The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on Tuesday, April 26. As a result of Troy Garron’s resignation, the Board is down to just Ashley DiSesa and Gordon Andrews, whose term expires in a few weeks.
The Selectmen reviewed the articles on the town meeting warrant. Andrews asked DiSesa if she disagreed with any of the Finance Committee’s recommendations. She said she disagreed with their approval of 40 hours for the Assistant Treasurer position. DiSesa also took issue with the IT wages that were being funded with ARPA funds that she noted will not be available forever. “We were supposed to level fund this year, that was the plan,” she said. Regarding new ambulances and cruisers, DiSesa said, “just so everyone knows as far as ambulances and cruisers, we were told that they were… years out to get if we were going to approve it now.”
Andrews said that there was a note on the school article stating, “this number has been reduced by $755,828 which is being funded through the Circuit Breaker money from the State.”
The Selectmen were split on their opinions on a new intercom system for the school. Town Accountant Sandra Nolan said that Capital Planning did not vote to recommend it but said that the Finance Committee was holding their recommendation until town meeting. Director of Facilities Matt Durkee presented on the topic to the Finance Committee and Nolan said, “I think they were pretty satisfied with his explanations.” Andrews said, “for just a pure safety thing of being able to communicate with the schools as a whole, I am for this, but I just have a couple of questions before I vote to recommend.” DiSesa said she was against it. The Selectmen also said they were a “no” on the article to establish a stabilization fund for Silver Lake which needs a two-thirds vote from Halifax, Kingston, and Plympton.
Regarding the article to increase membership on the Board of Selectmen to five, DiSesa said she would like to speak to the need. “There is a lot of work to do, and I think we could be doing a lot more if there were more people involved and have a lot more voices. You know, everybody is concerned about different people in this town having agendas and stacking boards – then put more people on them – let’s go. Show up, volunteer, get on a Board and do some work. All for it. I’ll take all five,” DiSesa said.
Interim Town Administrator Ed Thorne said he received correspondence from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development regarding the MBTA Community Information Form. Thorne said the form asks for basic information regarding municipal plans to comply with the legislation. Thorne said of the legislation that it “requires that 175 communities to zone near a half a mile to a station of putting multi-family housing, if allowable.” The State passed a zoning requirement that if a town wants to receive grants under the Housing Authority, they must create a zone that allows 15 dwelling units per acre. Thorne said he felt that the town should complete the form so as to not miss out on any eligible grant opportunities. DiSesa said, “I want to be careful what we are signing up for just to get grants.” Andrews was of the opinion that signing the document did not obligate the town to anything. An action plan would not need to be completed by the town until July of 2023.
Planning Board member Amy L. Troup said, “Complete Streets obligated us, and immediately by signing the obligation which is the form he’s talking about, it allows the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to change any of your laws by signing that document… if you read 40R in its entirety, any monies that you do receive for it, have to be repaid… it is absolutely not something we need to take in.” DiSesa said she did not want to sign it, so no motion was made, and Thorne was instructed not to complete the document.
There was a request for a live entertainment permit for a D.J. for cruise nights at the Halifax Walmart from May 6 to September 23. Andrews read all the requirements of the requested permit. The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the permit. They also had a request from the Ragnar Relay that would be held on Saturday, May 21, between the hours of 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Police Chief Joao Chaves said he was fine with the event. The Board approved the request.
The Selectmen had an appointment with Marilyn MacDonald and Don Nagle of MacDonalds Industries regarding remediation of waste soil. They were seeking a letter of support from the Board. Andrews said that in the past they have had issues with heavy truck traffic. MacDonald said that in addition to a $200 fine, MacDonald Industries also donates to the Halifax Food Pantry when trucks do not follow the rules regarding which streets they can use. A resident showed pictures to the Selectmen of damage caused by heavy truck traffic to various streets in town that were in relatively good condition prior. “We are up for anything to keep them off the streets, believe me, this is my community too,” MacDonald said. Andrews asked if a sign could be put up stating that the roads are not for overweight vehicles. The Selectmen decided they would talk to the Highway Superintendent about what could be done. The Selectmen approved the requested letter of support.
Regarding the July 30 special election, Andrews said that the last day to obtain nomination papers would be June 8 at 5 p.m., the last day to submit papers to the Board of Registrars would be June 10, the last day for the Selectmen to notify the clerk of vacancies on the ballet would be May 26, and the deadline to object or withdraw would be June 28. The voter registration deadline is July 8. The Selectmen tabled the vote in order to discuss the possibility of having the special election the same day as the primary election.
A request was made for Saturday, June 18 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. for use of the Town Hall Green. Andrews said that the requestor had already reached out to Chief Chaves, the Library Trustees, the Board of Health, and the Cultural Council. The Selectmen were told that they were still looking for a volunteer D.J. They were also told that they did not yet have a lineup for the event stating that the high school music program had expressed interest in performing. The requestor said that they had secured port-a-potties. An ice cream truck and a bouncy house may also be part of the event.
The Selectmen also had a hearing for earth removal at 0 Plymouth St. and 250 Lingan St. A representative from Morse Brothers reviewed the plan with the Selectmen. A resident said that he would like for the trucking to occur during school hours and not on Saturdays. He cited safety concerns with children playing outside during those times. DiSesa asked how long that kind of limitation would postpone the project and was told it would likely increase the duration by several years. Andrews said the Board was told by the Zoning Enforcement Officer that the project was not allowable. “It needs to be proven through peer review,” he said. “We are playing a lot of ‘what ifs’ on a project that might not be allowed,” DiSesa added. The Selectmen voted to continue the hearing in a month’s time.