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2006 - Minutes of January 4, 9, 23, 30 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
January 4, 2006

6:00 PM:        Open Meeting; Village School.
Quorum present: Curt Wilton (CW), Michael Kirchner (MK). Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED) not present due to illness. Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

Tim Eagles, EDM Design is present to discuss progress plans for Town Offices and Library at Village School. Also present are Library Trustees June Biggs and Jennifer Summers, Librarian Leslie Meltzer and several members of the Friends of the Library organization.

Trustees express concerns about a previous design and layout of Library space and location in the building. MK explains that plans are still in development; nothing is final at this point and that the Trustees will have ample opportunity to meet with the architect along the way.

A discussion follows on whether the designated Senior Center space can be flip-flopped with the designated Library space. Trustees express a desire to have the Library more visible to the public, particularly the outdoor recreation areas. The senior center should be considered a destination point whereas the Library would benefit by interaction with the existing outdoor activities. Tim doesn't think that switching sides would be a big problem as long as setbacks can be met on the southeast corner. MK proposes to switch the Library space with the designated Senior Center space because the Library is closer to a point of "ready to proceed" than the Senior Center is. The Senior Center would still get the same amount of space as previously agreed to. Following a discussion, the Library trustees and Selectmen agree to the change.

Discussion about undesignated space adjacent to the designated senior center space. There are concerns about using up space now for another meeting room when the space may have other needs in the future. Trustees and Selectmen agree to use a corner space in the proposed library layout that could be used as a shared meeting room and quiet room. The undesignated space will remain as such.

Selectmen thank the Trustees and others in the audience for attending and providing input to the design. EDM will be speaking directly with the Library Trustees to jointly develop layouts, furnishings, etc.

7:05 PM:        Verizon utility pole hearing. Verizon petitions the Board to place 3 telephone poles on Maple Hill Rd. to provide power to a new residence. CW's only concern is that the poles be placed far enough off the roadway for plowing and safety. Verizon agrees. There being no objections from those present and no further questions, MK makes a motion to approve the petition and to close the hearing. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

7:15 PM:        Other Items:

        Following a discussion, Board sets a tentative date of January 30, 2006 for a Special Town Meeting to act on two articles. One article would seek an appropriation for the architectural design cost for the proposed senior center. In order to apply for the Dept. of Housing and Community Development Senior Center grant, the Town must pay an architect for construction ready drawings and documents prior to the March 30, 2006 application deadline. The 2nd article would seek approximately $8,000 to fund the balance of purchasing and installing an emergency generator for the Fire Station/Highway Garage. The existing generator was installed in the mid 1960's and is failing. $12,000 of the approximate $20,000 total cost has already been approved through a grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety secured by the Selectmen. The meeting date is subject to change depending on how quickly an architect can provide the Board with a design cost to place on the warrant.

        Board agrees to meet with neighbors of the John S. Lane Quarry to discuss quarry operations at next week's regular Board meeting at 7:30 PM.

        Board reviews a draft FY 2007 Annual Town Meeting and Budget timeline. The timeline is a guide depicting milestones and events leading up to the Annual Town Meeting on May 1. Board would like to work cooperatively with the FinCom during the budget review process. A copy of the draft will be forwarded to the FinCom seeking their input - specifically suggested dates for joint meetings.

        Board reads a notice from Charter Cable re: February 2006 subscriber rate increases. Individual notices have been sent to subscribers. As a public utility, Charter's rate structure and programming is governed by a State commission, not the Town.

        Board reviews a letter from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments requesting that the Town join efforts to resist a mandate from the Secretary of State to purchase and install an electronic voting machine. Town Clerk Tina Skorput Cooper notes that the cost of both the purchase and programming before each election is considerable. 20% of the State's communities still use paper ballots and the Franklin County COG is urging those communities to resist the change.

        Board approves a request from the W.S. Volunteer Fire Dept. to hold a dinner/dance fund raiser at the Village School on 2-11-06. Approval is conditional on satisfying any possible concerns raised by the Town's insurance company.

        Board reviews a letter dated December 21, 2005 received from DOR stating the Town's certified free cash figures as: general fund - $578,996, sewer enterprise fund - $6,442 and water enterprise fund - $71,607. Board notes that these are healthy numbers and that this is the earliest date in memory that the Town has submitted for and received free cash approval.

7:50 PM:        Board reviews the 3 RFQ submittals for designer selection submitted from architectural firms prior to the advertised December 23, 2005 deadline for the senior center project. Nine RFQ packages were sent out and three firms returned with submittals. The Board carefully reads the submittals and scores them on a blind matrix system as provided by Berkshire Housing Development Corp. which is the agency that will be writing the proposed grant for the senior center. The three firms are: Roy Brown Associates/Wilbraham, MA; Clark and Green/Gt. Barrington, MA; and Schoenhardt Assoc./Tariffiville, Ct.

        CW and MK grade the submittals on separate forms without discussion and submit those forms to the Town Clerk for tabulation. Clark and Green receive the highest score of the three. Based on the scoring, MK makes a motion to select Clark and Green. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor. AA to inform Clark and Green and tell them to get the process moving quickly in order to stay on track with the aggressive timeline of a March 30 grant application submittal.

8:35 PM:        Norwin Rehm, COA member, voices his displeasure about the senior center design and proposed size of the center and his lack of input. MK points out that the space hasn't been designed yet. In fact, the Board just minutes ago selected an architect to design the space. The architect will seek input from the COA before plans are finalized. Discussions about space design are premature at this point. MK reminds Norwin that the Senior Center Steering Committee approved a senior center that would be 2,700 sq. ft. in floor space and that would be the charge given to the architect. AA notes that Tom Webb of Berkshire Housing attended a Selectmen's meeting several weeks ago and clearly stated that 2,700 sq. ft. would be the maximum size that could be applied for based on construction costs and total grant amount allowed. To design a larger center would be a waste of time because the construction cost would exceed the grant award. Mr. Rehm and several other members of the COA were present at that meeting. Mr. Rehm is still dissatisfied and says that he will resign from the COA and leaves the meeting.

8:40 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, MK makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

_________________________________       ________________________________
Curt Wilton                                     Michael Kirchner
Date: _______________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
January 9, 2006

6:00 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED), Curt Wilton (CW), Michael Kirchner (MK). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). Derek Gentile; Berkshire Eagle.

Tim Eagles, EDM Engineers, gives the Board an update on Town Offices/Library plans for conversion of Village School space. Board discusses Board/EDM meeting schedule. Next meeting will be 1-18 because of Monday holiday. Next meeting after that will be 2-1-06.

EDM will be charged with developing outside treatments, including: drive and parking layout, pedestrian and recreation flows.

Tim shows the Board the revised plans with the Senior Center space and Library space reversed from previous schemes. Library has expanded to approx. 1,870 sq; ft. with approx. 840 sq. ft. of undesignated future space.

Board and EDM discuss driveway and parking to the rear of the building. These items should be applied for under the Senior Center grant. AA to inform Clark and Green Architects, Senior Center designers.

At the 2-1-06 meeting, EDM will supply project cost estimates based on current plans. Library Trustees to be invited to that meeting.

Tim Eagles is instructed to cooperate and exchange information with Clark and Green. Clark and Green will be advised of the same action.

7:00 PM:        Tom Tenuta, owner of Village Oven, speaks to the Board about what permissions and processes need to be followed if he was to expand his restaurant into the space next door. Following a discussion, Board suggests that he run down and meet with the Planning Board tonight and seek their advice since the business is operating under a Special Permit. The Selectmen express no concerns with expanding the operation but a change to their Special Permit might be required through the Planning Board.

7:10 PM:        Other Items:

        Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.

        Board reviews and signs weekly warrants.

        Board discusses burning permit procedures.

7:30 PM:        Joe Roy, Jr., Miller Lane, and approximately 9 neighborhood residents, are present to discuss John S. Lane gravel bed operations.

        Ann Roy reads an opening statement which outlines the neighborhoods concerns focusing on the encroachment of operations on the neighborhood and its negative impact. It has been a very loud and dusty summer in the neighborhood.

        Joy Roy reads a letter into the record detailing the history of John S. Lane operations. This letter was previously furnished to the Board (attached). In summary, the letter states that conditions in the neighborhood have changed dramatically in the past year or so. Prior to that time, the gravel bed and the neighbors have coexisted relatively peacefully. It appears that operations have expanded and are closing in on nearby homes.

        Several questions are asked that the Board will research and get back to the group with answers. Joe Roy will be the contact person for the group.

        Q. Does Lane need a permit every time they blast?
        Q. Why don't they blow the warning whistle anymore before they blast and an all-clear signal when blasting is completed?
        Q. Can the W. Stockbridge Conservation Commission be contacted to investigate potential wetlands violations on Lane property?
        Q. Can Town Counsel be contacted for their opinion on zoning and other issues, including a potential change in primary use on the property?
        Q. Can Lane be stopped from cutting trees on their property that act as a buffer between the operations and the neighbors?

        Several additional observations are made by the neighbors, including:

        Change in use. Since town-wide zoning was adopted in the early 1970's, the site has changed from a lime processing plant to a mining/gravel retail operation.

        Will the property be reclaimed once all the gravel is mined? Is there a reclamation plan on record with the Town?

        Is Lane now selling topsoil stripped from expanded mining operations?

        Since the quarry operations seem to be expanding, can that expansion be considered a more non-conforming use of the pre-zoning property?

        It appears that Lane is pumping water from some of the gravel mining operations. That water ends up in the adjacent Williams River.

        It appears that mining operations are taking place within the mapped wetlands buffer zone.

        It is decided that the Board will write a letter to John S. Lane corporate headquarters in Westfield, Ma and invite representatives to a meeting with the Board and the neighbors to discuss operation and neighborhood concerns. Additionally, Town Counsel will be instructed to review zoning and related issues. Also, the ConsCom will be asked to investigate possible wetlands encroachments or violations. Board pledges to invite the neighborhood group back to a meeting as soon as it gets some more information. Board thanks Joe and the group for attending.

8:20 PM:        Norwin and Joan Rehm address the Board re: Senior Center. Mr. Rehm begins to show his plans for the space and is told that a professional architect has been hired to design the project as is required by the granting authority. The architect will be speaking with the COA and any other interested parties as he develops the plans. Joan says that the current 2,700 sq. ft. allocated is not big enough. She wants the space to be 3,200 sq. ft. CW explains that he has been told by both the architect and the head of the COA in Boston that current sq. ft. construction costs range between $200-$250. Additionally, the Board has been told by the grant writers (Berkshire Housing and Development Corp.) that under the current grant award, any project larger than 2,700 sq. ft. will exceed the grant award. The Rehms insist that the space must be at least 3,200 sq. ft.

8:30 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, MK makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

______________________  _______________________ ________________________
Elizabeth DiGrigoli, Chair      Curt Wilton                     Michael Kirchner

Date: _______________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
January 23, 2006

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

6:35 PM:        Tim Eagles, EDM Engineers, shows updated schematic plans for Village School space conversion to Town Offices and Library. The plans are somewhat more refined from the last version and are the plans that have been sent to a professional cost estimator. Tim will be back to meet with the Board on Feb. 1 at 6:30 PM to present budget estimates for the project.

        Tim explains that current bathroom space will be sufficient for the expansion, although they will be updated and become code compliant. He suggests leaving the 2 functioning lavatories in the basement as is.

        Tim discusses State guidelines for Town Vaults. A space in the basement has been designated for the vault and will be fireproofed to a 2 hour rating, as will be the remainder of the building.

        EDM will lay out parking and drive to rear of building as a bid alternative.

        There will be radiant hot water heat along the outside walls of the renovated space with make-up air units on the ceiling for fresh air and air conditioning.

        In response to a question, the Board instructs EDM to include make-up air and sprinklers in the police station.

        Plans show replacing all of the windows in the building except in the space designated for senior center.

EDM will include a budget figure for furnishings. It can be decided later on whether and what type of furnishings would be bid in the project. Furniture for the Library and Town Offices will be treated separately

In response to a question about how the project is going to be funded, CW says that once the estimates are received from EDM, the Board will seek the advice of the FinCom and the Investment Committee and come up with a plan.

7:45 PM:        Bill Kie presents his FY '07 Tree Warden budget to the Board. Mr. Kie says that a plan has to be developed to remove the mature trees from the Town cemeteries. They are weak, dangerous and costly to remove when they fall down. He proposes adding a separate line item to the budget for cemetery tree removal at $7,500 per year. This would take care of removing 5 or so trees per year, depending on size. Mr. Kie points out that the Selectmen had sent him a letter over the summer instructing him that it was the Tree Warden's responsibility to remove fallen trees from the Town cemeteries. He says that he will do anything the Board tells him to do but the Tree Warden budget will have to be increased to reflect that added requirement.

A question is asked about whether Perpetual Care interest can or should be used to remove these trees. CW notes that it would be a reasonable expense to do so but he would like to conduct a survey of surrounding towns to see how they deal with removing trees.

The base Tree Warden budget request for FY '07 is $11,465, up from $9,270 in the current year. Mr. Kie states that it is a substantial increase from the year before but still is woefully inadequate to deal with all of the dead and dying trees along Town ways.

ED and CW thank Mr. Kie for his presentation and for the thoroughness of his budget proposals.

8:15 PM:        Mr. Kie makes a formal complaint to the Board regarding the Cemetery Commissioners. He states that his uncle was buried in the wrong grave and needs to be moved. The Commissioners are responsible for marking graves and a mistake was made that needs to be corrected before the estate of his uncle can be settled. Mr. Kie states that he has been unsuccessful in dealing with Chairman Stuart Kuller to resolve the matter. The grave needs to be dug up and moved to the adjacent plot. Mr. Kie states that he has been trying to get this resolved for the past 18 months. The Board takes note of his complaint and will pass it along to the elected Cemetery Commission.

8:30 PM:        Peter Skorput, Fire Chief, speaks to the Board about the need to replace the Town's pumper fire vehicle. It is a front line vehicle and was built in 1974 and was refurbished in the mid-1980's. It is getting old and needs to be replaced. The replacement cost will be approximately $310,000. Peter suggests beginning a fire vehicle replacement trust account at the next annual meeting with an appropriation of $50,000. He says that the Department has been applying for a federal fire equipment grant for the past few years but has been unsuccessful; the grant is very competitive. The Department will continue to apply for the grant but if the fund can be started and added to for a few years, it would reduce the pain of buying the new vehicle if it becomes necessary in a few years. Board agrees to take the Chief's plan under advisement and will consider placing such an article on the annual town meeting warrant.

Other Items:    Dominick Luchi requests that his son's name be placed on the Town's War Veteran's Monument. His son has just returned from 18 month's active duty in Iraq. CW suggests that Dominick speak with Bob Korte who will help him out in getting the name placed on the monument.

        Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.

        Board reviews and signs weekly warrants.

        AA informs the Board that he, as the Town's representative, will attend a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting on Feb. 2nd at 7:00 PM in Gt. Barrington.

        Board reviews letters to be sent to J. S. Lane quarry and Town Counsel in response to neighbor's complaints about the quarry operations. Mr. Lane has been asked to attend a future Board meeting.

        Board discusses the upcoming Special Town Meeting on 1-30 and requests that the Town Clerk be prepared for a secret ballot vote.

        Fire Chief Skorput asks that the Board consider contacting an alarm company to take over the system at the Village School. The alarms are currently wired through the Verizon phone system and it is not working well and the Chief is having a difficult time with Verizon trying to get the matter resolved. Board agrees.

9:10 PM:        There being no additional business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

______________________  ____________________
Elizabeth DiGrigoli, Chair      Curt Wilton

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
January 30, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; Village School
Quorum present: Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED), Curt Wilton (CW), Michael Kirchner (MK). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

                Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes

                Board reviews and signs weekly warrants.

                No permits before the Board.

7:00 PM:        Moderator Gene Dellea opens the scheduled Special Town Meeting.

Town Clerk Tina Skorput Cooper reads the warrant and returns to service. Town Clerk keeps the record for the Special Town Meeting.

7:20 PM:        After acting on the 3 articles, Moderator Gene Dellea closes the Special Town Meeting. The Board reconvenes their regular open meeting.

Other Items:    Board reads a letter from BHRSD Supt. Donna Moyer detailing the FY '07 budget meeting schedule for the District. Board will consider whether the Superintendent and School Committee representatives will be requested to attend a future Board meeting to discuss the budget as offered by Superintendent Moyer.

        Board changes their next meeting with EDM Architects from 2-1-06 to 2-6-06 at 6:30 PM at Village School to discuss Village School conversion plans and budget. Library Trustees have been informed.

        Board notes the FinCom meeting correction. They will meet next on 2-15-06.

        AA informs the Board that John S. Lane will attend the 2-6-06 Board meeting at 7:30 PM to discuss John S. Lane gravel business operations. Board will invite Joe Roy as representative of the neighbor's group along with the ConsCom, Board of Health, Planning Board, Zoning Enforcement Officer and the Building Inspector.

        AA informs the Board that Fire Chief Peter Skorput has found the fire alarm system at the Village School to be in poor operating condition because of problems with the Verizon phone line connection. Verizon has not responded to his repeated calls and the Chief suggests that the Board investigate hooking the system through a private alarm system company. Board agrees. In the spirit of full disclosure AA informs Selectman MK that the alarm company that he is associated with would be one of the companies called for a quote. MK states that he would abstain from discussions and decisions made regarding the alarm system.

        CW passes along a discussion that he and the Town Clerk have had with an attorney representing a property owner on Harris Street regarding the ambiguous state of Spencer Road, Harris Street and Harris Street Extension. Records seem to indicate that Harris Street is a Town road. Spencer Street and Harris Street Extension appear to be private ways. The landowner wishes to establish legal frontage on Spencer Road. The Board decides that the situation would be better addressed by the Planning Board who is charged with Zoning and street frontage issues.

8:10 PM:        There being no additional business to discuss, ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

______________________  ______________________  ______________________
Elizabeth DiGrigoli, Chair      Curt Wilton                     Michael Kirchner

Date: ____________

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