Upcoming Meetings

  1. Open Space Committee MeetingMon, Aug 27 07:00 pm

Selectmen Meeting Minutes — January 30, 2012—7:00 p.m. —
Memorial Hall

Call to order: John called the meeting to order. Other members present: Robert manners and Joe Judd.

Media Present: Diane Broncaccio, The Recorder and Cameron Graves, Shelburne Falls Independent.

7:00 p.m. All Board's Meeting - John opened the meeting by welcoming everyone in attendance and thanking them for the invaluable service they provide to the town. The purpose of the meeting was to provide each Board Chair an opportunity to discuss current projects, concerns, and obstacles faced in Committee work; ways to improve inter-committee communication; and future needs. In attendance were: John Herron, Jr., Agricultural Commission; Joseph Mattei, Board of Assessors; Deborah Coutinho, Board of Health; Norman Davenport and Tom Miner, Conservation Commission; David Schochet and Larry Flaccus, Open Space Committee; Matthew Marchese, Planning Board; Joe Palmeri, Zoning Board of Appeals.

Deborah Coutinho, Board of Health - Deb reported that she and Board of Health Clerk, Linda Bickford have recently completed reorganizing 22 years of filing. Records are now identified by property map and lot number rather than property owner; for ease in retrieval. Other projects include: "Maven" Training - learning to access a secure web based disease surveillance and case management system (mandated by the Department of Public Health) for notifiable diseases; combined tobacco control work; compiling wind power information; and working cooperatively with other small towns to seek grant funds for shared nursing services.

Areas of concern: There is never enough time to accomplish all that needs to be done; lack of private work space at Town Hall necessary to discuss confidential matters; recent loss of Board of Health Clerk (due to relocation). The Board of Health will need at least 8 hours of clerical support weekly in order to keep up with demands.
Future needs: would love to have a private office space; an office at the Shelburne Fire Department may be an option. Need to hire a new clerk; and seek specialty trainings and certifications for Board members.

Tom Minor, Conservation Commission - Tom reported that the Commission's primary responsibility is to apply and enforce the wetlands protection act. The Commission has noticed a big decline in activity over the past year. Tom speculates that the economy is a factor.

Areas of concern: The automation of the Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program requires routine review and sign-offs. Fortunately for the Conservation Commission, Tom is retired and routinely checks the Commission's mail. He stressed the importance of receiving information in a timely fashion so that town representatives have an opportunity to review and comment on a particular matter.
Future needs: would love to develop a process for circulating agendas between Boards and Committees.

Joe Palmeri, Zoning Board of Appeals - Areas of concern for Zoning Board members include ensuring timely notification, dissemination of information; how to define the date of notification (the date the application is received by the Town, the date that it is delivered to various Boards, or the date in which the various Boards receive the application); and how to handle an incomplete application.

Email notification is the fastest way to notify town Boards of receipt of an application however, there are drawbacks. Some town officials do not want town-related business sent to their personal computers; some Board do not check their town email accounts regularly; and electronic format hinders the ability to forward the entire application (including attachments).

Planning Board Chairman, Matt Marchese suggested that applicants be required to submit four copies of their application; a copy for each Board. The Town Clerk would date stamp each copy and place in appropriate mailboxes. Open Space Committee member, Larry Flaccus would like both Boards to consider expanding the notification list to include Open Space and the Agricultural Commission.

John suggested that Zoning and Planning Boards work together to clarify the "rules and regulations" segment of the Zoning By-law special permitting process. The Board will investigate the ramifications of using ones personal computer for town-related business.

Matthew Marchese, Planning Board - Matt reported that the Planning Board's continues to work on subdivision rules and regulations. As of late, Planning Board efforts have focused on whether to update Shelburne's Zoning By-laws to include a wind farm bylaw.

Areas of Concern: The need for clerical assistance has become apparent while trying to manage the day-to-day tasks, bi-monthly meetings, numerous emails, and volumes of paperwork; all a direct result of the wind farm topic. Similar to the Board of Health, the Planning Board's filing system also needs to be overhauled. Matt will be reintroducing funds in the Planning Board's FY'13 budget to include at least 8 hours of clerical assistance weekly as well as funds for legal advice.

Future Needs: Moving forward Matt would like to obtain a better understanding of the Select board's policy with regards to use of Counsel. While the concept of whether or not to develop a wind farm bylaw is in its initial stages, the subject is relatively new therefore the desire to follow a process that is fair and balanced is of great importance. Matt intends to meet with the Selectboard in the near future to discuss further.
Inter-Committee Communications - The Planning Board hopes to host a few group meetings on the subject of wind power. He would encourage input from everyone.
Joe Palmeri, Zoning Board Chairman questioned whether a wind farm bylaw was necessary. He also suggested that the Planning Board seek guidance/advice from other municipalities, planning agencies, associations, etc.

John Payne, Select Board RE: Seeking Advice from Counsel - It is the policy of the Select Board that anyone wishing to access the advice of Counsel must first seek permission from the Select Board Chairman. Given the cost of Counsel's advice, the Select Board Chairman makes a determination as to whether the topic of discussion is specific enough to warrant a simple answer. If the topic is too broad, access to Counsel could be denied on the basis of subject matter and probable cost.

Joe Mattei, Board of Assessors - Joe reported that his Board is operating status quo. To the best of their ability, the Assessors continue ongoing revaluation work and scheduling site visits. The Board is extremely fortunate to have Bruce Kaeppel as their assistant assessor.

David Schochet and Larry Flaccus, Open Space Committee - The Open Space Committee is comprised of eleven appointed members in addition to four individuals representing Recreation, Agricultural Commission, Planning, and Conservation Commission. They are one of the few town committees who do not have an operating budget. They rely solely on grant funds to accomplish their work. Accomplishments include: a collection of laminated 30 or more laminated maps depicting agricultural and forestry lands, natural resources, open space, water resources and wildlife habitat; a walking and hiking brochure that includes five local trails in Shelburne; and will soon reach out to every resident in Shelburne owning 5 acres or more to offer informational resources for a variety of topics which include: managing, enhancing forestry and open land and estate planning.

Areas of concern: The Commonwealth requires that the Town update the Open Space Plan in order to qualify for future grant funding. Estimated cost to update plan is $15,000. The Open Space Committee intends to make an appeal to the Department of Conservation and Recreation regarding the requirement.

Future needs: The Open Space Committee is always interested in hearing from resident property owners who would like offer public access to their property for purpose of trail expansion. Also the Committee would like to investigate the cost of a bulk mailing permit for use by all town representatives.

John Herron, Jr., Agricultural Commission - John reported that the Agricultural Commission has just begun meeting again. One of their goals is to create a local logo to aid in marketing agricultural products produced locally.

Areas of improvement: John suggested enhancing the town's website so that it is all encompassing (links to local businesses, sporting events, etc). He also suggested the creation of an electronic bulletin board where town representatives have the ability to post events.

Closing Comments:

  • The Town has received an abundance of information from citizens, organizations, etc. regarding wind farms. This information should be organized and stored in an area that is available to the public upon request. Should the Town Clerk serve as records custodian?
  • Joe Mattei recommended the formation of a long range advisory committee comprised of representatives from each Board. The group could meet monthly and bring forth recommendations to the Select Board.
  • Joe Mattei also suggested the possibility of developing a student internship program whereby students from Charlemont Academy, Mohawk, and/or the Tech School could obtain hands on experience in municipal government.
  • Everyone in attendance agreed that this type of meeting should be held annually in the month of January.
  • John would like to re-establish a budgetary line item for training and certification and develop a systematic approach for allocating said funds.
  • University of Massachusetts will sponsor its annual "Keystone Training" Program on Thursday evening, April 19th, through Sunday afternoon, April 22nd, 2012 at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA.

Public Comments:
Whit Sanford of Maple Street indicated that she is a trained regional planner. She asked about the status of the town's Master Plan; she asked whether the town has a Capital Improvements Committee; or ever considered adopting the Community Preservation Act. She noted that all three components provide useful guidance when planning for the future.

Memorial Drive Agreement for Winter Maintenance - Right-of-way owners appreciate the time and effort put forth to craft the agreement however, they are unwilling to sign the document because they feel that the terms of the agreement are a "significant" departure of the Board's vote and the abutters understanding of the vote taken on November 7, 2011. Ultimately the abutters would like the Town to continue to maintain the right-of way in the absence of an agreement and in return; the abutters will donate annually to the costs of said maintenance.

Despite the November 7th vote, both John and Bob are uncomfortable with a "donation" concept. Joe requested an opportunity to speak with abutters to see if the agreement can be modified to satisfy all parties. John recommended a formula that would divide the total cost of annual maintenance equally amongst the five parties, while at the same time, minimizing the town's burden of billing. Joe will report his findings on February 13th.


ADJOURNMENT: Bob presented a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m. Joe seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Mosher
Town Administrator