Cavendish Select Board Meeting 4/9/18

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Select board (SB) meetings are recorded by Okemo Valley TV and are available at their website and on Comcast Television.  Written minutes are available at the town’s website. The following action was discussed/taken at Monday night’s meeting:

Telecommunications: The Cavendish Telecommunications Committee has recently learned that Comcast has yet to sign the contract with the state to connect the Tarbell Hill/Knapp Pond area of Cavendish. In August 2017, the state awarded Comcast a grant to help address the un served/under served areas of town. There is no date by which they need to sign the contract, but the state reserves the right to revoke the grant. The issue of net neutrality may be an issue for the company, but because their grant award was prior to April 1, 2018, when Vermont’s net neutrality bill goes into place, it would not affect them.

Cavendish is being encouraged to become part of a “Broadband” or “Communications” District. Operating similarly to the solid waste districts, this would include several towns joining together to offer broadband service. An example of this is ECFiber. Currently, there is grant funding available from Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

TDS has been talking to a member of the Telecommunications Committee and while work will be made to expand and upgrade services in Cavendish (implementation 2019), it wont provide the high speeds many feel are necessary. TDS has found, as has a Vermont’s study, that people will pay for the lowest possible Internet cost, preferring consistency in service and good customer relations over higher speeds but of poorer quality.

The SB agreed to have the representative from TDS come to their May meeting to discuss what TDS’s plans are for Cavendish.

 Liquor License: Approved Neal’s Restaurant for a liquor license

VELCO Waiver: VELCO has requested a waiver of the full 45-day notice requirement regarding the substation on Quent Phelen Road.  As part of the NextEra  Coolidge Solar project, VELCO needs to build a connection between their plant and the Solar project. Note that Ranger Solar, the company that obtained the state permit, has been sold to NextEra. The Ludlow project, called Coolidge Solar, will be the biggest solar facility in Vermont at 20 megawatts, and would cover close to 100 acres with solar panels. In order to keep this project on tract, the start date is Oct. 1, VELCO is asking the town to wave the 45 notice period required by Vermont’s Public Utility Commission. Because this project is currently working to obtain its “certificate of public good,” there are opportunities for review and comments. The SB approved the request for the waiver.

Paving Projects: Directly tied to the VELCO and Solar project is the repaving of Twenty Mile Stream and Quent Phelen Rd. This estimated cost of this project is $238,000. Cavendish is second in line for state funds for paving. This grant will be $175,000 and the town has $75,000-$80,000 in their paving fund. Since there would be sufficient funding for the project, the issue is when to do it since the roads could be heavily damaged by trucks hauling in concrete, panels and other equipment necessary to build the solar park as well as the connectors between VELCO and the solar field. It is recommended that the town put in writing to VELCO and NextEra that they are responsible for any road damage. Further, paving wouldn’t be done until after the majority of the work for the solar project has been completed. Consideration was also given to asking NextEra for $50,000 right up front for expected road repair.

SB members noted that there may be other roads in town that are in worse shape. Brendan McNamara, town manager, said that this is still preliminary discussions and they would be meeting with the town crew to discuss which roads need immediate work.

Tax Sales: McNamara sought the board’s approval for having the town’s attorney handle tax sales, including the auction of property. Cavendish is one of the few towns that has been handling this in house, and because of the legal nature of the business, it was thought that it would be in the town’s best interest to have this handled by the attorney. This would not cost the town anything as the sale of property is to recoup town losses and would include legal fees. The SB voted to have the town’s attorney handle tax sales from now on.

Currently 723 Main Street (formally Horahan) is owned by the town and will be going up for sale at a tax auction, which will now be handled by the town attorney’s. Not including the attorney’s fees, the town needs to recoup $65,000. The house will be sold as is, including contents, which are considerable, in both the house and barn.

Replacement of Culvert on 131: As part of the repaving project for route 131, slated for 2021, the culvert in front of Glimmerstone needs to be replaced. While the majority of these costs will be born by the state, because there is a town sewer line lying on top of the box culvert, the town is responsible for engineering and associated costs for how the line will operate during the construction and installation phase. The SB was asked to review the document provided by the state.

Energy Coordinator/Asst. Town Health Officer: With the passing of Rich Svec, Energy Coordinator, McNamara was appointed to assume this responsibility. He was also appointed to be Asst. Town Health Officer as the state requires that for him to be involved in site visits, and other public health related activities, he needs to be dully sanctioned by the town. Cavendish’s Health Officer is Doris Eddy.

Transfer Station: The SB approved the expansion of the Transfer Stations hours from 10-2 on Sundays to 10-5. This change will be tried for three months. A start date has yet to be named, but consideration is being given to May 5 weekend. The new hours will be posted to the Cavendish VT Facebook page and in various other locations as soon as notification has been received.

Also discussed was the possibility of selling disposal tickets at the transfer station since there are currently only two places in town where they are available- Singleton’s and the Town Office. Also noted was that Howard Merritt (Speedy) is stepping back and is getting ready to retire from his position at the transfer station.

Townscape (flags): A letter from Julia Gignoux and Carolyn Solzhenitsyn was read to the board by Bruce McEnaney, Asst. Town Manager. In the spirit of celebrating our small villages of Proctorsville and Cavendish, we have formed a committee to start the process of funding an initiative to hang American flags from utility poles lining Main Street in Cavendish and Proctorsville.  We plan to use grants, as well as business and individual donations to fund the project. We feel the flags would improve the looks of the villages,  slow down traffic, let people know they are in a village, and stir up small-town patriotic pride. McEnaney has volunteered to work on obtaining permission from Green Mountain Power and Ludlow Electric for the use of the poles. The Proctorsville Fire Department has agreed to hang the flags and the Cavendish Historical Society has offered to store the flags during the winter months. The SB approved the project.

 Other Town Business

• The Planning Commission is looking for more members. If interested, please contact Brendan McNamara-226-7291

• The town’s new backhoe arrives on April 10

• Green Up Day is May 5th (Saturday)

• June 16 (Saturday) from 2-4 is the celebration of life for Rich Svec as well as the dedication of the Proctorsville Green. This event is open to the public.