Town of NewSalem Selectboard
January 13, 2020
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright; Ramona Hamblin; Jan Doody; Bradford Randell; Garrett Cardosi; Laurie Cardosi; Tamara Conde, Planning Board
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Permission for FRCOG to Contract on Town’s Behalf
Ø Massachusetts Contract Forms for Fire Department Grants
Snow Removal Questions
Ramona started off by introducing herself. She then noted that Michael Lane where she lives was not plowed out by the town during the last snow storm. Her neighbors were able to plow, but that isn’t sustainable. As a result, she is asking whether the town is discontinuing maintenance of the road or not. Nancy responded that the Highway Dept. has had a lot of turnover recently. Wayne concurred noting that the storm was hard and that the trucks were getting stuck which is probably how this oversight had occurred. Jan noted there are 7 houses on Michael Lane. Wayne recalled that a section of Michael Lane is difficult for the trucks to plow as well which makes it challenging. Ramona reminded that her and her husband received a letter from the town saying that Michael Lane is maintained by the town as her mortgage company required it when they purchased their home. She provided a copy of the letter to the Selectboard. It was noted that there are people with special needs who live on Michael Lane as well, so there have to be contingency plans if the town insists it cannot maintain the lane. Jan asked a question of clarification as to whether it is just the snow plow that can’t come down or if the sander is also having difficulties. The sander appears to be able to go all the way down the lane and turn around before successfully. If the sander cannot make it, that would be a big problem given icing in winter. It appears that the area that is difficult to plow is actually a jug handle off of Michael Lane. Randy suggested there may simply be some confusion as to which road and with the personnel turnover in the Highway Dept. that could be responsible. Laurie noted that they can usually get as far as her house for turning around. Garrett recalled actions by residents to ensure that the plow truck can plow. Laurie noted she is a caregiver for a person with special needs, and she herself has health problems at times and so it is one of her biggest worries that something could happen and emergency response might not make it. Randy suggested having the Highway Chief go out and look at Michael Lane to verify that there is a turnaround spot for the plow truck and that the town can send the plow truck down Michael Lane safely. It was further agreed that the results of that would be sent by Nancy out to Ramona who could convey to her neighbors. It was also agreed that if for some reason the town determines plowing to be a problem for part or all of Michael Lane, residents would also be informed and could then come back to the Selectboard to discuss matters further.
Potential Marijuana Retail License, 2 Daniel Shays Highway
Bradford briefly introduced himself and the company he represents, Ancient Growth LLC. He is the manager of the company and is from Kingston, MA. He has worked with many towns to get through the licensing period with the Cannabis Control Commission and feels confident he can accomplish the same here. They have signed a letter of intent with George A. Hunt, Jr. to lease property owned by Mr. Hunt. Their search for a location was exhaustive, and they ultimately felt that the general character of their business would fit New Salem. Their plan is to have a marijuana retail establishment and eventually more products. There would be no on sight consumption in the beginning, with the hope to eventually have a bakery for marijuana edibles at a later time. He expressed the belief that this would bring revenue to New Salem and to that end expressed the desire to sign a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with the town. Bradford then went over the procedures to see that happen, including notices to abutters and town residents. So based on this information, he asked the Selectboard where they should hold the required community outreach meeting and how interested the town is in this business. Wayne suggested that any ads be run not only in the Greenfield Recorder but also the Athol Daily News. Jean agreed and suggested including it in the online news sent out to residents known as the New Salem News. Jean asked when the meeting would be held. Bradford responded they would hope to hold that outreach meeting in February. Jean noted the Town Hall is closed during winter and suggested they seek to hold the meeting at Swift River Elementary. Bradford then suggested Ancient Growth could contact Nancy to provide updates for the Selectboard. It was so agreed. Ken asked where on the property in question would the business located. Bradford responded that the retail store would be in the house and any further production would be in the barn.
Wayne asked about parking. Bradford responded that things are very early, but depending on the towns zoning, parking would need to be addressed. Nancy reminded that this property is on a state highway and as such off street parking would be necessary. Bradford noted that there is six acres to that property so off street parking should be possible. Ken asked when Planning Board comes into play. Jean responded that because the town is all one zoned and agricultural, anything outside of a “cottage industry” has to get a special permit from Planning Board. Bradford explained that in that event the HCA would have to be attained before starting the Planning Board process. Still, he promised to introduce his business to the Planning Board at the earliest opportunity. Jean recommended that the best way to proceed is to listen to people and take into consideration any feedback received. There will likely be concerns, as all projects receive. Stick with what the law requires and be responsive. Tamara noted that the Planning Board’s next meeting will be on January 22nd, 2020. Bradford agreed explaining that as a business that hopes to be in the town for a very long time, they want to fit in. The sight was picked with sensitivity. Part of the choice of this property is its location on the town line which would minimize the impact on New Salem while still brining tax revenue to New Salem. Randy expressed some reservations on Swift River Elementary as a sight for the community outreach meeting suggesting looking at other venues as well such as the Library. There was an inquiry as to when the Town Hall opens for the season. Nancy responded May 1st. Wayne and Randy both made recommendations as to officials in the community who should be included in the invitation to the community outreach. Wayne noted that Ancient Growth should make sure that they’re getting connected to the towns broadband. Discussion ended with the agreement to get the temperature of the community.
Upcoming Meeting with Police Succession Planning Consultant
At the Selectboard’s next meeting the consultant hired by New Salem and Wendell will attend. He will speak to the Selectboard about the process he will use. The primary focus at this point will be to gather information. Chief Camden and some of the other Police Officers will likely be in attendance, although the consultant will officially meet with them separately.
Chapter 90 Funding Update
Nancy reported the town received an increase in funds. The sum being $14,591. That brings the yearly amount to over $160,000. Wayne asked about road paving wondering if the Selectboard can direct which roads should be paved or if it is left up to the discretion of the Highway Dept. Nancy responded it’s usually left to Highway, but the Selectboard can certainly direct them.
District Local Technical Assistance Project Request Form
Nancy went over the request form and what it involves. This is an annual form. She noted she sent this out to the Selectboard prior to the meeting and asked if there are anything topics that stand out to the Selectboard. Jean asked whether the culverts that need repair would fall under this. Nancy responded that this would only cover an assessment, which New Salem has already done. Jean asked about whether anything relating to the Town Hall would fall under this. Nancy was uncertain. Most of the headline items involve public safety, climate, transportation, and a few others. Wayne asked whether charging stations for electric vehicles would fall under this. Nancy responded that they would.
Update on FRCOG Town Accounting Program Meeting of July 9, 2020
Nancy reported that currently 12 towns are being served by FRCOG’s program. There is a lack of qualified municipal accountants. There have been a lot of increased costs in overhead and training. The staff hours are stretched thin and little coverage for turnover, sick, or any other benefits. The program costs are going up 21 percent. This would represent about $4,000 to $5,000. If things can continue with that increase, staffing may stay stabilized. Another option would be to move things to the offices of FRCOG and have the towns send invoices there. The towns that attended the meeting made it clear that this would be problematic and likely impossible to implement. A third option is for towns to pursue their own accountant. She noted the options aren’t really great. Jean asked how this whole thing is being proposed and whether the towns have any say in which option is decided upon. The main question about whether this would be unilateral. Nancy responded that they likely couldn’t just do this unilaterally. It was suggested that the town could inquire with its neighbors to see if a Town Accountant could be shared. Jean expressed the desire to keep things as local as possible and if that kind of solution could work with retention of local control, it should be considered.
Permission for FRCOG to Contract on Town’s Behalf & Massachusetts Contract Forms for Fire Department Grants
Randy signed the paperwork for this ordinary business in his capacity as chair. This permits FRCOG to take care of some paperwork for the town on a few fronts including for Highway. Randy also signed the contract forms for the Fire Dept.’s grants. These cover several items, most notably a special washer for cleaning fire gear worn by the firefighters.
Tamara reported to the Selectboard that the Commission has been working to have some trees removed at two different cemeteries in town. Thankfully both trees appear to have fallen in storms and the Commission is seeking permission to ask the Highway Dept. for assistance with removing those trees. Nancy noted that while the town has a chipper, the Commonwealth limits how the wood chips can be disposed. That might create a complication. Wayne submitted he would talk to the Highway Chief to see what Highway if anything can do. Tamara then noted a few other trees that are still standing that may be an issue in the future. Jean inquired about whether coordination with the Tree Committee could be done. Tamara responded that this would fall under the Commission’s authority as the trees are firmly within cemeteries and not along any public ways. Some of the removal costs can fall under Perpetual Care, but it doesn’t change the expensiveness of having the trees removed professionally which is why the recent trees that fell in storms was fortunate in this instance.
Tamara reported that she has lost membership on the committee, and is asking for the appointment of a new member so that she has a working quorum. Nancy noted that Recreation Committee is appointed by the Town Moderator so Tamara will need to get in contact with Cam Dunbar. Tamara asked when the next Finance Committee meeting will be. Nancy wasn’t certain the exact date, but noted that the Finance Committee will be sending out a notice soon to departments since the FY21 budget will soon be in process. Tamara finished by asking about the blacktop for the tennis court. Wayne responded that the matter is still in process but he has reached out to venders.
Nancy reported that Carla Halprin will appear at the Selectboard’s next meeting to discuss this further. Tamara was pretty certain the date would be around May 16th.
The Selectboard considered the minutes from December 16, 2019 which the Selectboard determined to approve.
A motion to adjourn at 8:15 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk