Present: Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager; and Student Liaison Jillian Thrall. Absent: First Selectman Kuhnly
Conservation Commission member Kent McCord, 135 Hungary Road, addressed the board with information on the Explore Granby Scavenger Hunt. This an event where residents hike to specific landmarks, take selfie photos at each of the five locations and submit the photos to the Conservation Commission after all locations have been visited. The locations are clearly located on the trail maps available on the property manager’s website. Each participant will receive recognition of their accomplishment. The dates of the Scavenger Hunt are Feb. 1 to Oct. 31, 2020.
Bill Regan, 62 Hungary Road, spoke about a packet of meeting information that was obtained from the Board of Education website and noted the contrast to what was available on the town website.
Susan Patricelli Regan, 62 Hungary Road, requested the name of the current Emergency Management Director, and asked if he is the information center for any Granby preparation/concerns with the COVID-19 virus. GCTV is planning on having a show in the near future in regards to the State Emergency Management status on the virus.
Town Manager Ward responded that Eric Vincent is the town’s Emergency Management Director and he would be the contact person as well as Farmington Valley Health District Executive Director Jennifer Kertanis. Kertanis is currently at a workshop in Washington D.C. on how to respond to this. She will be giving a presentation on March 5 to the Farmington Valley towns in regard to possible responses. Governor Lamont has issued responses through the State Public Health Department, which are basically the same as other airborne illnesses, such as washing your hands frequently with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to reduce the chance of infection.
Unfinished Or Tabled Business
Report Back on Plan of Conservation and Development
Ward indicated the purpose tonight is to adopt the list of tasks as written or to make changes. Selectman Neumann referred to the task Open Space and Recreation, stating the priority listed as A (0-3 years). He feels it should be 0 (ongoing).
Selectman Ohannessian sees this as a vision of the future and we are currently in budget season and may want to come back to this once that is over. In the meantime, we should read, study, and understand the list of tasks. Some of these tasks need to be done but we need to be realistic about the time and cost of implementation. The possibility of holding a workshop or refer to some items at the budget meetings. Selectman Ballard asked who the person “in charge” is. Ward responded it is a shared responsibility between Planning and Zoning, the Board of Selectmen, and ultimately the Town Manager. Also the Plan of Conservation and Development Implementation Committee would be in charge as well.
After discussion, it was decided to postpone the discussion on POCD until after the budget.
Consideration of Solid Waste Fund Appropriation
Due to the increasing bear population in Granby, residents have been experiencing issues with bears getting into their trash barrels. Problems of litter being strewn along town roads, as well as Paine’s truck drivers having to exit their truck to clean up trash and straighten the barrel has become a problem. Bears are returning on a regular basis as they become accustomed to a food source. People have requested bear- resistant barrels.
K. Severance, Director of Public Works, reported he can order 54 barrels through Paine’s for a fee of $13,708 (freight included). There would be a one-time fee of approximately $250 to the homeowner for the barrel, which would stay with the house.
On a motion by Selectman Neumann, seconded by Selectman King, the board voted unanimously (4-0-0) to request an appropriation of $13,708 from the Solid Waste fund to purchase 54 bear-resistant barrels.
Ward suggested posting on the website that bear-resistant barrels are available. Ohannessian has concerns we will end up with a lot of barrels and not many buyers. Ward suggested that in that case, perhaps we could sell extras to another town, but Severance responded the barrels are labeled Granby with serial numbers. He also indicated that there would probably be 20 residents that would purchase a barrel as soon as they are available. In addition, he feels the number of requests for barrels would increase as time goes on. Ward indicated the town will be receiving a rebate of approximately $13,000 from MIRA that could essentially pay for these.
Consideration of Establishment of a Committee to Review Agritourism and Farm Store Zoning Regulations
The Granby Plan of Conservation and Development contains a recommendation to encourage and permit agricultural operations to engage in activities that seek to sell the agricultural experience and to use the agricultural experience to attract consumers and sell farm products. The plan also recommends working with the Granby Agricultural Commission to develop regulations that address the diverse commercial elements of today’s agricultural operations.
In response, the Development Commission developed a draft regulation that addresses agritourism, and also suggested several modifications to existing farm store regulations. This was reviewed by the Agricultural Commission and then referred to the Planning and Zoning for review.
The Planning and Zoning Commission thought it was important to examine this in more detail and to have public input. They recommend that a committee be established to undertake this work. The committee would consist of up to 10 members, two representatives from each of the following boards and commissions: Agricultural Commission, Development Commission, and Planning and Zoning Commission. Membership shall also include up to four residents.
On a motion by Ohannessian, seconded by Neumann, the board voted unanimously (4-0-0) to establish a Committee to Review Agritourism and Farm Store Zoning Regulations.
Neumann indicated this is really an ad hoc committee and Ward felt they should be given a time limit to get things done. They would need to report back with a preliminary report in four months and a final report in nine months.
On a motion by Ohannessian, seconded by Neumann, the board voted unanimously (4-0-0) to establish names to the committee.
The following names have been suggested by Planning and Zoning and the Town’s Community Development Director for nomination to the committee. From Development Commission: Ken Kuhl, Matt Brady. From Agricultural Commission: Erin Pirro, Ellen Whitlow. Residents: Michelle Neidermeyer (Lost Acres Vineyard, former Agricultural Commission member), and Jamie Woodside (employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
Town Manager Reports
Ward presented the FY2020-21 budget to the Selectmen. The total General Fund increase is 1.96 percent. Town Operations is +3.9 percent. Debt Service is $640,000 (23.0 percent). Capital Budget and CNEF is +$498,133 which includes the bond projects. The chief drivers of the budget are health insurance, wages, pension and tipping fees. Good news is that MIRA announced new tipping fees to be at $91 and not $101.
Budget Workshop meetings start this Thursday. Sections to be discussed will be Public Works and Environment, Libraries, and Park and Recreation. Selectman Ballard asked how Ward arrived at these figures for the budget. Ward responded there was no magic recipe; everything was re-evaluated. He did not fund any new personnel requests from the DPW or PD. He trimmed some from operating budgets that are already pretty lean. Ohannessian asked Ward to tell them at the budget workshop what he did eliminate so they can understand.
Ward reported the Board of Education finalized its budget and will start workshop meetings next week.
Ohannessian asked if the workshops will be filmed. Ward responded he had not contacted GCTV yet. Ballard asked about posting the budget on the town website. Ward indicated that it would be posted. Also, is there a decision for an alternative to staying with MIRA? Ward responded that decision would be made by July 1, 2021. The town will stay in the contract one more year, then evaluate the situation.
Respectfully submitted, John D. Ward, Town Manager