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2005 - Minutes of January 3, 24 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
January 3, 2005

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Lawrence Tonini (LT), Elizabeth DiGrigoli (ED) and Curt Wilton (CW). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA)
Press present: Berkshire Eagle.

Board approves previous meeting minutes.
Board signs weekly warrants.

Board discusses and reviews a draft response to Levin (Easland Rd.) letters and how to respond to their stated concerns about the condition of their common driveway and associated runoff and silting. Although the Board is sympathetic to the Levin's claims, the matter was previously discussed and resolved at an October 2003 meeting with the then owner/builder of the driveway. The driveway did not fall under the strict interpretation of a newly discovered 1969 driveway bylaw because it did state the Highway Superintendent's concerns in writing. The Highway Supt. did and still does have concerns about the slope and drainage of the driveway. A subsequent driveway by-law has much stricter standards dealing with slope and construction. However, this driveway was constructed and prior to Town approval of that by-law. Board will send a response to the Levins with the suggestion that the Conservation Commission may be able to offer something. LT suggests that although the Board does its best to mediate any dispute, this case seems to be one between the owner and the contractor.

Tony Campetti asks if the Building Inspector can refuse to issue a Certificate of Occupancy if he feels the driveway or any other issue with a new residence is inadequate. Answer is yes.

Ogden Gigli asks a general question about the liability of Town Inspectors who issue permits if and when the permitted system is substandard or fails. All Town Officials are covered under the Town's Officers Error and Omissions insurance. Additionally, MGL provides indemnification in many circumstances for Town Officials.

7:40 PM:        Discussion opens regarding Town owned recreation land on Harvey Mt. and rights of way thereto. In attendance are several members of the public, Randy and Sheila Thunfors - principals of the development company working on the former Kingsmont Camp property and Lori Robbins, attorney for the development company.

        CW opens the discussion by giving a review of events to date. Back in March 2004, Parks and Recreation began a survey of Town owned open space and recreation land. Harvey Mt. was identified as such a parcel. At the request of Parks and Rec. investigations began into public access to Harvey Mt. A sense of urgency arose more recently because of the former Kingsmont developer's plans to seek a special permit for common driveways on parcels abutting Harvey Mt. To date the evidence of a town right of way is inconclusive, but the Selectmen have hired Town Counsel to investigate further and are awaiting an opinion. From that opinion, the Board can better determine whether it may have a case of a right of way or not and or how to proceed in that determination and how much a further investigation might cost.

        LT explains that the Town acquired approximately 90 acres on Harvey Mt. back in 1934 through a tax taking.

        Lori Robbins explains her extensive deed research involving Harvey Mt., abutting properties, and the former Kingsmont property in particular.

        A question is asked whether there are any laws prohibiting landlocked land. Attorney Robbins responds, no.

        Lori Robbins reads materials from Town Historian Edna Garnett's books on West Stockbridge. She notes that many mountain tops in the region were purchased and the forests cut for charcoal. Charcoal was then brought to the main roads via a variety of ways.

        Dominick Luchi states that there appears to be remnants of a wood road through the Kingsmont property and Harvey Mt. but that it is not continuous from the top to W. Alford Rd.

        A discussion ensues regarding old wood roads throughout the region.

        Lori Robbins states that she has researched the chain of title for the Kingsmont property from Easland - described as the first white settler in the region - up to present and she has found no rights of way or easements granted to the Town.

        Lori Robbins states that another way the Town could acquire a right of way through Kingsmont is by prescriptive use. However, it might be difficult for the Town to demonstrate a 20 year continuous use of the land by a Town official or for official use by the Town. Lori Robbins adds that an official survey of Harvey Mt. was never conducted by the Town or others.

        William Kie asks if Lori Robbins has the deed from Rohrabacher to Zucker. Answer, yes. William Kie also has a copy and reads the language.

        Lori Robbins shows an atlas from 1876 and it does not show any town ways from W. Alford Rd. through Kingsmont to Harvey Mt. Furthermore, a 1904 atlas and 1900 map don't show town roads in the area either.

        Sheila Thunfors shows pictures of stone monuments that depict mile markers and border markers between NY and MA along the ridge of Harvey Mt. She contends that not all markers are found on roadways and shows pictures of markers not on roadways.

        Lori Robbins reads an affidavit from Keith Zucker stating all hikers were asked to leave the Kingsmont property. Kingsmont did not encourage hikers. Lori goes on to say that prescriptive use could be proved by an individual but that right is not transferable to the Town.

        Dominick Luchi states that he has spoken to several hunters who have accessed Harvey Mt. through other abutting lands - not Kingsmont.

        Ogden Gigli states that there are several wood roads leading through the area and they are not limited to Kingsmont property. He goes on to say that he sees the proposed development as a good project if done properly and that right of way issues should be worked out between lawyers for the developer and the Town. Access to Harvey Mt. would be great but it would have to be proven to exist. He suggests that some other access arrangements might be worked on.

        Irene Skorput reads from the Rohrabacher to Zucker deed that reads that conveys "certain rights of way".

        Lori Robbins responds that that language refers to West Alford Rd. not any other right of way or Town Rd. through the Kingsmont or Harvey Mt. property.

        Carol Kuller asks if it is the position of the Kingsmont owners not to grant a right of way to the Town.

        Randy Thunfors answers that at present, they are not interested. He doesn't want to be bullied into granting public access across his property. He asks why he has been singled out. There are several others abutters - several of whom are in the room tonight - that could grant access to Harvey Mt. Randy asks Mr. Campetti if he would be willing to grant public access through his land. Mr. Campetti responds that he would have to think about it.

        Sheila Thunfors notes that there is already easy access through New York State to Harvey Mt. There is a roadway and parking that leads right to the top of the Town's land on Harvey Mt.

        Randy Thunfors notes that he has come up with a development plan for Kingsmont that is sensitive to the environment. He adds that he is willing to discuss any options for public access but he will not be extorted. He adds that he has been beaten up over this project and resents the treatment he has received. He has lived in this Town for 25 years and has always done right by the Town. He states that he was instrumental in obtaining several acres of recreation land on the top of Samantha Lane several years ago.

        Lori Robbins states that no evidence has been presented that a roadway exists through Kingsmont to the top of Harvey Mt. Furthermore, no evidence has been found for a deeded right of way through Kingsmont...

        Randy Thunfors suggests that all the abutters should be considered in some public right of way scheme. He would be willing to participate if other abutters would.
        
        Tony Campetti states that the Selectmen have just been doing their job. They have followed up on claims that the Town had legal access through Kingsmont to Harvey Mt.

9:00 PM:        LT moves to close the discussion. He notes that the Board is not trying to give anyone a hard time. A request came to the Board and they are following through. Tonight's meeting has been a fact finding mission. In response to a question on what the next step would be, LT says that the Board has requested an opinion from Town Counsel on the strength or lack of for its assertion of having public access to Harvey Mt. When that recommendation is received, the Board will discuss options.

9:10 PM:        Other items:

        AA gives the Village School painters' schedule. They should be done with the 4 classrooms by the middle of next week.

        CW gives the Board estimates he has received to replace electrical equipment at the WWTF. It is agreed that new, not rebuilt, equipment should be used.

        Board discusses Levin driveway issue. LT states that the Town can not be responsible for the condition of the driveway. It's a matter best dealt with between the owner and the contractor. Board reviews a draft letter of response to the Levins. Board approves the letter but adds a sentence that the Levins may wish to contact the ConsCom to get their opinion or suggestions.

        AA states that he is scheduled to meet with Tom Webb (Berkshire Housing) and Steve McAllister (architect, Clark and Green) later in the week to discuss the finalizing the resubmittal of the Senior Center grant application. Following a discussion, the Board agrees to pull back for the time being from submitting the application as it is. LT states that he and many others have been uncomfortable for some time that the Town was giving up too much space in the Village School. It has been noted in previous meetings that the Town will need every bit of the school for its future uses. LT strongly supports having a Senior Center but space in the Village School is not the best place. He would strongly support an application to build a stand alone Senior Center somewhere else on the Village School campus. AA points out that the application timeline is rigid and that there would not be time to submit a new application for a different project for this round. The Town would have to wait until next year. Also, the Town would have to appropriate additional money to design a new building. Current plans would not be transferable. Board agrees that, although the decision is not pleasant to make, it cannot go forward with current plans.

        Board agrees to reschedule the Annual Town Officer's meeting to January 31 at the Williamsville Inn. LT will coordinate with owner Candy Wendt.

        Jim Dominique asks the Board why it does not enforce MGL that requires that all DBA's operating in Town be registered with the Town Clerk. He says that Billy Kie is operating several of his businesses illegally and that the Town is obligated to enforce the law. Kie should be fined according to the law. CW responds that the Board will look in to the matter and have an answer in a couple of weeks.



9:50 PM:        ED makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. 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
January 24, 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 review and signs warrants.

6:45 PM:        Fire Chief Peter Skorput addresses the Board about his concerns regarding the Village School and some instances of doors being left open and fire exits being blocked. He would like to see better policing of activities at the school. Peter also pointed out that all of the fire extinguishers needed to be updated.

Parks and Recreation Chair Bob Powell noted that every group that uses the gym appears on a schedule and if there are other activities or persons using the school or the gym then they are doing so without permission. Bob will continue to keep a close eye on activities. It was suggested that a list of who's using the building could be made available to the Fire Chief.

7:00 PM:        Other items:

Bill Kie gives an update on his continuing research into the Kingsmont/Harvey Mt. right of way/town road issues. He has spent time at the Columbia County, NY Registry of Deeds. He suggests that further deed research of the abutters in necessary. The Board discusses spending a limited amount for that purpose and asks Mr. Kie to bring back a proposal from a qualified deed researcher.

Jim Dominique expresses his annoyance with the Board for delaying his request for a Class III auto junk license. He said that he will return in 2 weeks for a public hearing. Mr. Dominique is told that the Selectmen, not applicants set dates for public hearings and that there are still unanswered questions previously posed to Mr. Dominique. No public hearing date is set.

The Board discusses a faxed request from Attorney Lori Robbins to the Town Clerk asking that she sign a letter stating that the she has researched Town records and that no Town Meeting action was taken on roads during a specific period in the mid-1800's. The letter was forwarded to Town Counsel for an opinion.

An update is given on the contractor's meeting held last week for the boiler replacement at Village School. The bid opening will be Feb. 3rd at the Town Hall.

AA sent an update on Town Meeting and funding scenarios to Joel Hotchkiss on the Town Hall investigation. The letter also stated the availability of numerous records on past studies of the Town Hall that are boxed and available for viewing at the Town Hall.

AA sent additional information to Bob Powell who is working on office layouts for the Village School.

AA reports on a meeting held last week with Town officials from Gt. Barrington, Stockbridge, W. Stockbridge, Supt. Moyer and School Committee Chair Steve Bannon. As in past years, the BHRSD Supt. called the meeting to give a preview of the District's FY '06 budget and to listen to any feedback from the Towns. She suggested that the capital budget will be reduced slightly from the current year and that the operating budget will likely increase from 3%-5%.

AA reminds the Board of the NOI Public Hearing by the Conservation Commission on aquatic weed control of Mill and Card Ponds scheduled for Feb. 3 at 7:30 PM at Village School. Certified mail notice has been sent to all abutters, a notice was given to the "Local Yokel", a legal ad has been printed in the Berkshire Eagle and 2 notices have been sent to the Berkshire Eagle for publishing under the "Worth Noting" section.

A thank you letter has been sent to Sheriff Massimiano for providing a painting crew for the Village School. A request was added for painting the remaining 2 classrooms.

Change of Manager Approval from the ABCC has been received for the Sportsmen's Club.

Board signs a letter of intent to participate in the Household Hazardous Waste program. The Town has been a member of the group for the past several years. The cost to participate will be the same as the past 2 years.

AA passes along concerns expressed by the ConsCom about apparent expansion of gravel mining at the John S. Lane gravel pit. LT provides a contact name at John S. Lane that will be given to the ConsCom.

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 approved by:



______________________  _____________________   ______________________
Lawrence Tonini, Chair  Elizabeth DiGrigoli             Curt Wilton


Date: ____________



 
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