Town Clerk’s Office
40 Ralph Road
Meeting of MONDAY, 10 July 2017
- The meeting was called to order at 6:30 P.M.
Members present: John Benson, Chair; Jeff Kimmel, and Cory Haggett.
Staff present: Carla Preston, Alternate Administrative Assistant.
Others present: Dan Mason with the Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation, Compliance and Enforcement Division; and Ray Peck, Road Foreman (via phone).
- Adjustments to Agenda – The Board moved discussion items up in the agenda to address persons present.
- Public Presentation or Comment – none
- New Business
- Highway Report
- Rose Baier –
This matter pertains to the proposed boundary adjustment involving property abutting the Town Garage. Chair Benson advised that Ms. Baier appeared amenable regarding the corner of the property and noted that he discussed that change with the land surveyor. Since Ms. Baier was not present, further discussion on the topic was tabled.
- Storm Damage –
The Board is reviewing the financial impact of the damage to roads and infrastructure caused by the failure of the dam at Lamson Pond which included any potential issues with the parent property, assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other options.
Dan Mason, DEC Compliance and Enforcement Division, advised he received a phone call from Town Clerk Teresa Godfrey about the dam at Lamson Pond letting go and causing damage. He advised he has previously checked the water level at that site on numerous occasions which consisted of about 24 acres. The water level dropped about four feet when the dam let go leaving less than half of that pond acreage remaining. He advised that Lamson Pond tapers upward gradually to the old stone wall which might be what is holding back what is left of the pond. He was able to walk out further into the dam on the stone wall, about 100 feet back from the dam, to assess the damage. Mr. Mason pointed out other areas on the large Tax Parcel Base Map (2013) with active beaver dams.
Chair Benson indicated he had asked Mr. Peck to photograph the area from Lamson Pond Road. Members were unaware that the dam was four to five feet high. Mr. Benson asked Mr. Mason how ANR views this type of problem, who is the liable party for destruction of a dam and the damage to Town roads.
Mr. Mason advised that ANR would classify the failure of a beaver dam as a natural occurrence or an “Act of God.” He explained that ANR would not have allowed the property owner or anyone else to take down the dam. It would only be considered with proper permits in place. He mentioned a discipline case involving a resident who cleared an area into wetlands, and created shore lands and a beach area without proper permits.
Chair Benson mentioned a situation about 10 years ago in which the state became involved because a beaver dam plugged a culvert. That situation was deemed a hazard to public health and the beavers were removed from the area. He noted that in this situation, the town was unaware that a four to five-foot high beaver dam was keeping back the pond.
Mr. Mason noted that North Pond is also controlled by a beaver dam which feeds Sunset Lake. He had received a call from Stuart Edson about it when the water levels changed in the little creek crossing his driveway. The beaver dam was intact. The fluctuation in the amount of water in the creek was possibly caused by the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s efforts to clean out drainage areas. Mr. Mason agreed that the Town should be proactive regarding the dam at North Pond and discuss the issue with the property owner. He advised that ANR offers designs to manage flows of water so that a dam stays intact but allows the water to go downstream safely. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Mason advised that ANR will design the system, but does not offer any funding for its installation or implementation. He did not know whether the landowner of Lamson Pond was facing any liability if FEMA did not assist noting that that was more of a legal question that should be presented to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
Chair Benson advised that it was his understanding that the state controls the pond as a public body of water, thus it has jurisdiction, but not ownership.
Mr. Mason confirmed that the streams are considered public waterways. He noted that there are four property owners surrounding Lamson Pond but there is no public access to the pond. The 20+ acres of Lamson Pond itself are overseen by the state. The same situation exists with respect to North Pond; the pond cannot be accessed without crossing private property. He noted that Northfield Road, which passes Lamson Pond, is further beyond the right-of-way for the Town.
The Board agreed that the Town should take a look at any ponds with beaver dams. Both North Pond and South Pond were mentioned as having active beaver dams. Members noted that once
the water from Lamson Pond reached Sunset Lake there was no further damage downstream. The gulf area has a large wetland which would likely be able to absorb larger amounts of water.
The group acknowledged that beaver dams are made of sticks and mud that will deteriorate over time. Impacts on Sunset Lake and further downstream were discussed in the event the dam at North Pond failed. Also of concern was the culvert on Route 65 where outlets are channeled. Flooding events during Tropical Storm Irene were also mentioned.
Chair Benson summarized by stating that the Selectboard will contact the VLCT to determine the Town’s rights and land owners’ responsibilities with respect to potential threats against public infrastructures. The Board will also reach out to the property owner of North Pond in an effort to be prepared for possible flooding should that dam fail.
Taylor Hill Road –
Mr. Mason advised that he also wished to discuss repairs on Taylor Hill Road. It was noted that the Town does some maintenance on that road twice a year, but it is not a road that receives year-round maintenance by the Town. Mr. Mason noted that the ditch is fairly deep and agreed it would not make sense to grade the top of the road without addressing the ditch. He offered to supply the materials needed to improve the condition of that road. In the end, the Board agreed that while the Town highway crew is in the area, they would work around materials brought in by the owners, noting that the materials must be pre-approved and deemed to meet the Town’s standards.
Chair Benson reported that Ray Peck was with members of the Volunteer Fire Department attempting to clean out the culverts on Northfield Road which were plugged when the dam let go at Lamson Pond.
Mr. Peck appeared by phone to discuss Highway Department issues. In response to his question about compensation for the cleaning of the culverts, the Board advised him to submit an estimate of the costs incurred. The Board will then submit an updated damage report and cost estimate for repairs to the Two Rivers-Ottaquechee Regional Commission. Mr. Peck advised he would submit the estimate on Tuesday.
Mr. Peck advised that cleaning the culverts has been slow. They are working hard to get the lanes opened up and to get water flowing in the right direction. He noted that the paved area under the Interstate bridges is a brand-new road and recommended that it be grinded down again, particularly the northbound lane, due to the damage it sustained. He advised his estimate will include that recommendation as well as replacement of the culverts in the event they cannot be cleaned out. He estimated that the total cost for repairs would be close to the $100,000 threshold established by FEMA.
Chair Benson advised that he will ask Administrative Assistant Kasey Peterson to forward the updated estimate to TRORC along with pictures of the damages.
- Temporary Help –
Mr. Peck clarified that this request for temporary help pertained to the need for occasional truck drivers and noted that they could have used another truck/driver to assist with repairs of flood damages. He mentioned his communications with municipal employees from the Town of Braintree whom he believed had the necessary credentials and insurance.
The Board reviewed Ms. Peterson’s notes regarding her research involving hiring part-time persons even though currently employed by another municipality. It appeared that any part-time employee would have to be put on the payroll and must be covered by applicable insurances. The Board indicated that it needed to better understand the need, purpose, and proposed duties and responsibilities of a part-time person. Ms. Peterson will be asked to contact the Town of Braintree for more information about the insurance issue as well as their current compensation.
- Road Inventory –
Chair Benson advised that the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) requires towns to document their roads’ infrastructure as well as maintenance thereof (i.e., culverts, stone dams, and so forth). This requirement must be met for reimbursement and grant requests. The Board noted that anyone hired to conduct the inventory must be at least 18 years of age, have his/her own vehicle, and applicable insurance. Any special training requirements would be better addressed once the Town received the software program from TRORC that is used to collect the data for the inventory.
After further discussion, Stuart Edson’s name was mentioned as a possible candidate for this task. Mr. Kimmel agreed to contact Mr. Edson to see if he is interested in performing the infrastructure inventory update.
- Larry Brassard –
The Board reviewed the email from Mr. Brassard concerning water runoff draining into his barn. He suggested raising the level of the road to prevent the runoff.
Mr. Peck advised that he has not yet had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Brassard. He questioned the effectiveness of raising the level of the road to prevent runoff but agreed to visit the site to meet with Mr. Brassard about his concerns. If Mr. Brassard is unhappy with the result of the discussion, he can also discuss it with the Selectboard.
- Public Assemblage Permit –
The Brookfield Community Partnership submitted an application for a permit (60 person) for a beer tasting event to be held on August 12, 2017; standard plan for traffic and parking. The event would include beer tasting and sales, a pizza truck, and music. The Board noted that all
vendors must have appropriate licenses or permits regarding alcohol and catering. Based on the information submitted, Mr. Kimmel made a motion, seconded by Mr. Haggett, to approve the application as submitted subject to applicable licenses/permits. The question was called and the motion passed unanimously.
- Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc. Permit –
WEC is proposing to relocate its cross-country power lines back to along Cemetery Street for easier access. The Board noted that a resident had previously raised concerns in that area about cutting back trees. Members recalled adding specific language in the past to address the town’s right of way and maintenance issues. Mr. Kimmel made a motion, seconded by Chair Benson, to approve the request by WEC, pending an amendment addressing potential for adjustment along the town’s right of way, and WEC retaining financial responsibility. Mr. Kimmel agreed to research the specific language used in the past. The question was called and the motion passed unanimously. The document was signed by all three Selectboard members.
- Cemetery stone repair –
Joe Mangan, Sexton, submitted a request for repairs of certain grave stones. The Board advised that it needed to see a master plan showing repairs needed for all stones, versus a few at a time and how that plan would be managed. The plan will likely be approved as long as it is within the budget. Ms. Peterson will be asked to advise Sexton Mangan to put together a plan for the Board’s consideration.
- Old Business
The Chair called for approval of the Minutes of the 26 June 2017 meeting. Mr. Haggett made a motion, seconded by Mr. Kimmel, to approve the Minutes of the 26 June 2017 meeting as presented. The question was called and the motion passed unanimously.
- Payroll/Accounts Payable Warrant
Based on the documents presented, Mr. Haggett made a motion, seconded by Chair Benson, to accept the payroll and accounts payable warrants totaling $187,022.49. The larger dollar amounts pertained to the following: Southworth-Milton (Caterpillar) in the amount of $170,937.04; White River Valley Ambulance in the amount of $6,460, and Barre City Treasurer in the amount of $1,844.36. The question was called and the motion passed unanimously.
- Other Proper Business
- The Board completed a brief survey on the topic of how towns deal with solid waste from Roger Colton, Chair of Belmont Energy Committee in Belmont, Massachusetts.
- Chair Benson advised that progress is being made with respect to splitting emergency services (ambulance) between WRVA and Barre Ambulance Services but it is not yet in effect. A new effective date has been set for October first.
- Kimmel will share his draft letter with Chair Benson addressed to the landowner of Lamson Pond about what occurred. The matter will be discussed with VLCT for a legal opinion.
The Board will also consider whether any preventative action is needed regarding North Pond.
- Executive Session –
Mr. Haggett made a motion to go into executive session at 7:51 PM to discuss personnel issues. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kimmel. The Board voted to come out of executive session at 8:01 PM. Motions passed, 3 – 0.
- The next regular meeting of the Brookfield Selectboard is scheduled for 24 July 2017.
Mr. Kimmel made a motion, seconded by Mr. Haggett, to adjourn the meeting at 8:03 PM. Motion passed unanimously.
Alternate Administrative Assistant
Town of Brookfield