March 18, 2019 Meeting
Sally Rider, 260 Mountain Road, addressed the board announcing she is planning Celebrate Granby on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, on Sept. 19, 20, and 21. She will be adding some new features this year to enhance the evenings with something different each night. Saturday night will again feature fireworks. She plans to diversify to make activities more inclusive to everyone. She is currently in the process of getting permits.
Resignations and appointments to be considered
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to accept, with regret, the resignation of David L. Watkins from the Commission on Aging.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to accept, with regret, the resignation of Timothy J. Squire from the Agricultural Commission.
Vacancies: Agricultural Commission (1); Commission on Aging (1); Conservation Commission (1); Development Commission (1); Library board (1).
Consideration of Recreation and Leisure Service Festival
Granby Bluegrass, Brews and BBQ Festival – closing of the park and approval of alcohol use during their event.
On behalf of Recreation and Leisure Services, Director Kristine Vincent requests permission to close Salmon Brook Park at certain times to all other activities for the festival. The entire park will be closed to all activities after 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. Set-up will take place on Friday July 12, 2019, in the multi-purpose field and removed on Sunday, July 14. Permission is requested for general overall use of alcohol throughout the day to be operated in a beer garden area during the festival from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 in accordance with state law and the Ordinance Authorizing Promulgation of Rules and Regulations of Parks. No activities will need to be rescheduled, just the closing of the pond. It was asked why the festival was scheduled at the park instead of Holcomb Farm. Director Vincent responded the park has better parking for the volume of people they expect.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to approve the closing of Salmon Brook Park at certain times to all other activities for the Granby Bluegrass, Brews and BBQ Festival on Saturday, July 13 and to approve the general overall use of alcohol throughout the day to be operated in a beer garden area during the festival from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Town Manager Ward indicated he will make sure the town is fully protected by insurance and that the Police Department, Fire Department and other safety officials will be notified of the event.
Recreation Fund discussed
Town Manager Ward presented the Selectmen with supplemental information in regard to the Recreation Fund to help with understanding the income and expenses with beginning and ending balances. The average ending balance (over a 10-year span) in the Recreation Fund is $33,395.42.
The Recreation Fund is funded primarily through the following fees and charges for programs: summer camp, soccer, basketball, sport specific camps, after school activities, Salmon Brook Park rentals (room and pavilions), and Holcomb Farm rentals. Profit and loss information was provided. The miscellaneous account showed a loss. That account is used mostly for things where Park and Recreation does not see revenue, including the following: community special events (carol sing, egg hunt and sounds of summer), office supplies, training and education, mileage, department brochure, online registration usage and music usage license.
Please refer to the Granby Drummer budget supplement for detailed final budget information.
Consideration of Public Hearing Regarding Placement of Solar Panel Arrays
Town Manager Ward recommended the Selectmen call for a public hearing to provide residents an opportunity to hear and ask questions about the proposed Solar Project submitted by the Board of Education. This would not be a project review but for the purpose of receiving comment and disseminating information regarding the placement of the proposed solar array behind Wells Road School.
TOWN MANAGER REPORTS
Budget Operations – February 2019
Town Manager Ward reported 101 percent collections in current taxes, 110 percent in prior year taxes, 107 percent in interest and liens and 160 percent in auto supplements. Asked why there is so much excess, Administration Finance Officer Barbarajean Scibelli responded that we budget conservatively.
The Special Education/Excess account received the first payment with the balance due in June.
The Building Department has received approximately $350,000 more than normal due to building permits taken out in relation to the May 2018 hailstorm. Building inspection will need a transfer for temporary assistance. The Department of Public Works will need to watch overtime as 92 percent of the budget has been expensed.
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Sally King, James Lofink, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager; Abigail Kenyon, Director of Community Development, Alan Addley, Superintendent of Schools; Anna Robbins, Melissa Migliaccio, BOE Chairman; Bob Banning, Silver/Petrucelli and Associates; Michael Chambers, Silver/Petrucelli and Associates; Christopher Lotspeich, Celtic Energy
Selectman Ohannessian read the legal notice as published in the Hartford Courant. The Board of Selectmen has called for a public hearing for the purpose of receiving comment and disseminating information regarding the placement of the proposed solar array behind Wells Road School.
Town Manager Ward indicated this public hearing is to provide information to the public and to hear back from the public. The solar project has been developed by the Board of Education that has been working with the State Department of Education and the Capital Region Education Council. The goal is not just to provide green energy but also to save money for the town. This project, along with bridges proposed by the town and other school projects proposed by the Board of Education, and endorsed by Capital Project Program Advisory Committee, have been recommended for bonding. This meeting is not to address the bonding.
Abigail Kenyon provided a brief history of the process so far, which included a review of the project by the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 26 and an upcoming review by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission for review of the location of wetlands on the property.
Melissa Migliaccio, BOE Chairman, noted the consultant on the project from Celtic Energy would provide an overview of the project. Superintendent Addley introduced Bob Banning, Engineering Consultant and Michael Chambers, Electrical Consultant from Silver/Petrucelli and Associates, and Christopher Lotspeich, Director of Sustainability Services with Celtic Energy.
Banning provided a brief history of the project, how it came about, and provided timelines. The project would be on 7.4 acres of land behind Wells Road School. He noted that a project entailing placing the panels on the school roofs would not be large enough to provide the energy needed. He reviewed a slide show that included photos of a ground-mounted solar array, as well as a diagram showing the area that will need to be cleared. He discussed how it works, the construction process, the underground work needed to put the structures in place, etc. The project would consist of 5,760 panels that are basically maintenance free due to precipitation cleaning them. A decommissioning plan to put the site back to its original conditions will need to be filed and the proposal will need to go through the Connectucut Siting Council.
Anna Robbins shared the financial models and noted the model is very conservative.
Christopher Lotspeich from Celtic Energy spoke regarding financial information and the warranty.
First Selectman Kuhnly opened up questions from the Board of Selectmen. He inquired who pays for the decommissioning report. The cost is not included in the figures but it isn’t very significant, approximately $80,000.
James Lofink stated he had a question on behalf of a constituent who could not attend the meeting: Can the Conn. Siting Council respond in a timely manner in order to meet the deadline?
The process is already underway and experience shows programs of this size have not been held up in the review process. Also, extensions have been approved in the past. The Siting Council process can take from five months to one year.
Ed Ohanessian inquired where does it connect to the grid; is there a volume guarantee, is there a guarantee on the time we can sell back the virtual metering and is it an actual cash payment?
It would connect on Wells Road. The volume is guaranteed up to a certain level they’re approved for. It can go above 1.75 megawatts but not below. It can be sold back for 25 years for a cash payment based on meter output.
First Selectman Kuhnly opened up comments and questions from the public:
• Two neighbors expressed concern regarding their property values if the project goes forward.
• A neighbor expressed concern for the environment, including the wildlife, and stated she would view the panels from her backyard.
• Concern over the displacement of animals and the destruction of nature was expressed.
• There was an inquiry regarding the insurance coverage for the project. The Town Manager noted it would be covered like any other town property and the current town carrier has been consulted for coverage. Additional coverage may need to be purchased if the town wants to insure against lost revenue.
• In order to get additional information regarding the clearing that would take place, a resident asked for the specific size of a “smaller” tree that would not be cut down.
• A resident stated that although he is for solar energy, he is not in agreement with projects that require the removal of trees. He asked for consideration of roof panels in addition to a solar array that would be smaller than the one proposed. He noted it is important to have a good O and M agreement (operations and maintenance).
• There was an inquiry if there are any trees that could be planted to give neighbors some privacy. It was felt that this was an excellent suggestion.
• There was an inquiry regarding any long-term environmental issues with the soil. It was noted there is no leaching from the panels into the soil.
• A suggestion was made to leave 6” at the bottom of the fencing in order for small animals to get through.
• A resident expressed their support of the project and noted there are always trade-offs. Granby is one of the most forested towns in the State and this appears to be a noted trade-off.
Resident Anna Sogliuzzo still has concerns with the use of glyphosate and would like the town to give her an update. She would also like to receive email notifications for upcoming special meeting and public hearing agendas. She is asking the town to not bundle the bonding projects.
Deborah Hickson asked that hours for voting be extended.
A motion was made by Mark Neumann to approve the minutes of the workshop meeting of March 14, the minutes of the regular meeting of March 18, and the minutes of the public hearing of March 27. The motion was seconded by Sally King. James Lofink indicated he had a correction to the March 18 minutes for Selectman Reports: second paragraph, third line, change the word “sessions” to “sections” regarding the Plan of Conservation and Development Implementation Committee. Neumann amended his motion to include the change suggested by Lofink. King seconded the amendment and the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to approve the motion and the amendment.
Resignations and Appointments to be Considered
On a motion by Lofink, seconded by King, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to approve the appointment of Heather L. Lombardo (D), 19 Broad Hill Road, to the Agricultural Commission. This is a four-year term ending Jan. 9, 2023.
Consideration of Statement of Intent
Town Manager John Ward explained that Granby’s Capital Program Priority Advisory Committee (CPPAC) had endorsed several sets of projects at its Feb. 7 meeting. It also endorsed a Memo of Understanding that is consistent to the practice followed in the past. The Statement of Intent demonstrates the intent to follow conservative spending practices in order to minimize the impact of the cost of Town Government on the citizens. Each of the three boards—selectmen, education and finance—were asked to support the Statement of Intent. Each Board member was asked to sign the Statement of Intent to show their support of the projects. It was noted that the Board of Finance members intend to sign at next Monday’s meeting and Board of Education members intend to sign at their next meeting.
On a motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the Board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to endorse the proposed Statement of Intent in support of the 2019 Bonding Projects.
Consideration of Bonding for Capital Projects
Board of Education Vice Chairman Mark Fiorentino addressed the board with changes that have been made to the school’s project list as a result of feedback received during and after the CPPAC informational meetings. New proposals are as follows:
Limit the HVAC/Roof repairs to the high school and middle school; add the middle school gutter project, as it would not make sense to address this at a time other than with the roof repair; remove the parking lot; remove the Press Box for the Athletic Fields; reduce the Athletic Field bathroom estimate from $500,000 to $250,000 due to a conceptual change of moving the bathrooms closer to the building # 1 staircase; transition the $250,000 removed from the bathroom project to funding for building stairway revision.
Fiorentino would like everyone to know the many hours that have been put into getting this ready to take to vote. The Solar Project is a good example of a goal from many years ago. He hopes the residents approve the proposed projects.
On a motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board proposed to authorize the projects recommended by CPPAC be sent to the public for their consideration as outlined in the supplemental memorandum.
Edward Ohannessian indicated he is okay with the bridge projects and the revised school projects but voiced concerns with the Solar Project. He is in favor of clean energy, but there are too many unanswered questions. He has concerns with neighboring property owners, the devaluation of their homes, and the wetlands. Planning and Zoning has turned this down. Maybe there are other locations that would better suit this project. Maybe a consideration of part land and part rooftop could be an option. This project came up too fast. He is not sure what we are voting on to go forward tonight.
Fiorentino commented there are many variables to the Solar Project. There is still a lot of work to do but it has to go to the voters in order to get to the next step.
Ward indicated he agrees that, through no fault of the Board of Education, the project is not 100 percent ready. The timing is too tight to make any changes now.
Ward suggested the board vote on the three projects separately. As a result of this discussion, the previous motion proposed by Neumann and seconded by King, was withdrawn.
• On a motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to authorize the Bridge Projects recommended by CPPAC and to be sent to the public for its consideration.
• On a motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to authorize the School Projects recommended by CPPAC and be sent to the public for its consideration.
• On a motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the Board voted (4-1-0) to authorize the Solar Project recommended by CPPAC be sent to the public for its consideration. Ohannessian voted against this motion.
• On a motion by First Selectman Scott Kuhnly, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to authorize there be three questions on the bonding ballot, grouped as follows: Bridge Projects, School Projects, and Solar Project.
Consideration of Approval for Budget 2019-2020
There was a brief discussion among the Selectmen regarding the 2019-20 proposed budget.
On a motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to adopt the revised revenues and municipal operations budget approved by the Board of Finance.