Town of New Salem Selectboard
March 9, 2020
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Tamara Conde, Recreation Committee; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; Bradford Randell, Ancient Growth, LLC; Sarah Kohler, Steve Blinder, David Cramer, Planning Board; Jen Potee, Cam Dunbar, Board of Health; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
- Payroll & Vendor Warrants
- FRCOG Contract for work on MVP & Hazardous Mitigation Plan
- ABCC Seasonal Renewal Form
Recreation Committee Update – Finances, Old Home Day, Rec Facilities
Tamara reported first on her work for Old Home Day. Last year she was told that the committee would just be handling the finances, but the organizing seems to have fallen on Recreation as well. She asked if anyone present would be able to help or suggest those who could. Jean noted a few people who could likely assist. Tamara informed those present that she recently had a computer crash and lost most of her contacts so she’s struggled to reach out to people. Nancy suggested talking to Judy Northrup Bennet and Janet Henderson who’ve been involved in planning Old Home Day in the past. They may be able to provide some names and contacts. Tamara noted that in the past Highway Dept. has helped substantially, and isn’t aware of where a lot of the materials such as benches are stored. She wasn’t sure if the department after all of its personnel changes will know where everything is. In the meantime, it was agreed that July 18, 2020 would be the date of Old Home Day. Nancy asked about the band that’s usually scheduled. Tamara responded that she has contacted them and they are on the schedule. Tamara then asked if anyone has a theme idea that they contact her. From there Nancy turned to the committee’s finances. Tamara outlined a few things, such as how the Rabbit Run works. One of the challenges for the funds raised by that event is the purpose of the funds, such as what specific things to spend them on. Nancy noted the Town Accountant should be able to elaborated on what the funds may be used for. Randy asked about the Revolving Fund and generally how funding of events occurs. Tamara elaborated on what Recreation Committee does. Randy responded that part of this appears to be a lack of clear accounting of the sourcing of funding and expenditures. Nancy interjected to provide some information from the Recreation Revolving Fund. This included noting expenditures over several fiscal years as well as various reimbursements. Most of these appear to cover Rabbit Run. Out of general expenses for the committee, in FY19 the only major expenditure was the swim lessons that the committee pays for.
Randy asked about whether there could be plans put forward for the committee and whether a budget could be setup with Finance Committee. Tamara noted some of the past work the committee has done, and what they plan to do. They host the annual Halloween Party, the Easter Egg Hunt, the Rabbit Run, and Old Home Day. Randy suggested a few goals such as resurfacing the tennis courts and suggested a few more recreational events. Tamara was open to these suggestions, noting that the committee is always willing to support people’s ideas as long as people are willing to help organize. The Recreation Committee will back folks if they come to them with a good idea and need support. Jean turned to the recreational infrastructure of the town. She conceded that the funding hasn’t always been there, but noted the process and the various ways funding could be found. She put it on the record that it is recognized Tamara does so much, but suggested it might be necessary to relieve Recreation of some of the infrastructure work. Tamara was okay with the committee focusing on programming and having perhaps another committee for the infrastructure, still she did note the work she’s done to improve things regarding infrastructure. There are a lot of practical challenges that make it hard. There has also been a shortage of funding over the years but the committee has always tried to see to maintenance. Randy asked about funding requests for the committee and how recent they’ve been. Tamara couldn’t remember precisely. It was suggested that requests could be renewed. Jean suggested doing an assessment of all the materials that are needed and what maintenance should be done. In the meantime, Tamara felt it entirely feasible to get the soccer fields functional for this summer. That said new nets will be needed for the goals and likely new goals. Randy suggested that the Rabbit Run fund raising could support those needs for the soccer fields. Discussion concluded with the agreement to continue reviewing Recreation’s needs.
Host Community Agreement/Proposed Marijuana Facility
Bradford started off by elaborating on the community outreach meeting. Roughly 50 people came to the event. The feedback was mostly positive. Some residents clearly don’t like marijuana, and that’s okay. Most of the concerns related to traffic and parking. They made commitments to mitigate that as much as possible with the town. At this point Ancient Growth would like to formally gage the interest of the town. To that end he provided the Selectboard with a proposed Host Community Agreement (HCA). He then highlighted a few provisions in the proposal. What they are looking for is a motion from the Selectboard to at the very least enter into negotiations or if the town is not interested for that to be made apparent. Nancy noted that Town Counsel hasn’t had an opportunity to look at the HCA so the Selectboard certainly couldn’t sign off at this meeting. Jean prefaced her thoughts with the notation that she is not opposed to the business. Members of her own family have benefited from medical marijuana, and she feels the Commonwealth has strong regulations in place. Jean then asked some questions about the proposed HCA which Bradford answered. These included community impact costs, potential liability, reporting requirements, provisions as to transfer of ownership, and indemnification. Some of the verbiage has to do with regulations on the Commonwealths side, but otherwise Ancient Growth was open to recommendations and changes. Steve had a few questions about the 3 percent community impact fee. Bradford responded by outlining what that can cover and how you would justify different parts of that. The Commonwealth won’t allow the town to just assess a flat 3 percent, it has to be articulated and accounted for.
Nancy noted that the General Court is currently considering changing the law as to the HCA which could result in the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) being in charge of HCA’s in the future.
Randy asked about the property and its current status. Bradford elaborated that the house is down to its studs but they haven’t made any further changes while working on the regulatory process. Randy asked about competition, noting a number of stores that are slated for opening in Orange, Amherst, and other nearby communities. Bradford responded by admitting this is a risk for Ancient Growth, but outlined the difference in approach. This is set to be a niche business and will be more craft driven like craft beer and local hard cider. Eventually they would hope to sell their products to other stores for resale as well. They also feel that their differentiation will assist them for future national legalization. There was then discussion about the process for the town. Nancy elaborated on it. The HCA is signed by the Selectboard, then it goes to Planning Board and eventually a vote at a town meeting for the community impact fee. Nancy reminded the Selectboard that a petition has been received from a number of citizens in town opposed to the proposal by Ancient Growth. The petition being predicated on a number of concerns about traffic, impact to the community, and police presence. Jean suggested that there is a fear of the unknown involved and emphasized that this is still very new for many. Steve asked about the ownership of the building. Bradford responded that the property is owned by a member of the Hunt family and they have an agreement for a long term lease. Bradford emphasized the desire of Ancient Growth to have the support of the community and to be a conscious business in the town.
Tamara noted she lives in that part of town, and there’s nothing else in town really there. As objectionable spots in town might go, it’s not one of them in her opinion. Further there are already businesses near there on the Orange side of the town line. Sarah felt that it’s not unsurprising that some people are concerned, but in her humble opinion it’s likely a kneejerk reaction. Bradford suggested that trust building can be done to help relieve that. Sarah agreed submitting that there are so many other more controversial things this business could be aside from marijuana. Randy turned discussion back to whether the Selectboard is prepared to agree to enter into negotiations. Wayne reminded that this won’t be quick as the CCC will likely take months. Randy asked Planning Board for their sense of this. Steve responded that the Planning Board is not opposed at this stage. Sarah concurred believing no one on the board has a strong opinion at this point and judgment is otherwise being withheld until the appropriate stage. Steve felt the overall feeling is positive. It was agreed to proceed with a motion in favor of entering into negotiations. Further a timeline was agreed of six weeks. Randy briefly explained his intention to vote no on this motion but noted that he is not unwilling to continue listening and will still ask questions and look forward to the answers.
A motion was made by Jean that it be resolved that the Selectboard is interested in moving forward and enter into negotiations with Ancient Growth for a Host Community Agreement. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed by majority vote.
Coronavirus Response Update
Joe started off by asking if the town wants to put out independent messaging. Wayne and Jean didn’t feel it necessary to do so given the national and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) resources. Jen expressed the opinion that it may be worthwhile for the town to put out information to the citizens in town. Cam concurred. There was a question about using Reverse 911. Joe noted that Reverse 911 is restricted to 60 second messages. He submitted there should be a basic message from the Board of Health developed from the information provided by MEMA. It was recalled that a state of emergency has not yet been declared by Massachusetts although some neighboring states have done so. The exposure risk in Western Massachusetts is low. Cam noted that there is some exposure risk from Amherst and the Five College area as there are international students and a flow of people to the colleges. Jen felt that putting out information is critical. She is in the trenches in the medical profession on this. It is real, and something that needs to be taken very seriously. Part of this is just reassuring the public that the town is aware and preparing for any necessary action. Jen noted that the Board of Health is going forward with this as the elected health authority of the town. The Selectboard was in full support of proceeding and asked if there is anything that Board of Health needs from the Selectboard. Jen responded that just the sense of support is great and Board of Health can let the Selectboard know if anything more is needed.
Dog By-Law Changes/Update
Randy asked the Planning Board about a Public Hearing for the proposed Dog By-Law. Jean took a moment elaborated on the timeframe for production of the by-laws. It was noted that a formal joint meeting should be held with Planning Board on March 23, 2020. Then a hearing should be scheduled thereafter. Jean asked about the posting requirements for the hearing. David responded by outlining the various pathways the by-laws could be adopted and how that would depend on whether the by-laws are zoning or general. It was agreed to decide at the March 23 meeting.
Request from Police Chief – Camera or Lock for Mechanical Room
Nancy reported on correspondence from the Chief of Police. Chief Camden is asking for permission to install a camera for the mechanical room for the Stowell Building. His concern is that once the broadband is installed it could be in some way hacked. If not for a camera he’d like it to be locked. Wayne had reservations about locking that room, while Jean said a lock would be better than a camera due to cost of installation and continuing costs of monitoring. Randy asked that the Chief come to a meeting to explain the request further. It was so agreed.
Request for Wedding on Town Common
The applicants are planning a small ceremony and would like to have on the Town Common. The date is October 3, 2020. Jean noted that a lot of people have had weddings on the Common. Nancy agreed noting that it’s a public space so the only thing the applicants will have to be aware of is that people may cross the Common and they won’t have exclusive use.
Chapter 90 Funding Letter
Nancy reported that the towns Chapter 90 funds will be $145,504 this year.
ABCC Seasonal Renewal Form & FRCOG Agreement
Nancy provided the Selectboard with the renewal form. The Selectboard saw no reason not to sign the form for New Salem Cider and proceeded to do so. Nancy then turned to the FRCOG matter. Jean had a few questions regarding the matter which Nancy answered explaining the work that FRCOG is doing for the town and what it entails for New Salem.
Michael Lane Update
Wayne reported on this bit of old business at the request of Randy. He elaborated on what was agreed to by residents and the Highway Chief. If the road is too icy, or dangerous, the Highway Laborer will make the decision as to whether they will plow or sand. Further residents have committed to ensuring that their vehicles do not block the lane either.
Nancy reported on a request from the Library Director for permission to dispose of some surplus furniture. If no other department is interested in the furniture the Library would like to have a silent auction. Jean asked about the procedure for approval of disposal which Nancy answered. Jean agreed to look at the surplus to see if any of it would be appropriate for use in the Stowell Building and report at next meeting.
Swift River Window Project
Swift River has requested the town consider waiving building fees for the project. Jean asked about the past practices of the town as to town projects. Nancy elaborated on the towns prior practices, which with Building Permits is usually to waive the fees for municipal projects.
A motion was made by Jean to waive the fees for the doors and windows at the Swift River Elementary School. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.
The Selectboard considered the minutes from February 24, 2020. The Selectboard saw no reason not to adopt the minutes and determined to do so.
A motion to adjourn at 8:41 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk