Town of Otis
Planning Board Meeting Minutes
June 14, 2021
Online using the Zoom link provided below.
*This meeting is being conducted remotely through Zoom. You must check back within 24 hours of the start time for a link to join.
Pursuant to the Governor’s March 12, 2020 order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, Sec 18, this meeting is being held via remote participation to the greatest extent possible. Every effort is being made to ensure that any member of the public may access the meeting in real time, via technological means. Agendas will be amended to show the link and participation code to access the meeting no sooner than 48 hours before. Recordings and/or draft proceedings of the meeting will be available on our website as soon as possible.
1. Roll Call, Call to order at 7:07 pm
a. Hal Kobrin, Chair
b. Jen Daily, Member
c. Jim Kauffman, Member
d. Stacey Schultze, Clerk
e. Sonia, public
f. Tim, public
g. Diane Provence, public
2. Elect Chairperson
a. Jim nominated Hal
b. Jen Seconds
c. All in Favor
3. Approval of Minutes. Approval of May 10, 2021 Planning Board meeting minutes.
a. Jen noted one typo, change name of Sandy to Mary Kay.
b. Hal makes motion to accept with amendment
c. Jen seconds
d. All in favor
4. Building Reuse
a. It is decided a master spreadsheet needs to be created of each town owned building, what it is used for, what needs the town has for the current or future buildings, and any current or future improvements.
b. Input from each of the stakeholders will be solicited
c. Sonia outlined the Historical commission’s current priorities and plans. The East Otis school house is first on the list, fundraising will ensue to raise the remaining funds needed to achieve goals. An architect is being consulted for St. Paul’s. And third on the list is Harmony Hall which is in need of several repairs. There was talk among the select board at one time of demolishing the building. This has been put on hold, but all repairs have also been paused. Harmony hall was used as a recreation center but is currently closed due to the floor needing repair.
d. Jen asked if the Historical Commission has been given purview over Harmony Hall from the town. Sonia said, “No.” Sonia would like the planning board’s help to secure a loan through the select board for the repairs and needed ADA compliant upgrades for Harmony Hall.
e. Diane expounded on the Historical Commission’s hope of unifying the two properties in the center of town (St. Paul’s & Harmony Hall) into a common area. Dian inquired about the use of the Erbee Building which the Historical Commission would like to use for meetings and displaying artifacts. Diane also asked what the Historical Commission should submit to outline their ideas that the planning board may be able to communicate with the Select board. Diane also asked that the planning board get in writing that the select board approved planning action involving the properties.
f. Sonia also added that the Celebration Committee is planning an event which may be a good icebreaker to discuss the topic.
g. It was agreed that the Planning Board would revisit the topic of building reuse at the next meeting.
h. Tim asked why the town is holding specific and numerous parcels of land. He wanted to know what the town intended to do with the properties and if there were plans to use them.
i. Jen indicated that many of the properties are now town owned due to owners not paying their taxes. There has been movement toward an auction of the surplus properties which will be led by the Tax/ Finance/ Town Administrator.
5. MVP & HMP Grants update
a. Hal says the website will be live soon. There is still the survey monkey for identifying hazards and vulnerabilities in town. Everyone is encouraged to complete the survey and share with neighbors. The committee will participate in 3 two hour workshops about the grants.
6. Complete Streets Grant update
a. Hal and Rona met with representatives from BRPC/ Foresight Engineering/ DOT and identified several possible plans for now and the future. A list of fundable projects have been created for short-term implementation.
b. Trails are a fundable project. For many years there has been talk of creating a trail network on the 100 acre park site. Paul Gage has made trails on the property in the past and is worried about the lack of clear planning from the select board in clearing trees from the land. He suggests that specific trees are marked for planning purposes. He is concerned about a cluster of old growth trees toward the center of the park. There is also a question of profitability of the project.
c. Tim asked if there is a process like when the town spends money for project like this. He ask if there is a way that town tries to maximize revenue from projects such as this. He suggested that a plan of what trees should come down be made first, then an RFP is issued, the town collects bids/ letters of intent and chooses from those who have applied with the town’s best interest at heart.
7. Review Wireless Communication Facilities Bylaw
a. Hal is working on updating the bylaw to include the necessary language to provide clarity of the original intent. This includes defining municipal use, giving the town the option to place emergency antennas and equipment on any tower without rental fees, and the specific process the town will take for emergency service provisions.
b. Tim asked that the bylaw be explicit that the town will need to follow a process that protects the citizens.
8. Short-term Rental Bylaw
a. Hal shared info, it is very complicated so he is going to review again.
b. Jen agreed the wording is cumbersome. Jen forwarded Stockbridge’s bylaw which was distributed to the group to review. She also suggested adding a good neighbor clause that includes a list of statutes of what that means. She is concerned about repeated nuisances to neighbors.
c. Tim suggests having a readily available PDF with the ideal rules in soft language for home owners to print and make available to guests.
d. Jim agrees to lead the bylaw research.
e. Barbara may help
9. Dark Sky Bylaw
a. Hal is in the editing process and should have a draft ready to distribute to planning members by next meeting.
10. Any Other Business, Old or New.
a. It is noted that emergency responders should be contacted to ask them how the planning board can help support them in finding a solution to the lack of communication in specific areas in town. Jen notes that after a conversation with a neighboring police chief that there are several options depending on what type of devices and communication they use. We will reach out to BRPC/ County Sherriff Department, and the 911 dispatch to discuss what type of coverage they have identified in the area and what tools work best.
b. Hall spoke with Keith O’Neil about the current state of the sewer system, he hopes Keith will join us at the next meeting. Jamie at the Ridge asked about a sewer expansion. The next step to expand is to create a layout of the system. An estimate of the cost of upgrade and expansion will help with the grants.
c. Jen will request to have planning board info added to the next select board agenda to talk about the money that will be available for a limited time as well as emergency communication solutions, waste water, public water for down town, and the 100 acre park deforesting plan.
d. Larry Gould was approached by Joel Meyers the owner of the Manor in East Otis and neighboring parcels. Joel is attempting to sell his property as formerly approved subdivided lots. The lots are legal but do not guarantee that they are all buildable which requires septic and well or a sewer and water plan for the community. There is one lot that is both in Otis and Blandford with the only access coming from Blandford. Larry is not able to inspect a property that is not accessed from Otis. There are several ways the lot and land could accommodate any number of divisions of land and access issues. It is the land owner’s responsibility to propose their own solution and present it to the planning or zoning boards as appropriate.
11. Jen makes a motion to adjourn at 8:45 pm, Hal seconds, all in favor.
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