Board of Selectmen Special Meeting
Tuesday, September 20, 2021
Present: Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman; Peg O’Donnell, Selectwoman; Michael Thompson, Selectman.
1. Call to order
First Selectwoman Pemberton called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
2. Approval of Minutes
Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to approve the Minutes of 8/23/21. The motion passed unanimously.
3. Discussion and Possible Action: Selection of a contractor to perform 2022 Revaluation
First Selectwoman Pemberton screen shared the bid documents. The recommendation of John Ford was to choose Vision who is considered the predominant firm in Connecticut. It was confirmed that since no entrance to the home is required it is considered a partial revaluation. Mrs. O’Donnell questioned if the cost estimate included the costs for specialized assessments and it was confirmed that it does not.
Mrs. O’Donnell noted her support in continuing using Vision and Mrs. Pemberton stated Vision software is also utilized by the town. Mr. Thompson questioned the difference between a full and partial revaluation. Mrs. Pemberton stated that a full revaluation requires the appraiser to go inside the home every five years. The next full revaluation is scheduled for 2027. First Selectwoman Pemberton also clarified that some residents see their appraisal change within the revaluation period and that is based on improvements done on a home in which building permits are pulled and inspections conducted thereby increasing the value of the home.
Mr. Thompson questioned if Vision was over budget during the last revaluation and Mrs. Pemberton stated that there were no budget issues.
Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to select Vision as the contractor to perform the 2022 Revaluation. The motion passed unanimously.
4. Discussion and Possible Action: Georgetown Parking
Ralph Bosch and Kate Perry were present from the Georgetown Village Restoration Inc. The letter reviewed at the last meeting was screen shared. Mrs. Pemberton reviewed her discussion with Land Use Director A. Pardee regarding the streetscape and the impact on local businesses.
Mr. Bosch noted that Georgetown is primarily a commercial district that it hopefully viewed as a benefit to the town. He suggested that it is a municipal responsibility to come up with a solution to improve the parking situation for the commercial district. First Selectwoman Pemberton reported on her meeting with Kate Perry and Mr. Bosch regarding short-term actions such as public parking at the Bible Church and clearing up weeds and the sidewalk on N. Main Street. The professional center may be considered for public parking as well.
Mr. Thompson recommended focusing on N. Main Street first noting concerns with funding and road crossing issues with the professional center.
Mrs. Pemberton asked Land Use Director A. Pardee to speak to how zoning changed with the original streetscape so businesses weren’t required to operate with a minimum number of parking spots. A. Pardee noted that the Phase 1 streetscape plan changes were for the west side of the street and made exempt zoning parking regulations for first-floor businesses. Residential buildings would have to meet parking regulations and the apartment occupancy was legally the same as the number of bedrooms. The other side of the street was planned to have the same exemptions in Phase 2. A. Pardee confirmed that the bedroom count relates to the number of parking spots. Mr. Bosch noted that none of the parking spaces in front of the Saloon are private spaces and that the grandfathered use of the apartments does not include on-site parking.
Mrs. Pemberton is submitting a streetscape plan to WestCOG addressing the opposite side of the street, widening, retaining wall, new sidewalks and pedestrian improvements. The parking issue will also be considered for inclusion on the long-term capital plan.
Kate Perry reported that some cars are parked for days thereby impacting new businesses. Mrs. Pemberton referred the issue to A. Pardee who suggested Planning as the appropriate commission to handle larger areas. Mr. Thompson questioned who has control over #8 N. Main Street. A. Pardee reported that it is town-owned parking and up to the Board of Selectmen as to how to control the parking spaces. Mr. Thompson suggested overnight parking restrictions or short-term use during business hours for the 18 spaces on N. Main Street. Mrs. Pemberton suggested overnight parking spaces across the street and limited time parking like Westport.
First Selectwoman Pemberton suggested a planning firm to conduct a transit-oriented development study. The short-term solution is creating additional spots and the long-term issue will be addressed alongside the wire mill. The conversation will start within the next calendar year as part of the larger Gilbert & Bennett discussion.
Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to refer the parking issue to the Planning on behalf of the Board of Selectmen and the Georgetown Business Association. The motion passed unanimously.
5. Discussion and Possible Action: Dry Hydrant proposal for Lonetown Marsh
Steve Walsh reviewed the proposal to install a three-head dry hydrant at Lonetown Marsh. The original cost estimate presented in 2019 has increased to $140,310 due to the need for a coffer dam. The Fire Department will contribute $30,000 as originally estimated and is requesting help to subsidize the cost of installation.
Dave Hermenze screen shared the 2019 proposal and reviewed the proposal as provided by Nazzaro Inc. Mr. Hermenze noted that the Lonetown Marsh location would also benefit nearby locations including the Town Hall, Heritage Center, Police Department, Congregational Church, etc.
Mrs. Pemberton stated that the options are to involve the public and conduct a special town meeting or include the item as a capital item in the operating budget. She has asked for a meeting of the Long-Term Capital Planning Committee for further discussion.
Mrs. O’Donnell asked if there is required maintenance. Bennett Pardee responded that maintenance is performed by the Fire Company. Possible funding sources were discussed. WestCOG is providing a consultant to work with municipalities to review their proposals for funding to ensure it complies with Treasure Department regulations. Mrs. Pemberton confirmed that the cost estimate would need to go out to bid and Mr. Thompson noted that the quote is not locked in.
Mr. Thompson asked if Lonetown Marsh is the only available water source in the area. Sean McKenney responded that the wells behind RES are inaccessible and unreliable so the needed volume to extinguish would have to come from other means. He continued that the project includes dredging the pond to make it deeper.
Mr. Thompson suggested investigation into alternatives prior to requesting funds. Mrs. Pemberton suggested an analysis of all potential water sources and solutions to the issue before moving forward with a recommendation to fund the dry hydrant. Mrs. O’Donnell agreed that taxpayers need to also know what the risk of doing nothing is.
Mr. McKenney stated that over-reliance on other town assistance is a risk. He continued that the trucks carry 5,000 gallons of water as opposed to an estimated 1 million gallons at Lonetown Pond.
Mr. Thompson reiterated the need for pros and cons of other options and emphasized the obligation to the taxpayers of the town to get additional information to communicate to the community. Mrs. Pemberton will meet with Mr. Hermenze, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Pardee and Mr. McKenney to discuss what analysis is needed.
6. Discussion and Possible Action: Appointments to the Park and Recreation Commission: Kim Becker and Tami O’Connor
Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to appoint Kim Becker and Tami O’Connor to the Park and Recreation Commission. The motion passed unanimously.
7. Discussion: Economic Development Committee & Committee Charge
First Selectwoman Pemberton reported that she has reached out to a variety of people but has not received any responses. A committee reporting directly to the Selectmen will be formed. Kate Perry confirmed that GRVI is interested in being involved.
Mrs. Pemberton noted that the streetscape will be a priority of the committee and stated that an economic and community development committee will be an asset to the town when looking holistically at issues like parking. She will continue outreach for volunteers and reiterated the call for anyone who is interested in becoming involved.
-8-10 cases are being reported per week in town across different age groups. The 44-65 year age group has the lowest rate of vaccination. A Covid statistical spreadsheet was screen shared however more context is needed in order to determine specific details re: breakthrough cases, hospitalizations, etc. Mrs. Pemberton reported receipt of emails concerning the mask mandate. There is a state mandate that masks are required in schools until 9/30/21. This issue will be evaluated on a weekly basis.
-Updates were provided for painting the back of the Community Center, the slab at the mechanics bay at the Highway Department and the window and roof of the Town Hall Hearing Room. Vehicles have been ordered and are on a wait list. Mrs. O’Donnell suggested discussing the Parade Path in the upcoming budget discussions. Alice Smith reported that the stone respite area will be completed for the bench and table from Ellen Visnyei’s family.
First Selectwoman Pemberton reported that July 30 was the finish date by Frontier for the telecommunications project. As of last Friday, the connectivity issues were fixed with the assistance from Norcom. The issues have now been resolved and the sites will be turned up on 9/22/21. Bennett Pardee reported that the Fire Department is also close to their finish line in terms of installation and training.
-Survey maps were incorrect and on a neighbors property. A meeting was held with representatives of both Redding and Ridgefield to discuss resident concerns. NRVT will have better dialogue with residents going forward.
9. Other business
Nancy Pelz-Paget questioned the status of the blight ordinance forum. A. Pardee reported that the meeting was rescheduled for 10/12/2021. A. Pardee will speak to N. Pelz-Paget in the next week.
10. Public Comment
Mary Dale Lancaster, Commission on Aging, reported on the concerns and vulnerabilities of seniors and their shared space with elementary school students. A request is being made for American Rescue Plan funds in addition to more flexible space to conduct programs. Mrs. Pemberton noted the success of the programs and reported that extended day program space has been reduced. Rob Blick is researching the use of portables to address the space constraints.
Mrs. Pemberton stated that an RFQ will be issued to identify firms to do a space analysis as a first step.
Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:07 p.m. The motion passed unanimously.
Kristi C. Reilly