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2005 - Minutes of April 11, 20, 25 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
April 11, 2005

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Lawrence Tonini (LT), Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED), Curt Wilton (CW). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.
BOS reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
BOS reviews and approves weekly warrants.

6:45 PM:        LT opens a discussion on Harvey Mt. Town owned open space. Board reviews a draft MEMO to the Planning Board from the Selectmen on the findings of surveyor Dennis Drumm who reviewed several property documents on the subject and surrounding properties. He found no evidence of a right of way or Town road through the former Kingsmont property but was reluctant to give an absolute opinion without conducting a full property survey. That survey would cost between $3,000-$5,000.

        LT notes that this is the 3rd professional opinion given on the Town's access rights to Harvey Mt. and none of them give much hope to the existence of any. He is reluctant to spend additional money at this point.

        CW notes that the Board has done exactly what was asked of them by members of the public and the Parks and Recreation Committee as far as investigating the property. He agrees with LT and adds that the Town reserves the right to exercise its property rights in this area if and when they are shown to exist at any time in the future. The Town is not giving any of its rights away. The Selectmen thank the Planning Bd. for extending the courtesy of time to research the case but the Selectmen don't want to hold up either the Planning Bd. or the area property owners any longer since the Town, at this time, is unable to demonstrate any access rights. Board agrees to the MEMO and sends it down to the Planning Board who is meeting on the subject this evening.

6:55 PM:        Elizabeth Petty, Stockbridge Rd., addresses the Board in their capacity as Sewer and Water Commissioners about her outstanding water bill. She wants to pay her balance but is seeking an adjustment. She explains that she has had freezing problems the past 2 years on her service line and has had to keep the water running slowly to prevent freeze-ups.

        CW explains the ownership and responsibility of water lines. The Town owns the mains up to and including the shut off valves where they meet the private service lines. Property owners have responsibility for their own service lines. Ms. Petty's freezing problems were occurring in her service line. It is noted that Ms. Petty's water meter has been disconnected for over a year since the last time a plumber did repairs at her house.

        Following a discussion, the Board agrees to abate Ms. Petty's outstanding water bill based on an average historic use over the past 20 quarters of use and instruct Ms. Petty to get her water meter hooked up or she will be charged the non-metered rate of $200/quarter in the future.

        CW follows with a sewer discussion in the area of the Petty property. He notes that she has a failing septic system and it that it might be in her best interest to contact her 4 immediate downhill neighbors and discuss getting together to expand the sewer main from where it currently ends. 5 properties splitting the cost would be considerably less than 5 individual septic systems under new Title V regulations. Furthermore, it would be far more affordable for a private expansion of the main than if the Town contracted for the extension because of prevailing wage and other bidding constraints.

7:20 PM:        Peter Thorne notifies the Board that he will conduct the town wide annual clean-up day on April 16th. He will notify the Chief of Police. The Highway Dept. will again provide equipment and will pick up the trash bags when filled. Board thanks Peter for annual effort.

        Sue Brennan is issued a driveway cut permit off of E. Alford Rd.

7:30 PM:        Andrew Mitchell, Pittsfield, hands in a resume to the Board for the open position of full-time Police Officer. Board reviews the resume and CW suggests that it be passed along to the Chief. CW thanks Mr. Mitchell and notes that the Board has not seen any applications yet for the position.

        Other Items:

        Peter Skorput, Fire Chief, asks the Board for permission to purchase a pressure washer for the Department. Board agrees, as long as there are sufficient funds in the budget. Peter also notes that there is leak in the Fire Station roof - maybe at he cupola. He will contact a contractor to investigate.

        Board reviews a letter from Urbain Catering, Richmond to the Planning Bd. requesting to rent the Village School kitchen to run their catering business. LT states and the Board agree that the Village School kitchen is not for rent.

        Bob Powell, Parks and Recreation Chair. submits an article for the Annual Town Meeting seeking to establish a capital fund for improvements to the Village School recreation grounds in the amount of $5,000. Board agrees to include it.

        Mrs. Lazie, W. Alford Rd., reviews a building permit application with the Board.

8:00 PM:        Bob Powell reviews final Village School office plans with the Board. AA notes that he has shown the project to a few contractors. Bob discusses windows, egress, handicap accessibility, fire codes, and need to speak with Building Inspector and Planning Board re: their opinion on possible change in use of the building space.

        Bob asks the Board if it would be possible to charge a small fee to expedite the floor plans. He says that it would not exceed $1,000. Board agrees. Bob suggests that contractors meet with him at the school before beginning.

Additional:     Board decides to dedicate this year's Town Report to Lou
Items:  Roviaro and 4 additional citizens/Town officials who passed since the last report.

        CW updates the Board on a right of way issue involving neighbors and the West Center Chapel.

        Board asks that the Chief of Police attend next week's meeting to review and discuss his FY '06 budget request.

        Board approves to establish a new line item for the Cultural Council for the '06 budget at $1,000. The budget request was for $2,000. LT commented that the Cultural Council receives a state grant each year and for the past few years has received $500 from the Selectmen's Expense account. Establishing a line item is a more appropriate method than transferring from another line item and a $1,000 budget seems like a reasonable starting point and is $500 more than was received from Town funds than prior years.

        CW presents 2 curb cut applications to the Board: Board approves Hoelter. Board denies Kantor because the design is in conflict with zoning.

        ED asks for an update on Charter co-location fees. AA states that 2 letters have been sent to Town Counsel on the subject and that Atty. Bill Hewig (Kopelman & Paige) called last Friday and said that he will be sending a letter to the Board with an update.

9:07 PM:        ED makes a motion to go into executive session for the purpose of discussing potential litigation against the Town and to return to open session upon completion. LT seconds the motion

        Roll call vote taken on the motion: LT, aye; ED, aye; CW aye.

9:30 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
April 20, 2005

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Lawrence Tonini (LT), Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED). Curt Wilton (CW) away on vacation. Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA), Chief of Police Cooper, Officer Simonelli, Rosario Messina, and Mike Kirchner.  No press present.

Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

Board reviews Steve Harding's verbal response to Pixley Hill neighbor Barbara Walker's letter to the Board concerning the mess and apparent operation of a business at Mr. Harding's property. Walt Potash has been to the Harding property on 2 recent occasions to ascertain what activities are taking place on the property. AA tells the Board that Mr. Harding called following the 2nd Potash visit. AA suggested to Mr. Harding that he attend an upcoming Selectmen's meeting to tell his story. Mr. Harding agreed and said that would be a good idea.

Board reviews Elizabeth Petty water bill. Board decides to send Ms Petty a new bill based on an historic average use over the past 16 quarters with an admonition that she replace or re-hook-up her water meter because she will be billed at the non-metered rate of $200/quarter in the future.

Board reviews 2 memos from the Planning Board regarding a request from Urbain to rent the kitchen at the Village School. Both memos state that the building is not properly zoned for such a use. LT suggests that since the original request from Urbain went directly to the Planning Bd. and the Planning Board responded, there was no need for the Selectmen to also respond. For the record, the Board is not interested in renting out the Village School kitchen to a private concern.

LT states that the Assessors should not occupy their planned office space at Village School until at least one more office is ready. LT feels it is unsafe for Amy to be in the building alone. If other offices are ready and occupied, then there is safety in numbers. LT suggests that plans move along but that no female should be alone in the building working. ED agrees.

7:15 PM:        LT opens a discussion on Police Dept. FY '06 budget request. Representing the Dept. is Chief Cooper.

A discussion opens on the operating budget. Board reviews Chief's paperwork, including a comparison of other Chief salaries in the county. AA notes that as of the 4-2-05 budget to actual report, the Police Operating budget was at 68% spent and the Police Salary account was at 65% spent. The fiscal year is presently 75% through.

Following a discussion on the current and anticipated price increase in gasoline, LT suggests that the FY '06 operating budget be increased by $2,000 from the current $15,000. Chief agrees. Board approves.

LT opens discussion on Dept. salaries. Chief offers a salary comparison survey he conducted with neighboring and other county Chiefs of Police. Mike Kirchner suggests that it is difficult to compare one department to another. Each community is different.

LT asks what the Chief currently makes in salary. Chief responds that he is paid $44,000 per year. Chief asks what the Highway Dept. salaries are. AA looks them up and responds.

Following a discussion about hiring a new full time officer at a starting rate of $17 per hour and calculations to cover days off per week, vacations, and holidays, a budget figure of $65,000 is arrived at to cover all regular and special officer salary expenses. The discussion then shifts to the Chief's salary. For budgeting purposes, LT proposes a current year salary plus 3%. ED agrees to both the officer's and the Chief's budget salaries.

AA reminds the Board that CW has made his concerns with police dept. salaries and staffing in the past and that he should be in on the discussion before a final decision is made. However, the town report needs to be delivered to the printer tomorrow. AA suggests that the police budget be taken up again next week but tonight's agreed upon figures can be put into the town report. The town meeting warrant doesn't need to be signed until May 6th and although it is always preferable to have the town report and warrant figures match up, the warrant is the only official document. Both LT and ED agree.

8:25 PM:        Chief Cooper introduces Rosario Messina and asks that he be appointed to the Department as a part-time officer. LT asks if Rosario is full-time academy trained. Chief responds that no he isn't but Rosario has pledged to put himself through the academy at his own cost.

        Mike Kirchner points out that the state law just changed and it is no longer allowed to self-fund academy training. An officer has to be sponsored by the Town and the Town has to pay for the training.

        LT notes that the Chief's intention of hiring Rosario with Rosario putting himself through the academy and becoming a full-time officer for the Town needs to be reconsidered. LT would consider hiring Rosario as a part-time officer because there is a need to fill shifts now. Rosario is known in Town and the Chief states that he has checked with the Chief in Gt. Barrington where Rosario already works part-time and he received a good report.

        LT suggests that the position of full-time officer needs further investigation but that he would accept a motion to appoint Rosario as a part-time officer. ED agrees. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

8:50 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. LT seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Minutes accepted by:

________________________        ________________________
Lawrence Tonini, Chairman               Elizabeth DiGrigoli

Date: _______________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
April 25, 2005

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED), Curt Wilton (CW). Lawrence Tonini (LT) unable to attend. Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA), Michael Kirchner and Jim Fallon. No press present.

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

ED asks that the AA contact the Town's insurance carrier to get an update on Police Officer Simonelli's accident claim and payments for lost wages.

6:45 PM:        Bob Korte addresses the Board about his displeasure with the Cemetery Commission and their apparent lack of response to a fallen tree at the Town Cemetery. Mr. Korte states that "the place is a mess". The tree in question fell last November 28th and is still on the ground.

        CW states that Cemetery Commission Chair Stuart Kuller had been notified about the tree and that he was told that the Highway Dept. could clean up the tree but that it might be quite some time before they could get to it and that the Commission should seek out quotes from tree services. CW notes that his Dept. helps out other Town Departments willingly and whenever he can but because of Highway obligations, he can't always accommodate other Departments. CW adds that the Commission requested an increase in its 2006 budget to cover the removal of large trees in the cemeteries but that the Board denied the request because it was felt that a more in depth plan be attached to the request and that the Commission has access to the Perpetual Care interest account without asking for Town money.

        ED suggests writing a letter to the Cemetery Commission to inform them of Mr. Korte's complaint.

7:00 PM:        Steve Harding, Pixley Hill Rd., addresses the Board in response to a letter the Board received from Barbara Walker - a neighbor of Mr. Harding - who complained about the messy condition of his yard and his apparent operation of a tree business in a residential zone.

        Mr. Harding notes that all of the vehicles seen on his property are legally registered and that he pays more in excise tax than in property tax. He is surprised that Ms. Walker would write a letter because he thought that they were friendly. Mr. Harding noted that Zoning Enforcement Officer Walt Potash had been to his property 3 times over the past 2 weeks and that he had found no evidence of zoning violations on his property. ED notes that the Board asked Mr. Potash to visit the property because of Ms. Walker's letter.

        When asked, Mr. Harding would not commit to a date when the filling of his front property would be done. Mr. Harding went on to say that he does not operate a logging business either from or away from his property. He is a farmer and landscaper. He also (within the past year) had Accord Engineering conduct a survey of his property but that his neighbors are disputing the resulting property lines of that survey.

        CW notes that the Board often is placed in the position of acting as a referee in neighborhood disputes - that's part of the job and is understood. However, if no zoning infractions are obvious then the Board cannot step in and tell people how there property should look or what they can do on it. CW asks Mr. Harding to do his best to keep his property in a neat manner and to also do his best to get along and be a good neighbor.

        ED suggests that the Board respond to Ms. Walker with their findings with a copy to the Zoning Enforcement Officer and Mr. Harding. The Board thanks Mr. Harding for responding to their request to come to tonight's meeting.

Other Items:    AA presents a MEMO sent to the Planning Board and the Zoning Enforcement Officer and the State Building Inspector for an opinion on whether converting the Village School to Town Offices constituted a change in use and, if so, what were the procedures to make that change and the implications involved in making that change.

AA presents the Board with a Change of Manager request from the West Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club. The Board will schedule a hearing at the earliest date that works for both parties. ED asks that the records from previous hearings involving the Sportsmen's Club be brought to the hearing.

        Board reviews a sign permit application for "Edible Adventures". Board sees that the proposed signs exceed zoning requirements. Board instructs the AA to return the application without prejudice and ask that it be re-submitted with conforming sizes.

        CW opens a discussion on the FY 2006 Police Dept. budget. He says that the increase in the operating budget is reasonable but that he cannot support the salary increase that was agreed to by the Board at the last meeting when CW was away on vacation.

        CW notes that a part-time officer was lost this past Dec. 8th and the part-time officer acting as the full-time officer was lost due to injury in February. Applications for a full-time officer closed out in March but no applicants have been presented to the Board. CW notes that last week's appointment of a part-time officer was fine but that he didn't think his appointment would solve the issue of filling the full-time officer slot because he was not full-time academy trained. CW suggests that the full-time officer hiring process be started over with the applications being available at the Police Station and the Town Hall.

        The Board then reviews the cost, for setting the FY '06 Police Salary budget, of a full-time officer starting at $17/hr, the cost of coverage by Part-time officers for vacations, holidays and normal days off and up to a 3% salary increase for the Chief. The Board arrives at a figure of $100,425 and agrees to carry that number for purposes of printing the Town Report which was delayed by several days.

        AA notes that these changes need to be conveyed to the Chief.

8:20 PM:        ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. 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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