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JANUARY 2001 SELECTBOARD NEWS

 

TOWN VOTES "NO" ON STUDY

Voters overwhelmingly decided that it wasn’t time for users to pay for the study of expanding the wastewater plant. The reasons were many but they boiled down to: 1) too may bonds out there already, 2) development in the growth center not wanted at this time, 3) development projects would receive direct benefits, 4) too much growth already in the town, 5) the "not less than one-third acre" requirement within the growth center is unattractive, and 6) most likely a few more reasons. There were also some accusations that the Board showed favoritism to projects over individuals and the school. Whatever the Board did in developing the town sewer ordinance and accepting applications, there was always unanimous consent by the board members. Those who think otherwise should check how members voted and approved applications. There’s also the perception that the Workman-Modica project received special consideration. This is of course untrue. The Board recognized the size of the project, the permit process, and its own ordinance, which is written with two phases. The preliminary phase allows an applicant to request allocations pending approval of all federal, state, and local permits. The requirement is that a non-refundable allocation fee is required as down payment and permits must be in hand before the completion of one year. If permits are not in hand before the expiration of that one year, then the allocation fee is retained by the Town and all allocations are withdrawn. Phase two is the final approval state, which undergoes additional scrutiny only after all permits are in hand. The Workman-Modica project is complicated. The project engineer requested some consideration of phase one requirements given fees paid up front are non-refundable and the permitting process might not be completed before the one year expires. The Board unanimously decided that it would accept a 10% down payment of the $15,000 required, but required permits would have to be in hand within eight months instead of 12.

A second criticism of the Board is that it should have taken into consideration the school’s needs and other individual projects. This criticism is unfounded because the Board did take into consideration the school and other needs. These questions were asked. There is no previous study to draw upon. That’s one of the reasons to request a study—to determine school growth requirements that could be set aside for the future along with any special needs such as the recreation project. The School Board has not identified its future sewer requirement because it is still attempting to identify it. Given that no study was at hand and no set policy establishing an order of precedence, the Board voted unanimously to use the first come, first serve rule.

Another criticism of the Board is that it is promoting growth on small lots and within growth centers. The Board does not have independent authority to change the language as set forth in the Zoning By-Laws and Subdivision Regulations. The voters approve these documents, and it is here that the language describing the growth center and multi-purpose growth center is found. It is also here that language is found establishing the "no less than one-third acre" requirement. If this is not what the voters intended they should not have approved these documents. But they did, and that’s what guides the Selectboard.

The selectboard has spent many hours debating, researching, writing and coordinating the need for a sewer ordinance and future needs of the community. The use of the Joint Board forum (School Board, Development Review Board, Planning Commission and Selectboard) has been used to develop requirements. It is not the responsibility of the Selectboard to identify School requirements or future allocation requirements. That’s why other boards exist.

Finally the Board has a responsibility to pursue funding of this need through grants. Consequently the Board approved meeting with the Community Development and Rural Development managers to determine "grant money" availability. This meeting was arranged before the 8 Jan 02 vote. After the vote, the Board desired to know "grant status", so approval was given to proceed with the meeting. The meeting place was the conference room of the Fairfax Library at 10 A.M. 16 Jan 02. Since both organizations tie their grants to housing needs and development, the Workman-Modica project was invited to attend that meeting to answer questions that might arise. Also at the meeting were the town Sewer Operator, Northwest Regional Planning Commission and a representative of the Selectboard. Results of that meeting require the Board to make application for grant money to at two granting agencies. A discussion on this approach is scheduled for a future meeting.

GOODALL ROAD

Since the last report on this subject, the Board requested a legal review of its procedures in designating Goodall Rd a town "class 3" road from its town lawyer. Apparently the 1999 Selectboard followed improper procedures and made some assumptions, which have proved to be erroneous. The biggest assumption was that the Town had the right to name this right of way a road by virtue of its maintaining and upgrading it. That was an incorrect assumption on the part of the Board. The bottom line is that Goodall Rd does not exist. What does exist is right-of-way (ROW) to the town to access the fire station. Specifically, Fairfax purchased 1.55 acres with a 50-foot right of way from Robert Young and Marlene Tillery in 1987. On July 13, 1988, the selectboard requested permission from the Zoning Board of Authority (ZBA) to construct a fire station on a private right of way. The ZBA required that the town have control of the use of the ROW. In furtherance of the ZBA’s decision, a revised right of way, 25 feet in width, was deeded to the town. By acceptance of this deed, the town of Fairfax agreed to the right of way modification as set forth in the deed. The intent of the Board in doing what it did was to increase the mileage of "class 3" roads thereby securing more state funding. What should have been accomplished and must be completed is the following:

The selectmen shall promptly appoint a time and date both for examining and hearing the persons interested, and give thirty days’ notice to the petitioners, and to persons owning or interested in lands through which the highway may pass or abut, of the time when they will inspect the site and receive testimony.

They shall also give notice to any municipal planning commission in the town, post a copy of the notice in the office of the town clerk, and cause notice to be published in a local newspaper of general circulation in the area not less than ten days before the time set for the hearing.

The notice shall be given by certified mail sent to the official residence of the person(s) required to be notified.

Consequently, the selectboard has decided to remove Goodall Road from its "class 3" road inventory.

That has been accomplished.

Whether to pursue re-establishing it as a "class 3" road has yet to be discussed.

ROADS IN GENERAL

The intersection of Rugg Road and Brick Church Road has had some healthy discussion lately. At issue is whether to place yield/stop signs where these roads intersect based upon feedback from residents. It was decided that yield signs would be placed there pending further assessment in the spring for stop signs.

Approval from the state designating Cadieux and Brick Church Roads "class 2" highways has been received. That means more dollars inputted to the highway budget of Fairfax from the state.

Chafee Road was reviewed for accessibility by Casella Trucking from both the Goose Pond Road and Shepardson Road access. It was determined there should be no difficulty in Casella conducting roadside trash collection pickups. A representative of Casella agreed to traverse this road, but he would use common sense if any safety concerns were to arise. These would be reported to the selectboard.

The Selectboard endorsed ensuring insurance coverage to our road crews if they should be sued for actions while in the performance of their highway duties. This was brought about by the recent Supreme Court decision that town road crewmembers can be held liable for causing accidents while working for the town.

A request by an engineer for a road cut on a six-unit development proposal on Fletcher road was tabled pending coordination by the engineer with our road foreman. At issue is the speed limit on Fletcher Road. In the absence of a speed zone ordinance that specifically covers Fletcher Road, the speed by law is 50 mph. That establishes a significant sight distance requirement, which may not be able to be currently met. The Board recognizes a reevaluation of the speed limit on this road is in order, but it has not decided what action it wants to take.

A stop sign was placed at the intersection of Coolum and Comette Roads. Request was initiated by a resident and evaluated by the road foreman. The need arose from increased traffic coming from Fletcher.

ATTORNEY FEES.

Charles Storrow, an attorney representing the Town of Fairfax in the appeal by William Bowman of a Development Review Board decision, has notified the Board that Mr. Bowman is asking that Mr. Storrow be disqualified for conflict of interest. The outcome of the conflict of interest has yet to be decided, but when the court rules, the Board must be prepared to take action. Given the request by Mr. Bowman, Mr. Storrow asked the Board if they wished him to continue under this circumstance. The Board agreed he should continue to represent the Town until a decision is finalized.

RECYCLING.

Casella Waste Management briefed the Board it would be distributing the 2002 recycling schedule. Included with the schedule would be a calendar. It is the policy and desire of the Board that difficulties with rubbish removal or recycling be communicated to one of the Board members. It is our responsibility to resolve difficulties with the contractor, and as such we should be given hat opportunity.

WATER.

Randy Devine reported that a leak in the service line to a resident business was repaired. Although it was repaired timely, the recommendation was made that a fee should be established under those circumstances where the homeowner/business be unwilling to repair a break in a timely manner. Randy further reported a developer on River Road might request the Town take over the ownership and operation of two hydrants put in place. Consideration of that was made.