Town of NewSalem Selectboard
October 21, 2019
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Phil Delorey, Building Inspector; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Cultural Council Standard State Contract
Wendell Road, Blackinton Rd, & Rt. 202 Ongoing Tag Sales Discussion with Building Inspector
Nancy reported on the two letters that were sent. Phil followed up by noting that he’s sent one letter but not the other as he wanted the Selectboard to review it first. Randy noted a minor grammatical mistake. Phil was happy to have it caught. Randy then inquired about the tag sale situation and whether it is a nuisance. Phil elaborated on the zoning compliance question explaining that if it is a nuisance he has authority under the Zoning By-Laws. That said, this could be classified as a form of “store” and that might change things. He’s consulted with the Planning Board. There is no use on the lot aside from this tag sale business. Concerns with the location of this abound given the fact that it’s on a highway. Planning Board has some options and can disallow this activity. If the property owners refuse to comply, he can seek zoning enforcement as a nuisance. Ken inquired about MassDOT’s position on the illegal parking aspect of things. Phil felt that the town might still have some authority to do something about it. The biggest thing with this are the safety issues. Nancy noted there was an accident on the highway there recently. Phil really felt calling it an attractive nuisance is reasonable and there should be a conversation with the property owners. This should include Planning Board. Ken asked about involving Orange. Phil didn’t think Orange would definitely have authority or jurisdiction that would be shared with New Salem as the property is fully in New Salem. But it could be of help to have their support. Phil then elaborated on how he would approach the property owners. He also stated that Town Counsel will have to be involved. Wayne noted that even if the property owners insist that this is a “store” they may have to have greater facilities. Jean had a general inquired about why Town Counsel has to be involved. Phil explained how things worked in the past and how the courts have increasingly required an attorney involved. He can file the paperwork, but if things have to be presented at a hearing the courts expect an attorney. Phil noted a few examples where it made sense to have counsel too. He acknowledged that it is an expense and he makes all attempts to adjudicate this outside of court. Jean inquired about the state of the legal budget. Nancy outlined the current status of the account. Wayne then agreed that the courts are becoming more inclined to requiring Town Counsel to be present when towns appear before them. Even in less substantial cases.
Phil then turned to the Wendell Rd issue. He has spoken with the resident and has witnessed firsthand how this resident has stepped out in the road and interfered with traffic. He has also encroached on the public right of way along the shoulder of the road as well. Phil then turned to his discussions with Swift River Elementary Schools principal. He expressed concerns about how aggressive the resident in question is and provided a newspaper article which reported on this person’s recent arrest for assault and battery on a police officer. There is clearly a mess on this property and the concern with the nearness to the public school all adds up to heightened concern. Randy noted that there are clearly some safety concerns. Phil agreed suggesting it may require consultation with Town Counsel. He then reported on some verbal interactions the resident has had and noted the State Police have been called and have interacted with him as well. Phil felt strongly that there is a mental illness here, and the resident is exhibiting signs of being a hoarder. So he felt it necessary for the town to consult with Town Counsel and determine what course of action the town can take. Randy restated the concerns, road safety, school safety, junk, and mental health. Phil agreed suggesting that a lot of the interactions appear to be provoked by the resident himself. This resident clearly needs help. Wayne asked if he is a veteran, noting that in such case there may be some programs available for helping with treatment. Phil was uncertain. Still he also expressed concern that this resident may be taken advantage of by others. Phil then turned to Blackinton Rd. With that case he believes it necessary to seek a court order. There are a number of vehicles on the property and it is at risk of becoming an unauthorized vehicle junkyard. Wayne recalled some history with the Blackinton Rd case and noted prior problems. This property has been an issue for a while. Phil then turned to a bright spot. A property that was problematic in the past has cleaned up. Jean asked Phil about resources for residents who develop these challenges, who may simply be overwhelmed, to find a way to dispose of the junk. Phil outlined what he’s done in other towns. This has included organizing free junk days for residents. This can help. The problem is that if the issue is a mental health one, such as hoarding, there is an emotional attachment and that adds a dimension to the problem. It was agreed that Wayne would assist Phil in determining if the Wendell Rd resident is or is not a veteran. Randy inquired about whether things left on town property or the right of way can be removed. Phil expressed some concern about the potential for confrontation in such event. Still, there is a safety dimension to this. Discussion ended with the agreement to continue working on all fronts.
Request from Fire Chief for Consultation with Town Counsel Regarding Contract for Firefighters
Nancy reported that Chief Cuneo is asking for permission to consult with Town Counsel about the potential for entering into a contract with a firefighter that goes through the Fire Academy if the town pays for that academy training. The main issue is that these firefighters are volunteers. Wayne suggested having some sort of agreement where if the firefighter agrees to stay for a period of time and if they leave early they be required to reimburse the town. Jean inquired about the necessity of this. Randy elaborated on the history with the Police Department and the Police Academy. The town sponsors them, they get the training and experience, and then often end up leaving. This means the town invests in them and then loses them. This hasn’t happened with Fire Department before, but the Fire Chief has legitimate concerns. It’s several thousand dollars from the Fire Department’s budget. It was agreed to authorize the Fire Chief to discuss this with Town Counsel.
MOA with FRCOG Regarding Emergency Communications Equipment
Nancy reported that the plan to withdrawal from the current program is in place. The town really doesn’t have a lot of choice in this according to the Fire Chief. Randy recalled the past history on this and it mostly revolves around the cost of the necessary equipment. Nancy noted the MOA has a term of 3 years, enumerates the responsibilities of the parties, and details the process for implementation. Randy inquired about the cost. Nancy wasn’t sure what the final costs would occur. Wayne clarified that this is being run by FRCOG. Nancy responded in the affirmative. Jean was unsure as to how settled the various towns are with this program. Wayne elaborated on the topic noting in his experience this seems dated and most firefighters use their cellphones. Nancy noted that there are plenty of areas of town where cellphones don’t work and there are other safety concerns with relying solely on cellphones. Ken noted that the radios do more than just communication, at least for police. It was agreed to table the topic until the Selectboard’s next meeting to allow further consideration.
Sharing Highway Equipment with Petersham
Nancy reported on a suggestion that’s been made regarding sharing equipment with Petersham. Petersham owns a piece of equipment that would be useful to New Salem, and New Salem owns a piece of equipment that Petersham doesn’t have. The new Highway Chief has suggested that the towns could come to an agreement to work together in some form of mutual aid. Nancy has reached out to a number of towns to see how practical it would be. Some towns do this by hourly lease, some through more traditional mutual aid agreements. Wayne inquired as to the equipment. Nancy responded that it’s a roller that Petersham has and in New Salem’s case it’s a truck. Nancy provided a model agreement that could be potentially utilized. Each town would share the equipment for equal amounts of time. All maintenance and repairs would be done by the town that owns it and each town would provide the operator. Insurance would be the responsibility of the town that owns the equipment. Randy asked about how mutually beneficial this would be. Nancy submitted it would be beneficial for New Salem, as for Petersham, that would be their call. In the past New Salem has done this sort of thing informally and that has gotten people into trouble, so if there is to be some kind of agreement it should be formal. Randy suggested simply asking Petersham to consider the matter and decide if this proposed agreement would be acceptable to them or if they are even interested at all. It was determined that the Selectboard was in favor of pursuing this proposal and discussion finished with Nancy agreeing to contact her counterpart in Petersham to get the discussion started.
Update on Fay Road Stop Sign
Nancy reported that MassDOT has agreed to place a new stop sign on Fay Rd.
Upcoming Meeting Reminder – All Board
Nancy reminded the Selectboard that the All Board meeting is scheduled for 6 pm on Monday, October 28, 2019. About 20 people are expected to attend. The meeting will be in the Town Hall.
Selectboard Member/Meeting with Personnel Board
Nancy noted that the original request from Personnel Board appeared to be that a Selectboard member attend one of their meetings, but now they seem to want someone at every meeting. The Selectboard suggested they could send someone to a Selectboard meeting. It was agreed to ask whoever attends for Personnel Board at the All Boards meeting.
Randy signed the standard Commonwealth contract for the Cultural Council. The council is getting $4,800 from the Commonwealth this year.
The Selectboard considered the minutes from September 23, 2019 which the Selectboard determined to approve. The minutes from October 7, 2019 were tabled until the next meeting
A motion to adjourn at 7:55 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk