Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Nov 27, 2017

Board of Selectmen Minutes - November 27, 2017


 BOARD OF SELECTMEN’S MEETING
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2017
5:00 PM
COMMUNITY CENTER HEALD ROOM
120 MAIN STREET, LITTLETON, NH

 

Present:  Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Schuyler Sweet, V. Chairman Franco Rossi, Selectman Milton Bratz, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

 

Others Present:  Chief Joe Mercieri (Littleton FD), Joe DePalma (Public Works Director), Chad Fillion (Channel 2), Rudy Gelsi, Ralph Hodgman, Kim Delutis, Sean Dodge, Mary Edick, Bruce Hadlock and others.

 

Chairman Sweet called the meeting to order at 5:00 PM.

 

Pledge of Allegiance

 

Appointments:

Chief Joe Mercieri, (Littleton FD)

Creation of an Emergency Management Advisement Committee

Chief Mercieri explained he was asking for the creation of this committee to evaluate Emergency Medical Service proposals.  Their role would be to help to choose a service that best services the community.  People are aware that we have received a 90 day notice from Calex to end their service with the Town.  We advertised for proposals to find a new service provider and find out the cost.  Now that we have received the bids he would like to form this committee in order to review the bids and interview the prospective contractors.  Sweet advised this would require a vote, therefore this will be voted on under board action and will allow for public comment. 

 

Franco Rossi said the letter from Calex states there are 48 days before they terminate service.  Rossi said that seems like a very short amount of time to get a together and decide what action to take.  Rossi asked if there was a plan to cover. Mercieri stated that Calex has offered to extend their service.  Rossi asked if that was at their proposed new rate.  Mercieri said he was not sure.  Dorsett said he was still talking with Calex about an extension.  That is one of the options for the committee to consider.  Bratz said the letter from Mercieri talks about the consideration of providing Emergency Medical Services from within the Fire Department.  Bratz said he sat on the Calex Board for a couple of years and that market is almost out of control.  Small ambulance services that operate in rural areas nationwide don’t have enough transports.  Transports are where they make their money, not from emergency services.  Newport is facing the same thing as we are, a 100% increase.  They all vie for transports which require a certain level of accreditation and experience. It is his impression after having been on the board for two years is that Calex is a well-run operation, but the market they are in is a very tough market.

 

Town Manager’s Report:

Cultural Arts Commission

Dorsett said he has received a request to create a cultural arts commission.  Chapter Five of the Master Plan recognizes the need to recognize both the historical and cultural aspects.  Littleton had 58 that were sited back in 2013.  The creation of this commission would provide them a seat on economic development.  Sweet said this item would be voted under board action. 

 

Mill Street Parking

Dorsett said construction began on Mill Street in early July.  We initiated restricted parking to help address some safety concerns.  In early October we received a complaint from Human Rights Commission on an ADA complaint.  In mid-October we held a stake holders meeting in order to discuss the next phase of what parking will be on Main Street.  It was also to discuss long range solutions.  Dorsett said that after doing some research he found that parking had never been officially created on Mill Street.  In fact it was prohibited.  In early November we installed concrete blocks.  We need to look at the traffic ordinance to see how we can create parking there.  The ordinance will have to be changed to allow left wheel parking one-way streets.  We are looking for direction from the board whether or not to continue as it is or to amend the ordinance.  Sweet stated the board will take action on this under board action.

 

School Street Parking

Dorsett stated they recently posted signs on School Street.  Joe DePalma provided an update on the status of School Street.  DePalma said the highway department has a hard time plowing the road in the winter.  DePalma stated that he did not post the signs last year after the board vote and let it go for the year.  He did that to see how bad it really was.  We posted the signs last week.  They needed some tweaking.  There is no parking on School Street Monday through Friday until 4:00 PM.  There is parking on the weekends for the churches and businesses.  It allows buses to come down School Street unimpeded so they can hit the brakes and not go into a slide.  Bratz said they should consider that once school is out for the summer bagging the signs.  Bratz said this is clearly an improvement in the winter time.  DePalma said they changed the signs to state the no parking is from November through April and is consistent with the Main Street no parking rules. 

 

Transfer Station New Hours

Dorsett said that Brian Patnoe has been reviewing the Transfer Station Hours and has come up with new hours that will better serve the community demands.  The change will take place on Wednesdays.  The summer hours will no longer no longer go until 6:00 PM.  They will stay at 12:00 to 4:00 PM.  Friday will be 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM during the winter and 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM during the summer.  Sweet said this will also be handled later under board action of the agenda.

 

HB 3724 Update

Dorsett said the board had been advised the consequences to the Town if this will were to pass.  This bill would disallow the Towns from assessing utilities.  If this bill were to pass it will raise the tax rate by five dollars.  The bill has been amended to create a study commission.  The commission will review the utility evaluations.  It is still something we have to pay attention to.  We have been well represented by our State Representatives.  Sweet stated there is no action on this item. 

 

Other Business:

2017-2018 Public Works Winter & Inclement Weather Policy
Bratz had a number of recommendations regarding the historical information.  The director of public works is the director of public works, not the supervisor of public works.  The term needs to be corrected on various pages.  On page 3 under maintenance, the buildings at the high school have changed names because two schools have come together under one building.  There is no longer a vocational school.  Bratz said he had several other recommendations that he would provide to the secretary to make the necessary corrections.  Sweet said they would vote to accept the policy with the recommended changes under board action.

 

Appointment to the Littleton Dog Park Committee – Penny Zuk McKinnon
Sweet said this item will be taken care of under board action.

 

Old Business:
LIDC Land Transfer Deliberation/Voting – The vote will take place here and not under board action
Sweet stated there have been several public meetings regarding this transfer.  Most recently we have had two public hearings that were required.  We have also had verbal and written communications threatening a law suit.  One of the grounds is his alleged conflict of interest.  Sweet said he does not believe he has a conflict of interest.  In the interest of the Town he is going to recuse himself from any discussion and vote on the subject. 

Bratz said he has reviewed minutes from nine board and planning board meetings.  In his opinion the lot in question is the driving force in the opposition to the transfer.  He finds the concerns on selling the lot for one dollar as reflecting a serious misunderstanding.  Bratz read a statement he prepared listing previous Town votes that the public voted for in favor of economic development.  Bratz referred to some suggesting voter ignorance during the 2014 vote to sell the land for one dollar.  The vote was overwhelmingly in the positive.  Bratz said that as an administrative he feels that he is, unless otherwise convinced that he needs to support the overwhelmingly number of voters who support the passage warrant articles that have appeared on past warrants.  Bratz made the motion to approve the sale for whatever nominal amount that might be. 

Rossi said he had made some notes addressing what he perceives the concerns that have been brought up.  Rossi said he does not buy the statement that the voters were ignorant on what they voted for.  Most people knew what they were voting on based on past history.  Another argument he has heard is that the property is not developable.  There is a significant difference to challenges and not developable.  He is sure LIDC has already taken the challenges into consideration.  There were other uses suggested for the lot.  He believes in supporting development to help alleviate the residential tax burden.  It only makes sense to expand on there is already an industrial park.  Another argument he heard more than once is that we already have too many jobs.  He does not know how to argue with that.  It makes no sense to him.  Another comment is that we have a fiduciary responsibility to the Town and that selling the property for a dollar does not meet that responsibility.  He strongly disagrees with that comment.  Rossi does not believe there is a viable argument there.  Even if that property is not developed in twenty years it will generate more than if it were sold to an individual.  Selling it for more than a dollar creates hurdles in the development of the property that does not make any sense to him.  The dollar sale has been proven successful in the past and he does not see why it would be any different now.  That brings him to his last item, which is the law suit threat.  Rossi said he wants it on the record that he is in absolute favor of this transfer to LIDC.  However he is now thinking what is in the best interest of the community.  If we are going to have a lawsuit the opposing letter from the attorney had some plausible points, but nothing insurmountable.  It does not mean we would win the law suit, but even if we did, it would slow up the process and we spend a whole lot of money.  Although he is in favor of doing this he feels it is in the best interest of the community to let it go to Town Meeting.  If it passes as it has in the past overwhelmingly, or fails then it would shoe the people didn’t want it.  That is his position and it has to do only with the threatened law suit and the cost to defend it.  Bratz said that if they take it to Town Meeting they have to take it to the Deliberative Session.  There could be a motion on the floor to raise the price to $80,000.  Bratz said that would be the risk they have to take.  LIDC would not be able to afford that.  Businesses looking to move are looking for a break.  Franco said that as far as the law suit goes he does not want to send the message, that every time someone disagrees they will threaten a law suit the selectmen will flip on it.  Bratz said he is just as sensitive to a law suit as Rossi is.  The thing that bothers him is the lot for sale is not the lot that is raising the concerns.  We need to do a better job of getting the warrant article out there.  The vote was overwhelming already and he believes it will be again.  He thinks there is support for it in the community as a whole. 

Sweet said that after hearing from both selectmen and their points we need to move forward.  Rossi made the motion that we delay the transfer of the property to LIDC and put it on the warrant as well as the right of way.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 2-0.

 

Ledgeway Road Acceptance
Sweet said they had run into a snag on this.  Believe it or not this is due to different legal opinions.  We will have to put this on hold.

 

New Business:
Holiday Main Street Parking – Meters Bagged From December 16, 2017 to January 2, 2018
Sweet said this would be voted on under board action in the event there is public comment on it.

 

Public Comments:

Bruce Hadlock a few years ago it was decided the parks department was going to plow the school.  Last year the public works department was reimbursed roughly $22,000 from the parks department.  Prior to that it was put out to bid and cost 35,000.  They went out and bought a truck to plow and use in the summer.  It has not been handled right since the Town Manager has taken it over.  They got bids for $40,000 to $60,000 to do the plowing.  No consideration was given to hiring someone.  He does not think you are aware of it.  Consequently this is going to cost our community a lot.  He understands we have not signed a contract.  The thing is it was working slick as a whistle when the parks did it.  Because you didn’t hire the right people to do the plowing it is going to cost us $25,000 to $40,000 more.  He is looking for answers and what is going to be done about it.  Dorsett said there are a few factors that go into that.  There was an agreement the school would assist the town with snow plowing.  That agreement went away and put additional stress on our staff. 

We have had some staff changes and some out with health issues.  The schools need to be plowed first along with other priorities that need to be done.  We are understaffed to do that.  The Town was grossly underestimating the reimbursement amount.  This is something we are going to continue to look at and work with the school.  We are also working with the library.  Dorsett said they are not in a position to do it this year.  Hadlock said he was very critical of that here we are on December 1st.  Dorsett said they were notified back in August.  Hadlock told Dorsett that he wrote a letter wanting to take over the parks department and he saw a copy of it.  Hadlock said it was not handled right this year.  DePalma said the MOU was broken in November of last year with no notice to the school.  DePalma said he did the school plowing himself at no cost to the town from November through the end of March. 

 

A citizen wanted to speak to the Mill Street parking issue.  She knows of people who are disadvantaged by the no parking on Mill Street.  Dorsett said it will be up to the board for them do decide what to do.  If they want to change the parking ordinance.  We also need to talk to some of the property owners to see if they are willing to help with creating ADA parking spaces. None of them have expressed interest in supplying an easement to create and ADA parking space.  

Ralph Hodgman had two questions regarding the Cultural Arts Commission.  Is that going to be funded by the taxpayers?  Or is it going to be privately funded?  Sweet said he didn’t believe it costs anything to have a commission.  His other question if regarding Mill Street.  The Zoning Board believed the power lines were going to be put underground.  The lines are still not underground.  What is happening with the power line on Mill Street?  Sweet said that neither he nor Andrew have the answer to that.  Dorsett said that would be a question for Littleton Water & Light. 

 

Mary Edick asked if there were any requirements to be appointed the Cultural Arts Commission.  Sweet told her there were none and it will be advertised like all other committees and commissions.  Mary thanked the board for bagging the parking meters during the holidays.  She then asked how they were taking action to stop the shop owners from parking in them all day.  Chief Smith said they self-regulate.

 

Rudy Gelsi asked the board why they don’t communicate with the people.  All these law suits you don’t pay, we pay, the taxpayers.  You guys will not win any law suit that is for sure.  Hadlock said he was asking because there is a law on the NH books that if you hire a certified plowing company and they take a class you can’t sue the company or the person doing it.  You should be sending someone to take the class. 

 

A business owner from Mill Street said his concern is with the parking and ADA parking.  He has seen other Town’s that allow parking on the weekends so that trucks can get in and out during the week.  Parking in the winter is not pedestrian friendly.  He has fallen on his backside several times.  Sweet said because there has never been official parking down there it is not as easy as the banging of the gavel.  We also need to look at ADA parking.  There ensued more comments from citizens on the Mill Street parking subject with comments and concerns ranging from making sure emergency services have full access and whether the area will be able to handle additional parking. 

 

Board Action:
Creation of an Emergency Management Advisement Committee

Rossi made the motion to establish the committee.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Cultural Arts Commission

Bratz made the motion to create the commission.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Mill Street Parking

Sweet said the board has several choices. We can leave as no parking.  We can create parking including ADA and change the ordinance or we can wait until the North Country Council finishes their study and advises what to do.  Rossi said they only have two choices.  No parking or parking because the NCC study is going to happen anyway.  Sweet said they need to decide if they want to institute parking along with creating an ADA spot and change the parking ordinance or leave it at no parking.  Bratz said he assumes there is a formula if you have five parking spaces how many would have to be ADA.  Rossi said that with the issues of the ADA easements and the TAP grant going on it seems simpler to leave it the way it is.  Bratz said the Mill Street area is so difficult to think about with parking and having pedestrian safety.  One of the issues brought up was pedestrian safety.  Bratz remembers an incident when an event was going on there and cars were parked everywhere.  Emergency services would not have been able to have access.  Bratz went on to say that because of the businesses down there it would not hurt to have some parking.  The board had further discussion on the pros and cons of parking on Mill Street. 

 

Rossi made the motion that we designate the area as no parking until we receive the results of the TAP study.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Transfer Station New Hours

Sweet made the motion to approve the Transfer Station change in hours as presented.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0. 

 

2017-2018 Public Works Winter & Inclement Weather Policy
Rossi made the motion to approve the policy as amended by Milton Bratz.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.


Appointment to the Littleton Dog Park Committee – Penny Zuk McKinnon
Bratz made the motion to appoint Penny Zuk McKinnon.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

 

Holiday Main Street Parking – Meters Bagged From December 16, 2017 to January 2, 2018

Bratz made the motion.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Chief Smith asked the board to amend their motion to include all metered parking so it includes the community center.  Rossi amended the motion to include all metered parking.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Approve the following minutes:

 August 14, 2017 (Passed over from the October 23rd meeting) Bratz made the motion to approve.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Bratz had a recommendation on the Health Officer report.  There was a sentence missing referring to people resisting but it should say people became compliant when they learned that mother and baby bears had to be put down if they were in residential areas going through dumpsters.  Bratz moved to approve the edited minutes.  Rossi seconded.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

             September 11, 2017 (Passed over from the October 23rd meeting) Rossi motion to approve.  Bratz second.  Sweet had a correction.  Rossi also had a correction.  Sweet withdrew his correction.  Rossi said Keno was misspelled under Erin Hennessey’s report.  Bratz moved to approve the minutes with the edits.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

 October 10, 2017 – Bratz motion to approve.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

A citizen wanted talk about the parking meters at the Community Center.  Ever since they were put in they have caused a domino effect.  The church has no parking nor do the businesses.  The library has no parking.  When you put the meters here where do all the people go?  They used to park on School Street and now you can’t park there.  You are taking all the parking away even on Mill Street.  If you keep taking parking away you are just hurting business and the Town.  Where did they park before?  Sweet said they parked here.  The citizen said so now they have to pay $40 a month to park here.  Dorsett said this parking is not owned by the Town.  It is privately owned.  It is owned by the Community House and is a not for profit.  The center expressed their displeasure with people coming in here and parking all day long.  They contacted us and we developed an MOU that basically wanted to keep the parking moving.  The back part of the parking lot is still under private control.  You might want to go to one of their meetings and discuss it with them.  You might be able to lease some space.  Rossi said they are trying to deal with parking issues in a haphazard way and that is why the TAP study is so important.  Rossi stated they have deal with issues, just because you disagree with the board’s decision does not mean we did not think about it.  This discussion continued for some time.  The board reiterated that School Street was a safety issue.  Sweet said the TAP study is imperative in finding solutions and that the board and others involved need to look at the situation from top to bottom. 

 

Rudy Gelsi if the board approved the River District minutes.  Sweet advised him no, they are a separate entity.  Gelsi asked if he could ask the Town Manager some questions.  Sweet advised him not at this time, we a long way away from public input.

Mary Edick said that any future expansion and or buildings should take parking into consideration before making a final determination. 

 

Sweet asked for a motion to adjourn.  Rossi made the motion to adjourn.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.  The meeting adjourned at 6:48 PM.