Town Manager John Ward received a letter on April 3 from resident Tom Vaughan withdrawing his proposal for an organic dairy farm to be developed at 107 East Street. He cited a lack of action from the Board of Selectmen and the fact that his family was being exposed to unpleasant comments and actions from town residents, both in person and on social media.
The Public Hearing on April 17, therefore, was restricted to comments and questions regarding only the House of Hayes proposal. At that time, the public was able to have questions answered, which is not allowed during the public session of a regular BOS meeting. See p. 25 for a detailed list of the comments.
Prior to April 17, Ward had received requested reports from the town boards and commissions. The Development Commission had supported the Vaughan proposal; the Agriculture Commission supported both proposals; the Planning and Zoning Commission said they were in favor of agriculture but could not support the Hayes’ 25-year lease request; the Board of Finance had rejected both proposals as not fiscally sound for the town. These reports, as well as all the comments offered during public sessions and from email and regular mail, are taken into consideration. At this time, the board must decide if it wants to support or reject the Hayes proposal. If they accept it, it will be sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Finance for approval. If approved, it will then go to a town vote, by either voice or ballot, as per the Town Charter.
At the end of the public comments, the selectmen agreed to table their decision to the next meeting (May 7) to have time to process the evening’s input.
Update on Sale of Development Rights to 107 East Street
As a point of information, Town Manager Ward reported on the state’s interest in the development rights to the former Evonsion property. Independent of the RFPs being sent out, the town had contacted the state to see if it had any interest in obtaining the rights to the property. The state replied that it was interested, and recently offered $412,500, which is 50 percent of the $825,000 appraised value. The amount is subject to further negotiation if the town decides to proceed with the sale. If the town decides to sell the rights, the sale would be required to follow the same process as with the sale of town land: a public hearing and approval by P and Z and the BOF.
Selectman Sally King cautioned that selling the development rights should not be taken lightly as it sets strict limitations on what can be done on the property. The board agreed that more study needs to be done on this issue. The state put a 45-day limit on its offer, but that may be extended.
Report from the Herbicide and Pesticide Study Committee
Chairman Susan Canavan summarized the findings of the Herbicide and Pesticide Study Committee. The committee was charged with reviewing the town’s usage of glyphosate (Round-up) by the Department of Public Works. After the collection of much scientific data, which ranged from the position that the herbicide was really not all that harmful to the position that it was carcinogenic, the committee decided to recommend that its use be discontinued by the DPW for human and environmental health concerns.
The most specific recommendation is that it not be sprayed around the roadside guard rails, especially those over bodies of water. The committee urges the DPW to use mechanical cutting in those areas, noting that the difference in cost is not significant enough to warrant the risks of the chemical getting into the water supply. In addition, the committee asks residents to be diligent in following the manufacturer’s instructions when using any herbicides around their homes.
At the beginning of the regular BOS meeting on the April 17, Carolyn Flint and Jim Glenney spoke in the public session in support of the committee’s recommendation to discontinue use of glyphosate.
First Selectman Kuhnly commended the committee on its work. Town Manager Ward noted that he is meeting with Public Works Director Kirk Severance to discuss the recommendations. The full report can be read at the Town Hall or on the town website.
The board approved granting an easement to the developers of Ridgewood behind Peppermill Deli and Bakery to provide access to the development and eliminate any more curb cuts. It will be located across from the installation of the traffic light at the intersection of Floydville Road and Rte. 10/202. The town paid for the light ($10,000) and therefore asked the developers for some considerations; among them, the developers will build a new parking lot at Peppermill.
Retiring Community Development Director Fran Armentano reported that the lease for the Peppermill Deli expires this year; an option to renew is in the works and will be negotiated by the new director, Abigail Kenyon.
Revisions to Sewer Assessment and Connection Charges
Acting as the Water Pollution Control Authority, the board approved changes in the language and charges related to sewer assessment. Since 1982, the sewer assessment policy has been based on the new sewer lines that were extended along Salmon Brook Street, connecting into the Simsbury sewer treatment plant. Based on a review of current language, assessment typically refers only to the cost of sewer installation. The town recommends that the policy be modified to revise the language by properly distinguishing between the assessment charge and the connection charge and slightly increasing the connection fee for residential units. The fee will go up to $1,000 per unit; it has been $850 since 1982. Funds derived from the connection charge are placed in the Sewer Assessment Fund and are used to pay for the maintenance of the sewer lines, pumping stations and, in part, the sewer treatment plant.
Hazardous Waste Collection Funds
The board approved a request from Director of Public Works Kirk Severance to appropriate $11,500 from the Solid Waste Fund to help pay for the Household Hazardous Waste Collection, $287,582 will remain in the fund.
The board reaffirmed its commitment to the Fair Housing Compliance Statement, which specifies that no one will be denied housing on the basis of race, sex, religion, etc.
Alcohol in the Park
The board approved the use of alcohol in Salmon Brook Park on August 18. The application has been vetted, Director Tyburski will receive a certificate of insurance, and an alcohol monitor will be designated. Ward noted that the police chief has approved the request policy and does not weigh in on each individual request.
The board approved the 2018-2019 budget with the add-ons as presented to the Board of Finance on March 26. The town voted on the budget on April 23. There has been no further communication as of April 17 as to what the state will contribute to the town’s Education Cost Sharing. Town Manager Ward expects a decrease considering the state has a $2 million deficit.
Town Manager on Cybersecurity Task Force
The Connecticut Council of Small Towns has invited Granby Town Manager John Ward to be a member of Secretary of State Denise Merrill’s Elections Cybersecurity Task Force.
Expected Vacancies on Boards
Although at this time there is only one vacancy (on the Park and Recreation Board), Selectman Lofink reported that he was expecting a position to open up on the Agriculture Commission and one on the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission. Town Manager Ward noted that in addition to contacting the Democratic and Republican Town Committee chairs, unaffiliated voters are welcome to contact his office if interested in any of these positions.
Tribute to Retiring Director of Community Development
At the end of the regular BOS meeting of April 17, Town Manager Ward paid tribute to retiring Director of Community Development Fran Armentano. Ward said that regarding personnel, he looks for integrity, competency, and work ethic, and that Armentano “hit it out of the park on all three accounts.” At that point, the large number of residents still in attendance rose to give Armentano a loud, and long, standing ovation. Armentano assured the crowd that a very capable person having those same values has been hired to take on the responsibilities — Abigail Kenyon, who most recently was the assistant planner for the Town of Windsor.