Town of New Salem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

 September 8, 2020

Held Virtually via Zoom

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; David Cramer, Planning Board; Nancy Slator, New Salem News; Jen Potee, Cam Dunbar, Board of Health; Phil Delorey, Building Inspector; Jackson Goddard; Jeanne Clayton;

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

  • Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Discussion Items

Status of ‘Junkyard’ Properties

Jen noted that 100 Blackinton Rd will likely have to go to court. The other big concern is the property at 210 Wendell Rd. Phil went over the papers that are being submitted to the court by Town Counsel. Town Counsel is optimistic that things will move quickly on 100 Blackinton Rd. He then noted a meeting he had with one of the property owners. The owner has promised to take action but sadly hasn’t put anything in writing and there is no indication the property is being cleaned up. So we should proceed. The court hearing date should be set in the next 10 days or so. It is a process, but it is moving along well at this point. Jean noted she’d heard the owner may not be able to respond and asked about service of process. Phil responded that he isn’t involved in that, a letter is sent out by the court informing the homeowner of the case and asking for a response. He asked if there is any suggestion that the proceedings stop. Jean responded she wasn’t suggesting anything one way or the other, just that the person in question has to be served properly and special accommodations might be required to do it. Phil then turned to the other property which is 210 Wendell Rd. There are dumpsters on the sight and the owner there appears to be making some show of action. No actual activity seems to really be occurring. There are issues there that are beyond ordinary in that case and he asked if Wayne had reached out to him recently. Wayne recalled his own experience and noted he’s seen no activity in the dumpster. Still he is active. Wayne agreed to try and catch up with him and to include Phil. Phil noted that this owner has been fully serviced with notices of the zoning violation. He hasn’t taken it to the next step yet given the show of action and Wayne intervening. Jen expressed concerns about this situation going into winter. In part the need to ensure proper housing for the property owner as well as the concerns for Swift River Elementary. She felt that there hasn’t been any improvement and worried that it is getting worse. Phil noted a case he has in another town where there is a case with a person that has a mental health issue. In that case the choice was to engage a retired person who is a former state health agent. This former state health agent has been able to assist there. In order to really take action with this case there may be a whole other level of court orders. These kinds of cases are really health matters, and in many cases must be addressed on a state level. He suggested Board of Health consult with its Agent to see if this can be responded to on a health level. Jen agreed to consult with the Agent, but renewed her worries about this home and that it has proper sanitation and heating going into winter. The residence has gone in unlived in for a long time prior to the current owner. Phil suggested going with Wayne and having the Agent come as well. The owner might be amenable to being asked if they can enter. He isn’t going to just suddenly comply and not be a public nuisance, but still. It was agreed to get Phil in contact with the Board of Health’s Agent.

Use of Town Hall for Flu Clinic

Jen started off by discussing the flu clinic. It will be September 29 from 1 pm to 4 pm. She asked for formal permission to use the basement of the Town Hall. Randy asked if there would be sufficient space. Jen responded that it would be by appointment only and the priority would be seniors. Nancy volunteered to help with scheduling appointments. Jen then noted the professional volunteers who will assist. This vaccine will be specially for people who are over 65. Wayne expressed appreciation for the flu clinic being setup. Jean agreed noting specifically that she had no objection to the use of the Town Hall. Jackson asked about the cost. Jen reconsider there would be no cost as insurance will cover the cost whether it is Medicare or a private HMO. Randy expressed his support as well. The Selectboard consensus was in favor of allowing the Board of Health to use Town Hall for their event.

Eagle Scout Court of Honor / Andrew Ohlson – Invitation & Use of Athletic Field

Nancy began by asking the Board of Health if Andrew had contacted them. Cam responded that he has and he is following all the requirements and protections. Board of Health voted affirmatively to allow him to proceed with this. Wayne expressed regret that this wasn’t brought before the Selectboard first. Nancy responded that it was just the series of events and meeting schedules that prevented that.

Green Community Grant for Swift River School Projects

Nancy reported that the town has received the grant and it has been approved for use at Swift River. $12,000 for a walk in freezer and $23,000 for some weatherization. $35,000 in total. Wayne asked if a motion is needed to accept this. Nancy responded that it isn’t in this case.

Final Review of Special Town Meeting Warrant

Randy started off by asking Jen about any precautions that should be taken for the town meeting. Jen noted a few things including hand sanitizer stands that she could provide. Cam then briefly spoke in his capacity as Town Moderator. He asked that citizens come prepared and having read the warrant in advance. It won’t be conducive to a town meeting in a pandemic setting if people aren’t already prepared. In particular folks should read the Dog By-Laws beforehand. Randy then turned to the warrant articles. Article 1 is the 2 percent COLA for elected officials. Article 2 is specifically regarding Mahar funding. The change is because the amount asked for at the last town meeting was different and involved level funding that amounted to a cut. This change would address that. There is also a small change in the Library’s budget. Article 3 involves COLA’s for non-elected employees. Article 4 regards the proposed marijuana dispensary. If the proposed store goes in, this article would allow a 3 percent excise tax which is different from the 3 percent impact fee. Unlike the impact fee this is general revenue. The impact fee may only be used to address impacts to the town from marijuana. Article 5 addresses a prior year bill as does Articles 6, 7, and 8. Article 9 is the Dog By-Law. Cam interjected to note that the whole budget won’t be read, just the changes to it. Randy expressed the feeling that 2 percent is 2 percent. It’s not much higher. Wayne then put it on the record that he agrees with the Town Moderator that residents should be prepared. Randy then asked about how the procedure will go. Cam responded by outlining his game plan. He figured the discussion should happen and then get to the votes after towards the end. Still, he noted he would check with his predecessor to consult with him. Randy reminded that the by-laws won’t go into effect until after review by the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Grant for Fire Dept.

Nancy reported the town has received $10,000 for washable uniforms. This was applied for some time ago and is now moving forward.

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Community Resilience Building Workshop: Sept. 16, 1—3 pm at Fire Station

Nancy reported on the workshop. This will help the town to determine vulnerabilities to climate change and to assist the town in finding ways to improve the towns resilience. Jean noted she’s registered for this event and will attend.

Use of Legal Counsel

Randy recalled that after the last Planning Board meeting, they voted to utilize Town Counsel. He met briefly with David Cramer, Nancy Aldrich, and Sarah Kohler to help address basic questions and plans for asking Town Counsel. The plan is to have a series of questions for Town Counsel ready imminently.                        

Trees by Tennis Court

Wayne expressed some concern about some trees near the Tennis Court. He’s spoken with the Highway Chief about it and hopes to see them addressed. They should have been addressed a while back. Randy noted the trees in question are large. These should be addressed. He has surveyed these trees and noted that they aren’t very noticeable. The trees in question appear to have been roped up and kept from falling over. There is also a question about whether these trees are on town property or private property. Wayne asked if anyone had any issues with the trees being cleaned up, specifically those by the Tennis Courts. Randy was in support of removal if the Highway Chief who is also the Tree Warden is willing to do so. Jean registered support. She felt that in this time when recreational options are limited and tennis is one of the few things that can be done safely, that it is worthy of support. Jackson noted that he’s spoken with Mollie on the Tree Committee about the trees in question. More needs to be done in his view to address coming years. Randy was unsure as to what the Selectboard can do about things like invasive concerns. He felt this is an important issue, but was unsure what the Selectboard can do. Wayne noted there will be a meeting coming up that will deal with the invasive species. Jackson noted that if you look at his property there are several large ash trees and in 2019 he was fortunate to have someone from the Commonwealth examine them. Some of the lesser ash trees are dying. Thankfully they found none of the beetles. He has subsequently asked for a reporting feature through the town for this invasive species. Randy noted this is definitely a Tree Committee issue, but that said if there are specific suggestions for how to address this the town can consider it. Nancy agreed to send correspondence to the Tree Committee.

Minutes

The Selectboard considered the minutes for August 10 which were tabled at the last meeting. It was agreed to table the minutes from August 24. Jean proposed a change to the minutes for August 10. She noted a couple places where mistakes in spelling where made and she asked for specific wording to be made as well. Randy saw no reason not to accept the proposed amendments.  Wayne concurred.

Wayne made a motion to approve the minutes for August 10 as amended. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.

A motion to adjourn at 7:50 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk