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2014 - Minutes of November 3, 17 Meetings
Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
November 3, 2014

6:15 PM:        Open Meeting.
Quorum present: Peter Skorput (PS), Chair; Earl Moffatt (EM); Karen Zick (KZ). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Local Yokel.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and signs weekly payroll and vendor warrants.

7:05 PM:        PS opens the Rent Control Board (RCB) hearing continued from October 20, 2014 and
asks Town Counsel Patricia Cantor (PC) to provide an introduction and recommendation for a rent amount based on the rent adjustment petitions submitted independently by the Mill Pond Tenants Association and park owner Eric Leveque (EL).

PC distributes a handout to the RCB, tenants association and owner which depict park operating expenses  as discussed and settled upon by both parties and as submitted by the owner at the 10-24-14 RCB hearing. PC notes that the values were adjusted slightly to reconcile differences between tenant association and owner provided figures. Some category headings were adjusted for clarity.

PC then reads the park owners expenses as listed which totaled $89,105 annually, which reflected a change in the owners submitted real estate taxes value. The new real estate tax cost to the owner was established as a percentage of the Town's assessed value of the land at the park rather than the entire property tax bill which includes land and buildings not directly associated with mobile home unit lots.

Following discussion regarding the list of the owner's annual park expenses, some math errors are corrected and agreed to by the RCB.

Following discussion regarding the owners cost of providing water and sewer services to tenants, AA suggests that any decision made should be subject to a review of the annual sewer and water costs based on the historic method applied by the Town to determine average quarterly billing charges. That method is: using the most recent 8 quarters billing amounts, throw out the single high and the single low bill and average the remaining 6 bills to arrive at an average quarterly amount; then multiply that amount by 4 to obtain an annual average cost. RCB agrees. As submitted by the owner, the annual cost of providing sewer and water is $24,600.

Based on the expense figures discussed and the assessed value of the land directly attributed to the 35 mobile home units when applied to the Fair Market Value and Net Operating Income method as provided for in the Town's RCB bylaw, the new annual lot rental amount comes out at $224.86 a month for the 35 units.

EL voices his objection to the method applied to calculating base rent. EL says that it doesn't use a fair rate of return and that it's a ridiculous and made up number.

Tenant's Association member Evie Kerswell notes that the methodology used by the W.S. RCB is the same used by other RCB's in Massachusetts.

EM adds that the real estate value of the park, as submitted by the owner, is inflated by non-trailer park use structures and land on the single parcel.

Following a discussion on whether the new rent amount is retroactive, it is decided that the effective date of applying a new rent as settled upon at tonight's hearing should be October 1, 2014, which is halfway between the first available month (July 1, 2014) following the original rent adjustment petition filing date of June 23, 2014 when this hearing was opened, and the last available month (December 1, 2014) following a decision at tonight's hearing.

8:15 PM:        PS makes a motion to adjust the maximum rent amount to $224.86, effective retroactive
to October 1, 2014, subject to a possible adjustment based on follow up clarification of actual average water and sewer annual costs. KZ seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor. PS closes the hearing.

Other Business/Action/Discussion Items:

  • Board reviews and approves 4 Village School Use requests and asks for clarification on a 5th.
  • AA informs the Board that the Town's annual audit began last Monday and is essentially wrapped up. Auditors from Thomas Scanlon CPA will return in a few weeks to finalize.
  • Board discusses hiring an independent professional appraisal firm to determine a value on the privately owned parking area adjacent to the Card Lake Inn and instruct AA to begin the process.
  • AA informs that Board that the Downtown Improvement project is proceeding on schedule and that no major issues have come to his attention. Sidewalk pavers will be delivered on 11/13 and will be installed shortly afterwards. Crews are pushing to install as much granite curbing and paving before the blacktop plants close for the winter. Laying sidewalk pavers can continue into the winter.
  • Board discusses and settles on appropriate vacation time for the Town Transfer Station attendant.
  • Board approves a project to fix the drainage problem in the parking area adjacent to the Police Station entrance. Town crews will install catch basins to fix ice and water pooling problems and add pavement.
  • Board approves a request from AA to utilized Assessor's Clerk Mary Stodden for clerical help on specific projects.
  • Board approves making repairs to the town custodian pick up truck.
  • KZ reports that rust repairs have been made to the Council on Aging van.
8:20 PM:        There being no additional business to come before the Board, KZ makes a motion to
adjourn the meeting. PS seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Peter Skorput, Chair                          Earl Moffatt                                       Karen Zick

Date: ___________


Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
November 17, 2014

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; Main Meeting Room, 21 State Line Road, West Stockbridge, MA

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

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

7:00 PM:        Kristen Piasecki, the Town's current representative to the Berkshire Hills Regional
School Committee, presents Andrew Potter or 34 High Street, West Stockbridge, as a candidate to fill the vacancy created by the sudden passing of BHRSD School Committee member John Krahm. Mr. Potter is present for tonight's meeting. Mr. Potter expresses his desire to fill this important role and accepts Kristen's support. Following a brief discussion, EM makes a motion, based on the recommendation from Kristen Piasecki, to nominate Andrew Potter to fill the vacancy for West Stockbridge representative to the BHRSD School Committee. PS seconds the motion. Vote taken: 4-0 in favor (PS, EM, KZ and Kristen Piasecki voting). Board thanks Mr Potter for stepping up for this important and time consuming position.

Other Business/Action/Discussion Items:

  • PS asks if there has been any word from MA DOT regarding the condition of the MassPike bridge crossing over Moscow Road. PS notes that it is in deteriorating condition. AA hasn't heard of any activity and will check with the Highway Superintendent.
  • Board discusses letter received from Mill Pond Trailer Park owner Eric Leveque. Copy has been sent to Town Counsel. Board feels it is not in a position to reconsider at this late date in the process and decides not to take any action on letter unless advised otherwise from Town Counsel. KZ asks what would happen to the Mill Pond tenants if the owner declared bankruptcy or closed the park as indicated may happen in Mr Leveque's letter. It is noted that a sale of the Park is still being discussed between the owner and Tenant's Association. In response to a question from the audience, PS notes that the Board intends to file its final RCB Hearing decision at the Board's next meeting on December 1.
  • KZ asks if the Town Clerk could put copies of Selectmen's meeting minutes in the Town Library. AA has made the request to the Town Clerk and will follow up.
  • Board discusses the need to update the Shaker Mill Dam Emergency Action Plan as required every two years by the MA Office of Dam Safety. Engineering firm Fuss & O'Neil has a proposal to perform the update for a fee of $4,440. AA notes that there is only $1,700 in a related account for this purpose and an additional appropriation will need to be made.
  • AA reports that the testing firm hired by the Town – per DEP instructions – has sent well water testing results to the residents with private wells within 600 feet of the borders of the old town landfill. No contaminants have been found.
  • AA reports that the downtown improvement project will likely wrap up around Thanksgiving for the season and will resume and finish up in the spring of 2015.
  • Board receives a letter from Albany Road resident Richard Squaillia (attached) regarding his concerns and issues with the Town's Board of Health and the process related to sewer connections for those residents along the sewer expansion route. Mr. Squaillia expresses frustration with the BOH and says that the letter sent by the BOH regarding the connection process should be officially rescinded. Mr Squaillia has spoken to a DEP employee about his concerns and asks that the BOH or its agent be allowed to speak with the same official to seek clarification on the rules regarding municipal sewer connections. Mr Squaillia states that DEP informed him that the proper steps were not taken by Town officials regarding the sewer connection process. Mr Squaillia is seeking Board of Selectmen intervention in the matter.

KZ asks if everyone in Town could be required to conduct a Title V test every two years. EM responds that it would be up to the Board of Health to make that determination.

Mr Squaillia says the process has gone off the tracks and that he's waiting for response to his letter dated August 29th to the BOH and mistakes were made and they need to be corrected and that he's seeking help from the Selectmen to prompt the Bd of Health to make those corrections. PS notes that the Selectmen don't have a primary role in this case; the matter is under the authority of the elected Board of Health and the Sewer and Water Commissioners.

Board will ask the Town's BOH Health Agent to contact DEP for a follow up and clarification of the rules and procedures for sewer connections.

8:15 PM:        There being no additional business to come before the Board, KZ makes a motion to
adjourn. PS seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Peter Skorput, Chair                          Earl Moffatt                                       Karen Zick

Date: ___________


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