January 4, 2021 Public Hearing
Present via Zoom: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian and John D. Ward, Town Manager
First Selectman Kuhnly opened the public hearing and stated that the purpose of the hearing is to receive public comment regarding the proposed sale of town-owned land at 4, 11 and 15 North Granby Road and 3 East Granby Road for the intersection improvements at US 202/Route 10 at Route 10 and Route 189. Ward read the Legal Notice as published.
Ward reported there were no written communications. There were no questions from the board.
No other public addressed the public hearing.
Kuhnly closed the Public Hearing at 6:47 p.m.
January 4, 2021
The regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen was called to order by Scott Kuhnly at 6:47 p.m.
Present via Zoom: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager; and John Bell, student liaison.
Report from Long-Term Recovery
David Watkins, chairman of the Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) addressed the board regarding the committee’s progress. He explained the committee established a structure-based system with 10 functions to reflect the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response models. These include Social Services, Communications, Residents, Health, Schools, Economic Development, Spiritual Needs, Volunteers, Unmet Needs Population and Professional Services.
A survey was conducted to determine the needs of residents and the business community. Under the ten functions, three rose to a high significance: Health, Economic Development and Social Services. The survey results indicated the most significant way COVID-19 has impacted respondents was their inability to socialize with others. In addition, their concerns included contracting the disease, the impact on education, as well as putting others at risk of contracting the disease.
Most respondents were very satisfied with the level and availability of medical services and also felt the business community has done a good job of maintaining services. At the time the survey was conducted, Social Services had not yet experienced a large increase of demands. It is believed that individuals and businesses sought services directly through state and/or federal programs.
While data showed that 80 percent of respondents and businesses believe the level of communication from the town was satisfactory, the open-ended questions revealed social media platforms are not the preferred ways of receiving information. The respondents prefer to receive information through texts, emails and telephone calls.
Since the fourth quarter of last year, the committee has been involved in meetings with the Connecticut Regional Council of Governments (CRCOG) and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS Region 3). In addition, the state has contracted with two vendors to develop a needs assessment. It is expected that information will be available by the end of the second quarter of 2021. FEMA and the DEMHS are looking to finalize their preferences for long-term recovery policies by the spring of 2021. Everyone agrees it is important to assess needs.
Watkins noted that at this point, each of the 10 functions will break down the results from their group and provide a deeper assessment of information. The committee, along with the Town Manager and Emergency Management Director, will determine if there is a need to establish a separate annex to the town’s Emergency Management Plan.
There was a brief discussion regarding the survey. Kuhnly inquired about the emergency alert system the town looked into a few years ago. Watkins noted the police department contracted with the state for a reverse 911 system. The company that ran it offered it for non-emergency alerts and Granby declined it at that time. The state no longer offers the service for non-emergencies. Residents can now sign-up for non-emergency alerts through the town website.
Ohannessian inquired how many responses were received and what the committee will be doing now. It was noted a total of 565 responses to the questionnaire were received. Going forward, each of the sectors will create 8 to 10 questions to bring to the committee for discussion. Watkins explained the purpose of the committee is not how to deal with COVID-19 in particular, but how to deal with similar long-term events in the future. There was an inquiry as to the response of local businesses. At this time, the survey addressed how residents perceived businesses were doing. Information from the businesses’ perspective will be addressed in the next survey.
Unfinished or Tabled Business
Consideration of Call for Three Board Meeting
Ward reported that at last week’s Board of Finance meeting, the chairman felt that due to the size of the group, Zoom is not the best vehicle to conduct a Three Board Meeting. In addition, the BOF has already communicated their budget guidelines to the board of Selectmen and Education. As such, they felt a Three Board Meeting was not necessary at this time.
Consideration of Sale of Development Rights for East Street Property
The state would like to partner with the town for development rights on the East Street property. They have made an offer to purchase the rights for the town-owned property at 107 East Street for a sum of $412,500, which is one-half of the appraised development value of $825,000.
The property consists of 125 acres and the state provided a map that shows two proposed agricultural easements on the property; one easement area is 70 acres and the other 55 acres. The Town would like to retain a portion for future town use, and that portion would be excluded from the easement. The Department of Agricultural has been contacted to determine if the town could retain a portion of the property and there has been no response received as of yet.
The state has offered to purchase the development rights for $412,500 (50 percent of the value of $825,000). In discussions with the state, another option was presented that would require a partnership with the state along with USDA involvement. Under this option, the state would be willing to pay more. The town would have to execute an agreement with a farmer to purchase the land. A commitment to pursue this option is required by March 2021.
Previous studies have been done on this property to explore opportunities for use. The results indicated residents were in favor of keeping the land open or for possible agricultural use, balancing that with the town population’s ability to use it.
King inquired what needs to be done by March. Director of Community Development Abby Kenyon indicated the town needs to commit to the state. A buyer would be needed within two years and the state would assist with that. No money is required until the sale.
There was discussion amongst the Selectmen, as well as questions regarding splitting the property, i.e. would the State be interested in less than the entire property, could the town still preserve a piece for its use?
It was decided more information is needed.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to table this item.
Resignations and Appointments to be Considered
On A Motion by King, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the following reappointments:
Commission on Aging: Jean A. Donihee-Perron, Katheryn M. Miller, Patricia E. Sansone
Park and Recreation: Suzanne L. Yucha, Kathy D. Ungerleider
Consideration of Modification to Existing Lease for 83 Salmon Brook Street
At its meeting of April 20, 2020, the Board of Selectmen recommended the Town Manager modify Freshies’ lease to waive the rent for the months of April, May and June 2020 due to hardship as a result of the pandemic. It was noted only two months of the three-month waiver were used at that time.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic and the resulting financial hardship, it is the administration’s recommendation that the rent be waived for the months of January and February 2021.
Ballard indicated it looks like the town is playing favorites by granting this waiver. Ward responded the town has an investment in this property and does not want to see the current lessor close its business. If this isn’t done, the town will lose money.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (4-1-0) to authorize Ward to modify the existing lease and sub-lease to waive the rent for the months of January and February 2021. Selectman Ballard voted no.
Vote on Town-Owned Land
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve that portions of the properties known as 4, 11 and 15 North Granby Road and 3 East Granby Road be sold to the state subject to approval of the Board of Finance and a Town Meeting.
Town Manager Reports
Ward reported the Board of Finance appropriation for the STEAP Grant Holcomb Farm project was approved. The BOF did not approve the full amount for the brokerage services for Kearns School. They did approve $18,000 for brokerage services to get us through this fiscal year and the balance will be included in next year’s budget. The thinking was that if we were not pleased after the fifth month we would terminate. Ohannessian asked if the broker could attend a meeting in a month or so to provide an update, which would allow the board to determine if they are making progress or not. Ballard inquired if this contract is a public document and if it would be put on the website. Ward said he would have it put on the website.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted (5-0-0) to adjourn the meeting at 7:46 p.m.
February 1, 2021
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King (arrived 7:20 p.m.), Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager.
Unfinished or Tabled Business
Consideration of Sale of Town-Owned Land
At its Dec. 7 meeting, the Board of Selectmen approved a Public Hearing on the sale of portions of four town-owned properties at 4, 11, and 15 North Granby Road and 3 East Granby Road. The Public Hearing was held on Jan. 4 and the sale was approved by the Board of Selectmen on the same date.
At its Jan. 25 meeting, the Board of Finance approved the sale of portions of all four pieces of property.
Normally by Charter, the next step would be approval by the attendees at a Town Meeting. However, the Governor’s Executive Order 7JJ allows for the legislative body to approve when time is of the essence. The town has been notified by the state that if approval is not immediately forthcoming, the project will be delayed. This project is designed to enhance the safety of the center roadways; thus a delay will be harmful to the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
The Selectmen had some concerns of overriding the Town Meeting and had questions for Ward. Cheng indicated Ward is having trouble connecting to the internet and not available for questions at the moment. It was suggested to table this item for the time being.
Resignations and Appointments to be Considered
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted (4-0-0) to approve the following Republican Town Committee reappointments and new appointments. The length of the new term varies from two to four years depending upon the board or commission.
Agricultural Commission: Shirley B. Murtha and Ellen L. Whitlow, whose terms will expire Jan. 13, 2025.
Commission on Aging: Philip D. Main, whose term will expire Jan. 9, 2023.
Development Commission: James K. Caldwell, Kenneth O. Kuhl and Robert J. Rome, whose terms will expire Jan. 9, 2023.
Library Board: Judith A. Guarco, whose term will expire Jan. 8, 2024.
Park and Recreation Board: Anthony McGovern replacing Peter Gunn, whose term will expire Jan. 9, 2023.
Inland Wetlands Watercourse: Nicholas Dethlefsen, filling a vacancy in which the term will expire Jan. 10, 2022.
Library Board: Kristal Fiorentino, filling a vacancy whose term will expire Jan. 8, 2024.
Consideration of 2021 Bond Refunding Resolution
Finance Officer Kimi Cheng reported that Underwriter Piper Sandler and Company approached our financial advisor, Dixworks, LLC with a proposal to refund a portion of the 2013 bond issue. The cost of issuance and underwriter’s discount are $71,971.50 and $23,647.50 respectively. The potential debt service savings to the town would be a net amount of approximately $180,000 over the remaining terms of the bond (FY2022-33). The spread of this savings will realize a reduction of around $15,000 from next year’s Debt Service payments.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted (4-0-0) to adopt the attached resolution for appropriation of $5,600,000 to refund certain of the town’s outstanding bonds and authorizes the issuance of refunding bonds to finance such appropriations.
Kuhnly asked for discussion.
Ballard inquired about the total savings. Cheng noted it would be a total savings of $180,000 after the discount and the fees. Ohannessian had questions about the savings, i.e. was it front or back loaded. Ward reported it is back loaded. We have already spent the majority of the principal. Ballard asked how much of the principal would we have to pay early to achieve the same amount of savings. Neumann responded that money would have to come from the General Fund in a block that would be 11 years of bond payments in the General Fund. Ohannessian noted there could be prepayment penalties. Kuhnly asked about getting additional information. Ward noted looking into these inquiries and putting it off until the next meeting would be another two weeks and it is not within the original time frame. Neumann did not want to withdraw his motion. Based on the information presented, he feels comfortable with the refunding and obtaining $185,000 savings over the current bond payments. Ward responded if this goes to a motion and it is not going to pass, it won’t look favorable with the rating agency. He is meeting with the underwriter tomorrow and the rating agency on Wednesday.
On a Motion by Neumann, seconded by Ballard, the board voted (4-0-1) to table the agenda item. King abstained.
Consideration of Neglected Cemetery Account Grant Budget Amendment
The town recently received notification from the state that $3,332 has been awarded to Granby for the maintenance of burial grounds and cemeteries. The funds will be used to clear weeds and bushes, trim back small trees, and mow lawn areas in Lee and Cooley Cemeteries. The work will be completed by the Department of Public Works. Per grant guidelines, this work will be done outside of the regular workday, meaning overtime charges would be occurred.
Since clean-up will increase the overtime expenditure line items in the General Fund, which was not budgeted in the Fiscal Year 2020-21 adopted budget, a budget amendment is required according to the Town Charter. The grant reimbursement will increase the Miscellaneous Revenue line item by $3,332 and will increase the Payroll-Overtimes line item in both General and Equipment Maintenance and Infrastructure Maintenance Departments by $1,585 and $1,747, respectively.
On A Motion by Ohannessian, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (4-0-1) (abstention King) to approve increases of the following accounts in General Fund budget: miscellaneous revenue by $3,332; payroll-overtime in General and Equipment Maintenance Department by $1,585; and payroll-overtime in Infrastructure Maintenance Department by $1,747; and forwards this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
Consideration of Cossitt Library Pre-Development Studies Project Budget Amendment
The town recently received a check from The Friends of F. H. Cossitt Library (FOC), for the Cossitt Library Pre-Development Studies Project. The check was given to the town to pay for the balance due to Architectural Preservation Studio (APS) beyond what the grant funds will cover. The non-grant unfunded amount for the project is $3,199.59. With approval, this donation will allow the project to be completed without any cost to the town.
Since the additional amount for the project will increase an expenditure line item in the Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund, which was not budgeted in the Fiscal Year 2020-21 adopted budget, a budget amendment is required. The FOC donation check will increase the Miscellaneous Revenue line item in Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund by $3,199.59 and will increase Cossitt Library Pre-Development Studies Project Expenditure line item in Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund by the same amount of $3,199.59
On A Motion by Ohannessian, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve increases of Miscellaneous Revenue and Cossitt Library Pre-Development Studies project line items in Capital Equipment/Improvement Fund budget by $3,199.59 and forwards this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
Consideration of Additional Appropriation to Farmington Valley Health District
Farmington Valley Health District is requesting from its member towns additional support for the Health District because of COVID-19. They are looking for additional funding for hiring temporary part-time staff (28 weeks) to conduct contact tracing and support vaccination, and to purchase supplies and equipment that are required for contact tracing and vaccination.
Ward is requesting an appropriation from the General Fund balance in the amount of $13,578 to fund the support. Ballard asked if they are breaking new ground with this request. How do we know they won’t come back for more? Kuhnly commented the FVHD has never asked for money before. Ohannessian indicated that if we get federal COVID funds that would in a sense off-set this. He is for going ahead with this request. Ward responded there hasn’t been any funding request he knows about in the past. He doesn’t expect they will come back. This is strictly voluntary.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize an additional appropriation of $13,578 from the General Fund balance to fund the additional funding request from Farmington Valley Health District and forwards this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
Consideration of the Sale of Town-Owned Land
Discussion resumed from earlier in the meeting, as Ward has joined the meeting.
Normally there would be a Town Meeting, however Governors Executive Order 7JJ allows for the legislative body to approve when time is of the essence. The Town has been notified that if approval is not immediately forthcoming, the project will be delayed. The proposed start date for construction is April. There was discussion amongst the Selectmen in regards to bypassing the Town Meeting. Having a Town Meeting would be very cumbersome to say the least, with the amount of people logging into Zoom as well as all the boards.
Kuhnly indicated he is comfortable with this sale. We have followed the process up to now and there has been no written communication about this. King agrees, there has been no controversy. Neumann agrees, we have not heard from any property owners. Town people would enjoy the redesign. Ballard agrees, take advantage of this opportunity. Ohannessian indicated the state wants it now. He doesn’t like jumping over the Charter. There has been no controversy so we have the authority and it is good for the Town. He is in favor.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (4-1-0) (Ballard voted no) to find the following:
That there is a need to act immediately and during the period of the declared public health and civil preparedness emergency, in order to avoid endangering public health and welfare or prevent significant financial loss,
And that such action is otherwise necessary for the protection of persons and property within the municipality.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize the sale of a portion of the properties at 4, 11, and 15 North Granby Road and 3 East Granby Road to the Department of Transportation for $27,700 and authorizes Town Administrator to sign all necessary document(s).
John D. Ward Town Manager