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2016 - Minutes of October 3, 17 Meetings
Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 3, 2016

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Curt Wilton (CW), Chair; Earl Moffatt (EM); Peter Skorput (PS). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Berkshire Eagle and Local Yokel.

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

6:55 PM:        CW opens the regular meeting.

EM informs the Board that he has contacted several vendors regarding the purchase of a replacement Council on Aging handicap transport van. EM states that he has arranged for a vendor to bring a van to the Town Hall on October 7th for a demonstration. EM has contacted COA director John Zick and the COA drivers to view the van. PS suggests contacting Southern Berkshire Ambulance to see if they could offer additional van choice options.

CW discusses the Cable TV license renewal. CW notes that the current license to operate (10 year term) expired in June of 2013 and the Town and the Cable TV Commission has been in active negotiations and discussions with Charter Cable and Town Counsel since April 25th, 2014 when an ascertainment public hearing on the license renewal was held. CW thanks the Cable Commission for their tireless efforts to date. CW adds that although there are remaining license term items that the Commission is not satisfied with, Town Counsel recommended approval of the latest version of the license in a letter dated 9-9-16 (attached). CW states that the Board, which has limited experience in cable TV license negotiations, depends on the opinion of town counsel who has negotiated dozens of these licenses. CW notes that the discrepancy between the offered 150' 'drop' for new customers versus the requested 300' 'drop' is immaterial since Charter provides up to $3,000 in construction costs for each new customers, which translates to considerably more than 300' of cable installation. CW adds that without a signed license agreement with the Town, Charter can not access already approved MBI grant funds earmarked for Charter's buildout to the final 10% of West Stockbridge homes and delaying the signing and disregarding Town Counsel's recommendation will only delay that final buildout and make those residents wait beyond the stated 18 month completion date. CW asks PS for comments. PS agrees that the Board should follow town counsel's recommendation. There being no further discussion, CW makes a motion to approve the cable TV license agreement in its most recent version for a 10 year term. EM seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

EM asks that discussions with the owner of the Card Lake Inn parking lot be revived. EM notes that an amended 3rd party professional appraisal of the property is in hand and the Board should get back to the table with the owner for discussions about a possible purchase of the property which has historically been used as a parking lot. AA will contact the owner and set up a meeting.

Resident Paula Farrell thanks PS for his volunteer efforts; in particular, the mowing of the areas around the old town hall.

AA informs the Board that the Chief of Police Search Committee has met on 3 occasions and has narrowed the field of 24 applicants down to 5 semi-finalists. Those 5 have been given a written exercise to respond to a series of questions. Responses are due on October 7th. The Committee will meet shortly afterwards to review those responses and narrow the field down further to two or three finalists and pass those names along to the Selectmen for further vetting and public interviews. Board thanks the Committees efforts to date.

AA informs the Board that a final version of the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement for the Berkshire Truck Plaza solar farm, as negotiated with the Town's professional assessor Harold Scheid, will arrive shortly for Board approval. The terms call for annual payments to the Town for the personal property related to the solar farm (equipment) equal to $12,000 per kW. That equates to approximately $21,500 in new revenue for each of the next 20 years.

AA reports that engineers for the solar project located on State land in the vicinity of Interchange 1 have been in contact with Town inspectors and the project should be under construction shortly. AA notes that there will be a similar PILOT agreement executed for this project as well, although the Interchange 1 project is smaller in kW than the Truck Plaza solar farm.

CW and EM will be attending an upcoming MA DOT public meeting to gather details on the upcoming Interchange 1 toll plaza removal.

Board schedule Trick or Treat for October 31st from 4 PM to 6 PM.

Resident Richard Squailia asks the Board for an update on the codification of the Town's Bylaws. AA states that initial estimates for the work were in the several thousand dollar range and that no appropriation was in place, however, the Board will follow up and move the process forward. Mr Squailia also raises concerns about the validity of parking requirement estimates related to the Turnpark project on Moscow Road and general discussions and ideas on downtown parking and the need to have further joint discussions with the Planning Board on parking and traffic flow. CW responds that he has been actively gathering data, specifically traffic counts in the area of Depot and Center streets and that the Board is anxious to hold further public discussion forums on the topic and will do so in the future.

8:10 PM:        There being no further items to come before the Board an no additional questions or
comments from those in attendance, EM makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. PS seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Curt Wilton, Chair                             Earl Moffatt                                     Peter Skorput

Date: __________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 17, 2016

6:00 PM:        Open Meeting

Quorum present: Curt Wilton (CW), Chair; Earl Moffatt (EM), Peter Skorput (PS). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Local Yokel.

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

6:30 PM:        CW opens the regular meeting.

Mati Kiin, member of the Town's Cable TV Committee is present along with fellow Committee members Alan Theil and Carol Kuller. Mati reads a prepared statement (attached) which speaks to the Committee's displeasure with the Board of Selectmen for signing the Town's cable TV license agreement with Charter/Spectrum for a term of 10 years without further input from the Committee

CW notes that the Board, at at least 2 of its previous meetings, have thanked the Committee for their work and that the topic of the cable TV license renewal has been posted on the past three Selectmen's agendas for discussion. CW states that Town Counsel, who has negotiated dozens of cable TV licenses statewide, recommended signing the license agreement as per the most recent version, on which the Committee had on-going input. CW adds that the license renewal discussions have been going on for 3 years and that town counsel said that we had gotten as far as we could and further delays would only delay Charter's implementation of building out to the final 10% of streets in Town.

Mati states that the Commission has put in a lot of effort and is tired and would like the Selectmen to consider replacing them although they would continue in their role until replacements are found. CW again thanks Mati and the Committee for their work.

CW reports on a recent meeting held at MA DOT District 1 offices, which was attended by all 3 Board members. The meeting presented the construction plans for the removal of the Interchange 1 toll plaza and construction schedule. CW noted that his concerns with large trucks traveling through downtown and over Town roads was addressed to his satisfaction. Construction trucks are to remain on the turnpike. Fire Chief Skorput was also satisfied with the protocols instituted for emergency vehicles accessing calls to the turnpike during construction.

EM gives an update on the purchase of a replacement Council on Aging (COA) van. The Town has an option of selling the current van through the dealer at auction or selling it on our own. The dealer is not interested in our van on trade. PS suggests that the Town might be better off selling it on our own. Board takes no action and will discuss further.  Following a motion by CW to proceed with the replacement COA van purchase as discussed at a previous meeting and sort out the disposition of the current van at a future meeting, Board votes 2-0 in favor or proceeding with EM abstaining since he was directly involved in the negotiations. The replacement van will be delivered in the next 2 weeks.

7:00 PM:        CW opens the continuation of the Rent Control Board (RCB) public hearing to hear and
act on both owner's and tenants' petition for rent adjustment. CW reads that minutes from the 7-18-16 opening public hearing and notes that several items have been agreed to. CW notes that Town Counsel Jonathan Eichman is present for tonight's hearing continuation.

RCB has a discussion about appropriation of land and building values in calculations of what is used for Park operations and what is not. Land and buildings not related to Park operations are not to be considered in any income/expense calculations towards setting lot rents. The Park is located on a single parcel which includes buildings and land that may not be exclusively linked to Park operations.

In a review of Board of Assessor's property records for the Gennari owned property, the RCB cannot determine the specifics of a particular property item listed as “other” and valued at $74,000. There is no supporting detail on the Assessor's records. RCB and town counsel agree that further records research is needed before a total Park related value can be determined. RCB agrees that .85 acres of land out of the total 14.24 assessed parcel acres, along with the residence that sits on that land, should be excluded from overall Park land calculations.

RCB and Evie Kerswell (EK), Tenant's Association representative, discuss whether land other than the land that specifically is considered under the 35 trailer lots and land that comprises the road network, should be factored into total land calculation. CW argues that the land that runs along the river with no trailers should be included as Park common space and included in calculations. EK and Park resident Cissy Astore argue that the land should not be included since it is not for the exclusive use of tenants. Liza Gennari, owner's representative, argues that the land should be considered since tenants take advantage of the riverfront land and that no one other than Park tenants has permission to use that land. PS suggests that the Park owners block off access to that land from the downtown side to prevent trespassers but agrees that the land should be considered in land value calculations.

Following further discussion, EM makes a motion to agree to a total land value of $171,323,  pending a determination of the use of the previously discussed “other” item, valued at $74,000. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Following a discussion and upon the recommendation of Town Counsel, it is determined that the cost of vacancies and non-payment of rents cannot be included in Owner's calculations of Park operating expenses.

CW states that the Park owners are entitled to a fair net operating income based on documented and approved expenses. They are operating a business.

RCB and EK have a lengthy discussion on allowable sewer and water costs. RCB presents a spreadsheet of the Park's most recent 4 quarters of water use, per main meter readings, and cost for same as charge to the owners by the Town.

Following more discussion on engineer's reports assessing the Park's infrastructure and actual leak detection and water line repairs conducted in the 2nd quarter of 2016, it is decided that the owners will take individual trailer meter readings beginning immediately and comparing those against the main master meeting to help determine water amounts being used by tenants and water lost in the system prior to reaching trailers. The owners point out that not all trailers are metered; perhaps 80% are. RCB feels that reading what meters are on the trailers would be a helpful exercise although the water mains repairs likely addressed most of the leaks. CW points out that even a relatively new water system is going to have some leaks.

Park resident Cissy Astore points out the the Gennari's bought back the Park recently and are asking for a rent increase but that they haven't made any improvements. Improvements should be done and then come back and request an increase to cover them.

EK says that tenants have not seen improvements to the Park and that expenses have not been fully reviewed by the RCB and appears frustrated by the process.

CW reviews items that have been settled on and agree to by both the owners and tenant's association at tonight's hearing:

Amount (annual)
Excise tax on trailers ($420/mo)
Manager's salary ($600/mo)
Electricity ($80/mo)
Park Insurance
Land tax
Contingent upon discovery of “other”, valued at $74,000
Sanitary septic service
Snow removal
Road maintenance
Summer property maintenance
Legal fees
Bookkeeping and Tax prep
Office supplies and printing
Town Permit
Tree maintenance
Water and sewer costs
Not agreed. More information required.
Reserves (emergency fund)
Deficit accrued
Not allowed
Vacancy rate/non-payment of rents
Not allowed

9:30 PM:        CW, noting that compromises have been reached on several items and that most
expenses have been agreed to by both parties, makes a motion to continue tonight's hearing to a future date when land value information is available and water and sewer costs can be better determined. EM seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

CW makes a motion to close tonight's regular meeting. EM seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Curt Wilton, Chair                             Earl Moffatt                                     Peter Skorput

Date: __________

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