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News/Events - Meeting Minutes
Board of Selectmen, January 6, 2009
TOWN OF SCITUATE MASSACHUSETTS
MINUTES OF MEETING
BOARD OF SELECTMEN
JANUARY 6, 2009
Present: Richard W. Murray, Chairman; John F. Danehey, Shawn Harris,
Richard H. Agnew, Town Administrator
Press: Patriot Ledger, Scituate Mariner
1. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.
2. ACCEPTANCE OF AGENDA/ WALK-IN PERIOD
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to ACCEPT the Agenda for January 6, 2009. SECONDED by Mr. Harris. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (5-0)
No walk-ins this evening.
3. DISCUSSION/ VOTE/ CABLE TELEVISION GRANT ALLOCATION/ Cable Grant
Mr. Neil Duggan, Building Inspector/ Zoning Enforcement Officer, stated that his office issues over 2,000 permits per year and makes hundreds of inspections. It is his office’s responsibility to keep the information for not only for their own records, but also for the general public. There is not enough space to keep all this information in their office. Many documents are archived downstairs and sometimes there is a waiting time for the public to get requested information. Mr. Duggan stated that he personally has been looking at permitting software packages for the past ten years and this one is very “user friendly”. He feels it is “custom made” for our purposes, will speed up operations and allow us to quickly take care of the public. He does not believe the software program will require much training. Mr. Harris asked if a 20% charge is normal for a yearly maintenance fee? Mr. Kalishes is not certain that it is “normal”, but it seems reasonable. Mr. Harris asked if Town employees could contact technical support at any time? Mr. Kalishes answered “yes”. Mr. Norton noted that this would be an educational process for our citizens. He is encouraged that the Department heads that chose this system are the same ones that will be using it. Mr. Vegnani believes the 20% maintenance fee sounds “high”. In his own business,
Mr. Murray thanked all the department heads for their work on finding this software program. He asked if hardware upgrades would be made? Mr. Kalishes answered “not now, but maybe in the future”. Discussion continued on how to best store, save and use archived documents.
Mr. Norton made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to GRANT a Cable Television Grant allocation for $45,000. SECONDED by Mr. Danehey. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (5-0)
4. PRESENTATION/ Affordable Housing Plan/ L. Harbottle
Ms. Karen Sunnarborg, consultant, gave a power point presentation on affordable housing. Members of the Planning Board, Residential Development Committee and Ms. Laura Harbottle, Town Planner, were present at tonight’s meeting. Mr. Mark Fenton, Planning Board member, spoke about the State’s goal of 10% affordable housing for all towns and cities in the Commonwealth. Having an Affordable Housing Plan in place indicates that a community is making progress towards attaining the percentage goal. Ms. Sunnarborg’s work has been partially funded by Community Preservation Act money and she was ably assisted by the Residential Development Committee, the Planning Board and Ms. Harbottle. It was noted that this Plan is the “first step” and the next step will be “implementation”. The Plan has also been posted on the Town’s website. Mr. Norton noted the importance of the Plan and thanked everyone for their efforts. Discussion continued on a mix of rental and ownership units. Mr. Danehey commended everyone for their participation on this project and called the Plan a “living document”. Ms. Sunnarborg stated that any substantial changes that might occur during the Plan’s five-year “lifespan” would have to be submitted to the State. She reminded, however, that the five years “go by quickly”. At the conclusion of Ms. Sunnarborg’s presentation, the Board of Selectmen took the following vote:
Mr. Norton made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT the “Town of Scituate Housing Production Plan” as presented. SECONDED by Mr. Danehey. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (5-0)
5. DISCUSSION/ VOTE/ Water Connection Fee/ “The Glen”/ L. Harbottle
Ms. Laura Harbottle, Town Planner, and Mr. Al Bangert, Director of the Department of Public Works, were present at tonight’s meeting. Applicants Maryann Bailey and David Johnson were also present. Ms. Harbottle stated that “The Glen” is a ten lot development that was recently approved by the Planning Board. There is a large piece of land adjacent to the proposed development that has been identified by the Department of Public Works(DPW) as a good place for a water standpipe. Negotiations ensued and the developer is willing to give the Town
Mr. Bangert referenced a recent development on Tilden Road where the Town benefited in terms of a water main and the development’s water connection fees were reduced. This “one time reduction” would allow the Town to obtain this acre of land and the ability to develop “a loop”. He feels this would be a “fair exchange” and the land is needed to improve overall water pressure to a fairly large area.
Mr. Harris asked who would oversee the tank? Mr. Bangert answered “the Water Department”. Mr. Harris asked if it would be the same size tank as the Town Forest tank? Mr. Bangert believes it would be. Mr. Vegnani hopes that this type of $1 million investment would be for more homes that what will be built in this development. Mr. Bangert stated that the investment would be for the entire West End. Mr. Danehey asked about the elimination of fees under Page 5, Section 4 “Land for standpipe” and Page 5, Section 5 “Approval of drainage in Summer Street” – are these the developments responsibility? Ms. Harbottle answered “yes, it is a little unusual but we made the developer, rather than the Town, responsible for the drainage under Summer Street”. Mr. Danehey noted that “the lot alone is worth more than $60,000”. Mr. Bangert noted that it is not developable property, but “it is definitely worth $60,000 to the Town. Mr. Agnew is in favor of this proposal. Mr. Norton asked if ten years go by and the tank is not built, could anything else be done with the land? Mr. Agnew stated that it “does not fall under Article 97 of the constitution – it is not designated”. Mr. Norton asked if it could be sold to a
Mr. Vegnani made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen AGREE to reduce the water connection fee on ten (10) units known as The Glenn/ Hennessy property from $6,500 to $500/ unit. SECONDED by Mr. Norton. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (5-0)
6. DISCUSSION/ VOTE/ FY2010 BUDGETS & ARTICLES
175 Planning Board
Ms. Laura Harbottle, Town Planner, was present at tonight’s meeting. Mr. Agnew explained that the Personal Services line has remained the same. The Planning Board’s secretary retired and the new secretary was brought in at a lower rate. Mr. Norton noted that this budget’s “bottom line” is only 5% less than the amount expended in 2008. “That may not be enough.” Mr. Vegnani asked about the increase under Line 5309 Technical Services from $4,000 to $7,000? Ms. Harbottle explained that additional money is needed for the Zoning By-Law revisions. The Town Meeting article did not provide enough money for this project. Mr. Vegnani believes this should be an Article. Mr. Agnew stated that this item would be re-visited if further budget cuts are necessary.
Mr. Harris made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT
Ms. Bernice Brown, Town Clerk, stated that this budget has been reduced by approximately $13,000 due to the absence Presidential election and fewer elections in total for 2009. Mr. Agnew eliminated the department’s request for overtime. Mr. Vegnani asked what employees would receive overtime pay? Ms. Brown answered “staff” and she is in agreement with that item being eliminated.
Mr. Norton made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT 161 Town Clerk for $155,655. SECONDED by Mr. Danehey. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (5-0)
145 Treasurer/ Collector
Mr. Norton stated that he would abstain from voting on this budget. Ms. Jane Lepardo, Treasurer/Collector, was present at tonight’s meeting. Mr. Agnew noted that Line 5308 Training was reduced by $1,000 and Line 5420 Office Supplies by $500. Mr. Murray why the department had requested an increase under Training? Ms. Lepardo answered that she wants her Assistant to start attending conferences to maintain her certification. Mr. Vegnani asked about Line 5311 Support Services for $42,000? Ms. Lepardo stated that is for payroll services – ADP.
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT
Mr. Scott Roberts, Advisory Committee, stated that this is the same budget figure ($6,500) as last year.
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT
132 Reserve Fund
Mr. Vegnani explained that $90,000 is budgeted for unforeseen events/ emergencies. Typically, the money is used for the Snow and Ice budget.
Mr. Vegnani made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT
135 Town Accountant
Ms. Mary Gallagher, Town Accountant, stated that this budget shows an increase of approximately five percent mostly under Personal Services and Line 5309 Technical Services for the maintenance on the human resources package. There were no changes in the department’s personnel, but the two staff members did receive step increases because they are new to this department.
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT
176 Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Neil Duggan, Building Inspector/ Zoning Enforcement Officer, noted a slight increase under Personal Services due to Longevity. Mr. Vegnani asked if the Part-Time salary line was for clerical help? Mr. Agnew answered “yes, it is for Ms. Nicole Harris who also works part-time in the Building Department.
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to SUPPORT
192 Property/Liability Insurance
Mr. Agnew believes that the Insurance figures should remain the same as for last year.
Mr. Scott Roberts, Advisory Committee, stated that the Advisory Committee did approve the budgets being presented this evening. The votes were not unanimous because two Committee members abstained from voting due to Charter issues. Mr. Murray noted that both the Historical Commission and the Water Resource Committee could use some secretarial help. Mr. Agnew stated that unfortunately there is no additional money in the budget for these positions, but he will check under the line item for night-time secretaries. Mr. Murray welcomed State Representative “elect” Jim Cantwell to tonight’s meeting. Mr. Cantwell believes the Town is being very wise in assuming that there will be a 10% reduction from the State.
7. SCITUATE ARTS ASSOCIATION/ Ellis House/ CPA
Ms. Janet Cornacchio, President of the Scituate Arts Association(SSA), and Architects Tondorf-Dick and Hoffman were present at tonight’s meeting. Mr. Harris stated that he would abstain from voting on this matter. Ms. Cornacchio explained that it is the Scituate Arts Association’s goal to apply for Community Preservation Act funding to apply for National Registry status for the Town owned Ellis House. If the Ellis House receives this designation, all types of grants can be applied for to effectively restore this beautiful landmark. She noted that the Scituate Arts Association has raised over $4,000 towards restoration efforts, as well. Mr. Agnew noted that the SSA is coming before the Board of Selectmen because this is Town owned property and they(BOS) to approve their going forward to the Community Preservation Act Committee.
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to GRANT permission to the Scituate Arts Association (SSA) to move forward to the next level, submission of an application to the Community Preservation Act Committee, based on the fact that the Ellis House is town owned property. SECONDED by Mr. Norton. No discussion. Danehey, Murray and Norton voted in favor of the motion. Mr. Harris and Mr. Vegnani abstained. Voted (3-0).
8. AWARD CONTRACTS/ Widow’s Walk Golf Course
Maintenance Contract – Mr. Agnew stated that it is set up as a three-year contract with years four and five optional at the Selectmen’s discretion. The low bidder for three years is IGM for $1,286,824. The two additional years would be $462,659 and $471,912. The Board is only voting for the three-year contract this evening. Mr. Murray asked for the dollar amount of the previous, three-year contract? Mr. Agnew did not have the exact figure, but noted that this bid had not increased by much. This same company has had the maintenance contract for the past ten years. Mr. Norton stated that the golf course is in perfect condition.
Mr. Harris made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen award a three-year contract for
Food & Beverage Contract – Mr. Agnew stated that Town Meeting authorized a ten year bid on the Golf Course’s Food and Beverage contract. The first three years would be at set prices and years four through ten would be set at the third year price plus the Boston CPI each year. There were only two bidders. James Miller, the current operator, was the high bidder. Mr. Murray asked how these bids compare to what Mr. Miller is currently paying? Mr. Miller stated that he currently pays $28,000 per year. Mr. Agnew stated that this contract is not a lease, it is a “license to operate”. Mr. Vegnani complimented Mr. Miller on the fine job he does at the Golf Course.
Mr. Danehey made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen AWARD a ten-year contract for the Food and Beverage operation at Widow’s Walk Golf Course to the high bidder, James A. Miller. Year one through year three, $129,000 total and years four through ten, $44,000 increased each year by the Boston CPI. SECONDED by Mr. Harris. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (5-0)
9. DISCUSSION/ Scituate Rod & Gun Club/ Heritage Trail Neighborhood Group
Mr. Murray summarized recent events regarding the Heritage Trail neighborhood group and their concerns over finding bullets near their homes. The neighborhood group believes the bullets are coming from the Rod & Gun Club located off Route 3A. The Club has temporarily suspended operations on their 50 and 100 yard ranges, but did recently hold a gun safety course. Mr. Murray noted that Mr. Ron Rice, President of the Rod & Gun Club, and Mr. James Toomey, Town Counsel, and Mr. Alan Norton, neighborhood group, were present at tonight’s meeting. Mr. Murray stated that he would allow brief summaries from Mr. Alan Norton and Mr. Rice and then would open it up for discussion by the Board of Selectmen. He asked that points already made not be reiterated.
Mr. Alan Norton stated that he was very disappointed in Mr. Rice’s summary of events. He believes that an “agreement” was in place by which there would be no shooting at the Club other than skeet shooting and that an independent, third party would determine any safety issues at the Club. “The gun safety course violated the agreement. We trusted the Board of Selectmen and the Gun Club to honor the agreement. We had a stressful holiday season. A fourth house was hit by a bullet according to a 1996 police report. We asked the Police and Mr. Rice if they had known of any other bullet incidents. Now we have found there were five houses hit on three different roads.” Mr. Alan Norton continued by asking what the Selectmen would do if this agreement was violated again? “We want an answer tonight.” Mr. Rice stated that the Scituate Rod and Gun Club did not open the ranges and that no members had shot on a range since October 25, 2008. They did hold a safety course on December 6, 2008 at which time portable structures were placed against a twenty-four foot berm. “No open sky was available to people shooting firearms, there was no way a bullet could impact the neighbors in any direction – 100% guaranteed that a bullet would not exit the range. Photographs are available of the portable structures. Knowing the concerns of the neighborhood and that they do not have a sky system – the Turkey Shoot was not held. Mr. Vegnani asked about the status of an independent review of the Club? Mr. Rice stated that the National Rifle Association (NRA) would be visiting
the Club on January 17, 2010. Mr. Alan Norton asked if any more safety courses were
Mr. Joseph Norton reminded that the agreed upon plan was to have the Club submit a name of an expert and for the neighborhood to submit the name of an expert. That was the process and that has been done by both parties. Discussion continued on what might occur if the experts disagreed on what should be done at the Club. Mr. Alan Norton and Ms. Mindi Connolly, Heritage Trail neighborhood group, expressed strong objection to shooting being allowed to continue at the Club. Ms. Connolly spoke about some specific ballistics information she had researched. They feel that it was made very clear at the November 18th meeting that nothing but shotguns for skeet shooting would be used at the Club. “We are in fear of what might happen this Saturday (safety course). If there was ‘reinforcement’ installed on the cubicles – no one signed off on it.”
Mr. Murray thanked the neighborhood group for their additional research. He stated that it is becoming increasingly clear that not only are guns fired at the Club, but guns are fired between Club property and the neighborhood. “We can not unequivocally state that the Rod and Gun Club is 100% responsible for the incidents in this neighborhood.” We are trying to expand the investigation to look at the safe use of land between the Club and the neighborhood. “We need to study all the safety issues collectively.” Mr. Alan Norton asked what the Selectmen would do if the Club does not honor the agreement? Mr. James Toomey, Town Counsel, stated that the Board of Selectmen has no regulatory power other than concerns of public safety. He knows the neighborhood has called for an “injunction”. There are certain legal standards for an injunction and his review of the documents on both sides of this matter indicate that the standard has not been met. “You need to be in a strong position when you go to court.” Mr. Murray asked if the Town were to seek an injunction and it was to fail, would that weaken future actions? Mr. Toomey answered “yes, in court”. An unidentified woman from the neighborhood asked what would be considered a “strong” position – “bullets hitting a home”? Mr. Toomey stated that the Town would need to prove that there was about to be an activity at the Club that would cause bullets to go outside the range and endanger the public. Mr. Vegnani asked if the citizens could file an injunction? Mr. Toomey answered “yes, they would have a better standing”. The Board of Selectmen are in the position of monitoring general public safety as opposed to private property interests. Mr. Alan Norton stated that bullets traveled over Town streets. Mr. Toomey asked for evidence of that claim? Mr. Alan Norton stated that Town Counsel had not visited the neighborhood or any of the neighbors present this evening. “Why have the Selectmen not done anything for two months. To say there is no safety issue is unbelievable. I believe this warrants dismissing Town Counsel.” Mr. Danehey asked that the dialogue be kept civil. “People may respectfully disagree.” He noted that the Club had done just about everything that had been asked of them to resolve this matter. Perhaps the upcoming safety course should be postponed until February in an effort to diffuse the current situation. This is difficult for everyone involved.
Mr. Rice understands the neighborhoods concerns, but he not would allow the Club to hold the safety course if he felt there was imminent danger. The course is held for educational purposes and is 100% safe. “Even if a bullet went through, it would not travel.” He would be willing to ask the Club’s Board of Directors to ask for postponement of the safety course. Mr. James Meyerson, 25 Heritage Trail, asked if Mr. Rice was a “range expert? The wood on the range is no thicker than the wood at Mr. Alan Norton’s home where a bullet passed through.” He asked
Mr. Murray stated that it appears there is not a local expert readily available to assess the portable structures being discussed. Mr. Murray asked Mr. Rice, on the behalf of the Board of Selectmen, to ask the Club’s board of directors about the postponement of the safety course scheduled for this Saturday. “This is a request, not a requirement.” Mr. Vegnani stated that he would not like the safety course to take place without the portable structure. Mr. Rice assured him that would never be the case. Mr. Harris asked about the ratio of instructors to students in a safety course? Mr. Rick answered that the numbers vary, but it is usually one on one. The entire group is not taken out at once. Mr. Harris joined the Rod and Gun Club a few years ago largely based on the safety measures that they take. He knows that some of the men sitting in the back of the Selectmen’s Chambers this evening are gun experts. Mr. Benjamin stated that because Mr. Harris has admitted being a member of the Club and is a member of the Board of Selectmen that he would not take his (Harris’) opinion “with as much salt”. Mr. Harris stated that he had filed a disclosure form with the Town Clerk’s office.
Mr. Murray summarized by stating that the Board of Selectmen will not be filing an injunction at this time. Mr. Rice will speak to his board of directors and they “may” address the situation. Ms. Connolly spoke of a letter asking for information on the permitting that allowed the Club to exist at this location. She has looked at the zoning by-laws, permits for expanding the ranges, permitted structures on the premises, etc. Mr. Murray assured her that the Town’s active Zoning Board of Appeals and the active Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement officer would look at everything. Unidentified resident asked who would pay for an independent, third party expert? Mr. Joseph Norton hopes that the Town might be able to pay that bill. Mr. Agnew stated that there is no surplus money in any of the Town budgets.
Mr. Jack Creighton, Cohasset resident, stated that he has been a member of the Club for ten years. The Club is committed to safety and the recent “series of events has created great consternation (for the members). The members are feeling the loss of the use of their Club, are not complaining about not being able to use it and are talking about how to make it safe.” He believes progress is being made. Discussion continued on the safety of the training sessions at
the Club. Ms. Monique Sullivan, Clapp Road, stated that “no one is implying ill will – we believe there has been a breakdown in communications. She continued by saying that “the safety
10. DISCUSSION/ Town Administrator Position
Mr. Murray stated that this would simply be a preliminary discussion on how to proceed on the process of finding a new Town Administrator. He thanked Mr. Agnew for a job well done especially in terms of his (Agnew’s) budget knowledge. Advertising the position was discussed and Mr. Harris noted that the Selectmen interviewed and hired Mr. Agnew nineteen years ago. “Who would know better than us and the Administrative Assistants as to what type of person is the best qualified for the job?” Mr. Vegnani noted that if the Board has six months in which to hire someone and if they are “stumbling” as time goes on, they could look into hiring a consultant. Mr. Agnew offered to “help out” if a new person is not hired until July or August 2009. He noted that the upcoming annual Massachusetts Municipal Meeting would be a good time to talk about the opening with a lot of people. He further noted that it would be important to place the current Town Administrator’s longevity (19+ years) in the advertisement. Mr. Vegnani believes this will be an “open process” and residents’ opinions would be valued. Mr. Agnew stated that usually the application process if private, initially and then the finalists are interviewed in public. The “privacy issue” for the applicants must be respected. Mr. Danehey noted the important responsibilities of the Town Administrator as outlined in the Town Charter. He assured the public that he would review each and every resume and their qualifications for the job. He stated that the Open Meeting Law would be strictly followed.
11. OTHER BUSINESS
Mr. Danehey also noted Representative Elect James Cantwell in the audience this evening. Discussion continued on the $1 billion budget gap at the State level. Mr. Norton noted the GATSBY program for unfunded liability, ie retirees health insurance. Money needs to be put aside to fund this. Federal stimulus money allocations were discussed. Mr. Agnew and Mr. Bangert are working on a list of projects for Scituate to send to the Governor.
Mr. Murray asked about the status of the Open Space Plan. Mr. Agnew will check.
Mr. Bangert stated that there were six snow events during the month of December 2008 and $214,000 was spent out of the $480,000 Snow & Ice Budget. This appears to be similar to what other towns have spent to date.
12. CORRESPONDENCE – None
Mr. Harris made a MOTION that the Board of Selectmen VOTE to ACCEPT the Minutes of January 8, 2008. SECONDED by Mr. Danehey. No discussion. Unanimous vote. (4-0)
14. CONSIDERATION/ PURCHASE/ EXCHANGE/ LEASE/ VALUE OF REAL PROPERTY
The Board entered into Executive Session at 11:08 PM and did not return to Regular Session this evening.
Regular Session was adjourned at 11:08 PM.
BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Richard W. Murray, Chairman
John F. Danehey
Joseph P. Norton
Anthony V. Vegnani
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