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Select Board Minutes 12/21/11
Members present:        Mark Karlberg, Jeanne Pryor, George Fuller

Others Present: Craig Kleman, Bill & Maddy Elovirta, Colleen O’Connor, Karen Karlberg, Brenda & Eric Dean, Jim Russell – The Berkshire Record, Beth VanNess, David Devane, Ann Krawet

7:02 PM Meeting opened.

Mark asked if anyone from the audience was recording this meeting.  No one is audio taping the meeting.

Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: None.

Town Administrator’s Report: Mark advised that all of the items on the Town Administrator report are covered on the agenda so they will take them up then.

George motioned to accept the minutes of the joint meeting with the Finance Committee on December 1, 2011, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  George asked Bill Elovirta if he pulled any trucks over for speeding the other day when he was on Route 20 by the turnpike bridge.  Bill advised that he did not.  George feels that the Select Board should have asked the trucking companies to come before them to defend themselves against the accusations of speeding instead of sending them letters.  Briefly discussed trucks speeding along Route 20.  George asked if the police department could be out at 7:30 a.m. to see if there are trucks speeding on Fred Snow and Johnson Roads.  Bill advised that he could get the officers in earlier to do this.  Jeanne motioned to accept the minutes of December 7, 2011, Mark seconded.  Motion passed.

Public Input: Colleen O’Connor stated that being a part of the public body during a public meeting, the public body has a right to a transparent and truthful Board.  The public body has the right to be treated respectfully and to expect the Board to follow state laws and the town bylaws.  She also stated that the public body should also expect a stone cold sober Board and to expect the minutes to be an objective transcription of what transpired at the meetings.  She stated that in the minutes of a past meeting it stated that the new police chief should have five years experience but she advised that it should be five years of education.  George stated that when Tony Blair was not reappointed, the attorney said the minutes should have everything that was said in case the town was sued.  Mark advised that he does not agree with the attorney.  He stated that the minutes just need to be a summation of the meeting.

Brenda Dean asked if there was a decision made about the health insurance issue.  Craig advised that this would be discussed under other business because it did not make the agenda.

Craig advised that the DOER has extended the Green Community Technical Assistance Grant to June 30, 2011 so BRPC needs this contract amended to state that the project would need to be completed by June 30, 2012.  George motioned to sign the BRPC Contract Amendment – Green Community Technical Assistance Grant, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Craig advised that he has sent the revised Green Communities Grant Application to the woman at DOER to see if she would go along with these proposals.  Briefly discussed the energy audits that were done at town hall and the highway garage and what is proposed at each location.

George motioned to adopt the Remote Participation at meetings covered by the Open Meeting Law, Jeanne seconded.  Jeanne wants to make sure that the person who is attending the meeting remotely can hear everyone who is speaking at the meeting.  The Select Board will need to use a speaker phone and also the microphone system at the meeting so that everyone can hear everything that is said during the meetings.  Jeanne amended the motion to include the use of a speaker phone and the microphone system so that everything could be heard by the party attending the meeting remotely, George seconded.  All in favor.  George motioned to adopt the amended Remote Participation at meetings covered by the Open Meeting Law, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Craig advised that Wired West would like something from the town that states it will have the second vote for the Municipal Light Plant at a future town meeting.  Jeanne would like this vote to be done at a special town meeting but if we do not have a special town meeting then she would like this done at the annual town meeting.  Jeanne motioned that Craig notify Wired West that the town is planning to  have the second vote for the Municipal Light Plant either at a special town meeting or at the annual town meeting in May, George seconded.  All in favor.  George asked Craig if he knew where they would be putting the box of their equipment in town.  Craig advised that he thinks they are going to put the hub at the Becket Athenaeum but they are still looking at fire station #1 and at town hall.
The Select Board reviewed the letter from Massachusetts Clean Energy Center regarding forfeiture of Wind Turbine Feasibility Grant.  Craig advised that he received a letter that reminds the town that Becket’s extension of the MassCEC forfeiture deadline by which it must show that the proposed wind project is in compliance with local bylaws would be expiring on December 31, 2011.  He also advised that because the planning board failed to receive waivers from the seven surrounding towns it cannot go forward with amendments to the large wind turbine bylaw.  Ann Krawet advised that Blandford did not seem to have an issue with the bylaws and expected the waiver to be submitted shortly.  She explained that the seven surrounding towns were never notified in the very beginning when the wind turbine bylaw was written so they were sent waivers to sign if they did not have any issues with it.  Jeanne asked Ann if the planning board notified Blandford about the waiver.  She advised that Bob Ronzio has been in contact with Blandford but there have been no questions or responses about the bylaws.  Craig advised that because the town did not amend the bylaws the grant will die on the vine.

Mark advised that at the last Select Board meeting someone questioned why Berkshire Berries should have an all alcoholic restaurant license when they do not have a restaurant and does not have operating hours.  He spoke with David Graves on Saturday and said he would make mention that Mr. Graves has all of the equipment to make and serve food at his establishment.  George asked why they could not put this on hold until there is more research done.  Nina advised that all of the liquor license renewals needed to be sent to the ABCC by December 31, 2011 so they could not hold off on this.  Mark advised that the ABCC sent the town’s liquor license quota and there are 14 annual all alcoholic restaurant licenses available but only 4 are being used so there is no issue right now.  George motioned to sign liquor license renewal application for Berkshire Berries for an annual all alcoholic restaurant license, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the letter from residents at 524 Silver Leaf Drive requesting that the Select Board reduce or waive the false alarm fines.  George wanted to know why they would waive the fine or reduce it.  Bill Elovirta explained the problem he is having with people registering their alarm systems.  He did not know these residents had an alarm system until the police department was dispatched to the house.  George and Mark have a problem reducing the fine because for three days straight there were two false alarms per day and the caretaker should have taken care of the issue.  Jeanne asked if their alarm system is registered now.  Bill advised that it is.  Jeanne motioned to reduce the fine to $450.  No one seconded the motion.  Bill advised that many homes that have alarms systems do not have a local key holder.  This makes it difficult for the police department because if it is a fire alarm, the police department would need to decide if there was actually a fire before they break into the house.  They might break into a home because of a faulty fire alarm.  George asked if the home owners could give the police department a key to get into the home.  Bill advised that the home owner could request a house watch from the police department which would mean they would need to give the police a number of a responsible person who would be called if there was an alarm at the home.  They could also have a local key holder that could come when there was an alarm.  Jeanne motioned to reduce the false alarm fee to $450 for residents at 524 Silver Leaf Drive with a letter sent to them asking that they either have a local key holder or request a house watch from the police department, George seconded.  All in favor.

The Select Board reviewed email from building inspector regarding appointment to the Board of Survey.  Craig advised that the Board of Survey is for when there is an unsafe structure.  The building inspector wants this board to advise whether or not it agrees with his decisions regarding unsafe buildings.  The Board of Survey should consist of three people; a disinterested person, the fire chief and a surveyor.  Bill Girard was supposed to call and ask some people if they were interested in being appointed to this Board but he has not done that yet and he is on vacation next week.  Craig suggests the Select Board table this until the next meeting.

The Select Board reviewed the monthly report of the building inspector.

Any other business: Craig advised that a former highway employee passed away and he had a question about survivor benefits.  He surveyed other towns to see how they handle this and most towns have the survivor pay 100% of the cost.  The town in the past has had the survivor pay the percentage that was in effect when their spouse retired but there is no written policy stating that.  Craig stated that they could continue with the town paying 84% and the survivor paying 16% or they could have the survivor pay 100% like the other towns in Berkshire County.  Bill Elovirta stated that it has always been that the survivor pays the amount that was in effect when their spouse retired and if this is going to be changed then it should be done at a town meeting.  Craig advised that the Select Board has the power to change the percentage that the survivor pays for health insurance.  Colleen O’Connor is against verbal agreements and feels that this should be established as policy.  George motioned to leave the survivor benefits the same as it has been until it goes to a special or annual town meeting, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  Brenda Dean stated that Craig was very nasty to her when she phoned him about this issue and wanted the Select Board to know that.  He replied that he always acts in a professional way and she is entitled to her opinion.

Craig advised that he received a letter from MIIA that states that there will be no increase for the Workers’ Comp or Property & Casualty insurance for FY 2013 and there will be no more than a 2.5% increase for FY 2014.  Jeanne motion to approve the renewal proposal from MIIA for Workers’ Comp and Property & Casualty Insurance, George seconded.  All in favor.

Craig advised that he will be on vacation next week and he would like to appoint Nina as the acting town administrator while he was gone.  George motioned that while Craig is on vacation that Nina Weiler be the acting town administrator, Mark seconded.  Jeanne abstained.  Motion passed.

Colleen O’Connor asked if a building collapses, how long does the owner have to clean it up.  The Select Board advised that the building inspector/code enforcer would be the one to ask.  George asked if Craig knew what was happening to the house over by the lake that had a fire and he advised that Bill was working on it.

Briefly discussed the liquor license quota from the ABCC.

Reviewed correspondence.

8:30 PM George motioned to adjourn, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

Respectfully submitted,                                                         _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary                                                          Mark L. Karlberg, Chairman

Documents discussed at meeting:

  • BRPC Contract Amendment – Green Community Technical Assistance Grant
  • Remote Participation of Open Meetings – Changes to 940 CMR 29.00
  • Letter from Wired West regarding the second vote for the Municipal Light Plant
  • Letter from MassCEC regarding forfeiture of Wind Turbine Feasibility Grant