Town of Otis
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 13, 2019
Call to Order: Meeting was called to order at 7:02 pm in the Town Hall conference room. A quorum was present and the meeting was recorded.
Present: Select Board Chairman Gary Thomas, Selectman Bill Hiller, Selectman Larry Southard, Town Administrator Becky Stone, Lyn O’Brien, Larry Gould, Jim Wilusz, Stephen Nelson, Jeff Gamelli, Jr., Chris Tryon, Chris Cortigiano, Troy Fluckiger, Brian Palazzi, James Siena, Katia Santibanez, and Nancy Crandall were present.
Review Meeting Minutes: The July 22, 2019 All Boards meeting minutes were unanimously approved. The July 23, 2019 Select Board meeting minutes were approved by Bill and Larry. Gary abstained, because he was not present for the Select Board meeting.
Board of Health:
220 Pine Road: Steve Nelson and Jeff Gamelli from Clearwater Recovery presented the septic plans for the Cortigiano residence. They proposed a jet system at the last meeting and since then confirmed that, after a closer look, both the owner’s and abutter’s wells are more than 50 feet away, but closer than 100 feet to the system, so they will need a variance. The abutter was notified by certified mail, but they have not heard from the abutter yet. Jim explained to the Board that he approves of the pre-treatment system proposed by Clearwater and that it is an upgrade from the current system. He explained that more contaminants will be removed with this system than with a traditional system and there will be more oversight including a contract in perpetuity with future mandatory well testing and samples. The Board agreed the new system will be significantly better than what already exists. The variance was approved as long as the abutter has been notified.
10 South Lake Avenue: Chris Tryon from Berkshire Geo-Tech presented a detailed map and plans for the Allen residence, which is on a small lot with an existing failed system. He explained the proposed plans for a jet-bat system. He and Jim explained that currently there is a shared well with family and a matter to be cleared up regarding legally deeded rights to the well. The proposed system is almost 90 feet away from the shared well, so the abutters have been notified. The current plans may have to be modified and it may be necessary for a new well to be drilled prior to the system being installed if the homeowners have any issues with getting legally deeded rights to the current well. Chris also explained the 100 foot radius involved with the neighbor’s well, as well as an existing driveway and parking area for the property when designing these plans. The Board unanimously approved the variance and plans with the caveat that there are deeded rights to the well.
1801 South Main Road: Chris Tryon from Berkshire Geo-Tech presented the detailed map and plans for the Haynes residence, which is on a small lot next to the Farmington River with an existing failed system. The homeowner’s well is in the basement of the house, so the variance requested is in regards to their own well. Chris and Jim explained the proposed design, with the system to be placed as far away as possible from the river and well. A standard system with a 1,500 gallon septic tank with pre and post well water testing was proposed. The Board unanimously approved the new system.
1110 East Otis Road: Jim presented the proposed plan from SK Design for the Dean residence with a requested variance for a 2 bedroom design. Code requires a plan for a minimum 3 bedroom design, but since .2 acre lot is so small, they cannot legally have a 3 bedroom design, because code has minimum acreage sizes for flow. Jim approves of the plan, because there are no issues with setbacks with the well or anything else. He also approves of the plan as long as the homeowner records the property in the Registry of Deeds as having a 2 bedroom home. If the homeowner ever wants to make the home larger than 2 bedrooms, perc tests will be required and they will have to meet full compliance of the code, but the size of the lot prohibits them from doing that. The Board unanimously approved the new system.
Highway Department: There were two bids accepted for the 2002 International Truck. James Betit of Pittsfield bid $13,333.33 and Big K’s Landscaping of Naugatuck, CT bid $13,250.00. The Board unanimously accepted the bid from James Betit for $13,333.33.
Otis Recall Home Rule Petition to Legislature: Becky explained to the Board that this is in follow up to the annual town meeting vote that took place in May whereby the voters approved establishing a recall petition bylaw. Subsequent to town meeting, the Town Clerk certified the vote to the Legislature. We waited to hear back from the House of Representatives legal counsel on their opinion and we have that opinion back. She has discussed this opinion with Town Counsel. Basically, the Select Board now has to let the Legislature know which of the two options they would like to decide on: whether the Town would like to put the recall petition back out on the ballot for the next annual meeting or a special election, because there was language in Section 9 that requires the town to do so or they have the authority to initiate the recall petition within 30 days of the bill passing through the House, Senate and the Governor’s desk. Town Clerk Lyn O’Brien was in attendance to verify any communications with Representative Pignatelli’s office. Lyn confirmed that the Board could decide to send it to the ballot again for a second vote. She couldn’t confirm if it would delay the Legislature process, but she assumes that it would. Regarding Section 9, there was discussion on editing it or removing it altogether. She believes it would be easier for everyone to not have a 2 ballot vote, but that it is the Board’s decision. Gary made a motion to eliminate Section 9, which was unanimously approved by the Board, thereby indicating that the Board wished to have the authority to initiate recall petitions as a town 30 days after the bill that is being filed is passed. Lyn added that it could be a few months or it could be a year before they hear back from the Legislature.
Personnel Policy Revision: Becky has been going over the Personnel Policy. There was discussion about Section 6.3 Non-Occupational Sick Leave. She made a recommendation that the sentence: “A maximum of three sick days may be taken without a physician’s certificate in a calendar year.” be changed to “A maximum of three consecutive sick days may be taken without a physician’s certificate in a calendar year.” She also recommended that a physician’s note be required after 3 consecutive sick days. There was discussion and it was agreed that town counsel should review the paragraph and the Personnel Policies in its entirety. Gary recommended putting it on hold until they hear back from town counsel. Larry seconded the motion.
Request for Applicants for Open Appointments Posting: Nancy presented a posting that she and Lyn would like to post for open appointments. Gary read the posting. In addition, Nancy informed the Board that Eve Kummel is resigning from the Library and Sue Ebitz expressed interest in being on the building use subcommittee to represent the Library. Eve had sent an email resigning and in her correspondence endorsed Sue. Sue sent an email expressing interest in serving on the building use subcommittee. There was also discussion on how many were currently serving and how many were needed to serve on the Technology Committee.
James Siena and Katia Santibanez of 69 North Main Road came to the meeting with a noise complaint against the Congregational Church because live music was played outdoors at various time this summer. James inquired if the town had a noise ordinance. Chairman Gary Thomas explained that the church owns the church green where the music is being played and explained that the town noise ordinance goes into effect after 11:00 pm. James played a recording of a sample of music that has been playing at the Otis Congregational Church this summer. His complaint was that it was loud, unwanted sound, and interrupted his sleep. He explained that on one Saturday music was playing at 7:00 am and that on another Saturday music was playing at 9:00 am and that on both of those days they were trying to sleep. There was another Saturday when music was playing at 7:00 am. There was discussion on how early any noise is allowed. Larry Gould told the group that 7:00 am is acceptable. Bill questioned if the town should pass a bylaw regarding an acceptable decibal level. Larry explained that it would be complicated to measure decibal levels for a variety of reasons. He further explained that the church has freedom of speech and religion and that they were hosting a revival for a few days. James reported that he contacted the pastor and took the liberty to call a reporter at The Berkshire Eagle to investigate his complaint. He said he will return in 2 weeks for the next meeting to follow up.
Becky reminded the Board that this Saturday would be the 100th Anniversary celebration at Camp Bonnie Brae. Gary and Larry would not be able to attend. Bill might be able to attend, but could not confirm. Becky offered to attend and speak. Nancy asked Larry Gould if Terrie Gould might be able to represent the town at the anniversary, since she has had positive experiences with the camp with her family. Larry responded that Terrie would probably be very happy to do that and would check with her.
Becky reported her communications with a Becket resident about the proposal of a new I-90 exit between exits 2 and 3. She gave an update and shared correspondence from a February 2019 DOT meeting regarding a determination of three potential sites considered for a proposed off ramp. She shared a copy of the letter from Larry Abrams of Becket that he sent to Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Transportation and CEO of MassDOT. She also shared a list of residents from Otis and East Otis who are strongly opposed to a proposed Algerie Road interchange and several letters to the editor and articles printed in The Berkshire Eagle. She added that she and Derek have been attending the working group meetings since last year and gave a timeline of their decisions at those meetings, as well as a report that may not be released until Thanksgiving.
Adjournment: At 7:52 pm the Select Board unanimously adjourned the Select Board meeting.
Selectmen’s Secretary, Town of Otis
List of Documents
- Bid for 2002 International from James Betit of Pittsfield, MA.
- Bid for 2002 International from Big K’s Landscaping of Naugatuk, CT.
- Town Personnel Policy Section 6.3 Non-Occupational Sick Leave.
- Emails regarding Building Use Subcommittee resignation of Eve Kummel and appointment of Sue Ebitz to represent the Otis Library.
- Request for Applicants posting will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- Correspondence regarding opposition to an I-90 interchange at Algerie Road: Letter from Larry Abrams to Secretary of Transportation and CEO of MassDOT dated August 7, 2019; Revised letter form Larry Abrams to Secretary of Transportation and CEO of MassDOT dated August 12, 2019; Letter to the Editor at The Berkshire Eagle dated July 27, 2019; Letter to the Editor at The Berkshire Eagle dated July 30, 2019; Berkshire Eagle Editorial dated July 31, 2019; Letter to the Editor at The Berkshire Eagle dated March 12, 2019; Article in The Berkshire Eagle dated February 9, 2019; Letter to the Editor at The Berkshire Eagle dated February 12, 2019; Email from Larry Abrams to The Springfield Republican dated August 12, 2019; Email from Larry Abrams to the Otis Town Manager with a list of residents opposed to the proposed interchange.