Brookfield Selectboard Meeting of March 9, 2020
Town Clerk’s Office on Ralph Road
Selectboard: John Benson (Chair), Jeff Kimmel, Dennis LaRocque
Public Attendees: Teresa Godfrey (Recorder), Ray Peck (Road Foreman), Jon Jickling, Starr Strong, Kathy Kinter, Jon Binhammer, Theresa Taplin, Patty Kennedy, Amy Ingrassia, Jack Zebora, Dan Childs, Steve Schaefer
Prior to the opening of the meeting, Teresa Godfrey was sworn in as Town Clerk, Treasurer, Lister, and Delinquent Tax Collector.
Dennis LaRocque was sworn in as the newest member on the Selectboard by T. Godfrey.
1. Call to Order: J. Benson called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.
2. Adjustments to Agenda: J. Benson moved the Selectboard Organization from New Business.
On motion by J. Kimmel, seconded by D. LaRocque, the Board voted J. Benson as Chair. Vote 3-0-0
J.Benson welcomed D. LaRocque to the Board. D. LaRocque will initially review the warrants with J. Kimmel reviewing for any additional changes needed. J. Benson asked D. LaRocque to request quarterly a budget status from either Kasey Peterson or T. Godfrey. J. Kimmel will be the Road Commissioner.
3. Public Comment:
P. Kennedy asked what type of lease was on the loader that was approved at Town Meeting to be replaced.
J. Benson said that we usually trade-in the equipment at the end of the lease to maintain the much needed loader and R. Peck stated the trade-in value is $60,000 toward a new one.
4. New Business:
A. Selectboard Organization was done as above.
B. Town Meeting Minutes:
On motion by J. Benson, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to approve the Town Meeting Minutes of March 3, 2020 as amended. Vote 3-0-0 as amended.
T. Godfrey wanted to comment that after Town Meeting, 2 different people came up to her to tell her they had witnessed voters putting in multiple slips of paper votes for Article 12. She was also told “they only had 50 signatures for the petition”, which is only the number required by State Statute to submit a petition for inclusion on the Warning.
C. ECFiber Representative Appointments: (switched for time management)
On motion by J. Kimmel, seconded by D. LaRocque, the Board reappointed Dan Childs as Representative and Stuart Edson as Alternate. Vote 3-0-0
When asked if they needed a second alternate, D. Childs stated that would only be if neither one could make ECFiber meetings. J. Benson thanked both representatives for all of their work to get ECFiber in Brookfield.
D. Conservation Commission Funding: (Per Jon Binhammer, in an email he sent to the Town Clerk responding to publication of the minutes in the Herald, he would like to clarify in the paragraph below, that he would like to make it clear that ” I had recognized a conflict of interest and disclosed it to the Board, and mitigated such conflict by stating that I would not be speaking on behalf of the Commission and that my presentation and comments were on behalf of The Nature Conservancy. Due to the COVID-19 concerns, this was not discussed during the subsequent Selectboard meeting. Teresa Godfrey, Recorder)
J. Binhammer introduced S. Strong, J. Jickling, and K. Kinter as members of the Conservation Commission (CC) and T. Taplin as the property owner for the land that will be discussed. J. Binhammer spoke on behalf of the Nature Conservancy. Together with the VT Land Trust, they are trying to conserve farm lands in VT. On the Taplin property, the soil is high quality and there is a Fen on the land. The area they are looking at is approx. 60 acres off West St. They would establish a right-of-way to it and purchase the development rights. They have received approval from the Brookfield Planning Commission and the Regional Commission. Part of the Town Plan includes conserving critical areas for wetlands for water quality and this area concerns the water quality going into Sunset Lake and North Pond. What the CC would like from the Town is a commitment of $5000 grant from the Recreational/Conservation account. The approximate cost to purchase the development rights and recording it in a deed is $45,000. They have applied for money from VT Housing & Conservation Board and the Nature Conservancy.
Per T. Godfrey, there is $25,906.10 currently in the R/C account.
J. Benson asked if there will be a right-of-way for public access and walking trails.
J. Binhammer replied that they are looking at purchasing the development rights, not ownership of the land. Taplins would maintain forest management outside of the wetland. There are logging trails that could be utilized by public. They are not advertising it as a walking trail but would encourage groups to visit for educational purposes. Access could be through Nancy Lane but there would need to be a 50′ buffer from the wetland as far as if it was used for development.
S. Strong asked J. Binhammer to explain why it is a unique area. J. Binhammer replied that a Fen is a special wetland with rare plants in it and calcium rich. There is a second one located in Calais, VT. A Fen is different from a bog which is a basin that catches rain water. The area surrounding the Fen is softwood but not a deer yard. The Taplins would retain rights to the land but this would remove the right to develop or mine the land. The forest would continue to be managed with an approved Forest Management Plan.
J. Zebora was concerned with using Town money to buy a piece of property, but not own it, and lowering the value if it was deemed as not developable it would lower our tax base, and the Taplins would still own it and utilize it.
J. Benson asked if the Listers had come up with a value for the 60 acres. J. Binhammer said Stuart Edson was working with him but didn’t have a final amount because the Listers don’t typically take conservation into valuation in Brookfield. One parcel, after a Board of Civil Authority hearing in 2010, was reduced by $40,000 due to being in the VT Land Trust. This amounts to about $800 a year tax reduction.
J. Jickling, also on the Planning Commission, said the intent and scope of the proposal is consistent with the Town Plan biologic feature and worth protecting.
K. Kinter said when they met with the State concerning how wildlife moves to other states, the wildlife goes through VT and there are no prime forests, 1000 acres, in Brookfield. We need to protect from more fragmentation of the lands because with development, there is habitat loss and with climate change it is more vital to protect the eco systems.
J. Benson questioned when they anticipated to hear back for the other grants and J. Binhammer said March 19th.
J. Benson recommended this be tabled until next meeting so the Listers can get back to the Selectboard on what the tax ramifications would be and maybe check with VT Appraisal Company since they will be working with the Listers for the town-wide reappraisal.
Item was tabled.
J. Benson gave a copy of a letter from FEMA concerning flood plain mapping updates to J. Jickling for the Planning Commission to review.
A. Pike update:
J. Benson filled in D. LaRocque concerning the paving that was done in the fall by Pike Industries on Ridge Road and the issues R. Peck found when examining the work done. The Pike paving specialist agreed there were issues that were most likely caused from heating and rerolling and the temp not being hot enough to seal correctly. The District Engineer for Brookfield’s primary contact will meet with the Town in the spring to discuss and examine the area. No payment has been made to Pike and the paving grant Brookfield is eligible for has a deadline of December 2021.
R. Peck also spoke with Chris Bump, from VTrans, on Thursday and he will be coming up in a couple of weeks to do a site visit about a culvert on Bear Hill Road that keeps popping up out of the ground.
B. Lighting in the garage:
R. Peck spoke about the lighting in the garage. There was an energy grant that was used in the garage a few years ago to replace the lights with LED lights and half no longer work. Harmony Electric can’t fix the lights and have a 30 day quote of $3200 to replace them.
On motion by J. Benson, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to accept the quote from Harmony Electric with the understanding the quote might be slightly higher with the 30 day window from December. Vote 3-0-0
C. Loader Sales Order:
The purchase of a loader was approved at Town Meeting. R. Peck received 4 quotes from different companies. Milton CAT was the preferred submission. With the approval to purchase for the budget starting July 1, 2020, CAT proposed delivery of the new loader and removing the old one as deposit. The first payment would not be due until November 2020.
On motion by J. Kimmel, seconded by D. LaRocque, the Board authorized R. Peck to sign off on the agreement with CAT.
S. Schaefer asked to see the quotes and what the specifications were for the purchase.
R. Peck said he requested quotes from Case, Komatsu, John Deere, and CAT. All the companies came out and gave him a value for the trade-in. The quotes were at the garage and he was willing to get them for S. Schaefer to look at them. S. Schaefer said he was looking for transparency for the purchase.
J. Kimmel withdrew his motion so the loader purchase is tabled until the next Selectboard meeting on March 23rd.
R. Peck said he has posted the roads for mud season and it needs to be approved at the Selectboard meeting.
On motion by J. Benson, seconded by D. LaRocque, the Board voted to approve posting the Town roads for mud season going from March 5th – May 15th with the standard limits to be 2 axle up to 15k lbs., 3 axle up to 18k lbs., and tractor trailers up to 20k lbs. Vote 3-0-0
The Board will have K. Peterson post to the DMV website for the mud season weight limits.
R. Peck has received the signs for posting the 6 wood deck bridges in town. They are for Witts Bridge, Eagle Peak, Mahoney, McKeage, Old Post, and Parker/Gilbert bridges. They all will be posted at 16,000 lbs. per VT State law.
On motion by J. Benson, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to post the 6 bridges listed above at the legal load limit of 16k lbs. This will have to be renewed annually. Vote 3-0-0
6. Old Business:
A. Personnel Policy Changes: No forward motion. Tabled.
B. Approve 27 January 2020 Meeting Minutes:
On motion by J. Benson, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to approve the January 27, 2020 meeting minutes as presented. Vote 2-0-1
C. Approve 10 February 2020 Meeting Minutes:
On motion by J. Benson, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to approve the February 10, 2020 meeting minutes as presented. Vote 2-0-1
D. Approve 24 February 2020 Meeting Minutes:
On motion by J. Kimmel, seconded by D. LaRocque, the Board voted to approve the February 24, 2020 meeting minutes as presented. Vote 2-0-1
7. Payroll/AP Warrant:
On motion by D. LaRocque, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to approve paying the warrants in the amount of $3,846.19 which included payments for truck parts to multiple companies and the Town Meeting warning publication in The Herald. Vote 3-0-0
8. Other Proper Business:
J. Kimmel will go over the Emergency Response Plan with K. Peterson and update for the next meeting.
The Randolph Area Food Shelf submitted an assemblage permit for their annual walk-a-thon for May 16th from 7:00 a.m. to noon.
On motion by D. LaRocque, seconded by J. Kimmel, the Board voted to approve the request from the Randolph Area Food Shelf assemblage permit for their annual walk-a-thon for May 16th from 7:00 a.m. to noon. Vote 3-0-0
On motion by J. Kimmel, seconded by J. Benson, the Board voted to adjourn at 8:40 p.m. Vote 3-0-0
Teresa Godfrey, Recorder