board has and the control they can exercise without such a by-law. There was some discussion of whether the Selectboard should recommend the article or not. Randy suggested that this may not require any opinion one way or the other from the Selectboard. He made some suggestions about how to present the by-law neutrally and allow the voters to decide. Discussion then shifted to the Planning Board’s by-law that would allow for small unattached accessory buildings and in-law apartments. One of the concerns is with the types of structures that would be put in place and whether they would have to match the existing structures or not. Nancy then reported on some issues that have already arisen with in-law apartments in town. So the matter should be thought about carefully. Wayne agreed noting some of the challenges with assessing property that can arise. Nancy then went over the remaining articles. None appeared to jump out as possible questions. The Selectboard then determined to formally approve the warrant and sign it.
Latest SREC Sale Proceeds
Proceeds from the SREC sales totaled $871. The sum comes from power sales during off peak production so that’s why the number is low.
Community Development Block Grant
About the only thing New Salem is eligible for is housing assistance for rehabbing substandard dwellings. This mostly concerns no interest loans that only have to be paid on when the house is sold.
Veterans Memorial & Tree Planting
Wayne reported that the light has been installed on the flag pole so it is now properly lighted up in the evening. Nancy then provided the Selectboard with some information and pictures of the plantings done.
Authorization for Green Community Matter
Nancy provided a letter for the Selectboard to sign for the Green Community Committee. This will allow the committee to get access to some data. The Selectboard saw no reason not to sign the letter as drafted.
Nancy reported on some issues regarding Agricultural Commission being authorized to purchase land. It appears unclear whether the town has ever adopted the MGL that would permit this. There is a diversity of opinions among organs of the Commonwealth and some confusion as to the process to adopt the law. Wayne noted that the FRCOG is working on increasing Commonwealth and Federal land ownership in the western part of the Commonwealth. Nancy noted some of the issues Wendell has had with the Wendell State Forest. The PILOT does not produce a great deal of funds. There was some discussion about how Agricultural Commission would go about buying land and whether it could ever be sold.
The Selectboard adopted the minutes from May 7th, 2018 and May 21st, 2018.
A motion to adjourn at 8:00 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk