MINUTES OF FRANKLIN SELECTBOARD

MONDAY, AUGUST 13, 2007 AT 7:00 P. M.

FRANKLIN CENTRAL SCHOOL LIBRARY

 

 

PRESENT: Peter Kittell, Scott Choiniere, Jamie Boudreau, Lynn Paradis and Sue Clark, Franklin Town Clerk.

 

     Peter called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m.

 

TOWN CLERK’S CONCERNS:

 

     Sidewalk Grant - Safe Routes to School: Sue informed the Board that Kim will be mailing out the grant application tomorrow.  Letter of support has been written for Peter’s signature.

 

     Speed Limit Complaint: Sue advised that there apparently has been some misunderstanding or mis-communication regarding the request to lower the speed limit in the Vic’s Crossing area at Lake Carmi.  Although the road is a State highway, the State wanted input and/or endorsement of a plan of action from the Selectboard before making a decision.  It was noted that the Board had discussed the matter previously and it feels that there is a hedge in the area which obstructs the view of oncoming traffic.  Jamie stated he feels that the Board should both ask that the hedge be cut and lower the speed limit in that area..  The Board will suggest that the hedge should be cut back before any speed limit changes are recommended.  Peter will make a telephone call to the complainant.

 

     Correspondence: Sue noted that at the last meeting, the Board asked to be made aware of all communications going out of the Town Offices.  She informed that since we no longer have jurisdiction over septic and single lot subdivisions, there have been a few boundary line adjustments approved by the State and attorneys are looking for a letter from the town which basically says that we do not have jurisdiction but we have recorded a letter from the State that allows this to happen.  She noted that when property owners get these changes approved by the State, they have to have them recorded in the land records.  Sue responded to questions from the Board regarding the new procedure.  It was noted that subdivisions are now handled by the Essex Office.  She further pointed out that landowners still have to meet our zoning regulation which requires a one acre lot.  She stated an application form must be requested and completed and that multi-lot subdivisions go through a project review sheet which tells them if they will need Act 250, wastewater permit, etc. 

 

     Correspondence: Received from the U.S. Census Bureau asking Town Clerk’s to provide them with 911 information for the community.  She outlined what they are asking us to provide .  This is voluntary and done at the town’s expense.  Sue noted that her 911 address book is not up-to-date and also if we do this, then a confidentiality agreement has to be signed and you have to be responsible for a “disaster plan” in case something happens and the information is lost.   She questioned why they expect the town to provide this information free of charge when they have their own workers.  She stated she prefers not to be responsible.

 

     Correspondence: Received from Vermont Humanities Counsel inviting Franklin to join in searching for Civil War sites.  Sue suggested this might be something that would interest Nancy Magnant.

 

     Grant Application: Sue advised that there are still grant monies available through the Secretary of State and she and Lisa plan to apply for money to purchase a laptop computer which would be available onsite for elections. 

 

     Brochure: Sue provided Board members with a sample of a new brochure on construction and demolition which will be going out of the zoning office.  She stated it is part of the solid waste grant.  Sue advised this information has also been placed on the Town website.    Scott commented on the informational sheet on burning that was included with the tax bills.

 

     Household Hazardous Waste Day: Will be on September 8th which is prior to the next meeting.  A flyer will be going out.  It was noted that Ernest Lamson handled it the last time and did a good job.  Sue will contact him to see if he is willing to handle it again.

 

     Town Offices: Sue informed that the Town Offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday.  Thursday is a State holiday and on Friday the carpets are being shampooed.  Sue informed the Board that she has made appropriate notification to attorneys and the information has also been put on the website.

 

     Town Clock: Sue reminded the Board that the Town clock still has not been painted.  It was noted that arrangements were made to have an electric company truck available, but the painting was not completed before the company was sold.  Scott will look into the cost of renting a lift.  Board will also need to identify someone to do the painting.    Sue noted there are three sides that will need to be painted. 

 

    ATV Complaint: Sue informed the Board that she received a verbal complaint regarding four wheelers racing through town and onto personal property where a lawn ornament/statue was damaged.  Scott advised this party spoke with him also.  Sue noted that it is pretty hard to chase these offenders down.  The Board has discussed this problem in the past with law enforcement.  If the offenders can be identified either from personal knowledge or through a plate number and the complainant is willing to testify in court, law enforcement will take action.  The main problem is reluctance of citizens to testify in court.

 

     Town Plan and Zoning Bylaws:   Sue questioned the status of the revisions to the Town Plan and Zoning Bylaws.  She stated the public hearing was held November 14th and they need to be approved within one year or the process must start over again.  She pointed out that the Selectboard must review it and then hold a public hearing which must be warned 15 days prior.  If there are further revisions, then there will be a problem meeting the time frame. 

 

     The Board thanked Sue and she exited the meeting.

 

 

SPEED LIMIT COMPLAINT: 

 

     Two residents of the Dewing Road entered the meeting.  They informed the Board of problems with speeding vehicles since the road was paved.  Since the paving, there has been an increase in the amount of traffic in addition to the speed of traffic.   They noted that prior to paving, they could hear the traffic approaching and cars were not speeding because of potholes and road conditions.   They presented to the Board information on the location of driveways, site distances and distance required to stop at various speeds.  They explained that the speeding traffic is coming from both Franklin and Berkshire and there have been animals hit and some “close calls”with vehicles.  They expressed their concern that there will be a serious accident.  They pointed out that there is a knoll area in the road which cuts down on the ability to see oncoming traffic or for traffic to see vehicles exiting driveways.   It was noted there are no speed limit signs posted and they were told that unless posted otherwise the speed limit is 50 mph. They stated they feel 50 mph is much too fast for the road and asked that the Board consider lowering the speed limit.  Peter informed there is an ordinance/procedure in place to lower the speed limit, but the procedure is different for a paved road than for a dirt road.  We have lowered the speed limit on dirt roads, but not on paved roads.   Peter will review the procedure and will get back to the residents on it.   He noted that the speed limit cannot be lowered below 35 mph.  The residents  stated they have spoken to the State Police regarding the problem and would like to see some patrolling.  They also described problems with four wheelers on the road.   Scott explained that four wheelers are allowed on our roads, but the ordinance is specific - riders must obey traffic signs/regulations; must be at least 16 and wear a helmet ; and the vehicle must be properly registered.  Scott suggested that signage such as “ blind driveway” might alleviate some of the danger.  Peter will review the procedure for lowering the speed limit with the Board and a decision will be made as to whether or not the speed limit should be lowered.  He noted that it will need to be warned and a public hearing held before the speed limit can be lowered.  The residents asked for feedback from the Board and Peter stated he would get back to them.  They thanked the Board and exited the meeting.

 

BILLS AND ORDERS:

 

     Reviewed and signed.  Lynn provided updated budget information which the Board reviewed and discussed paying particular attention to areas where we are near or have reached budget limits.

 

TOWN PROPERTY:

 

     Peter informed the Board that he has been approached by a resident who would like to cut the hay on town property.  Since no one else has expressed an interest in doing so, the Board unanimously approved this request.  Peter will make notification.

 

TH#3: 

 

     Jamie questioned why we have not been asked to sign off on this road.  Peter advised there is correspondence in the Selectboard folder.  Apparently, they forgot to invite Franklin to the final meeting.  Concern was expressed by the Board over problem areas near the Magnant property and at the intersection with the Durkee Road.

 

TOWN HALL:

 

     Jamie stated he has received a complaint that there is no railing on the front steps of the town hall.  It was noted that the town hall has a handicapped accessible entrance and people who require railings should use that entrance.  It was further noted there are no extra funds in the budget this year to install such railings.  Further, the front doors of the town hall are used only about once a year, Memorial Day.  This matter was tabled until budget preparation time.

 

ZONING ADMINISTRATOR:

 

     Bob Irish, Franklin Zoning Administrator, appeared before the Board.  He provided the Board with an activity list for the last two months.  He further informed the Board that for the summer months, he has changed his days in the office from Monday to Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.  He informed the Board that during the past few months, there have been a number of concerns over enforcement and it has stirred up a lot of activity.  Bob stated that no one came to him to talk about his job so he thought it would be a good idea to come to the Board and talk to them about his job.  He provided them with a copy of the routine letter that he sends out when a violation occurs.  He also provided the Board with a copy of Title 24 of the Statutes which governs the Zoning Administrator.  It states that the Zoning Administrator is nominated by the Planning Commission and appointed by the Legislative Body (Selectboard) for a term of three years.  He stated that the Zoning Administrator is subject to the personnel rules the same as the Town Clerk, Highway Crew and Town Treasurer.  He stated he has discussed these rules and his duties with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and with Northwest Regional Planning and they tell him he is a statutory officer and directed solely by statute.  If it is contained in our Zoning, he must be go strictly by the rules.   He stated if he becomes aware of a violation he has to institute some action and he writes a routine letter and tries to get them to come into compliance.  Bob stated that he has made mistakes, but has done his best to correct the mistakes and they do not happen again.  He advised the Board that he tries very hard to enforce fairly.  He provided the Board with a copy of his standard first letter.  He further advised the Board that he has gone so far as to complete the permit form for violators and all they have to do is pay the fee and the permit is issued,  bringing them into compliance.  He stated that everyone gets the same letter and everyone is treated the same whether they are friends, relatives, or town officials.  If the matter cannot be worked out or settled, then a formal violation letter is sent and a record of the violation is made in the land records and the property is automatically encumbered.  It will remain encumbered until the owner corrects the default.   It was noted that no bank will loan money on property that is encumbered.  Bob stated he tries hard to handled every case the same.    Jamie asked if the ticket system would still be instituted and Bob responded that he is not sure what the Planning Commission has decided.  He noted that issuing of tickets has its good points and its bad points.  Scott stated that a committee made up of Selectboard members, Planning Commission members, campers, etc.,  was being formed to handle the lake issue, but letters were sent out.  Bob responded that the problem had been going on for a long time and it was his hope to get the people in there to start the process.  Discussion was held on the criteria used to determine six consecutive months of use.  Bob stated that about 14 letters were sent out and that if the matter is not resolved, another letter will be sent out the end of November or the first of December.  He will run that letter past the Selectboard prior to sending it.  Discussion was held on the proposal to convert all seasonal dwellings to year round status and it was noted that the legislature did not approve it.  It was sent back to Wastewater and they came back with a new proposal - dwellings with leech fields 100 feet or more from the water will automatically become year round; 50 to 100 feet will require an approved system designed by an engineer who must certify that the leech field has no negative impact upon the water; and, within 50 feet will not be allowed at all.  Bob stated it hasn’t been passed and this is his interpretation.  Scott commented that he is glad that the entire Selectboard will now “be in the loop” when these issues come up and Bob stated that the Selectboard will know about any letters he plans to send before they are sent.  Prior to issuing a formal letter of violation, he will come to the Selectboard.  Discussion was held on some pending violation notices that will be sent.  Bob was asked how the bowling alley/snack bar/apartment could be built without proper permits, etc.  Bob explained that he initially issued a permit as he was under the impression that the building was being built in the same footprint.  He detailed the steps he took when he learned that the environmental court ruled in a similar case that the addition of a second floor did not constitute the same footprint and what has transpired since then.  Bob briefly outlined the ZBA decision in this case which included compliance with the Town parking requirements and review every three to five years.  Bob commented that he enjoys the Zoning Administrator position, however, it is not always an easy job and one that he could not do without the continued support of the Selectboard.   The Board thanked Bob and he exited the meeting.

 

DOG PROBLEM:

 

     Discussion was held on the recent killing of turkeys and chickens by a dog.  It was noted there is no doubt that the dog did it because the dog was found in the pen with the dead animals.  Peter noted that by Vermont Statutes, the town can reimburse the owner for the dead animals and then recoup the cost from the dog owner.  Peter stated we need to find two knowledgeable and unbiased individuals to place a value on the dead animals. 

 

MINUTES OF JULY 30, 2007 MEETING:

 

     Motion by Scott/Lynn to approve the minutes.  Peter asked if there was any discussion or corrections and there was none.  All members voted in favor/motion passed.  Minutes approved as presented.

 

OLD BUSINESS:

 

     Old Garage: Tom Patterson has not begun taking it down yet.  He is waiting for Howard to remove some tin.

 

     Septic Delegation: It appears right now that we will be able to monitor the program (as discussed last meeting) so it would not be cost effective for the town to have its own septic program. 

 

NEW BUSINESS:

 

     Roads: Scott questioned whether or not the chloride application has been completed. 

 

     Census Request: The Board concurs with the Town Clerk and Franklin will not participate.

 

     Civil War Site Correspondence: Will be forwarded to Nancy Magnant.

 

SELECTBOARD FOLDER:

 

     TH#3: Correspondence received regarding failure to notify Franklin of final meeting.  Peter will contact them to see what happens now as there are a few areas of concern.

 

     ZBA Decision: Regarding Bowling Alley/Snack Bar.  It was noted that the ZBA has more matters coming before it in the near future.

 

     Correspondence: Peter advised that a resident was fined and part of the fine is to be used towards an environmental project in the town.  Peter recommended using the money to replace a culvert, however, the snowmobile club doesn’t want to change the culvert.  Another project will need to be identified.

 

     Insurance Certificate: Proof of coverage for removal of old town garage.

 

     Better Back Road Grants: They are moving the due date of all grant applications  to the fall so that permits can be obtained and in place when grants are awarded.

 

     Correspondence: From Vermont League of Cities and Towns regarding town fair.  Lynn will be attending.  Motion by Scott/Jamie that Lynn be authorized to vote on behalf of the Town of Franklin at the annual meeting.  All members in favor/motion passed.

 

     Correspondence: Regarding Human Services/Health Care and Recreation/Education grants available.  Peter noted that at one time, applications were made for recreation grants and he will  check to see if anyone wants to submit one again.  Jamie  noted they may now be requested through the school.

 

     Correspondence: Regarding municipal person of the year award.

 

MEMBER CONCERNS:

 

     Highway Department: Scott feels that Howard should come to the Selectboard meetings every month or every other month to discuss projects with the Board.

 

     Catch Basins: Scott questioned whether they were cleaned.

 

     Weed Harvester: Scott stated he has not seen the harvester lately.  Peter noted that a new operator was hired, but weeds are being harvested in different areas this year.  He will follow up.

 

     Salt Shed: Peter stated the Board must meet to identify a location for the salt shed.  Discussion was held on the size and construction.  It was noted there are drainage tiles and wet spots which might cause problems with concrete.  It was decided that the Board would meet on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. up at the town property.    Peter will see that the meeting is warned. He will also leave a message for Wayne.

 

     Motion by Scott/Jamie to adjourn.  All members voted in favor.  Meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

August 14, 2007                                             Barbara M. Varin

NOTE: These minutes are not final until approved by the Selectboard at their next regular meeting which is scheduled for September 10, 2007.  Note: These minutes were approved by the Selectboard at their September 10, 2007 meeting.

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