- Public Comment (6:03)
- Public Hearing – WMECO Pole (6:04)
- Announcement – Power Plant Noise
- Select Board Meeting Schedule (6:10)
- Special Liquor License (6:13)
- Approval of Minutes (6:14)
- Suggestions for the Future (6:17)
- Chapter 61A Release– Bay Road (6:24)
- Revolving Fund for Library Fines
- Gift from Amherst College (6:45)
- Re-release of Market Hill Road Property
(2/27/08) The Select Board met Monday, February 11th at 6:00 p.m. in the Middle School music room, prior to the Community Budget Forum. Gerry Weiss, Anne Awad, Alisa Brewer, Hwei-Ling Greeney and Rob Kusner were present, as was Town Manager Larry Shaffer.
There was no public comment.
This was a continuation of the February 4th public hearing regarding the installation of a new electricity pole on North East Street to service the new house being built behind the historic Kimball House. No one from WMECO had been in attendance at the previous meeting to answer questions. Several WMECO representatives attended this meeting, but did not identify themselves.
Mr. Weiss said that the Select Board had wanted to know how far the pole would be from the edge of the road, with concerns that the location not impact future repaving or creation of bike lanes. The WMECO representatives said that the pole would be in line with the tree belt and other poles, about seven and a half feet from the road edge, and he explained that much wiring will be moved underground, and some existing poles would be removed.
The vote to approve the new pole location was unanimous.
Mr. Kusner said that the loud noise from the new UMass power plant was caused by steam being released from boilers. He said that he had spoken with the plant’s engineer and been assured that the noise is a temporary issue.
The Select Board unanimously approved the following meeting dates: March 3, 10, 17, 24; and April 7 and 14. March 31st had originally been considered, but it was decided to keep with tradition, and not hold a meeting the night before the Town Election.
The Select Board voted unanimously to approve a special wine and malt license for an Amherst Montessori School fundraiser at the Jewish Community of Amherst.
The Select Board voted 4 in favor, 1 abstention to approve the minutes of the January 24th meeting. Mr. Kusner abstained because he had not been present for that meeting.
With the insertion of meeting start and end times, the Select Board unanimously approved the minutes of the February 4th meeting.
Mr. Kusner talked about the importance of transit-oriented development. He said he had concerns about using money from the Transportation Enterprise Fund surplus for general government uses, and said that a focus on transit-oriented development could justify an amount larger than the current 10% going toward general government. He said he would also like to see the funding from that surplus “rationalized.” He said that to draw from there for capital needs was acceptable and was its purpose, and said he hoped that parking enforcement would be extended to peak demand times. He also suggested making the price for parking uniform at 50 cents per hour, and perhaps doubling the cost of parking permits. He said his suggestions were consistent with those discussed in the past by the Parking Task Force.
Mr. Weiss said that the Parking Task Force had not met in a while, and should probably meet again. He said that he had a disability access issue to discuss with them as well.
Mr. Kusner talked about a complaint he had received about the lack of a bus shelter by the Rolling Green Apartments, and said he was concerned that the enterprise fund surplus was being spent when transportation infrastructure was not getting enough investment.
Mr. Shaffer explained that this property at 1011 Bay Road was owned by David and Phyllis Smith, and that because the land had been granted Chapter 61A status with reduced taxation to encourage farming, the Town was entitled to right of first refusal on purchasing the property. He said that both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board had recommended against the Town’s purchase of the property.
There was much discussion about the dates the notification was received and whether or not the property had yet changed hands, and how neither Conservation Director David Ziomek nor the attorney for the sellers was present to answer any questions.
Select Board members expressed concern that property owners might be taking the change in tax status and the option for the Town to not purchase for granted, and that depending on the timing involved, the Town might be entitled to more taxes on the property.
Mr. Shaffer said that it was not his position to petition for the property owner, and said that he always encourages the relevant parties in such matters to attend the Select Board meeting about it.
It was determined that the matter would be brought back at the February 25th meeting, with the goal of having the petitioner’s attorney and Mr. Ziomek available to answer questions.
Mr. Kusner and Mr. Weiss both spoke to their recollections of last year’s discussions about setting up a revolving fund that would allow the Library to keep the money it collects in overdue fines, and that both had the expectation that necessary arrangements would be pursued for this year.
Mr. Shaffer said that he had spoken recently with Mr. Musante about this issue, and he said that the Library’s Board of Trustees had decided not to request that this year. Mr. Shaffer said that without the Library’s advocacy for the revolving fund, he said that it did not make sense to pursue it.
Ms. Greeney referred to the press release Mr. Shaffer had distributed regarding a gift of $120,000 received from Amherst College, and asked about the cost of providing fire and ambulance services to the school.
Mr. Shaffer said that in FY06, those services totaled approximately $76,000; in FY07 it was approximately $105,000; and in FY08 it was expected to be about $85,000 to $90,000. He said it was important to note that the transmittal letter from Amherst College said the gift was unrestricted. He said that the money is an acknowledgment of the conversations he has been having with the school regarding emergency services, but that it was unrestricted nonetheless. He said that it is different from the contractual relationship that the Town has with UMass through its five-year Strategic Partnership Agreement, with the Town instead being a beneficiary of Amherst College’s donation.
Ms. Greeney said that she is grateful for the generous donation, but that she would prefer the predictability of a contract.
Mr. Shaffer said that the letter references future gifts, and that he expects Amherst College to consider making annual gifts to the Town.
Ms. Brewer suggested voting to again not exercise the Town’s right of first refusal on a property on Market Hill Road near the Atkins Reservoir, for which the Town had given extensive consideration last summer and determined not to purchase. Because there is a new purchase and sale agreement for the property, action by the Select Board is required again, and the process has dates pending. While the Select Board members were amenable to doing this, crafting the motion became too complicated to be done quickly and to the satisfaction of all, so it was decided to postpone the issue to the next meeting.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 6:55 p.m. The next meeting of the Select Board is scheduled for Monday, February 25th at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. There is no meeting Monday, February 18th due to the Presidents’ Day holiday.
-- Stephanie O’Keeffe