Town of NewSalem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

April 22, 2019

Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Jean Derderian, Historical Commission; MaryEllen Kennedy, MLP Director; Kathy Soule-Regine, MLP Board; Richard Nalewski, National Grid Representative; Jean Derderian, Sarah Kohler, Historical Commission; Zara Dowling, Green Communities; Cam Dunbar, Board of Health; Ken Bright;

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Ø Broadband Intergovernmental Agreement with Westfield Gas & Electric

Ø MOU with FRCOG for Technical Assistance for Regional Energy Planning

Discussion Items

Pole Hearings

The pole placements are on Daniel Shay’s, Cooleyville Rd, and Jennie Horr Rd. They are mainly for Broadband, but there has been an ongoing effort to move distribution of power lines. Originally the lines crossed through swamp and ran behind a number of houses. As such it remains difficult to maintain according to Richard. He explained that they have been trying to change things for a while, and Broadband along with new construction have helped. The portion that he worked on originally was Jennie Horr Rd. He’s since worked on the subsequent areas. The portion running on Cooleyville Rd moving would eliminate some issues from distribution coming from Shutesbury. They want to have the lines running along the public roadways as it both helps with Broadband as well as National Grid’s own maintenance. Kathy noted that Westfield Gas & Electric has been looking at staying on the existing poles since Verizon was planning to stay on them, but it may be worth encouraging Verizon to reconsider. Still, any new poles should have space for broadband fiber. Sarah noted some concerns by the Historical Commission as to a few of the pole locations. The main concern being that the town has adopted the Scenic Roads Act which protects the towns stone walls. The location of some of these poles could adversely affect the stone walls along the roads in question. As such the Historical Commission would like to revisit some of the siting locations. Richard asked where they should be moved. Sarah proposed that someone from Historical Commission meet with a representative from National Grid to revisit. Richard noted that if the poles are moved they may leave the public right of way and require easements from property owners. He was aware of one location, on Jennie Horr Rd, where the placement cannot be moved. The pole would be right up against a stone wall. The property owner has expressed some willingness to allow placement of that pole.

The issue with pole movements are the ramifications to foliage in the area as well as the stringing of power lines along that area. Jean asked about scheduling a walk through. Richard responded that something would have to be scheduled between National Grids arborist for the region and the towns Tree Warden. Wayne clarified as to the necessity of easements for some poles if moved. Richard confirmed that they would have to be in some cases. It was noted that one of the pole locations is on a narrow road corner so placing the pole on the other side of the stone wall with an easement would be preferable. Wayne asked about the impact to trees. Beyond what has already been passed before the Tree Warden, not many. But changes could necessitate further foliage removal. Sarah felt most shifts would be within a 3-foot change. Kathy asked what kind of time impact changes would have. Richard could not answer definitively. Wayne had some questions about the spans and the necessity of each pole. Richard responded that some of the poles cannot be moved given structural needs. Jean asked about the staking as well as sight maps. Richard responded that he’s re-staked the region. Nancy noted that the Daniel Shay piece is not the towns jurisdiction, but rather falls under the Commonwealth’s authority. This leaves Cooleyville Rd and Jennie Horr Rd. Randy asked about the flexibility of the design. Richard explained that if the poles move more than 3 feet than the petition process would have to be started again and a new pole hearing scheduled. If the poles end up on private property that would necessitate a different process involving easements. There is also the potential that things might look unaesthetically pleasing. Wayne asked what the timeline would be if this hearing approved the pole placements. Richard responded that the buildout work needs to be done both for National Grid as well as for the towns broadband.

Kathy responded on the time constraints for broadband, noting that delays can impact the bidding process as well as the make ready. Richard was not able to give an answer as to what delays could be caused for broadband. Randy asked how hard this would be to change. Richard could not readily answer that question. So the question was whether the Selectboard should proceed or continue the hearing. Nancy noted the Selectboard has final say, including over the Scenic Road Act piece of this. There was a question about Verizon’s intentions in the area. Richard felt confident they’ve mostly gone underground there. Nancy recalled that the petitions are solely by National Grid and are not joint with Verizon. He can meet to look over this, but the delay could be weeks. Kathy expressed concern that the southern part of the town could be delayed. It was agreed that Richard will meet with Sarah. Wayne felt that in the interest of not holding up broadband, it could be necessary to approve the poles and ask National Grid to move where possible. Randy suggested holding a special meeting rather than waiting two weeks. This would facilitate National Grid being able to meet with Historical Commission and then still allowing a continued hearing or new hearing. Wayne suggested proceeding, with the understanding that the poles may be moved were necessary within the 3 feet. Sarah felt fairly certain that all but one pole would fall within the 3-foot rule. Nancy clarified that the Cooleyville Rd poles could safely be approved under that understanding. She submitted that the Selectboard could approve the Cooleyville Rd petition. As for Jeannie Horr Rd. that could be done with the caveat of P-3 moving to private property. Sarah finished by thanking National Grid for hearing Historical Commissions concerns.

A motion was made by Wayne to approve the placement of the poles on Cooleyville Rd. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

A motion was made by Wayne to permit the approval of the poles on Jennie Horr Rd with the caveat that one pole, P-3, would be moved to private property not requiring a pole hearing and subject to private easement. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

Intergovernmental Agreement with Westfield Gas & Electric Regarding Purchase of Fiber Hub Components

Kathy reported on the agreement. This covers the electronics in the hut for broadband. Randy and Wayne had no issue with approving the agreement. Randy signed in his capacity as chair.

FRCOG Technical Assistance MOU

Zara briefly update the Selectboard on some FRCOG assistance that the Green Communities Committee has gotten. FRCOG is willing to provide help in obtaining grants from the Commonwealth. This will help with procurement as well. Nancy noted that it can help as the procurement piece is a big deal for the town, but FRCOG has people for it. Wayne was pleased noting a few areas that could be helpful. Kathy asked if it would help with minor things like energy efficiency. Zara felt it would. Wayne inquired about municipal solar projects. Zara responded that the Commonwealths program filled out for large projects, but there may still be room for small ones. Nancy agreed noting that Wendell is waiting on a few projects. Zara felt that a small project like the towns existing municipal solar would be able to make it, but anything larger would have to wait. She then reported on efforts regarding Swift River Elementary which probably would want a big project. Kathy suggested a few town buildings whose roofs could have solar installed. Zara agreed that most of them should be pursued. She felt that FRCOGs help will be instrumental on all fronts. MaryEllen asked about some opportunities that could be pursued for broadband. Zara responded she’d need a bit more information, including specs. MaryEllen felt confident that those could be provided.

1794 Meetinghouse Lease

Nancy reported on correspondence she’s received from the director of the Meetinghouse. They’re asking about the lease agreement between them and the town. The last lease was signed in 1997 with the lease period running 5 years and permitting extension of up to an additional 15 years. So the total from 1997 would be about 20 years. That said nothing appears to have been renewed, and the lease may have lapsed around 2017. There was also a question of whether the lapsed lease was every properly reviewed by counsel. Nancy then went over the provisions of the lease, noting various provisions. Randy noted a few issues with the old lease and noted that a new lease may take some time. It was noted that the Old Academy Buildings lease was for 3 years and was passed before several legal counsels. Nancy suggested perhaps passing a new lease with Town Counsel. Randy suggested asking Town Counsel to take the existing lease and simply update it. Wayne suggested using the new Old Academy Buildings lease as a model and remove any elements that don’t make sense for the Meetinghouse. Nancy suggested looking at the provisions that can be used and said she’d consult with Town Counsel.

Dog By-Law Proposed Changes

The Animal Control Officer has proposed by-law changes regarding kennels. Nancy felt that some of the proposed changes are too cumbersome as they are written, but felt that they could be cleaned up. A lot of this is MGL, so there is little point in bringing that up at Annual Town Meeting. There will also be a need for Planning Board to be involved.

Annual Report Cover

Nancy noted that a theme should be picked for this year. Last year was birds. Jean made a few suggestions. Wayne had a few thoughts on various locations in town. Nancy recommended putting it in the New Salem News to ask residents.

Confirmation of Final Annual Town Meeting Date

Nancy promised this would be the most likely date. June 19th, 2019. She noted that Wendell has had similar issues with scheduling their Annual Town Meeting. She suggested going forward that a date be chosen in January of every year. Otherwise it may be time to consider affixing the date as a specific weekday in June by by-law. It was noted that Orange has pursued a fixed date and it has worked for them. Jean then had a few questions about the warrant closing date. Nancy elaborated on the deadlines that would be in place for a June 19th date. Nancy then reported on a nonbinding resolution that was requested for the warrant. The Selectboard was fine with keeping that on the warrant. Nancy then reported on the budget. Finance Committee is mostly ready for that to proceed onto the warrant. Wayne asked about a line item for a facilities repair person. Nancy reported that there is a plan to add it to an existing line for building maintenance. The hope is to find someone willing to do it for a reasonable monthly stipend.

Reminder of Meeting with Wendell Selectboard & Finance Committee

Nancy reminded that this is scheduled for May 1, 2019 at 7:00 pm.


The Selectboard determined to approve the minutes from April 8, 2019.

A motion to adjourn at 8:12 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk