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2004 - Minutes of October 1, 18, 20, 25 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 1, 2004

7:00 PM:        Open Meeting
                Quorum present: LT, ED, CW

7:05 PM:        ED makes a motion to go into executive session for a continuation of the executive session begun previously on the matter of hearing and acting on complaints filed with the Board by Officer Heidi Teutsch against Chief of Police Cooper.

                CW seconds the motion. Roll call vote taken: LT, aye; CW, aye; ED, aye.
LT notes that the Board will return to open session upon completion of the executive session.

8:25 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

____________________    ____________________    ________________________
Lawrence Tonini, Chair  Elizabeth DiGrigoli             Curt Wilton

Date: __________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 18, 2005

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
                Quorum present: LT, ED, CW
                BOS reviews and signs warrants
6:45 PM:        Danny May, La Bruschetta, presents a proposal to the Board to open up a restaurant in the same building as his current retail operation. Mr. May states that he has would apply for a special permit from the Selectmen - per zoning - for a restaurant. Then, he would seek a 2nd liquor license for the restaurant while maintaining the retail liquor license for the wine store.

        Mr. May says that he and an attorney have researched the issue of 2 liquor licenses under the same principles at the same location and suggests that doing so is legal providing the licenses are held in different names and that there is a physical separation between the 2 licensed premises even though they are attached. He plans to give the 2 businesses separate addresses.

        LT raises concerns about zoning issues and notes that Mr. May's proposal is unusual and that the Board will have to consult with other Town Boards and perhaps Town Counsel for their opinions. As a first step, the Board will ask the Planning Board their opinion on the appropriateness of 2 primary uses on the same property and how does someone divide their building into 2 addresses.

        D. May states that he wants to get the process moving and asks if the Special Permit action can be scheduled the same night as the change in liquor license hearing is held in order to save time. LT says that the Board has some research to do and will schedule the hearings when appropriate.

7:00 PM:        Norian Schroeder, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, describes a conservation restriction for property owned by Channing and Jane Murdock on Long Pond Road.

        Assessor Irene Skorput, unable to attend tonight's meeting wrote down a few questions for Mr. Schroeder concerning which parcels were going into restriction, which ones were being left as is and how they all matched up with the Town's maps. Mr. Schroeder explained that 3 parcels are being kept out for family uses and shows how all of the parcels match up with Town maps. Mr. Schroeder adds that the land being placed in conservation restriction abuts Town owned land off of Samantha Lane and will add to the open recreation space in Town.

        LT asks ED and CW if they are comfortable with the proposal by the Murdocks and BNRC. Both are satisfied and grateful for action. ED makes a motion to approve the conservation restriction. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor. LT signs the paperwork.

7:20 PM:        Animal Control Officer Martin Clark offers that it will not be necessary to schedule a dog hearing as was previously discussed. Mr. Clark has spoken with the offending dog's owner and the owner has agreed to muzzle the dog when it is in the vicinity of the complainant neighbor. Mr. Clark asks the Board to write a letter to that effect to the dog owner with a copy to the complainant. Mr. Clark notes that it is always best to avoid a hearing if issues can be worked out between the parties. Board agrees.

7:30 PM:        LT opens the Liquor License hearing concerning the West Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club. LT introduces Town Counsel Ed Reilly who will conduct the hearing. The hearing is being recorded electronically.

        First to speak is Chief of Police Karl Cooper who reads his Department statement to the Licensing Authority, as dated August 9, 2004.

        Chief Cooper adds that there was an apparent change in manager at the Club sometime in the past year. At the time of the motor vehicle accident involving a patron who had just left the Club, the Manager was Paul Salvatore. The Manager of record as it appears on the Club's current license is Robert Abbot.

        Atty. Reilly asks the Chief if the driver was charged for any motor vehicle or other violations. Chief responds yes; to several charges.

        Atty. Reilly asks the Chief if there has been any disposition of the matter provided by the courts. Chief says no, not yet.

        Atty. Reilly asks the Selectmen if an application was made since last January to the Board for a Change of Manager. LT answers no.

        Atty. Louis Oggiani, representing the Club, asks the Chief if a breathalyzer test was issued to the Ms. Merlini, the driver of the car involved in the accident. Chief says no; she was unable to.

        Atty. Oggiani says that the evidence in the case is not in dispute. There is agreement that Ms. Merlini was at the Club and was being served.

        Atty. Oggiani says that the Club did everything properly but probably should have called the Police when Ms. Merlini left the bar.

        Atty. Oggiani asks the Chief if any prescription or other drugs were found in the Merlini vehicle. Chief says that a search was done and none were found.

        Atty. Reilly states that there is no dispute that Ms. Merlini was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

        Tom Farnum, operator of the vehicle first hit by the oncoming car driven by Ms. Merlini presents the disposition of the related court case as provided by the Berkshire County District Attorney. Mr. Farnum noted that the case was just dealt with today.

        Mr. Farnum relates his experience as a New York City fireman and his training as a First Responder. He says that the accident was a very frightening experience. He says that Ms. Merlini must have been in a blackout stage while driving and she was unresponsive after the accident; she couldn't speak. Mr. Farnum states that the accident will affect him and his family for a long time and it was lucky for everyone that no one was killed.

        Doug Stephenson, Gt. Barrington, first vehicle on the scene following the accident states that the Local Licensing Authority must take some action against the Club's license; the LLC is responsible for public safety.

        Mr. Stephenson states that, by her appearance, the driver must have had more than 3 drinks.

        In response to a question, the Administrative Assistant states that there have been no formal complaints to the LLC involving the Club - at least in the time that he has been involved in Town government; 12 years.

        Chief says that he is aware of 2 O.U.I. arrests in the past 10 years or so involving patrons of the Club.

        CW asks the Chief if Ms. Merlini has been arrested before for O.U.I. Chief answers no.

        Atty. Oggiani says that Ms. Merlini received a minimum disposition from the Court, except for the additional loss of license time. He says that it was a typical 1st time O.U.I. offense.

        Tracey Clark, mother of the driver of the 2nd car impacted by the accident states that the District Attorney informed her that the Court must follow sentencing guidelines.

        Tracey is still very upset by the accident and feels fortunate that no one was killed. She doesn't want the Club punished unduly but that everyone involved has to take steps to ensure that this type of thing doesn't happen again.

        Atty. Reilly notes that tonight's hearing is an administrative hearing and that Court matters are dealt with on their own. Atty. Reilly notes that 2 additional issues must be addressed: 1) proper procedure for Change of Manager at the Club and 2) serving of food to non-Club members of the public.

        Chloe Gustafson, bartender at the Club on the night of the incident says that she stands by her statement given to the Police shortly after the accident.

        Ms. Gustafson says that Ms. Merlini appeared normal when she walked into the bar that night.

        Ms. Gustafson states that Ms. Merlini started getting noisy mid way through her 2nd glass of wine and that Ms. Gustafson took the glass of wine from Ms. Merlini and poured it out. Ms. Gustafson admits to giving Ms. Merlini a 3rd drink later on after being assured that Ms. Merlini was going to be given a ride home.

        Ms. Gustafson states that she is very sorry to the victims in the accident.

        CW asks if the Police should be called if a patron appears to be intoxicated. Chief responds that the Club should have a written protocol addressing that issue.

        ED asks Ms. Gustafson if the person who offered to drive Ms. Merlini home was sober and if Ms. Gustafson asked Ms. Merlini for her keys. Ms. Gustafson replies that the other driver seemed fine and that she did not ask for Ms. Merlini's keys.

        Atty. Reilly asks the Board and the public if there are any more questions.

        Martin Clark states that he used to go to the Club on a regular basis for a number of years with a group of people to play cards. He stopped going several years ago because Ms. Merlini was often obnoxious when she was at the Club. He adds that Ms. Merlini almost took the lives of 5 innocent people. He states that tonight has to be a wake up call for the Club and that things must change in how the Club operates.

        Atty. Oggiani states that the Club management is very sorry and that they will willingly make changes to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of incident.

        Atty. Reilly states that the bartender admits giving a 3rd drink to Ms. Merlini after taking away her 2nd drink of the evening. He also states that 3rd parties cannot take responsibility for intoxicated patrons. A designated driver does not absolve the Club of its responsibility.

        There being no further testimony, ED makes a motion to close the Public Hearing. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor of closing the Public Hearing.

        Atty. Reilly states that the Board has wide discretion as the LLC in this matter. They could do nothing or suspend the Club's liquor license permanently. Atty. Reilly suggests that the Board take the matter under advisement and to speak to Atty. Reilly individually over the next several days if they have any questions.

        CW states that everyone involved was very lucky. From the testimony and evidence it is apparent that Club policy in serving patrons needs to be addressed; he would like to put the Club on notice that this type of incident cannot happen again.

        LT thanks everyone in attendance for their civility during the hearing and suggests that Board members confer with Atty. Reilly during the week and that the Board will issue its finding at their next meeting on October 25, 2004 at 7:30 PM.

        Board agrees.

Other Items:

8:40 PM:        Bob Powell, Parks and Recreation Chair asks the Board if it would be all right to have a combination single key lock box installed next to the Police Station entrance at the Village School. He states that it would be easier to keep track of and control the distribution of keys. There are a lot of groups looking to use the building.

        Board gives their permission to go ahead. AA will speak with J&J Lock.

        CW states that he will be reviewing heating plans with local plumbing/heating professional Don Johnson for both the Village School and the WWTF.

        Billy Kie explains to the Board and offers a letter of agreement relating to his contention that he has the right to place a sign in the islands at the corner of Rte. 102 and West Center and the corner of West Center and West Alford Road. Mr. Kie states that he purchased the sign rights from Kingsmont Camp before it was sold. CW points out that the Board has heard complaints from at least one citizen about the appropriateness of the sign at the corner of Rte. 102. CW points out that the island in question is State not Town property and that the State may have issues. LT asks Mr. Kie if he has a permit from the State for the sign. Mr. Kie responds no. CW asks if the fact that the sign is different from the one that was there for several years constitutes a change in use. Mr. Kie responds no; it is still a directional sign. CW suggests that the Board needs to look into the appropriateness of the sign. Mr. Kie offers that the transfer of rights from Kingsmont to him is recorded at the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds.

        Joel Hotchkiss presents a petition with 200 or more Clerk certified signatures to the Board. The petition asks the Board to call a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of holding a public forum on the future of the Town Hall and to seek an appropriation for an historical study of the building. The petition is accepted and returned to the Town Clerk.

        AA notes that there is a 45 day period starting from receipt of the petition to call a hearing. A discussion ensues about the limited availability of cash to appropriate for a study. Board will set the date for the hearing at a future meeting following discussion with the petitioners.

9:40 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

_____________________   _______________________ _______________________
Lawrence Tonini, Chair  Elizabeth DiGrigoli             Curt Wilton

Date: _____________


Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 20, 2004

7:00 PM:        Open Meeting
                Quorum present: LT, ED, CW
Also present: Chief of Police Karl Cooper, Police Officer Heidi
Teutsch, Administrative Assistant Mark Webber.

7:05 PM:         LT makes a motion to go into executive session as a continuation of the
previously opened executive session in the matter of complaints brought
against Chief Cooper by Officer Teutsch and to return to open session upon its conclusion. ED seconds the motion. Roll call vote taken: LT, aye; ED, aye; CW, aye.


Officer Teutsch asks the Board if she is being paid to attend this meeting. LT responds that she was given the option at the last executive session to attend a future executive session while on duty and to be paid while at the meeting. LT adds that another officer has been placed on duty from 7:00PM to 10:00 PM because Heidi expressed a concern that she didn't want to be called away on a call in the middle of a meeting with the Board; it would be disruptive to the process.

Heidi states that she feels that she is being penalized for coming forward with complaints. CW voices his objection to not paying Heidi for the two or three hours the meeting might last. Following a discussion, the Board agrees that Heidi will be paid for her time at the meeting. LT asks that the meeting now be moved along.

LT asks Heidi to present any additional complaints or issues that were not addressed at the previous executive session which she attended. He notes that Heidi had asked for another session with the Board because her initial claims stated that "they included but were not limited to".

Heidi states that she is not comfortable continuing the meeting. She feels that the meeting environment has become hostile over the pay issue (for attending the meeting). Heidi asks what policies and procedures the Town has in place for conducting a gender discrimination hearing.

LT notes that the AA was recently named as the hearing officer who would conduct any internal discrimination complaint investigations.

AA notes that he will be attending a seminar tomorrow which will be sponsored by MCAD. From that seminar, the Town should be able to quickly adopt a local anti-discrimination policy and the procedure for hearing complaints.

Heidi suggests that the current executive session be suspended until her and the AA can meet and go through the hearing process. The Board agrees.  LT will contact Town Counsel to ask whether the executive session can be closed or if the results of the local hearing officer process should be brought into the executive session once the hearing process is concluded.

It is agreed that the AA will contact Heidi by the end of this week to set up a one on one meeting.

7:45 PM:        LT makes a motion to continue the executive session. ED seconds the motion. Roll call vote taken: LT, aye; ED, aye; CW, aye.

Executive Session Minutes approved by:

________________________   ______________________           ___________________
Lawrence Tonini, Chair     Elizabeth DiGrigoli              Curt Wilton

Date: ______________

7:50 PM:        Board returns to open session.

Board discusses Sportsmen's Club liquor license hearing which was held the previous Monday evening.

CW says that the punishment should fit the crime. A 15 day suspension seems too harsh. CW states that he spoke with Town Counsel Ed Reilly about the case and that he solicited opinions from Selectmen in other towns that have dealt with these types of hearings. CW says that serving policies must be adopted at the Club and that Club bartenders should be required to attend TIPS training. CW notes that this is the first time in 27 years that the Club has been brought up on a license complaint. CW would like to have the Club clean up their Manager paperwork on their license and that a probation period should be considered.

LT agrees that a serving policy needs to be adopted by the Club and that it should be posted in plain view on the premises and a copy should be furnished to the Board.

A discussion takes place on the number of appropriate days for a license suspension. The Board eventually agrees on a suspension of 5 consecutive weekdays. In addition to the 5 day suspension, the Board agrees on the following: Club to adopt and furnish to the Board a serving policy no later than November 15, 2004; send all bartenders to TIPS training; petition the Board for a Change in Manager; place the Club on probation until the next license renewal period.

ED makes a motion to accept the preceding ruling effective October 26, 2004. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

8:15 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Minutes accepted by:

_____________________   _______________________ ______________________
Lawrence Tonini, Chair  Elizabeth DiGrigoli             Curt Wilton

Date: ______________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 25, 2004

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
                Quorum present: ED, CW

Greg Winters of Scanlon Auditors conducts the Town's FY '03 exit audit conference. Also present are: Bruce Turner, Treasurer; Maryellen Brown, Town Accountant; Jim Podolak, DOR/DLS agent.

Greg reviews the Management Report and notes that a previous year item has been corrected (sewer operation deficit). Five new comments appear. Four of them related to the Town's requirement to adhere to GASB mandates and the fourth recommends that a deficit in the water construction account be corrected.

Greg then reviews the financial data and concludes that the Town has healthy cash reserves and is in healthy fiscal shape. Jim Podolak agrees with the auditor's assessment. Greg then explains how the Town should go about meeting its GASB reporting requirements and makes suggestions on how best to correct the water capital deficit (appropriate water surplus to correct deficit).

7:00 PM:        Board reviews a building permit from Dominick Luchi for Lot #2 in a project off of West Center Road. Board notes that all of the building permit application signatures had been obtained by Mr. Luchi back in September - with the exception of the ConsCom, Selectmen, and Building Inspector. The ConsCom signed off last week. Board approves permit application.

        Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
        Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

7:30 PM:        ED reads the Notice of Decision (attached) regarding the October 18, 2004 liquor license Public Hearing for the Sportsmen's Club. Several directors from the Club along with their attorney Louis Oggiani are present. Those present and Attorney Oggiani thank the Board and vows to adhere to the Board's decision and pledges to be good citizens in the future.

Other Items:    Board review and approves a MEMO to the Planning Board seeking their input on zoning related questions that the Board has concerning a pending liquor license and restaurant application from LaBruschetta. The Board is unsure of the zoning application of 2 primary businesses at a single location and the assigning of sub addresses to a single location.

        Board approves a letter to Stephen Graham regarding a dog complaint in the Iron Ore Road neighborhood.

        Board reviews a contract proposal detailing a number of options on aquatic weed control at Mill Pond. Board agrees to contract with Lycott to draw up a Notice of Intent application to the Conservation Commission and to attend 2 public hearings.

        Board reviews the just received transfer of property draft agreement which would convey the Astore "Quarry" property to the State Wildlife and Fisheries Department. Board notes that if Mr. Astore approves the transfers then it would be a benefit to all concerned - the Town and State gain needed recreation land, the state assumes the liability of the Quarry property and John Astore satisfies his wish to donate the property with the stipulation that it remain open to all to enjoy. Board will present the transfer document to Mr. Astore.

8:15 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

_________________________       ____________________________
Elizabeth DiGrigoli                     Curt Wilton

Date: _____________

Town of West Stockbridge 21 State Line Road, West Stockbridge, MA 01266
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