Present: Pemberton, Karvelis, Thompson
Also present: 20 members of the public, representatives of the Redding Pilot, Danbury News Times, & videographers
First Selectman Pemberton called the November 23, 2015 meeting to order at 7:08 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move to approve the minutes of the meeting of October 19, 2015 as corrected. Karvelis, Thompson. Approved. Unanimous.
Correction: page two, bottom, change “Work Chart” to “Organization Chart”.
EVERSOURCE 2015 TOWN WIDE TREE TRIMMING: DISCUSSION AND STATUS REPORT
A representative of Eversouce could not be present for the meeting, but Mrs. Pemberton provided an update on the work that is being done. The SMT (Standard Maintenance Trimming) is scheduled this year (a 4-year cycle) for all of Redding. The ETT (Enhanced Tree Trimming) is being done on selected sites designated by PURA and requires specific owner permission. Mrs. Pemberton noted that owner permission has been received for all ETT projects in Redding. Eversource anticipates the trimming will be completed by the end of the year.
Sean McNamara, the Deputy Tree Warden, explained the role of the Tree Warden is the care and control of all town trees, trees on town property and roads, including trees between stone walls and the roadway and branches that overhang the roadway.
Mrs. Pemberton noted that she had received a letter of objection from a resident about the excessive trimming of trees on a scenic road and a general concern that the trimming had gone too far.
The meeting was opened to public comment.
Nancy Burton, Cross Highway: Mrs. Burton introduced Rachael Gaudio, an attorney with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. Ms. Gaudio stated that the organization is charged with protecting the land, water and air of Connecticut. The group is not opposed to the cutting of unhealthy trees, but is opposed to the drastic pruning and trimming of healthy trees. A goal of the group is to educate and inform the public on their rights regarding tree trimming. Ms. Gaudio noted that Redding’s tree management program is one of the strongest in the State and is environmentally sound.
Raymond D’Angelo, for the Redding Preservation Society: Mr. D’Angelo noted that a recent meeting there was a lively discussion of tree trimming. He asked if the trees on a designated scenic road were treated any differently than the trees on other roads and asked what the role of the Planning Commission was in regard to tree trimming.
Toby Welles, Planning Commission member: Mr. Welles commented that the Planning Commission has not had a specific discussion of tree trimming, but is aware of the issues. They have not had any reports of abusive tree trimming. The Planning Commission will entertain a discussion of tree trimming at its next meeting.
Emily d’Aulaire, Sunset Hill Road: Mrs. d’Aulaire asked what caused the flurry of concerns about tree trimming. Mrs. Pemberton noted that she received one complain last year and another recently.
Nancy Burton, Cross Highway: Ms. Burton is concerned about the excessive tree trimming, especially on designated scenic roads. She also had a concern about the door hanger language and permissions given to trim trees. She explained the situation with her property, her agreement with Eversource regarding the trimming of her trees, and the result of the trimming that was done ignoring her requests and specifications. She noted that the door hanger contained the name CL&P, not Eversource. She asked the Board of Selectmen for a list of what roads have yet to be trimmed and to communicate the property owner’s rights to those property owners. She suggested that a public meeting be called to discuss these issues and to educate the public. Ms. Burton stated that she believes there is a problem of clear deception by Eversource regarding property owner’s rights. Mrs. Pemberton agreed that she will get the names of the 6 to 7 miles of roads that have yet to be trimmed. Mrs. Pemberton has been told that the door hangers have been updated with the new Eversource branding. She added that the amount of tree trimming is a negotiation between the property owner and Eversource.
Raymond D’Angelo, Cross Highway: Mr. D’Angelo asked if the Board of Selectmen would discuss the preservation and management of mature trees, exclusive of the trimming issues, at their next meeting.
Name unclear: This person commented that there are better and worse ways to trim trees. She expressed a concern about the way that the trees are being trimmed or pruned.
DISCUSSION OF PRELIMINARY REVIEW OF FY 2016-17 PROPOSED CAPITAL PROJECTS
Mr. Karvelis reported that the last meeting of the Long Range Capital Planning Committee discussed a minor change in the Redding Board of Education list. The list for the Town includes Highway Department leased vehicles and the Police Department radio replacement. The radio replacement item cost has increased due to the discontinuation of the current equipment & parts. The current equipment will no longer be serviceable in five years. Equipment includes the console equipment, cabinets, repeaters, etc.
The first budget session was held for the department heads last week.
The Park & Recreation Commission requested that the Pavilion project be added back to the Capital List. Kevin Jones, Chairman of the P&R Commission, described the project and the importance of the pavilion from a safety standpoint. The pavilion will provide shelter in inclement and excessive hot weather conditions for both children and adults.
The Capital List will be reviewed in detail as part of the budget review.
DISCUSSION OF UMPAWAUG SCHOOLHOUSE RESTORATION PROJECT
A report on needs assessment for the Umpawaug Schoolhouse was received and included an estimate of $53,600. Joe Bonomo, President of the Historical Society, commented that the Society is an advocate for the Umpawaug Schoohouse, they do not own or lease the property. The structure, including exterior, foundation and roof, as well as the interior, are in need of repair. The building dates back from 1786 and is one of four native one-room schoolhouses in Connecticut. Bids for repair work have been received and will be reviewed and analyzed. Some funding may be available through the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and other sources of grant money are being explored.
DISCUSSION OF NEGLECTED CEMETERIES
The Connecticut grant for neglected cemeteries was not awarded to Redding. There are six “neglected” cemeteries that need repair. Robert Paradise, caretaker of these cemeteries, presented a list of the work, inducing headstone work, is about $10,500. The Town operating budget only funds the mowing of these cemeteries. Mrs. Pemberton will identify some funds that could be used to get the stones out of the ground until funds are available to do the repair work and resetting of the stones. Joe Bonono of the Historical Society will discuss the issue of these repairs with the Historical Society Board to see if they have some funds available.
DISCUSSION OF SIDECUT TRAIL
The Conservation Commission requested a small strip of town-owner land adjacent to Sidecut Road, near the Sidecut Trail, be filled in with gravel to allow better parking for hikers. David Pattee, Chairman of the Conservation Commission explained that current parking conditions are not good in that area and some cars park in a way that prevents the property owner to access his property. The Planning Commission reviewed the request and gave permission for a graveled parking area 60’ long and 12’ wide. Discussion of the trail and the parking area followed. The Sidecut Trail is about ¾ of a mile and deadends at the MetroNorth railroad tracks. MetroNorth prohibits the crossing of the tracks except at official crossing areas.
Mrs. Pemberton took comments from the public.
Tom Derderian, a resident of Sidecut Road stated that he rarely sees cars parked in the area of discussion. He expressed a concern that parked cars could create a safety hazard for traffic and pedestrians.
The Selectmen continued the discussion that included consideration of whether this should be a designated trail since it ends at the railroad tracks. Liability issues were also discussed.
Motion: move that the Board of Selectmen do not approve the expansion of the parking area near Sidecut Trail due to increased liability issues. Thompson, Karvelis. Approved. Unanimous.
- Goodsell Hill Traffic Change: Mrs. Pemberton noted that the new traffic pattern and appropriate signage is in place. The road is still a two-way street, but exiting onto Route 107 is prohibited. An increase in traffic enforcement, especially early in the morning, has been requested by neighbors.
- Speed Hump Request: a resident of Gallows Hill Road submitted a petition, with only a few signatures, requesting a speed hump near 170 Gallows Hill Road. The area was reviewed by Highway Superintendent Hanson and Police Chief Fuchs. Both agreed that there was no place to install a speed hump that would meet the standards for speed humps.
- Abatement for Fire Department & EMS personnel: the Town’s abatement for volunteer fire fighters and EMS personnel varies from $250 to $1,000, depending on hours of service. The abatement is considered taxable income. The Board of Selectmen was asked to look at other options to reward these volunteers for their service to the Town and encourage more residents to become volunteers. Information from other towns will be collected and other options explored.
- Reappointment to Water Pollution Control Commission:
Motion: move to reappoint James Miller as the First Selectman’s designee to the Water Pollution Control Commission. Karvelis, Thompson. Approved. Unanimous.
Jeanne Wendschuh, Deer Spring Road: Mrs. Wendschuh suggested that demographic information about the fire department volunteers could be helpful in reviewing the abatement program.
Bob Dahms, Portland Avenue: Mr. Dahms presented a series of issues and concerns dealing with traffic issues on Portland Avenue. He requested a third speed hump to be installed to slow traffic on the “cut-through” road and suggested a “no turn on red” at the southbound intersection of Route 107 & Portland Avenue. Mr. Dahms questioned the number and type of street lights on Portland Avenue and why the railroad crossing at North Main (where the road has been closed) was operational. He also questioned what was being done about the numerous zoning violations on the GLDC property.
Mrs. Pemberton responded to the questions and provided information. The additional speed hump would require a new petition for consideration. She will request additional traffic enforcement on the road. MetroNorth requires operational crossing gates and horns at all railway crossings even those not in use. Regarding the zoning violations, letters have been sent to the tenants using the property and she will follow up with the Zoning Enforcement Officer on the issue.
Motion: Move to adjourn the meeting. Thompson, Karvelis. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 10:17 pm.
Submitted by Mary Maday, Recording Secretary