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Minutes of Town Meeting, 10/30/2013

AGENDA: Special Town Meeting

RECEIVED 10/31/2013 3:03pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk


First Selectman Ketcham called the Special Town Meeting to order on October 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm in the Redding Community Center.  More than 80 people were present.

Mrs. Ketcham called for the election of a moderator for the meeting.

Don Takacs nominated John Downey to be moderator and the nomination was seconded by Michele Grande.  Those present unanimously approved the nomination by voice vote.

Mr. Downey called on Michele Grande, Town Clerk to read the Call of the Meeting.


Notice of Special Town Meeting

The Legal Voters in the Town of Redding, Connecticut, and those entitled to vote therein are hereby warned and notified to meet at a Special Town Meeting to be held at the Redding Community Center, Redding, Connecticut on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm for the following purpose:

1) To approve a Topstone Park Leash Ordinance, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen

2) To approve a Demolition Delay Ordinance, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, Planning Commission, and Zoning Commission

3) To approve the following capital expenditures from short-term borrowing pending long-term financing as recommended by the Board of Finance; to be voted on separately

  1. a) $300,000 for Highway Garage addition
  2. b) $192,845 for Transfer Station dumpster roof
  3. c) $71,000 for Field Equipment Storage Building
  4. d) $55,000 for Permanent Storage Building at the Community Center
  5. e) $739,000 for rehabilitation of Stepney Road Bridge

Ordinances available at or in the Town Clerk’s office.

To do any and all things legal and necessary to accomplish the above named purpose and take any other action that may legally and properly come before the meeting.

Dated at Redding, Connecticut this 9th day of October 2013.

Signed by the Board of Selectmen

Natalie Ketcham, First Selectman

Donald Takacs, Selectman

Julia Pemberton, Selectman

Mr. Downey noted that he had received notification certifying publication of the Notice of Special Town Meeting and it would be filed with the proceedings of the meeting.

  1. Topstone Leash Ordinance:

Motion: move to approve a Topstone Park Leash Ordinance as recommended by the Board of Selectmen.  Motion by Natalie Ketcham, seconded by Bill Alvarez.

Mrs. Ketcham presented information regarding the review process and discussions at meetings to arrive at the presented Ordinance.  Comments were than taken from those present.

Mercedes DeMasi, Simpaug Turnpike:  Ms. DeMasi questioned the means of enforcement of the Ordinance.  Mrs. Ketcham responded that the Police Department cannot enforce the current regulation to leash dogs in the Park, but the Ordinance will allow enforcement.

John Board, Umpawaug Road:  Mr. Board questioned the 50 ‘requirement, asked by the beach area was included, and why the May 15 date to prohibit dogs on the beach.  Paul Degener, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Commission responded the Mr. Board’s questions.  The 50’ from trail entrances will allow dog owners to unleash their dogs once they get in the trail system at the Park.  This will provide safety for those dogs and park patrons on entrance road and in the parking lot. The beach area is closed during the off season and dogs should be leashed when in that area for safety reasons; dogs are prohibited on the beach area when the beach is open for both safety and health reasons. There are times in the off-season when the beach area is in use for other activities and campouts. May 15 to Labor Day is the time frame set by the Health Department for the beach area to be open for public use.

Josephine Wang, Old Redding Road:  Ms. Wang commented that she felt it was unnecessary to leash dogs and asked why does the Ordinance apply only to Topstone Park.  Mrs. Ketcham responded that the Board of Selectmen chose to limit the Ordinance to Topstone Park because the park is heavily used by adults and children during the summer months.  The State Law requires dogs to be under the control of owners and the determination of “control” is somewhat subjective. Requiring dogs to be leashed in the common congregation areas of the Park will eliminate the subjective element. Ms. Wang stated that she felt the Ordinance violated the dogs’ civil liberties.  Mrs. Ketcham stressed that the Ordinance was for the safety and protection of the dogs and the people using the Park.

Susan Jackson, Old Mill Road:  Ms. Jackson asked why dogs had to be leashed on the beach during offseason time when the beach is not open.  Mr. Degener responded that the beach area may be closed for swimming, but there are other activities, such as campouts, that occur on the beach.

VOTE:  Mr. Downey called for a voice vote on the motion to approve the Ordinance.

The motion was APPROVED by a majority of voices.

  1. Demolition Delay Ordinance:

Motion: move to approve the Demolition Delay Ordinance as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, Planning Commission and Zoning Commission. Motion by Don Takacs, seconded by Bill Alvarez.

First Selectmen Ketcham presented information on the purposed of the Ordinance.

There were no follow-up questions.

VOTE:  Mr. Downey called for a voice vote on the motion to approve the Ordinance.

The motion was unanimously approved.

3a Highway Garage Addition Project

Motion:  move to approve an amount not to exceed $300,000 for a Highway Garage addition to be funded by short-term borrowing pending long term financing as recommended by the Board of Finance. Motion by Bill Alvarez, seconded by Natalie Ketcham.

Before discussion of the specific request began, Bill Alvarez, Chairman of the Board of Finance provided an update on the financial health of the Town of Redding.  He stated that Redding has a strong financial position. The cost to borrow money at this time is very low.  The items being considered for funding have long lives and should be funded by long term financing, with minimal impact on the mill rate.  The cost of the financing will spread over a longer period of time rather than being funded in a one-year operating budget.

Mrs. Ketcham provided information on the planned 25’ by 100’ extension to the existing garage structure. The higher roof line will accommodate the taller highway vehicles and will allow more storage space for other equipment.

Comments and questions from the public:

James Miller, Middlebrook Pond Road:  Mr. Miller commented that the planned extension would accommodate more equipment and prevent the equipment from being subjected to weather elements.

Allison Trapp, Archers Road:  Ms. Trapp asked why these requests for funding were being asked at this time instead of as a part of the annual budget approval.  Mrs. Ketcham responded that these requests are for long life projects that can be paid for over their life.  The annual budget includes some capital items that have a shorter life and lower costs. The capital items with a long life are generally funded through long term financing rather than included in the operating budget.

Nina Steitzel, Gallows Hill Road:  Ms. Steitzel asked if these requests could wait for the next budget year.  Mr. Alvarez responded that the operating budget covers expenses incurred during a one-year period.  The Board of Finance considers that it would be an unfair burden on taxpayers to include long term projects, like those being considered, in a one-year budget.  The cost of these long-term projects should be spread over a longer period of time.

Gene Connolly, Meeker Hill Road:  Mr. Connolly commented that these are rough economic times, and asked that these issues be considered at the same time as the annual operating budget, for an overall impact on the cost to the taxpayers.  This would create more transparency.

Allen Kasden, Cross Highway:  Mr. Kasden asked how the principal and interest on long-term funding was paid back.  Mrs. Ketcham commented that capital items are addressed when the need arises. The items be requested have been in the planning stage for a while. The items were identified during the annual budget sessions. The items were vetted through the Long Range Financial Planning Committee, reviewed by both the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance prior to this meeting. Mr. Alvarez commented that the Board of Finance is responsible for the repayment schedule of long-term financing and includes debt repayment in the operating budget annually.

Elaine Kokoska, Gallows Hill Road:  Mrs. Kokoska asked how much debt the Town of Redding currently has.  Mr. Alvarez responded that currently there is $16.7 million in long term bonds, $4.3 million in BANS (Bond Anticipation Notes), and if the requests are approved tonight, the amount of the BANS would be $5.6 million.  Mrs. Kokoska asked about the upcoming requests for funding of the roof at the high school. Mr. Alvarez responded that the high school is a separate entity; all requests for funding are made by Region 9, must be approved by both Easton & Redding taxpayers, and those costs are shared between the two towns based on enrollment numbers.  The current Redding share of Region 9’s long term debt is just under $10 million.

Dana Gray, Lamppost Drive:  Mrs. Gray commented that Redding’s share of Region 9’s debt should be included when talking about the town’s total debt.

Gene Connolly, Meeker Hill Road: Mr. Connolly commented that the people were asking that the high school debt be included when considering the Town of Redding’s debt.

Vote: Mr. Downey called for a vote on the motion for the funding of the Highway Garage addition.

Mr. Downey ruled that the Ayes outnumbered the Nays. Motion approved.

A number of people in the audience felt the ruling was not fair and there should be an actual count of the votes on the matter.

Mr. Downey explained that there was the opportunity to request a standing vote, but that request had not been made, therefore his ruling on the vote stands.

Motion: move that a standing vote be required for the remaining items. Those making and seconding the motions were not identified.

Discussion on the motion followed.

Nina Steitzel, Gallows Hill Road: Mrs. Steitzel felt the audience was not informed that a standing vote had to be requested, and they were under the assumption that, since voting slips were provided, that a count would be taken.

Dana Gray, Lamppost Road: Mrs. Gray stated that the voting option was not explained to those present.

Vote:  Mr. Downey called for a voice vote on the current motion to require a standing vote.  

Mr. Downey declared that the voice vote was too close, and he called for a standing vote.  The votes were counted.  MOTION APPROVED.  There would be a standing vote on the remaining items.

Appeal Motion

Motion: move to appeal the ruling on the Moderator on the vote on the approval of funding for the Highway Garage Addition. Motion by John Board, seconded by an unidentified person.

Mr. Downey called for a standing vote on the motion on the table.  The votes were counted.

The Motion was APPROVED, there would be a revote on the motions.

Motion Revote

REVOTE:  on the Motion to approve the funding for the Highway Garage Addition.

The count was 40 yes and 14 no.  The Approval of the motion was verified. The Motion stands as APPROVED

3b Transfer Station Dumpster Roof Project

Motion: move to approve the funding an amount not to exceed $192,845 for the Transfer Station Dumpster Roof. Motion by Bill Alvarez, seconded by Paul Degener.

Mrs. Ketcham provided an explanation of the DEEP requirement that the Transfer Station dumpsters be covered to prevent water infiltration.

Allen Kasden, Cross Highway:  Mr. Kasden asked if there was a penalty for not complying with the DEEP requirement. Mrs. Ketcham responded that it is an environmental issue and liability issue if there is leeching into the ground.  She feels that it is in the Town’s best interests be comply and respect the environment.

Mr. Downey called for a standing vote.

The motion was unanimously approved.

3c Field Equipment Storage Building Project

Mrs. Ketcham explained that the field maintenance work can be done in-house with an estimated $15,000 savings a year.  The structure would house the necessary equipment is in the currently approved operating budget and will be purchased if the storage facility is approved.

Elaine Kokoska, Gallows Hill Road:  Mrs. Kokoska questioned the cost for the building, suggesting a shipping container could be acquired at a cost of between $2 and $3,000 a year, and could serve the same purpose.  She added that there could be a lower cost alternative.

Mrs. Ketcham called on the representative of Design Two for comments. The representative explained the design and placement of the planned storage facility.  He commented that some of the problems with storage containers are that they rust, they are not waterproof, and access in/out is difficult.  The proposed 20’ x 30’ structure is large and it would require several storage containers to accommodate the equipment.

Rob Blick, Park & Recreation Department Director: Mr. Blick commented that the equipment stored in the facility included a tractor, aerator, seeder, etc.  This is the equipment needed to do the work of mowing, aerating, fertilizing, grooming, etc.  This would be done in-house rather than by outside contractors.

Gary Miyashiro, Sullivan Drive Mr. Miyashiro asked about the useful life of the proposed structure.  The Design Two representative responded that it is about 30-35 years.

Bill Spies, Mountainview Drive: Mr. Spies asked about the payback on the structure.  Redding Finance Director Steve Gniadek responded that it was about a 7 year payback on the structure.

VOTE:  Mr. Downey called for a standing vote.

The vote was 38 yes and 15 no.  The motion was APPROVED.

3d Permanent Storage Building at the Community Center

Motion: move to approve funding of an amount not to exceed $55,000 for a Permanent Storage Building at the Community Center.  Motion by Paul Degener, seconded by Frank Taylor.

Mrs. Ketcham explained the project. When the Community Center was built, a storage area was deleted from the design due to cost.  The storage area is needed to accommodate the equipment storage needs of the Park & Recreation Department.  A storage container is now being used, but there has been property damage due to leaking.

VOTE:  Mr. Downey called for a standing vote

The vote was 43 yes and 10 no.  The motion was APPROVED.

3e Rehabilitation of Stepney Road Bridge

Motion: move to approve funding of an mount not to exceed $739,000 for the rehabilitation of the Stepney Road Bridge.  Motion by Bill Alvarez, seconded by Frank Taylor.

Mrs. Ketcham explained that the Stepney Road Bridge has been repaired over the past few years by the Highway Department, but the condition is now beyond further repair.  A STEAP Grant has provided an additional $308,000 for the project. She introduced Jay Costello of WMC who prepared the design for the rehabilitation of the bridge.

Mr. Costello reviewed the problems with the bridge and proposed redesign.

Jo-An Brooks, Uncle Johns Road:  Mrs. Brooks asked for details on how the wetlands in the immediate area would be projected. Mr. Costello explained how that would be accomplished. The elevation of the bridge would be very similar to what exists, and width would be slightly wider than the existing bridge.

John Board, Umpawaug Road:  Mr. Board asked about the life expectancy of the bridge, and how the project would be financed.  Mr. Costello responded that the bridge should last 50 to 100 years.  Mr. Alvarez stated the cost would be funded by short term borrowing (BANS) pending long term financing.

VOTE:  Mr. Downey called for a standing vote.

The vote was 46 yes and 2 no.  The motion was APPROVED.

Mr. Downey declared the business portion of the meeting concluded.  He recognized Natalie Ketcham and Don Takacs for their years of service to the Town of Redding.

Mrs. Ketcham commented that there had been 86 Town Meetings during her 14-year stint as Redding’s First Selectmen, and she appreciates the confidence placed in her.  She is looking forward to attending the next Town Meeting as a member of the audience.


Motion: move to adjourn the Public Meeting.  Motion by Bill Alvarez, seconded by Michele Grande. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Downey adjourned the meeting at 9:15 pm

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Maday, Recording Secretary