October 19, 2020
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Edward Ohannessian, and John D. Ward, Town Manager
The Board of Selectmen called for a Public Hearing to hear public comment regarding the ordinance amending ARTICLE III Exemption for Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Personnel [Adopted 10-1-2020]. The maximum benefit will increase from $1,000 of assessed value to $1,500 effective with taxes due on the October 1, 2020 grand list and to $2,000 effective with taxes due on the grand list October 1, 2021 grand list.
Ward said no comments had been received, written or oral, on the Public Hearing.
Chief Coupe of the Granby Ambulance Association (GAA) addressed the board with background information of the GAA over the last 57 years. She noted the dedication of staff members is outstanding. She hopes all board members allow for the increase in the benefit. Kuhnly thanked Coupe and her team for their outstanding job.
Chief Horr of the Lost Acres Fire Department spoke of the importance of passing this amendment. The tax abatement helps these volunteer workers. They are an active service group and every little bit helps. He supports the amendment 100 percent. He noted Ward has been very supportive. Kuhnly thanked Horr and all of the members of the LAFD.
No other public addressed the Public Hearing.
On A Motion by Ohannessian, seconded by King, the board voted (3-0-0) to close the Public Hearing at 6:57 p.m.
October 19, 2020
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager
Presentation Regarding Bears
Jason Hawley from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) was invited to provide insight regarding bears. Hawley is a wildlife biologist involved in research and management.
The biggest draw for bears is bird seed and garbage, which are the two most readily available food sources. There has been no success on the state level to ban bear feeding. The most bear-populated section of Connecticut is the northwest corner and the population appears to be moving south and taking hold more in urban areas. He estimated that in 2005 there were approximately 300 bears in Connecticut and it is currently estimated at 1,500. He noted that sightings and conflicts with humans are increasing and most feeding of bears is unintentional. It is the intentional feeding that makes bears become habituated and food conditioned. They will continue to visit that site to feed and that is how they eventually associate food with people, which puts people at a greater risk of conflict. In addition, the bears have no fear of people. He believes if this doesn’t change, a bear versus human fatality in towns like Granby are inevitable.
Hawley believes an ordinance against the intentional feeding of bears is important. Currently, the nearby towns of Simsbury, Barkhamsted, Hartland and Colebrook have such an ordinance. It was also mentioned that Granby has bear proof garbage cans at a cost of $230. The Department of Public Works has sold 41 so far and has more in stock.
Ballard asked for clarification of Hawley’s comments regarding how unintentional feeding in Granby due to bird feeders and trash cans is irrelevant. Hawley felt it is a relevant issue but the actual number is irrelevant because most people don’t report conflicts with bears when they get into their trash or birdfeeders. The number of bears that destroy birdfeeders and/or trash cans is probably ten times higher. In regard to the bear proof trash cans, there is a lot of resistance to requiring people to have a bear proof trash can.
Neumann commented the state has a regulation against feeding bears on state land. Hawley noted a town ordinance would just extend that to private property. In additional, intentional feeding of bears changes their social structure. One person feeding bears habituates and food conditions 10 to 20 bears in their backyard.
Ohannessian questioned if the DEEP promotes having a state-wide ordinance and a hunt. What is holding the legislature back? Hawley responded it is not on his level to deal with the legislature. Currently, it is not a problem in the majority of towns in the state so it is not an issue for the legislators in those towns. They are not hearing from their constituents. Hawley has explained to residents who feed the bears that what they are doing is dangerous and selfish.
Kuhnly thanked Hawley for a presentation with a lot of useful information.
Report on Road Overlay Program
Director of Public Works Kirk Severance reviewed his DPW road overlay report for this year. He believes that the town roads are a reflection of the quality of our town.
Every three years, a company is hired to put together a report on the condition of our town roads. The report is downloaded into DPW computers and it enables staff to prioritize the overlay program based on road conditions and volume of traffic, as well as other factors. From there, budget numbers are put together to determine what can be done and in what year. The program is called “pavement preservation.” The main objective is to get to a road before the cost factor gets out of control. After finishing the project late this summer, they came in under budget by 22 percent.
The process begins with notifying residents on the effected road and replacing or rebuilding basin tops as needed. Lost Acres, Harvey, Donahue, Crest and Elizabeth roads were first shimmed with bituminous asphalt to level them out. Then all of the roads included in the plan were chip sealed so that the cracks are filled in with an emulsion and stone. As a final step, a microchip was applied to all of the roads which creates a protective barrier. After final applications were completed, driveway aprons were installed and curbs were back-filled with either a fill or top soil, followed by seed. An outside contractor was hired to linestripe the roads when the overlay program was complete. This year, Crest, Lost Acres, Harvey, Donahue, Heather, Nestor, Elizabeth, and Acorn were the roads included, for a total of 5.3 miles.
By finishing the overlay program early this year, the crew was able to replace or repair basins where structures had been found to be in poor condition. Currently, there are 12 being rebuilt and some include culvert pipes.
Introduction of Granby Building Official
Ward introduced Joel Skilton as Granby’s new Building Official. He comes to us from Watertown with many years of experience in the field. Kuhnly welcomed him on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of September 21, with the correction by Ohannessian: V.I. paragraph two, second sentence to read: The Board of Selectmen’s budget is 30 percent of the town budget of which 25 percent is for Capitol and Debt. An additional sentence was added after the word purposes: If we decide to go with an outside third-party consultant firm, I believe the cost would be between $250,000 and $300,000 and we should consider putting it in our budget for next year.
Unfinished Or Tabled Business
Consideration of Ordinance Banning the Feeding of Bears
Town Hall has received numerous complaints concerning bears being attracted to residences due to being fed. Ward provided a revised ordinance for the purpose of discussion and suggestions. He indicated the first offence would be a warning. The second offence would be a penalty of $50 a day, lowered from $250 in the original ordinance.
King indicated it is a good clean ordinance that is plain and fair. Ohannessian felt the board is going through the right process. It was suggested to have the ACO (Animal Control Officer) and the Chief of Police talk to the board. Kuhnly inquired about the reduction of the fine from $250 to $50. Ward responded it would be $50 a day if the violation continues, as you don’t want to amass fines that you cannot collect. Ballard said this ordinance probably wouldn’t stop the one or two people who are intentionally feeding bears. What are we willing to do? Are we willing to go to court and put a lien on a house? The vast majority of feeding bears is unintentional. He questions whether this ordinance would do what we are looking for and how far do we want to go. He felt prevention may be a better way to go.
After discussion amongst the Selectmen, the board agreed they would like more information and would like to talk with the Chief of Police and the ACO before making any decisions. Ward will contact them.
Consideration of Selectmen’s Retreat/Workshop to Set Goals
Ward reported it is possible David O’Brien would be available to moderate the retreat on Nov. 2, which would be in lieu of the regular meeting. This would be an in-person meeting to discuss and develop goals. It will be a working meeting so there will not be a public session, although the meeting will be available to the public via Zoom. Kuhnly requested the meeting be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Holcomb Farm.
Resignations and Appointments to be Considered
Vacancies: Conservation Commission (2); Library Board (1)
Consideration of Amendment to the Exemption for Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Personnel Ordinance
This amendment is proposed in order to align the ordinance with Public Act 36, An Act Increasing the Property Tax Abatement for Certain First Responders.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the amendment to the ordinance Exemption for Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Personnel [Adopted 10-1-2020].
Kuhnly thanked Chief Horr of the Lost Acres Fire Department and Chief Coupe from the Granby Ambulance Association for all they do.
Consideration of RFP for Brokerage Services for the Property at 5 Canton Road
The board previously authorized Ward to issue a Request for Proposal for broker services for Kearns School. One response was received from Goman and York (“Goman”), a well-regarded firm out of East Hartford, Conn. Goman offered the following services:
Develop a market feasibility plan
Prepare a strategic marketing campaign
Prepare an implementation plan
Develop conceptual design alternatives and pro forma financial model
There were two fee options in the proposal. The first option is a broker fee of five percent of the sale price with a minimum fee of $50,000, which will be credited against any eventual sales commission. The second option is an hourly rate, with an estimated 30 hours per month. The hourly rate under this proposal varies depending on the staff that will be required for the various tasks.
Currently the town budgets $25,000 per year to maintain Kearns. The last four years the town has spent an average of $29,500 per year at Kearns. The town will have to spend $8,000 this month to install a new boiler at Kearns.
Goman, a resident of Simsbury, indicated this to be an unusual real-estate asset. It is a quiet market but it can be done inside of a year. It is not a typical brokerage process. First you need a market story, a market area and a market demand. A market analysis is done, as well as financial feasibility. Also, a well thought out redevelopment plan is needed. Pricing is all over the map.
Ward recommends going with the five percent brokerage fee. Kenyon agreed to that as well. Ward will have the Town Attorney draft a contract.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize the Town Manager to contract with Goman and York for brokerage services upon the terms discussed, which were: a fee of five percent of the sale price with a minimum fee of $50,000, paid as a $3,000/month retainer, which will be credited against any eventual sales commission, and authorizes him to execute any and all necessary paperwork.
Consideration of Funding Household Hazardous Waste Collection from Solid Waste Sanitation Fund
Since 2013, the Town of Granby has partnered with the towns of Simsbury, Avon and Canton to collect household hazardous waste from residents. In 2016, the Town of Farmington joined the coalition and the Town of Suffield joined in 2019. As a group, three collections per year are held. A new contract for hazardous waste removal has been negotiated this past year and funding is now required for the three collections to be held in fiscal year 2021. Collection dates are October 17, 2020, April 2021 and June 2021. An appropriation of $15,000 to cover disposal of the hazardous waste collection is requested. That amount includes advertising costs to notify the residents of the events.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize an additional appropriation of $15,000 from Solid Waste Sanitation Fund balance to fund the household hazardous waste collection and forward this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
Consideration of Acquisition of Property for Major Intersection Improvements on US 202/Route 10 and Route 20 and Route 189
The State of Connecticut is acquiring property in order for the intersection improvements at US 202/Route 10 at Route 10 and Route 189 to be completed. Two town-owned properties will be affected by the project.
The first property is 4 North Granby Road, known as the small green. It is currently .38 acres or 16,553 square feet. The state proposes to acquire 1,227 square feet and has offered $5,700.
The second property is 3 East Granby Road, the Town Green. It is currently 1.1 acres or 47,916 square feet. The state proposes to acquire 3,487 square feet and has offered $9,500. It should be noted in addition to the property acquisition, the state also proposes a traffic easement and drainage right of way on this property, which have been factored into the $9,500 offer.
These acquisitions will essentially make room to widen lanes and add a turning lane.
There were two maps presented showing the portion of the two properties that will be acquired. It was noted that the drainage right of way is adjacent to the portion of the property that will be acquired. The traffic easement is located on the southern end of the property. Also noted is that the trees that are affected will be replaced and the current garden will be moved back.
To accept the state’s offer, the Board of Selectmen, then the Board of Finance and lastly, the attendants at a Town Meeting must approve of the sale. In addition, the issue needs to be referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-24 and a public hearing before the Board of Selectmen.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board moves that a Public Hearing on the proposed sale of portions of the properties known and 4 North Granby Road and 3 East Granby Road be held on Nov. 16.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board moves the forwarding of the proposed sales of portions of the parcels referred to as 4 North Granby Road and 3 East Granby Road to the Planning and Zoning Commission pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-24.
Consideration of Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund Police and Administration Vehicles Account Budget Amendment
CIRMA (the town’s insurance carrier) has issued the town two checks totaling $18,089.60 for a total loss cruiser that was involved in an accident. The check was received in September 2020. The insurance settlement will be used to purchase a new cruiser for replacement.
The purchase of a replacement cruiser will increase the expenditure line item in the Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund, which was not budgeted in the current 2020-21 fiscal year adopted budget. According to the Town Charter, a budget amendment is required. The insurance settlement check will increase the Miscellaneous Revenue line item in Capital Equipment/Improvement fund by $18,089.60 and will increase the Police and Administration Vehicles Expenditure line item in Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund by the same amount, $18,089.60
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve increases of Miscellaneous Revenue and Police and Administration Vehicles line items in Capital Equipment/Improvement fund budget by $18,089.60 and forwards this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
Consideration of Memorandum of Agreement with CRCOG regarding State Homeland Security Grant
The Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) has requested Granby to enter into an agreement with the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Emergency Management of Homeland Security Grant to allow the purchase of specialized equipment by CRCOG. This equipment will be available for use within Region 3 of the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. CRCOG also uses the funding to staff the Capitol Region Emergency Planning Council. The Region 3 share for the FY 2020 grant is approximately $350,000
On A Motion by Kuhnly, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the following resolution.
RESOLVED, that the Town of Granby may enter into with and deliver to the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Emergency Management and Home land Security any and all documents which it deems to be necessary or appropriate; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that John D. Ward, as Town Manager of the Town of Granby, is authorized and directed to execute and deliver any and all documents on behalf of the Town of Granby and to do and perform all acts and things which he deems to be necessary or appropriate to carry out the terms of such documents, including, but not limited to, executing and delivering all agreements and documents contemplated by such documents.
Town Manager Reports
Ward reported to date the Town Clerk’s Office has issued 2,589 absentee ballots and has received back 1,522.
Ward reported current year collections to be at 56 percent, which is typical. The balance of Special Ed/Excess payments will be received in October or later. The statutory fee collections for the Town Clerk’s department is at 52 percent. Expenses are on track.
Capital Project Update
The state roundabout project on Route 10/202 is near completion. Expected completion date is early November.
The state project major intersection improvements at US 202/Route 10 at Route 20 and Route 189 is moving forward with design and engineering.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to adjourn the meeting at 8:57 p.m.
Nov. 2, 2020 retreat
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager. Guest/Facilitator: David A. O’Brien
Program Kick-Off: First Selectman Kuhnly welcomed everyone and explained the purpose of the retreat. Ward introduced the facilitator, David O’Brien, president of WorkChoice Solutions, Inc. O’Brien has over 30 years consulting experience in Human Resources and Organizational Development within a variety industries.
O’Brien spoke briefly about the theme of tonight’s meeting: Building a Foundation of Leadership Excellence. He explained leadership is a choice, and leaders should be role models of the behavior they want to see in others. Leadership also requires taking the time to think.
The first group discussion explored the role of the Board of Selectmen; citizen’s expectations of board members; barriers between the board’s role and citizen’s expectations; and leadership solutions between citizen’s expectations and the realities of town government.
The board is a legislative board not an operating board and it should provide a vision for the town.
The board’s role is to do what is best for Granby; to be fiscally responsible, to provide safety (fire and police); to be creative; to provide recreational and senior services; and be responsive in a timely manner.
Honesty and openness are the leadership characteristics that should guide the board.
Residents do not always understand the process and get frustrated with how long it takes to get things done. This is difficult as issues can only be discussed in public meetings and cannot be discussed in private. Education on how town government works, including its nuances and complexities, could be helpful.
The board will invite the Long-Term Recovery Committee to a board meeting to present the results of their survey and how they will proceed.
The second group discussion explored the goals that have changed or evolved over the past 12 months, what the board is doing well to meet those goals and what the board could do better to meet those goals.
Goals changed as a result of COVID.
The way things are done has also changed, as the town is forced to be more efficient with less money and is striving for a 0 percent tax increase.
Zoom meetings created a different environment yet the board came together without being together.
Some suggestions regarding how to do things better included sharing goals and priorities, identifying what could be done better and looking for more collaboration.
The third group discussion centered on identifying the top three attainable goals in the next 30 to 90 days and the next 90 to 180 days.
Goals for the next 30 to 90 days:
Mission/Vision Statement — guiding principal of how to move forward as a board
CPPAC — radio system
Goals for the next 180 days:
Community Involvement — innovative ways to make information more readily available.
Follow up with POCD (Plan of Conservation and Development) and invite it to present to the board
Actions to ensure goals are met:
Ask for input
Inform community of progress
Town Manager Report at BOS
Have Department Heads present at BOS meeting
John D. Ward, Town Manager