Minutes of the Select Board
Meeting location: Town offices
Date: November 21, 2019
Meeting opened: 7:00 pm. Meeting adjourned: 9:00 pm
Members present: Jay Jacobs, Kathy Scott, Andrea Hodson
Members of the public: Hannah Smith, David Blair, Ranae O’Neil, Aaron Gibson, Sarah Atwood, Donna Sprague, Don Scott, State Senator Jay Kahn, Kathy Bollerud, David Thompson
Residents and Guests
Standard Power– The town’s energy broker, represented by Hannah Smith, presented contract options to the SB as follows: 12-months at 8.595, 24-months at 8.387 and a 36-month rate of 8.298. No contract means the town defers to the utility default service rate. The town’s previous contract rate was at 8.878. Ms. Smith shared a spreadsheet of the contracted rate compared to the utility rate, the monthly savings over the past few years, and how much the town is saving, noting the utility rate varies. Eversource’s current rate is 8.825. The quoted rates from Standard Power will be available for about a week. The SB will respond to Standard Power within this time.
For the future, the SB also may consider an aggregate rate, which Standard Power offers as an option with either the Monadnock Region or the southern tier of NH. Ms. Smith will email the SB about the next available date to enroll in an aggregate contract. She also mentioned a new initiative called Community Power, wherein towns would have the option to buy utility contracts for all residents. Jay Jacobs noted that Ned Hulbert of the Planning Board was exploring this.
State Senator Jay Kahn– Senator Kahn updated the board on his upcoming legislative initiatives. He has 25 bills he is introducing and others coming out of study committees on issues including foster care, education, broadband, and changing, by Warrant Article, the Town Clerk position to an appointed rather than an elected position. Jay Jacobs mentioned his interest in the latter for Harrisville. The senator welcomes the support to help get this passed.
Senator Kahn is pushing for federal government assistance for broadband in rural areas, noting that the Chesterfield bonding model is now recognized nationwide. He also spoke to a home improvement tax exemption initiative (79-E) that would allow towns to grant tax exemptions for 5-7 years under a historic and economic exemption for improvements to historic homes. Towns would decide whether or not to allow this exemption, which would be allowable for homes valued at 50% of the median home value, with the goal of supporting affordable housing.
The SB asked about any state initiative to increase the gas tax or road and bridge infrastructure funding. The Senator replied not at this time. The board asked the senator to find out why the town would have to pay for a flashing speed limit sign on State Route 137, at Hancock Road, which the Transportation Committee and town seek to make safer. Regarding this question and the board’s request for help from the state DOT to paint white shoulder lines, Mr. Kahn recommended the board reach out to John Kallfelz at the DOT Fourth Division.
Kathy Bollerud, representing the streetlight committee, asked Senator Kahn for support or advice on working with Eversource to allow LED bulbs at the EOL rate plan in the refurbished radial wave fixtures. Mr. Kahn suggested the committee check the PUC website regularly for the posting of their public hearing dates.
Kathy Scott asked for help at the state level to get an updated guide for local Historic District Commissions, as the last edition was published by the State Preservation Office in 1981. Mr. Kahn said he would explore this through the Office of Strategic Initiatives (formerly OEP), which publishes handbooks for Zoning and Planning Boards.
South Road Residents– Dave Thompson and David Blair attended to follow up with the SB on the status of South Road bridge. The SB explained that the bridge’s substructure retains a rating of 4 and remains red-listed because this portion was never removed. The board emphasized that this is not the bridge in use and that the overbridge is structurally sound and safe, but has to be called temporary for state engineering reasons. Kathy Scott explained the process for funding eligibility through the state and the SB noted that it will revisit the need for any repairs, and the need to apply for 80/20, in 2025. As a matter of routine, the state looks at all bridges every year. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Blair noted the residents are worried that, should repairs be needed before this time, matching funds may not be available if a Warrant Article needs to be passed. The board assured them it would address any infrastructure problem should one arise.
Brown Road– Mr. Gibson and Ms. Atwood requested permission from the SB to live in a motor home at 124 Brown Road. They showed the necessary documentation, including provisions made for septic removal and for water. The RV currently is located in Troy but may require vehicle registration here. Following further discussion, Jay Jacobs moved, under Article 4.1.16, to allow Aaron Gibson and Sarah Atwood to occupy a recreational vehicle at 124 Brown, for a period not to exceed 90 days and in accordance with the town’s parking regulations. As a parallel process, the applicants are in discussions with the Building Inspector to pursue a permanent situation.
Departments and Committees
Sesquicentennial Committee– Ranae O’Neil updated the SB on committee activities and work, including that an article has been drafted for Common Threads; Pegg Monahan and Carl Carter are in charge of fundraising; Save the Date cards are going out; and a Facebook page has been created. The SB will serve as the dedication committee. The next meeting of all committees is December 17th. The Traffic Safety Committee will meet with Ms. O’Neil on Monday, Dec 2nd, at 9:00 am at town offices to discuss road and pedestrian safety during the celebration.
Fire Department– The SB supports the Fire Chief’s recommendation for Fire Extinguisher inspections. SB also approved the posting of the Occupancy limit to 48 in the Office Conference Room.
Recycling Center– Andrea Hodson will get quotes for the printing of vehicle stickers which, beginning in January, will be sold at $10 per household through the Select Board’s Office.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the SB will meet Tuesday, November 26, at 9:00 am.