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Minutes of Board of Selectmen Special Meeting, 07/20/2020

AGENDA: Board of Selectmen Special Meeting

RECEIVED 07/27/2020 12:58pm
Kathleen R. Miserendino - Redding Deputy Town Clerk

Board of Selectmen
Special Meeting
Tuesday, July 20, 2020
6:30 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 6:32 p.m.

2.      Approval of Minutes
Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to approve the 6/15/20 Meeting Minutes.

3.      Public Comment

Matt Miller spoke in opposition to the proposed dog leash proposal. He suggested rejecting the proposal in favor of a compromise to seek balance in the use of open space. Kevin Tschudi noted that the State of Connecticut’s definition of control is interpreted differently by people. Kate Perry stated that the Land Trust voted last week to require a leash and waste removal while on Land Trust property in keeping with the current state ordinance.  Bruce Given noted that these requirements are consistent with surrounding towns.

Mr. Miller noted respect for both the need for control and for the Land Trust and noted the need for balance in selected areas. K. Perry attached case law to the Zoom site.  Susan Green spoke in support of the proposal.  R. Moran stated that he has been bitten by an unleashed dog and stated that dogs should be required to be leashed when they are in shared space.

First. Selectwoman Pemberton stated that the requirements are currently under the purview of the Parks & Rec.  She clarified that any new language will be different or clarifying language. Mr. Thompson stated that “under control” needs to be clarified.

4.      Executive Session
Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion to go into Executive Session at 6:54 p.m. along with Town Counsel Steve Sedor and Police Chief Mark O’Donnell.

a.       Pending litigation
b.      Negotiations

The Board came out of Executive Session at 7:38 p.m.

5.   Discussion and Possible Action:

a.   Leash Ordinance
Police Chief O’Donnell stated that reports have been filed re: individuals or people being menaced by dogs. First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that if there was an ordinance and a fine was established for violation, the appeal mechanism would go back to her.

Stuart Green, Conservation Commission, stated that dogs that are off leash are a hazard because they run and hunt, possibly endangering the habitat.  He also stated that owners aren’t aware of the need to remove dog waste when the dog is free. J. Pemberton stated that there can be an impact on the natural environment and wetlands. Mr. Green spoke in support of protecting the habitat and allowing for public and family access to the open space.

Susan Robinson noted concern for other animals and spoke in support of allowing people to use the trails and allowing dogs on a leash. D. Pattee noted that other towns have leash laws because they have dog parks.  He continued that if Redding had a dog park, it could help. Matt Miller noted that ordinances are made on data, not anecdotes and suggested a middle ground.

Per J. Pemberton, the next steps are to gather additional data, inquire about other towns, and consider the Land Trust, Town, Aspetuck, Nature Conservancy and Aquarion open spaces.  Mrs. O’Donnell suggested looking at information and statistics from the Police Department for the last seven years.

b. Chief of Police Contract
Julia Pemberton noted the excellent leadership by Police Chief O’Donnell and stated that a draft has been agreed upon for Mark O’Donnell to remain Police Chief until 2023 and is subject to non-union wage increases. Mr. O’Donnell noted his appreciation and noted his efforts to communicate the department’s policies on racial bias and use of force.

Mr. Thompson motioned and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to authorize the First Selectwoman to sign the contract with Chief Mark O’Donnell for the period of July 1, 2020-June 30, 2023 pending final review by Town Counsel.

c. Long Term Capital Plan: Board of Education
Re: Request of $60,000 for replacement phone system: Julia Pemberton noted the need to delineate a process for boards and commissions to use to capture identified capital needs of the town.  Wes Higgins reviewed the various funding sources utilized including grants, bonds, capital non-recurring account, leases, and existing budgeting processes.

A long-term financial planning committee was formed and last met 11/19. They will meet again prior to budget discussions to determine what capital needs are in the pipeline for consideration. Establishing a long-range plan and ensuring a smooth debt-repayment plan will allow for the ability to respond to emergency needs of the town.

Mr. Higgins stated that the goal is to establish a guide to long-term views and put in a common place for people to see. Mr. Thompson suggested that criteria, timing, and monetary amount be used to identify capital projects.

6.      Administrative: Appointment of First Selectman’s representative to the Water Pollution Control Commission to fill vacancy.

Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion to appoint Vanessa McPherson as the Selectmen’s representative to the Water Pollution Control Commission to fill the vacancy caused by Jim Miller’s passing.

7. Public Comment
Stuart Green stated that the telecommunications upgrade superseded the boardwalk for Lonetown Marsh and asked if it could be reconsidered for a possible Steap grant.

8. Other Business
P. O’Donnell requested a status report on Station Road bridge. J. Pemberton replied that the project is a quick build and a start date is pending.

Mrs. O’Donnell noted that we are entering into another difficult time re: absentee ballots.  J. Pemberton stated that the registrars are working on voting options.  A high number of absentee vote forms have been requested. The Secretary of State is providing each municipality with a ballot collection box.

D. Pattee noted his thanks to the Highway Dept. for work on Pine Mountain Road.

J. Pemberton reported that all employees are back following all procedures, social distancing, masks and safety measures. The next phase will include entering the town offices by appointment.

9. Adjournment

Mrs. O’Donnell motioned and Mr. Thompson seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:48 p.m.

Submitted by:
Kristi C. Reilly

 

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