MAY 17, 2021
The public hearing was called to order at 6:45 p.m.
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, Town Manager William F. Smith, Jr.
Kuhnly stated the purpose was for the Neighborhood Assistance Act Program and the submission of proposals. He asked the Vice Chairman to read the Legal Notice.
King read the legal notice as published in the Hartford Courant.
Sandra Yost, Director of Human Services, noted she is the liaison for the Neighborhood Assistant Act Program for the Town of Granby. This year, one application was received from the Foxfield F.A.R.M. Corporation in support of its equine program for the military.
Mr. Regan of Foxfield F.A.R.M. noted this is the third year they have applied for the tax credit through this program, and it has been very helpful to businesses and corporations. Northwest Community Bank has been very supportive of their request and decided to donate $1,000 to their program. Due to the tax act credit, they have been able to donate $8,500 as they would receive $1,500 in a tax credit.
There was no other public comment. There were no questions from the board.
On A Motion by Ohannessian, seconded by Neumann, the board voted to close the Public Hearing at 6:52 p.m.
May 17, 2021
The Regular Meeting of the Board of Selectmen was called to order by First Selectman B. Scott Kuhnly at 7 p.m.
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, William F. Smith Jr., Town Manager; and John Bell, Student Liaison. Also present: Kimi Cheng, Director of Finance
Ballard requested the public be allowed to speak during the board’s discussion on feeding of wildlife. Kuhnly noted the public will be allowed to speak after the Board of Selectmen.
Valerie Eastwood, 10 Haven Drive, who spoke at the last board meeting, provided an update on her dog Murphy who was attacked by a bear. He has had multiple surgeries since the last meeting and so far, she has $12,000 in veterinarian bills. Two real estate lawyers have informed her she would need to disclose the incident to any prospective buyers.
Thomas Bunz, 234 Mountain Road, is in support of an ordinance banning the feeding of wildlife. He noted there is more than one problem feeder in the community and the bears have become too habituated to people. He feels the situation needs to be handled as quickly and safely as possible.
Meg Bunz, 234 Mountain Road, noted her neighbor feeds the bears and they cannot go outside any time of day and when they do, they need to carry bear whistles and horns. She is in favor of an ordinance against the feeding of bears and believes the ACO and the police need more tools to handle the situation.
Joe Rubin, 7 Schoolhouse Road, believes it is time to put some rules in place to prevent people from endangering the safety of others. He feels it is time to do this before there is a serious tragedy.
Elizabeth Hardersen, 41 Twilight Drive, provided the board with a petition in favor of an ordinance. The petition has been circulating since 2019 and has been signed by 438 individuals. She shared some stories that individuals have told her, including one of a woman who feeds feral cats and attracts coyotes and bears. Hardersen believes it is time for an ordinance.
Audrey Lampert, 120 Loomis Street, believes everyone should be in agreement that humans have habituated the bears. It’s not good for Granby and it’s not good for the bears. She feels a feeding ordinance should be put in place to protect people, pets and bears.
Jeff Milne, 220 Mountain Road, lives very close to the individual who feeds the bears, and the issue is getting worse. He believes this is bad for the environment as well as the animals. He noted it is also a health and safety risk. He believes a car accident is inevitable on Mountain Road. The bears also bring down the real estate value of a home. He supports using the blight ordinance against those who feed bears and he supports Granby adopting an ordinance as soon as possible.
Sarah Ryan, 15 Halwood Drive, believes the ordinance should be across the board against the feeding of all wildlife not just bears. They recently had a bear follow them while walking their dog, a few days later a neighbor’s chickens were attacked and there was a recent sighting of a bobcat. She would like the town to look at the trash barrels that are used by residents.
Kristin Flynt, Morningside Drive, voiced support for an ordinance and hopes the Board of Selectmen acts quickly. It makes sense for the safety of people, animals and pets.
Peter Bryanton, 5 Sullivan Drive, believes it is time to adopt a feeding ban as the issue has gotten out of hand.
Jason Norton, 116 Quarry Road, is in full support of banning feeding wildlife, but would like something in place to protect individuals who actively trap animals for recreation and fur bearing. He would like to make sure there isn’t something in place that bars people from doing this. He is in support of preventing people from feeding just to get animals in their yard.
Katharine Dalton, 18 Halwood Drive, noted she doesn’t let her child walk to the bus and she thanked the board for taking this ordinance seriously.
Kuhnly closed public session at 7:27 p.m. and thanked everyone for their comments. Under “Tabled Business” the Board and the Town Manager will speak and the public will then be able to speak again.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to re-order the agenda and place Item H after Selectmen Reports.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the Board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the Regular Meeting of May 3.
Unfinished Or Tabled Business
Further Discussion on Feeding of Wildlife (Bears)
Kuhnly noted the Selectmen have a copy of Simsbury’s ordinance prohibiting the intentional feeding of wildlife, as well as a draft of an ordinance previously created by the Town that was never discussed. The draft notes a $50 fine can be levied but CGS741 notes a maximum fine of an ordinance is $250.
Smith believes an ordinance will help prevent the abuses of intentional feeding reported in the Public Session but won’t stop the bears. The ordinance is similar to the town blight ordinance, but he believes a $50 fine is too modest and a fine should be applied for every offense.
Neumann is in favor of taking action regarding an ordinance against feeding bears. In addition, he also believes it is a state issue and its help is needed to make this truly effective. By joining neighboring towns in creating an ordinance, the state will realize there is an issue.
King noted it is time for a bear ordinance and Simsbury’s ordinance is a little more comprehensive.
Ohannessian pointed out this is a very specific issue involving two or three individuals and the State has no regulation against the feeding of bears. He is concerned an ordinance would have unintended consequences and questioned whether a specific house or street can be targeted. He questioned the tolerance for enforcing an ordinance and whether the town file a lawsuit after the fines are put in place. He does agree with looking at it as a blight issue.
Ballard believes intentional and unintentional feeding should be treated separately. He would like to determine if an ordinance against intentional feeding is necessary or if the town can take someone to court. He would like to prevent unintentional feeding before it happens with measures such as subsidizing bear barrels; require secure dumpsters; track and measure the effectiveness of ordinances; get data from DEEP; inquire what can be done about intentional feeders.
First Selectman Kuhnly noted that common sense cannot be regulated and banning of bird feeders may not result in much of a change. He feels there needs to be something in place that targets the intentional feeding of bears. There are too many bears and the state needs to control the population. He would like to look at the ordinance regarding blight as an avenue to dealing with this issue.
Kirk Severance, Director of Public Works, noted DPW has sold all but four of the bear barrels and the price has gone up. A regular trash barrel costs between $50 and $60, while the bear barrels cost approximately $280. The cost of a bear barrel would be the difference between the two.
Ohannessian noted if an ordinance is passed, he would like to have a sunset provision that would allow the town to take an individual to court quickly. Whatever is put in place needs to work for those people that this issue directly affects.
Smith will consult with the town attorney before the next meeting. The public was given the opportunity to address the board after the discussion.
Milne agrees with a fine for violating the ordinance as well as including the Town Attorney fees and enforcement costs.
Lampert noted the issue we are trying to address is the habituation of bears. She noted a state bear hunt reduces the bear population and changes behavior overall. She believes the data of whether ordinances work is available.
Eric Meyers, 22 Barn Door Hills Road, noted regulations are being put in place for the actions of a few and that doesn’t work. He believes a state ordinance to ban bear feeding that is controlled by the state would be more effective than going with a town-by-town ordinance.
Rubin is in favor of putting something in place. Doing nothing lets offenders know their behavior is acceptable. He doubts we would be able to get something passed on the State level.
Hardersen noted Hartland used a zoning law that was able to put the bear baiter out of business and he is no longer in town.
Eastwood pointed out her family has been harmed financially and their property value has decreased. She agrees with an ordinance limiting the time when bird feeders can be out and asked the board to consider an ordinance as a public safety issue.
Ryan noted Northampton has had a wildlife feeding ordinance since 2012 that allows for bird feeding and has specific language within the ordinance which is different from Simsbury’s. In addition, it provides people time to correct their behavior before the fines are imposed. She thought it might be a good reference and they may have some data since it’s been place for a while.
T. Bunz believes action needs to be taken when there is a significant issue. There hasn’t been a clear solution presented that would do a better job than an ordinance. It is time to do something.
M. Bunz noted her children are afraid to go outside of their own home. She would like to see both sides work together.
Consideration of Proposals for Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit
On A Motion by Ohannessian, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the application received at the Public Hearing held earlier this evening.
Consideration of Approval for Alcohol at Park House for a Private Party
The Town Manager reported the Director of Recreation and Leisure Services has received a request to hold a 70th family birthday party at the Park House and the regulation requires a motion and vote from the board to approve the use of alcohol at the park on July 16.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the Board voted (5-0-0) to approve the use of the Park House for hosting an event at the Park House on July 16, and the dispensing of alcohol at this event as identified.
Consideration of Capital Equipment Loan
Smith noted each year the budget includes funds for capital equipment purchases and lease purchases of equipment. Inquiries are made to various banks when a loan is needed. Liberty Bank offered an interest rate of 2.6 percent for a four-and one-half-year loan agreement and Westfield Bank offered an interest rate of 1.75 percent for the same time period.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the motion as written.
WHEREAS, the Town of Granby has entered or is entering into Equipment Lease/Purchase Agreements (“Promissory Note”) and Loan Agreements in an amount up to $683,000 for four and one-half years and $91,000 for two years with the Westfield Bank;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that these Agreements are hereby approved, and that the action of the official of the Town of Granby in signing these Agreements on behalf of it be, and is hereby, ratified, confirmed, and approved; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Town Manager of the Town of Granby, be, and is hereby authorized, empowered, and directed to sign on its behalf the Agreements and any addenda, schedules, notes, loans and security agreement, UCC financing statements, disbursement authorization, or other instruments issued under the provisions of the Agreement, and any other instruments or documents which may be necessary or expedient in connection with agreements upon or in fulfillment of the provisions of the Agreements.
Consideration of Connecticut Department of Transportation Grant Award
Smith explained the Department of Transportation provides the town with a grant for senior transportation and the grant requires a 50 percent match, which is provided in the current budget for Senior Van Services. The grant has been awarded since FY2006-07 and is $28,641 for each year, matched by 50 percent from the current budget.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted to approve the State of CT Department of Transportation Grant Award for $28,641.
Consideration of Transfer to Suspense
Each year the town requests the transfer of certain unattainable tax money to Suspense for accounting purposes. After making several attempts to procure the money, most of which is motor vehicle tax from individuals who have moved out of state, the total amount reported by the Tax Collector is moved to Suspense.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted (5-0-0) to transfer $26,677.87 from the suspense pending list to the Suspense Tax Book.
Consideration of Election Grants Budget Amendment
The town received monies from the state for additional expenses related to the election that were not budgeted in FY2020-21.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Ohannessian, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve increases of the following accounts in the General Fund Budget: Miscellaneous Revenue by $11,670; Payroll Temp/PT – Town Clerk Operations by $4,670; Elections – Town Clerk Operations by $2,465.37; Postage
– Town Clerk Operations by $1,000; Payroll-Temp/PT in Election Services by $2,800; and Polling Place Activity – Election Services by $734.63; and forwards this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
Town Manager Reports
Smith reported there are no issues of concern and tax collections are steady. Cheng noted the town received the last 50 percent of the ECS (Education Cost Sharing) money in April.
Ballard inquired about an update on Goman + York regarding Kearns. Smith noted he had a quick conversation with them and there is an interested party. More information will be available at a later date.
Ballard also asked if there was an update regarding the search for a new Town Manager. Smith noted Kerry Kielbasa was provided with a draft of the information regarding the search process.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to ratify the GMEA contract,
William F. Smith Jr. Town Manager