Town of Otis
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 11, 2018
Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room. The meeting is being recorded and a quorum is present.
Present: Select Board Chairman Don Hawley, Selectman Gary Thomas, Selectman Bill Hiller, Town Administrator Becky Stone, Terry Gould, Michael Ernst, Jim Wilusz, Jim Crandall, Joyce Broyeur, Russ Loring, Jeff Reynolds, Larry Southard, Holly, Steve Nelson, Jen Daily, Sonia Morrison, Patricia Mullens, Will Sikula, Lisa D’Orazio
Approval of Minutes: The November 26, 2018 All Boards meeting minutes were unanimously approved with recommended changes to Maintenance and Recreation. The November 27, 2018 Select Board meeting minutes were unanimously approved with the addition of the adjournment time.
Tax Classification Hearing: Jeff Reynolds presented the figures for the actuals and estimated values affecting the tax rate. DOR has approved the preliminary figures for the town. Some figures are still estimates because not all of the figures have been finalized in the gateway system. Assuming the gateway values do not change very much, the actual tax rate is estimated to be lower than last year’s rate of $8.28 per $1000 of valuation. Both RRG and Otis’ Board of Assessors recommend Otis adopt a single tax rate. A motion was made for Otis to adopt the single tax rate, it was passed unanimously, and the LA-5 form was signed by the Select Board.
Notice of Public Hearing: Otis convened a public hearing for adopting updated Tobacco regulations. Don read the notice of public hearing. Otis’ Tobacco Regulations were adopted in 1999 and still date back to then. There are changes to the law going into effect for the new year, so the hearing is for regulation changes for Otis’ Restricting of Sale of Tobacco Products. The updates will mean Otis will establish a policy for persons to be 21 years of age to purchase any tobacco product, which will make us uniform with the majority of the commonwealth and will bring other regulations up to basic standards. Joyce Broyeur also presented literature for those who are interested in stopping smoking and left brochures for Town Hall. The Public Hearing discussion was officially closed at 7:26 pm. A motion was made and on December 11, 2018, the Select Board unanimously voted to adopt the revised tobacco regulations and put them into effect on December 29, 2018. The Board of Health will notify the affected establishments and provide appropriate signage.
Board of Health: 104 Pond Boulevard was seeking a variance for the owner’s well for an upgraded septic system. Steve Nelson presented the plan for the homeowner. The lot is located on the mountain side of the pond and contains a lot of ledge. Several perc test pits had to be dug to find a viable location for the jet system. This will be located in the front yard. Jet system design was used because it allows for a 50% leach field reduction and a minimum of two feet of permeable material. The new leach field is located 50 feet downstream from the existing well. No property abutters are affected and Jim Wilusz recommended the usual well testing for potability before construction, a maintenance contract for the new jet system, and two years testing of the well after construction. The Select Board unanimously approved the design as presented with the recommended conditions.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission: A new Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is coming up and Patricia Mullens and Will Sikula were here from BRPC to explain how the grant can be used. The grant is known for usage for housing rehabilitation for low to mid income residents, but it can also be used to bring municipal buildings into ADA compliance as well. Municipal building guidelines are under Chapter 7. Residential assistance requires the building be owner-occupied, but can have multiple living units. It is a zero percent interest forgivable loan that needs to be repaid if the home is sold within 15 years of receiving the grant. The grant monies are the towns to give out but the income verification and project viability are all handled by BRPC. BRPC determines income eligibility by how many are in the household and their combined income. These numbers are determined by HUD. Otis has a stronger chance of getting money if it goes in with other regional towns but can apply individually. If we go in as a regional application, the money is handled by the primary town on the application. Approved projects are administered and run by BRPC. The Select Board unanimously agreed this sounds like a win-win for the community, but wants to do some checking with other towns. They asked to table this until 6:00 pm on January 8, 2019 when they expect to sign the Memo of Understanding (MOU) with BRPC. Grant applications are due March 1, 2019. Designs are done with an initial CDBG grant (if designs do not already exist) and then are usually awarded construction money through CDBG grant money a year or two later.
DEP Small Town Environmental Partnership: DEP is offering compliance audits for municipalities and is a voluntary program. We have until January 18, 2019 to decide on this. Don voiced the concern that every time DEP is invited to review something, it becomes more complicated, so he is not interested in pursuing this. Bill and Gary both agreed not to pursue this.
Waste Oil: Jim Crandall noted we have about 300 gallons of waste oil that we need to dispose of before the end of this month. This then gets into the issue of Jim being liable for this disposal in perpetuity. We still have not heard back from insurance as to what the cost would be for insuring this and no one on the Select Board thinks Jim should have to be liable for this type of disposal. Papa’s Fuel has a vendor Jim can contact for pricing and who may be able to take over the responsibility.
Planning Board: They are here to ask the Select Board to go a little slower with granting the Host Agreement for the medicinal cannabis company interested in setting up shop in Otis. They are hoping we can get a decent bylaw in place before things go too far with this vendor and they become grandfathered. Don did point out that if we welcome them in town, we do have more control over an odor issue than if they set up shop in Sandisfield, for example. The Planning Board is concerned that the odor problem being experienced in Franklin, MA will potentially cause Otis to have its tax base move out of town.
Historical: They would like to have one of their members on the Energy Committee’s Building Use Subcommittee. It was noted that the subcommittee plans to start meeting again in January sometime. The Selectmen didn’t see why that couldn’t be done – it is a public meeting so even if Historical doesn’t have a member on the committee, they can sit in the audience.
East Otis Schoolhouse: Historical Commission asked for permission to go after some grants that require matching funds for restoring the schoolhouse. The town has already appropriated money to fix the schoolhouse that has had little expenditures and they were hoping to be able to reference that balance for matching funds from the town. The Select Board unanimously gave them the go ahead.
Safety Committee: Becky informed the board there are new OSHA requirements coming into effect for February 1 of next year. In regards to meeting these requirements, departments on the Safety Committee made a list of safety and PPE equipment the town could use and MIIA awarded us a grant of $8872 to cover these expenses.
Select Board Door: The Selectmen have noted that there have been times when the Select Board office has been left wide open. They feel this is one of the least secure offices in Town Hall and have asked Maintenance to order a new door with key card access to alleviate this problem. Jim stated we should have the door after the first of the year.
Adjournment: Don reminded everyone the Holiday Party was this coming Friday night at the Knox. The Select Board unanimously adjourned the meeting at 9:08 pm.
Town of Otis
List of Documents
- A copy of the Notice of Public Hearing for the Tax Classification Hearing will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the Tax Classification Hearing document prepared for the Board of Assessors will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the Notice of Public Hearing for the updated Tobacco Regulations will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the Regulation of the Town of Otis Restricting the Sale of Tobacco Products will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the amendments to state tobacco laws will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the Otis CDBG Application Primer will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the letter from DEP to Rebecca Stone regarding the compliance audit will be filed with these meeting minutes.
- A copy of the MIIA Grant Statement will be filed with these meeting minutes.