MINUTES: August 25, 2014

Board members present: Steve Hawley, Mary Ashcroft, Joe Dicton, John Paul Faignant and Don Chioffi

The meeting opened at 5:08 P.M with the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Board reviewed the 8-12-14 minutes. Mr. Chioffi cited several spelling corrections. Ms. Ashcroft moved to approve the 8-12-14 minutes as corrected. Mr. Dicton made a second to the motion. The motion passed by a vote of 4 to 0. Mr. Faignant abstained from the vote.

Ms. Ashcroft told those in attendance that ordinarily the Board meeting is on a Tuesday night. She said the Board was meeting on a Monday night because of the election on Tuesday. Ms. Ashcroft said some Board members as ballot clerks will have to be at the election to count ballots. She said that is one of the reasons the meeting is being held on Monday.

She said the meeting began at 5:00 P.M. and not at the usual 7:00 P.M. because there is a Flood Hazard Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing at 6:00 P.M. And because Mr. Faignant has to leave the meeting at 6:20 P.M.

Messrs.' Tom Doty and Mr. Chuck Goodling, of DuBois & King, met with the Board regarding two additional charges in connection with the Post Road Electrical Panel relocation.

Mr. Doty informed the Board that according to the contract between Champlain Construction and the Town, Champlain Construction was responsible to coordinate traffic control with VTrans. Mr. Doty said he would inform Champlain Construction it was their responsibility and that they are to pay for the additional traffic control.

Mr. Doty and Board members also discussed the additional paving charge the Town received in connection with the replacement of 9 inches of asphalt verses 3 inches of asphalt. Ms. Ashcroft moved to approve payment of the additional pavement and for Dubois & King to go back to the contractor for the traffic control matter. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

The Board considered a Fair Point Post Road pole placement request. Mr. Chioffi moved to approve the request. Mr. Dicton made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Hawley opened the floor to discussion and comments regarding the proposed Solar Facility Siting Standards (SFSS). Mr. Faignant made a motion to adopt the SFSS. Mr. Chioffi requested a point of order.

Mr. Chioffi cited the last statement made by Mr. Hawley at the previous meeting in which he said the Board would schedule another meeting to work on the SFSS. Mr. Chioffi said the Board should do what was said at the meeting and not just vote on the SFSS.

Mr. Chioffi said he would like to make motions regarding two issues. He said he wants to address the 20% distance standard. Mr. Chioffi stated for the record that he did not know the Board wants to limit visibility of solar fields to 20% visibility from any part of a residence. He said the 20% visibility factor was not what the Board had previously discussed.

He said the 20% standard is pretty exclusive and restrictive for the Cold River Road proposal. Mr. Chioffi said the 20% standard is not appropriate. Ms. Ashcroft said the language which she proposed regarding the 20% had been circulated prior to the meeting.

Ms. Ashcroft said her 20% proposal was to address protection for residences who live near the project as opposed to people passing bye on the roadway. Ms. Ashcroft said Mr. Chioffi should propose a reasonable compromise.

Mr. Chioffi said when you put any restriction in the SFSS, that has to do with someone's visual impression, then you are beginning to get into the area of “if you can see it, its bad”. He said the Board does not do so with anything else in Town. He questioned why the Board would do so with solar.

He said regarding the Cold River Road its obvious that when you have elevation distances, that are in the distance and superior to the project, that they would never be able to not see it. Mr. Chioffi said it would be automatically excluded, just by their presence up on the hill. He said it is not appropriate.

Ms. Ashcroft said she tried hard not to tie her recommended changes into any single project. Mr. Chioffi said Ms. Ashcroft’s recommendations would be appropriate when dealing with a particular set of elevations, which the Board could define.

He said when dealing with varied elevations a solar field would not meet the 20% test if an adjacent property were 600 feet higher than the project location. He said where elevation distances make it physically impossible for the project to be screened then I don't think you can put a percentage requirement.

Mr. Hawley suggested a standard of within 10 feet of elevation. Ms. Ashcroft said if the Board makes a substantial change then it would require holding another public hearing. She said the Administrative Solar Standards would stay in place. She said the Administrative Solar Standards regulations have a 200 foot setback requirement for very large projects.

Mr. Faignant questioned why Mr. Chioffi has changed his mind. He said the last time Mr. Chioffi expressed the principals close to your heart and supported the current draft. Mr. Chioffi said the Board was under a substantial pressure in terms of time. He said said he did not read Ms. Ashcroft's additions carefully enough. He said he did not understand what it actually represented. Mr. Chioffi said he just breezed over the changes.

Mr. Chioffi said he does not think the Board really wants to do what the proposed SFSS does. He said there was not much discussion when it came up. Mr. Faignant said he remembers discussing the matter and that everyone supported it. Mr. Chioffi said it is not wrong to admit a mistake.

Ms. Ashcroft said the Board heard a lot of pros and cons from citizens but not a lot of specifics. Mr. Chioffi suggested adding the statement “provided that the elevation distances aren't so great as to make physical screening possible” after the 20% standard.

Mr. Chioffi said the 20% is not fair because it does not apply equally to all residences. He said it does not because of elevation differences. He said one neighbor may need a tree to be 30 feet high when another neighbor does not. He said everyone is not being treated equally.

Mr. Chioffi said if someone across the valley could see a proposed solar project, across the valley, then it could never be built because someone can see it. Mr. Faignant cited the fact that there is a motion on the floor. Ms. Ashcroft made a second to the motion.

Town resident and Green Mountain Power Corp. employee, Mr. Steve Costello said that at previous Board meetings Board members were asked multiple times to explain what is so horrendous about solar such that it needs to be regulated in a way different than every other kind of development and screened in such a manner that it is perceived, and the message you are delivering whether you believe it or not is that, solar must be screened worse and more than any other type of development. He said no Board member has every answered the question.

Mr. Costello told the Board that there are hundreds of references in law for everything from, you name it, visual aspects and the impacts on communities and individuals. He said there is a standard that has probably been used in thousands of cases over time. He said the standard is “does this,whatever, negatively effect the sensibilities of the average person”.

He said that is a standard Vermont has used in thousands of cases, over and over again. He told the Board to Google the phrase and that they would find hundreds of references that can be used. He said such a standard is reasonable to him. He said the proposed draft SFSS offends the sensibility of the average Town resident.

He said the standard he proposed should be the standard used by the Board for solar and anything else. Ms. Ashcroft explained to Mr. Costello that Solar is treated different by the Town because it is in the 248 process instead of the Act 250 process.

Ms. Ashcroft said typically Act 250 requires screening to break up the view of the parking lot and also requires screening around dumpsters. She said it would be usual for Act 250 to require the screening of an entire building.

Ms. Ashcroft said her proposal regarding screening is partly because the Board is dealing with the 248 process and not the 250 process. Mr. Costello said the standard should be that Solar facilities shall be screened such that 80 % is invisible to any neighbor. He said the current SFSS would required any solar array such that 80 % is invisible to any neighbor. Mr. Faignant said it would only apply to a property with in 500 feet. Mr. Costello said the 80 invisibility would also apply to roof top solar, according to his understanding.

Mr. Faignant told Mr. Costello that the reason solar is treated different than other development is because the Vermont Legislature gave the solar industry very deferential treatment including taking away the local tax base for the solar development land.

Mr. Faignant said he does not like it when Mr. Costello states time after time that the Board is treating solar different. Mr. Faignant said Mr. Costello's industry treated solar different as did the legislature, which initiated the quagmire we are in. Mr. Faignant said Mr. Costello wants to take it apart and look at it separately where as Mr. Faignant is citing the whole process.

Mr. Chioffi said he thinks the Board can be reasonable with the 20% language if the Board puts in a provision that deals with elevation differences. Mr. Chioffi said the Board should make the 500 foot setback from historic properties apply to all development in Town.

Town resident Ms. Marsha Cassel raised procedural questions regarding the Board's voting to adopt the proposed Solar Facility Siting Standards (SFSS). Ms. Cassel said voting seems premature at this point in the process. Ms. Cassel said if there is new language then the SFSS are new and should be re-warned for a hearing.

Ms. Ashcroft cited the fact the Board has held several warned hearing and is now in a position to vote on whether to adopt. Ms. Ashcroft said there should be another public hearing if a substantial change is made.

Ms. Cassel asked for the definition for “substantial change” Ms. Ashcroft said the Board would have to ask the Town attorney if changes are substantial. Mr. Chioffi said the Town attorney has advised that the Town treat any change as substantial, since the decision could be challenged by the public.

Ms. Ashcroft inquired if anyone wanted to suggest language for the Board to consider. Mr. Costello said all Board members with the exception of Mr. Dicton have told him they want to provide something that is reasonable and gives residents some protection but allows for reasonable projects to be built. Mr. Costello suggested the Board needs a screening standard that will not please everybody but won't offend the average person

Ms. Ashcroft said if the Board puts in the type language suggested by Mr. Costello then it would toss the matter to the regulators without much guidance from the Town. Mr. Costello said the Town's public hearings have been pretty dramatically on the side of less screening verses more screening, other than one or two people who have attended the hearings and supported more screening.

Town Clerk & Treasurer Ms. Donna Zeller suggested the Board incorporate Act 250 type screening guidelines in the SFSS. She cited as an example the Act 250 screening and noise permit requirements in the Home Depot Act 250 permit. Ms. Zeller said the standards could be used as a guideline for other development that would fall under Act 248.

Mr. Chioffi suggested the language “ provided that elevation differences between residences and the project, within the 500 feet, are no greater than 10%”, be added to section C. He said if there were more than a 10% elevation difference within 500 feet

of a project, then section C would not apply.

Mr. Chioffi said his suggestion would solve the problem of somebody with a high perch dictating every single thing that happens below them. He said the current SFSS say that if you occupy the high ground you control all development below.

Mr. Faignant said the SFSS would only apply to homes located within 500 feet of the solar development. He said those within the 500 feet should not have to see more than 60% of a solar development. Ms. Ashcroft said a residence that is located 490 feet away from a solar project is entitled to no more than 20% visibility.

Mr. Hawley said there is a motion on the floor to adopt the SFSS as written. Mr. Faignant said he moved the question. Mr. Chioffi said the Board would have to vote on the move and then on the question.

Ms. Ashcroft said she has a problem with some of the close-in verses further out language. Ms. Cassel said the elevation issue is important because it becomes prohibitive to plant a 100 year old tree.

Mr. Hawley called for the vote to approve the SFSS as presented. The motion failed by a vote of 1 to 3. Mr. Hawley Mr. Chioffi and Ms. Ashcroft voted in the negative. Mr. Dicton abstained from the vote.

The Board scheduled a meeting to consider the SFSS for 8-28-14 at 7:00 P.M. Ms. Ashcroft requested anyone who has a suggestion to put it in writing.

Town Clerk & Treasurer Ms. Donna Zeller reported:

  1. The 2014 Grand List has been finalized.

  2. Cited the Holiday Inn tax decision and told the Board she has asked VLCT for assistance regarding how to split the tax credit over the payments.

  3. Announced direct deposit is now available to town employees. Mr. Dicton requested Ms. Zeller mail all department heads and inform them of the availability of direct deposit

  4. The Clerk / Treasurer office will be closed for the Election. Ms. Zeller said that because she is the presiding officer for the polls on the west side of town she will close her office for the day. She said she is not comfortable with her office being open due to the fact that the Land Records must be available if her office is open. She said she is not comfortable with individuals doing research when she is downstairs or at the Town school. She said as clerk she has the option to close the office or leave it open.

  5. Informed the Board that the A.M. Peisch audit is ongoing.

  6. Announced the 1st property tax payment is due September 10th. She told the Board she will put a notice in the Rutland Herald.

  7. Told the Board the Town office will be closed September 1st for Labor Day.

  8. Ms. Zeller discussed the procedure for counting write-in votes. She said the official results would be available on Friday.

  9. Ms. Zeller told the Board she plans to change the time-sheet and mileage reimbursement procedure. She said she will develop a new spreadsheet form. Mr. Dicton said the time-sheets should be sent to the department heads, who would then file with Ms. Zeller.

Mr. Zingale informed the Board that SWAC would like to use the meeting room at the Joseph J. Denardo Fire Station for their September meeting. Ms. Ashcroft said has not yet written meeting room rules. Ms. Ashcroft said she will try to get the rules done before SWAC's September meeting.

Representative to the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, Mr. Sherman Hunter reported:

  1. No meeting, no report.

Town Road Commissioner Mr. Byron Hathaway reported:

  1. Told the Board construction on the Cold River Road is scheduled for September 10th. He said the road work will take two days.

  2. Told the Board he posted storm water stenciling and door hanger notice on VPR's Front Porch Forum. Mr. Hathaway will contact a local Boy Scout Master regarding volunteers to assist with the stenciling project.

  3. Reported the flashing lights are back on, on the Post Road. The speed limit is 25 mph when the lights are flashing.

  4. He informed the Board that the Town of West Rutland approached him regarding a joint Business RT 4 corridor study with the Town of Rutland. He said it is a new pilot VTrans program.

    Rutland Regional Planner Ms. Susan Schreibman passed out correspondence and regarding the proposed study. Mr. Hathaway said West Rutland Town Manager Ms. Mary Ann Goulette arranged a meeting with Ms. Schreibman, Mr. Fred Nicholson, himself and three individuals with the State of Vermont and discussed the grant.

    Ms. Schreibman said she was approached by the Town of West Rutland regarding a Route 4 traffic concern and a desire to improve the streetscape. She said the new “Strong Communities Better Connections” grant program is looking for applicants for pilot projects.

    She said the grant would look at land Use and Transportation issues. She said it occurred to everyone that the entire corridor should be involved. She cited the water and sewer line extensions planned for West Rutland and Center Rutland along Business Route 4.

    She said the area in Rutland Town would be prime for development and would be a good opportunity to address; traffic, land use and the new sewer line. She said it would be a good time to think about what types of development the town wants along the corridor.

    She said a State official suggested Rutland Town should be an “Activity Center”. She said an “Activity Center” is an area of concentrated development. She said the project would be primarily handled by a private consultant.

    She said either Rutland Town, West Rutland or the Regional Planning Commission would receive the money from the State and then the three would hire a consultant to do the work. She said the District Highway officials were invited onto the team because they are critical members.

    She told the Board the grant would require a 10% local match. Ms. Schreibman said they are thinking of applying for $80,000.00. She said the cost share could be based on the amount of road mileage in each town.

    She told the Board that a site visit was done with State officials and the matter of where the project would end in West Rutland was discussed but not determined. She said the project might stop at the Town Hall or extending to the Whipple Hollow Road.

    Mr. Hathaway said the mileage break down looks like 75 % West Rutland and 25% or Rutland Town. Ms. Ashcroft said she likes the idea and thinks the project should go from Town Office to Town Office.

    Ms. Ashcroft asked if the study would suggest the best and highest land uses or potential land uses within the project area. Ms. Schreibman said she sees the project as a corridor study that looks at transportation improvements and land use suggestions.

    Mr. Nicholson said the project is not a corridor study. He said the grant specifically prohibits corridor studies. He said we will talk about land use between this town center and this town center and inter & multi model transportation needs between the two. Mr. Nicholson said they have discussed developing Center Rutland into a designated Community Center Area. He said such a designation would allow the Town to be eligible for other funding.

    Ms. Ashcroft moved to have the Chairman sign a letter of support from the Town of Rutland indicating we would like to proceed with this Strong Communities Grant program with the Town of West Rutland. Mr. Dicton made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Faignant had left the meeting and was not present for the vote. Ms. Ashcroft made a motion for the Chairman to sign the grant application. Mr. Dicton made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

    Mr. Hathaway told the Board that the post Road sidewalk grant was not funded. Ms. Ashcroft requested Mr. Hathaway consider building a sidewalk from the Adele Stanley Apartment to US RT 7. Mr. Hathaway will get an estimate to be included in the budget.

    Mr. Chioffi suggested tying the sidewalk into a 4 & 7 improvement project. Mr. Hathaway said it would not work since it would just get discussed and not built.

    Mr. Nicholson told the Board that the RRPC plans to apply for a $20,000.00 planning grant for the writing of a new solid waste plan for the SWAC towns. He said Tinmouth and Shrewsbury will be the co-applicants for the grant. Mr. Nicholson said he will request a letter of support from the Board.

    Mr. Hawley read the Town Resolution supporting the joint SWAC application. Ms. Ashcroft moved approve and to authorize the Select Board Chairman to sign for the Board. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

    Mr. Hathaway told the Board Vallancourt will cut and remove all the cedar tree at the new station for $1,500.00. Mr. Dicton made a motion to accept Vallancourt's bid to remove the trees at the Center Rutland Fire Station and to authorize Byron to facilitate it and for the Chairman to sign the agreement. Ms. Ashcroft made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Town Planning Commission Chairman Mr. Andrew McKane reported:

  1. The Town Plan re-adoption hearing will be on September 4, 2014 at 7:00 PM.

  2. Requested an executive session to discuss a members attendance. Mr. Dicton made a motion to go into executive session at the end of the meeting to deal with a Planning Commission attendance personnel problem. Ms. Ashcroft made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Dicton reported the pool is closed for the season and that K2 soccer will begin on September 11, 2014 at 5:00 P.M. at the Town school.

Town Administrator Mr. Joseph Zingale Jr. reported:

  1. Told the Board that the Post Road electrical panel relocation project has gone smoothly with the exception of the two items discussed earlier in the meeting.

  2. Informed the Board that no action has taken place regarding the unregistered vehicles on the Turner property on the Post Road. Board members discussed the matter and it was decided Mr. Zingale will contact attorney Kevin Brown for guidance.

  3. Informed the Board that the City of Rutland has requested permission to place fill inside Northwood Park, near Chasanna Drive, for the purpose of leveling off the land containing many pipe valves. The Board discussed the matter and told Mr. Zingale it would be okay for the City to place fill in the so called “valve graveyard”.

  4. Mr. Zingale inquired if the Board would like to consider the purchase of a network back up drive for the Town Municipal Building. Mr. Zingale will get prices and report back to the Board.

    Mr. Chioffi moved to appoint Mr. Fredrick Nicholson as the Town's voting delegate to the 2014 VLCT Annual Business Meeting.

    The Board reviewed packet correspondence. Board members and Town State Representative, Mr. Thomas Terenzini, discussed the tragic job losses resulting from the Fire at the Carris Reels plant.

    Ms. Ashcroft thanked and congratulated Town Fire Department members for their service at the Rutland Plywood fire.

Ms. Ashcroft informed Board members that she and Mr. Hawley, as the Inter-rmunicipal Committee, recently met with City officials. Ms. Ashcroft said there was an hour and a half of productive discussion and that City officials are considering the Town's offer to do a joint storm water monitoring station.

Ms. Ashcroft said a lot of other subjects were discussed including; water and sewer service as well as the Ad Valorem sewer charge and monitoring the progress of the natural gas pipeline.

Mr. Dicton asked Ms. Ashcroft if the Inter-municipal Committee discussed the lack of 4 & 7 projects in the Town verses the projects in the City of Rutland. Ms. Ashcroft said according to City officials it is now the Town's turn to do a project. Ms. Ashcroft said she will review the files and report back to the Board.

Mr. Hawley said a motion is in order for an executive session. Ms. Ashcroft so moved. Mr. Dicton made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Hawley declared the executive session closed at 8:05 P.M. No action was taken.