December 6, 2021
Members Present: Dan Harvey, Matthew Bykowski, Cynthia Browning, Todd Wilkins, Glenn Sherman
Members Absent: None
Also Present: (In person, or via Zoom or phone) Town Administrator- Nick Zaiac, Andrew Curtis, Dolores Yerke, Steve McClafferty, Helen Engel, Don Keelan, Denise Monte, Jessica Roberts, Joe Gervais, Andrew McKeever, Sandy Grover, Kevin Sheldon, Olavi Wirkki, “Pike”, Darren Marcy – Manchester Journal, and Janet Barry
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM, by Mr. Harvey.
Public Comments: Mr. Harvey opened the meeting asking for any public comments that were not agenda items. There were none.
Minutes of the Meeting of November 22, 2021 Mr. Wilkins made a motion to accept as presented, the minutes of the previous meeting of November 22, 2021. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
New Business: Mask Policy Discussion: Mr. Harvey read the “Staff and Building Mask Policy”, explaining that it’s not a new policy, it has been in effect, and would just formalize the practices that have already been being observed, and being a policy, and not an ordinance, it can be revoked when it is safe to do so.
- Pursuant to the Arlington Select Board’s authority to supervise all public buildings and staff the Arlington Select Board requires that masks shall be worn at all times in all public spaces of Town Hall.
a. In the even a citizen cannot or will not comply with this rule, they may make
alternative arrangements to complete their municipal business by contacting the
Town Clerk or Town Administrator by phone prior to visiting Town Hall.
- At facilities other than Town Hall, including all Town owned vehicles, masks shall be worn at all times where individuals may come within 6 feet of another individual. If there is doubt about whether an activity may cause individuals to come within 6 feet of each other, masks shall be worn by all individuals.
- When individuals are acting on official business of the town outside of town facilities, masks shall be worn when entering any building owned or operated by another entity with exception of properties otherwise exempted by law, or when said official business causes the individual to remain within 6 feet of another individual for a sustained period, while outside of any building not controlled by the Arlington Select Board.
- Notwithstanding any ordinance passed by the Arlington Select Board pursuant to SB1/Act 1, enacted into law by the State of Vermont on November 23, 2021, this policy does not apply to facilities not controlled by the Select Board other than when Town staff are acting in their official capacity while on said properties.
Mr. Bykowski made a motion to approve the Staff and Building Mask Policy, as presented, dated 12/6/2021. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
It was discussed that there have been accommodations made for people who can’t wear a mask, such as meeting outside, or utilizing the drop box. Mr. Zaiac said he has not had any problems brought to his attention by any employee, and the policy will help keep Highway and Fire Departments being able to keep running without potentially spreading illness.
Town Mask Mandate: Mr. Harvey then opened the Mask Mandate discussion up to public comments, regarding the State giving mask mandate decisions up to the municipalities. Andrew Curtis was at the meeting to say he believes in free will, and feels he speaks for the majority of the Town, and any mandate would be met with staunch resistance. Helen Engel said she lives in Arlington and New Jersey, and majority of people wear masks and are vaccinated in New Jersey. She said she is in favor of free will, but when free will imposes a risk to others, it’s an imposition on her free will, and she supports everyone wearing masks indoors. Dolores Yerke said she will take her business elsewhere if it is mandated that stores in Arlington require masks. Denise Monte said she is not asking for a mask mandate, even though she wears her mask, and businesses should have the right to require masks and should not be bullied. Joe Gervais said the FDA has not approved any masks, and he supports free choice. The Board was in agreement that a town wide mask mandate is unenforceable, but that the retailers have the right to require masks, and it is hoped people will respect the business’ choice.
Conflict of Interest Policy: Mr. Zaiac had presented the Board with the “Policy Regarding Conflicts of Interest and Ethical Conduct for The Town of Arlington”. He said he wrote the policy based on the VLCT model and 2020 State language. The possible need of an appointed or elected officer to recuse themselves from an issue in a meeting was discussed, and Article 8A of the policy was referenced, and clarified the person could recuse themselves from a particular matter of consideration, where a conflict of interest could be present, and then participate in the rest of the meeting. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to adopt the “Conflict-of-Interest Policy and Ethical Conduct for the Town of Arlington”, dated 12/2021. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Preliminary Budget Discussion: Mr. Zaiac said budget talks are in the preliminary phase, but asked the Board if they had anything they knew they wanted to see in the 2022 Budget. Mr. Harvey asked that a temporary bridge for the Benedict Crossing Bridge be seriously investigated. He said he believes one is as close as Dorset. Mr. Zaiac said he had sent an inquiring email to the district coordinator, but had not had a reply. He will send a follow up email. Mr. Wilkins said some roads are in need of paving, and it is important to compensate for inflation when saving for future purchases and projects in the sinking funds. Ms. Browning said there needs to be some excavation work at the Yellow Barn. She said there is still approximately $20,000 in the Yellow Barn fund.
Wastewater Discussions: Wastewater issues were discussed. Ms. Browning said she had sent an email to the Board and Mr. Zaiac with her questions. She said it is a complicated situation and not a straight forward process, and there has not yet been a report from the subcommittee. Mr. Zaiac said the plan is to have a subcommittee report no later than Town Meeting. Mr. Bykowski said the committee never had a deadline, and there were extenuating circumstances for any delays. Having a committee with community members as well as Board members was discussed. Mr. Wilkins said in his opinion input from community involvement is a good thing. Mr. Bykowski agreed community input is helpful, and the first step is to rescope the over a decade old original study. Ms. Browning said she had been rejected from the original subcommittee, but if the committee is being revised, she would be very interested in being involved. It was discussed that three Select Board members and four community members would be a good-sized committee.
Mr. Bykowski made a motion to approve the redesign of the subcommittee to include three Select Board members and four community members. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion passed unanimously. It was discussed that with three Select Board members the meetings will have to be warned.
Mr. Harvey made a motion to add Cynthia Browning to the subcommittee. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
How community members can join the committee was discussed. It was decided that the Board will have the criteria necessary to join the committee ready for the next meeting. The position will be advertised on a sandwich board in front of Town Hall, and on social media, and Mr. Zaiac will email the Planning Commission. Mr. McClafferty said he will be sending in a request to be on the committee, and he reviewed the report Mr. Zaiac sent him from May 2008. He said DuBois & King made recommendations and nothing was done, and he hopes the project can now be done. Mr. Keelan agreed with Mr. McClafferty that the project died in 2008. He recommended that the Chair of the committee not be a Select Board member, seeing the committee will then report to the Select Board. He said there are three specific areas that would benefit from a sewer system, East Arlington, East Arlington Road, and possibly downtown, and that the Grand List needs to be protected. Ms. Browning said there were good reasons the project hadn’t moved forward in 2008, such as State restrictions and discharge issues. She believes a Select Board member should be the Chair of the committee. Mr. Bykowski said in his time on the Board he has noticed the Town has spent money on studies and then did not make plans to move forward, which is a disservice to the residents and the Town’s future. Mr. Wilkins said he hears the frustrations, and the solution isn’t going to be easy but there has to be a plan moving forward.
Highways: Grader Auction Result: Mr. Zaiac said surplus equipment was sold at auction, for a total of $13,838.50, which will be returned to the most relevant sinking funds. The new grader will be arriving soon.
Town Administrator’s Report: Mr. Zaiac discussed highlights of his report. He said he was pleased with how the Highway crew handled the first storm of the year, and how Mr. Towslee organized the crew. He said he has been doing FEMA reports, and finalizing Better Roads grant work. Ms. Browning said there are existing culverts in need or work, that are partially blocked by leaves that need to be cleared to protect the roads. Ms. Browning also had questions of who is responsible for West Mountain Inn Road, pursuant to State MRGP.
Executive Session: Mr. Bykowski made a motion that premature discussion of a legal issue would cause the municipality to suffer substantial disadvantage. Seconded by Mr. Wilkins. Motion carried. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to enter into Executive Session for discussion of a legal issue and to allow Mr. Zaiac to remain in the room. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion carried. The Board entered into Executive Session at 8:25PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 8:43PM. No action was taken as a result of the Executive Session.
Water Department Warrants and Orders: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant WD#23, dated 12/3/21, in the amount of $1,519.66. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion passed unanimously. Highlights being sample tests, truck camera and retirement payments.
Warrants and Orders: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant #20-14, from the CRF fund, dated 12/1/21, in the amount of $10,481.05, for covered bridge garbage disposal and repairs. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant #24, dated 12/3/21, in the amount of $21,382.40, with highlights being over $4000 to Pike for gravel, and the hauling of the gravel. Ms. Browning asked for clarification for the $2,943 to Central Vermont Communications, and was informed it was for Fire Department and Fire Warden radios. Mr. Bykowski seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Other Business: None
Mr. Wilkins made a motion to adjourn. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:48 PM
Janet Barry, Recording Secretary
Cc: files, Town Clerk