Selectboard Meeting Minutes 04/13/2021

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Selectboard Meeting Minutes

Otis Town Hall

Conference Room

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at 7:30 PM


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.


Topic: Select Board Meeting

Time: Apr 13, 2021 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)


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Attendance: Chair Bill Hiller, Larry Southard, Gary Thomas, 19145, 12032321303, 12039037591, 15082542609, 17045644680, 19196063394, Aaron Sturges,Alanna Magovern Regester (Nicholas Regester), Angie Sturges, ann odonnell, Arlene Tolopko, Aurelio Menuzzo, Bea Pace, Betsy Gallup, bob & dona, Bonnie Peel, Brandi Page, Brian & Nate the Great, c.gaylord, Cathy, Charlie Magovern (alisonmagovern), Christine Lawlor, CHRISTOPHE PICHARD, Cindy, Cody Gallup, cory liptak (iPad (2), cusheod, Cynthia Gaylord, Dan Hamill, Dava’s iPhone, Dave Cleaveland, Dave Sarnacki (dsarnacki), Dave Smith, David Vogel, Dawn Eagles, Derek Poirier, Diane, Don, Don Goss (Don), Donna Gaylord, Donna Thomas, Doreen Hoddinott,, Edward Herbst, Elaine Downing Hunter (Elaine & Dan Hunter),Ellen Ryon, Emily, Emily R, Erika Nardi, Flo Magovern, Frank Rizzo, Fred Ryon, Gail Gelburd, Georgehitz, Georgia Massucco, Glenn Greenough, Hal Kobrin, Heidi Johnstone, iPad, iPad (2), iPhone, iPhone (2), iPhone Larry, Irene Gilman, James R. Adams, Jamesshirley, Janice, Janice Gallup Hills (Janice), Janna Deveny (iPhone (2), jarrod orszulak (Leonard Goldman), Jeff Mitchell, Jeff Tacke, Jeffrey Dressler, Jeffrey Harrison, Jeffrey Lamanna, Jen Daily# LICSW she/her, Jill Sweeney, Jim Crandall, Jim Henry, Jim’s iPad, Joanne Russell, John Butler, John Magovern, John Weldon, JOHN’s iPhone, Kait Gallup, Karen Cuviello | Projection, Karen Robb, Katherine Pichard, katherine wippert, Kathleen Duffy, Kelly Taylor, Keristucenski, Kristen Curtin (Kristen Curtin-BCRHA), Kristen Kaiser, Larry Gould, Larry Parnass,Larry Southard, Lauren Cushing, Lauren Harrison, Leigha Chaffee’s iPhone, Leonard Goldman, Linda’s iPad, Liz Nardi, Lyn Obrien, Lynn Huber, Lynn Vedovato, Mark Lamanna, Mary Ann Buchanan# Ed.D., Matt, Matt Lussier, Michael Failla (19145), Michael Ian, michelle and jim rider, Mike Sturges, Nancy Minikes, Nicholas Regester, Otis Preservation Trust, Paige, Pam Henry, Pampace, Pat Hallberg (iPad), Patricia Richard, Patricia Rizzo, Patricia Strauch (Will Garrison), Patrick Seckler, Phil Magovern (John Magovern), Pixel XL, procoM, R Bliven, Ralph Huber, Rick Lawlor, Ronald Wasdo, Sam Rider, Shari, Sharon Baird’s iPhone, Shiloh, sonia, Stuart Masters, Susan Forgasch, Susan Lopatkin (Susan Forgasch),Suzanne Smiley,Terry S, TF,Therese’s iPad, Tim,Tim Nardi (Tim), Town of Otis, Townsgr, Tyler Weldon, Violet, and Will Garrison.



Call to Order:

7:30 PM



Approval of Minutes:

The BOS minutes from March 23, 2021 and the Joint minutes from March 18, 2021 were unanimously approved as written.


2 Way Radio Bids: Brandi Page, Rick Phair and Chris Bouchard were present to open the bids. The following four bids were opened and totals read aloud; Beltronics $68,031.23, Procom 1 $43,341.90, Procom 2 $49,680.47and Marcus Communications $60,189.12. The Fire Dept will review the submitted specs and the bid will be awarded at the next meeting.


Appointments: The Board unanimously appointed Jennifer Cole as an alternate on the Conservation Commission and Travis Ward as an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals.


Forest Plan: Jim Crandall updated the Board that he would be marking the boundaries on the Town’s parcel (aka the hundred acre park). He would be utilizing GPS and descriptions to do this. The Forest Plan identified some ash trees and he asked the Board to think about harvesting those trees before any damage results from Ash borers. The Board wants this on the next agenda when the Forester can be in attendance so they can review harvesting details.


Discussion of Warrant Articles: First up for discussion was the drafted Harmony Hall article which read “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate $200,000 for the purpose of improvements to Harmony Hall or if the Town votes to proceed with demolition of the building. A yes vote commits the Town to making any and all needed repairs to the existing building including replacing the roof, painting the exterior and replacing windows in FY2022. A no vote commits the Town to not repairing the existing building and exploring removal and or replacement with a one story building at a date in the future to be determined”. Bill spoke to say he thought it should be amended to say “200,000 for the purpose of needed improvements” and that it would be a nonbinding vote to demolish. Larry commented that he felt we were moving too fast on this. There is a lot of information that needs to be presented and town meeting is a month away. Bill felt it needs to come to a conclusion. It comes up every year in budget discussions. Larry is in favor of having this at a special town meeting in the fall and we can prepare and gather the necessary estimates. Gary clarified the roof was to be painted not replaced. He felt we should vote tonight to have this not be an article in May. Hal and Jen from Planning Board both spoke. We want to have enough time for public outreach and meetings. It was agreed having this at a special town meeting in the fall seems a better solution. Historic has been actively fundraising. Sonia stated Historic has this building on their radar and is their next project. The Board unanimously approved removing it from the warrant.

Second was the article to go from an elected Treasurer to an appointed one. This requires approval on the ballot as well. Bill stated this is an important article and that the Town is vulnerable if we don’t change it. Larry and Gary agreed. The Board unanimously voted to place on the warrant.

Third were the St. Paul’s articles. 1) “To see if the Town will vote to accept the use of St Paul’s Episcopal Church, which was transferred to Town ownership in November 2019, as a Community Center for the benefit of the community at large for social, cultural, educational, and recreational purposes”, 2) “To see if the Town will vote to accept changing the name of St Paul’s to: The Charles Rosenblum Community Center in Historic St. Paul’s in acknowledgment of Charles Rosenblum’s generous donation of $100,000 for the restoration and repurposing of this building”,  and 3) “To see if the Town will vote to use the $70,000 remaining in the Community Center account for the restoration and repair of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and property. An affirmative vote will allow the use of said funds for this property and have them established in an appropriately named capital account for this purpose. A no vote would return this amount to the general fund”.  Diane spoke for Historic and requested to pull number 2 in regard to the naming. She updated the Board on the fundraising OPT has accomplished so far. They have raised 90,000 so far and another 30,000 for the East Otis Schoolhouse. The Board unanimously voted to place the use article on the ballot. Discussion for the third article was as follows; Diane disagreed with the money going to the general fund in the event of a no vote and felt it should stay in an account for a community center. Bill clarified that DOR has been telling us to close this account for years now. They don’t recommend the money continue to be carried over. Larry and Gary were ok with the wording. The Board unanimously voted to place the third article on the warrant. Diane also inquired about an article she requested be on the warrant for a land swap behind St. Paul’s Church. Brandi stated that the item had been posed to Jeremia due to the fact the title work had not been started yet. Diane felt the article could be drafted contingent upon later title work. Jeremia felt that without clear title it was premature to be presented to the voters. Diane disagrees. This item was tabled. Final approval of the entire warrant will be next meeting.


Cell Tower: A balloon test is scheduled for tomorrow 9 AM to 1 PM. Larry Gould stated he would take pictures at different locations around Big Pond and post them. It is short notice for the test but was the best date based on schedules. The balloon will fly at 180’. Ronald Wasdo spoke to say he has 57 acres off Algerie Road and had been approached about a cell tower on his property. He had signed a contract. It was asked that Ron follow up with Larry Gould in regard to what was being looked at for his location as the Town had no knowledge of this transaction or location. Hal spoke to stress that he feels the Board is misinterpreting the cell tower bylaw. He feels a tower used “exclusively” for municipal purposes would be exempt under the bylaw but not commercial towers that have municipal equipment as a supplement. Brandi stated that Town Counsel was consulted early in the process and the opinion was that having municipal emergency radio equipment on the tower exempted it from the bylaw. Jen Daily spoke to say she was also confused to the process and felt the bylaw should be followed. Brandi clarified that when she originally consulted Town Counsel that she had asked the question “if the project is indeed exempt can the Town still follow the bylaw to have a clear structured process”. Town Counsel’s opinion was that if the project is exempt you therefore cannot opt to require them to follow the bylaw as there is no mechanism to require it. Elaine Hunter asked if the Town had received the emergency radio feasibility information it had been waiting for. It was stated yes that we had received a coverage map from Berkshire Sherriff’s Office which showed the anticipated increase in coverage from the possible tower. The map was estimated modestly using pager signals through Motorola. Kate Gallup inquired if the Board had done a cost benefit analysis and stated home owners around Big Pond will all be looking for abatements if the tower goes in. Bill stated that has not been considered yet. Jeff Dressler said the tower would result in a mass reduction of in property values and we are opening the Town up to a lawsuit. Diane spoke to say she has experience negotiating cell tower agreements. Frank Rizzo wanted to know why the Board hadn’t responded to the opposition’s brief that had been submitted. Bill answered that the brief was on the Board’s table and had been reviewed. That this is still an ongoing open process and the Board wants to review all the information not just what pertains to Big Pond. Frank asked if he can get a copy of the radio coverage map. Brandi said she would provide a copy when she fulfills his current records request. Gary felt we should try to wrap things up. Larry spoke to cite a recent article where a woman passed away from her injuries in a snowmobile accident. This emergency was worsened by a lack of radio coverage and the victim waiting for first responders to arrive. He stated he wasn’t trying to be dramatic but just wanted to express that no matter what happens with the tower it’s awful for any family lo lose someone due to a lack of communication coverage. Bill adjourned the meeting at 9:09 with no motion or second. That ends the record of the meeting.


Review and Approval of Warrants:

On the Selectboard table for review and signing.



9:09 PM