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Minutes of Board of Selectmen, 10/19/2020

AGENDA: Board of Selectmen

RECEIVED 10/26/2020 12:46pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Board of Selectmen
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
7:30 p.m.
Via Zoom

MINUTES

Present: Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman; Peg O’Donnell, Selectwoman; Michael Thompson, Selectman.

Also present: Members of the public joined the meeting in addition to members of Town staff.

1. Call to order

The First Selectwoman called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.

2. Approval of Minutes -Minutes of September 21, 2020

Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion to approve the 9/21/20 Meeting Minutes.

3. Public Comment

No comments.

4. Discussion and Possible Action: Public Safety Communication Project Update

First Selectwoman Pemberton noted receipt of a letter from Bennett Pardee regarding concerns and questions relating to the Public Safety Communication Project. Mrs. Pemberton reported that Steve Schnell will stay engaged on this project to ensure continuity. Staging is scheduled to begin 11/1 and the end date is projected to be end-of-year. The end-of-year end date is considered optimistic.

Bennett Pardee noted two letters he sent; one on behalf of RFD #1 and one from the working group meeting. Mr. Pardee stated that to his knowledge there is no power or pipes and no one has been out to dig for power. J. Pemberton stated that staging can commence without completed groundwork. The name of the new contact at Norcom will be forwarded to Mr. Pardee.
Once staging is complete and there’s confirmation that the equipment works, installation will begin. The project is next in the queue for the 11/1 staging.

The W. Redding tower cannot be used so the antenna will go on the peak of the side of the firehouse providing 95-96% of the desired coverage. Mr. Thompson recalled permitting issues when the existing pole was erected.

J. Pemberton will distribute the project details spreadsheet expected from Norcom tomorrow. The order of installation was reviewed. B. Pardee stated that there is $1 million worth of equipment sitting in boxes. He confirmed that the original five-year warrantee was obtained at a three-year warrantee cost. There are three years remaining on the warrantee. Mr. Pardee confirmed that pagers have been ordered by RFD #1 and Georgetown, however W. Redding has not ordered yet.

5. Discussion and Possible Action: Leash Ordinance

Re: dogs off leash on public property, Julia Pemberton stated that there is an ordinance adopted at a Special Town Meeting in 2013 re: dogs off leash on Topstone Park trails.

Bruce Given noted that the state requires a leash at state parks. He reiterated the Land Trust decision passed in June to require leashes on Land Trust property, also noting that Land Trust property co-exists with town land. J. Pemberton noted the difficulty for people to know the boundaries of Land Trust and town lands. Mr. Thompson stated that the state statutes impose strict liability on dog owners.

Stuart Green reported there has been good compliance and increased leashing recently. Mrs. O’Donnell confirmed that an ordinance would be reviewed at a Special Town Meeting. Mr. Given noted the need for a description of under leash and under control. J. Pemberton will ask Counsel.

First Selectwoman Pemberton suggested considering a rule instead of an ordinance. The Conservation Commission will be asked for input. Mr. Green noted the open space located in watersheds. Trails that traverse watershed properties need to be identified. Mr. Thompson stated that state law would supercede the need to leash a dog.

6. Discussion and Possible Action: Blight Ordinance

Roger Van Ausdal reviewed a PowerPoint presentation concerning formation of a blight prevention board. Mr. Van Ausdal noted that the proposed ordinance is modeled after the blight ordinance in Ridgefield. Julia Pemberton stated that blight needs to be defined. Mrs. O’Donnell noted this is not a black and white issue.

Mr. Thompson suggested a less specific definition of “blight” might provide more discretion to members of a blight prevention board. He noted the need to recognize the possibility of “hardship” when developing any ordinance. Mr. Thompson acknowledged that people would need to act in good faith together to make any blight ordinance work.

Mrs. O’Donnell questioned what the next step is if the Board decides to move forward. J. Pemberton stated that a Special Town Meeting would be required with a noticed public hearing before a vote. Town Counsel is reviewing the proposal which will be put on the next agenda.

7. Discussion and Possible Action: Capital Project Process and Review

The long-range planning and debt process was reviewed via a PowerPoint presentation submitted by Town Treasurer Wes Higgins. School projects have been added to the plan and a form has been developed to document projects. FY 21-22 plans were identified and costs reviewed.

A facilities director has been hired as a planned replacement. J. Pemberton stated that repairs will be able to be done in-house with the purchase of tools.

8. Appointments: Conservation Commission

Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to reappoint Tina Miller, Claire Matzke and Wallace Perlman to the Conservation Commission for a four-year term expiring 10/31/2024.

9. Community Connectivity Grant Application: Georgetown Main Street Streetscape

The grant application was screenshared and reviewed. First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that funds can only be used for construction. The timeline for results is currently unknown.

10. Public Comment

Ralph Bosch commented that the proposed link between NRVT and the Georgetown business area was left off the grant application.

Peter Bonfanti questioned if building parking at the old Redding Pilot building is part of a lease or municipal.

Mr. Bosch questioned how many blight cases have been handled in Ridgefield. He noted the time requirement for residents already serving on town boards or commissions. Mr. Bosch noted that a blight ordinance could apply to all of Gilbert & Bennett.

Dan Souza stated that town officials are already busy however noted that a board meeting would not likely require a monthly meeting and could meet on an as needed basis.

Jim Lang stated that there wouldn’t be a significant burden on the board. Mr. Van Ausdal noted a recent article from the Newtown Bee reporting the use of their blight ordinance 12 times since 2013.

The Board thanked Mr. Van Ausdal for his excellent presentation. Mr. Thompson stated it’s a better town when everyone is involved.

11. Executive Session: Pending Litigation: GLDC

Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion to go into Executive Session at 9:38 p.m.

The Board came out of Executive Session at 10:17 p.m.

12. Adjourn

Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mrs. Pemberton seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:18 p.m.

Submitted by:
Kristi C. Reilly

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