The Plympton Board of Selectmen met virtually via Zoom on Monday, June 21. The first order of business according to Chair Christine Joy was to appoint Jason Fraser to the Silver Lake Regional School Committee to fulfill the remainder of Mike Antoine’s term through May of 2022. The Board voted unanimously to do so with Joy saying, “Thank you Jason, it is awfully good of you to serve.” Fraser previously served as Chair of the Silver Lake Regional School Committee and currently also serves as Vice Chair of the Plympton School Committee.
There was some discussion on a topic that had been brought up at a previous meeting regarding the recording and posting of what is known as “working meetings.” Selectman John Traynor felt that all meetings of the Board should be recorded and wanted a change made to the policy. Both Joy and Selectman Mark Russo disagreed, however, maintaining their belief that some meetings should still be deemed “working” and not recorded. Joy stressed that these meetings were rare. The Board agreed to adopt Russo’s amended definition of a working meeting with the sole nay vote coming from Traynor.
The Board then discussed the tax title land that had been identified and reviewed by the Open Space Committee, the Conservation Commission, and the Town Properties Committee. The Selectmen needed to make recommendations regarding the individual properties. Chair of the Town Properties Committee Jon Wilhelmsen said they were not in favor of selling any of the properties. Former Selectman Rick Springer asked why they were not in favor of selling any of the properties. Wilhelmsen said, “One, these are not particularly high value properties as far as increasing the tax rolls… two, there are benefits to the town that go beyond the tax rolls in small properties even where we have open space… and I think the third piece is I’m not sure we’re particularly in favor of selling properties whereby we’re necessarily increasing the number of houses that we’re adding in the town because the resulting tax benefits to the tax rolls is generally outweighed by the costs of that to the town.” Springer said he disagreed with the last statement. He had further issue with one of the properties that Joy suggested they discuss separately.
There were multiple properties that Open Space and Conservation recommended keeping in order to protect. The Board voted on those six properties as a group. They voted unanimously not to sell those particular properties.
The Board then looked at the properties that Open Space and Conservation did not have comments on, voting collectively on those. Traynor moved that they keep the properties as town owned land. Again, the Selectmen voted unanimously.
The parcel Springer wanted to be sold at auction was lot 18-4-12 on Churchill Road. This lot was discussed separately. Springer explained his argument saying, “The abutting lot to the town owned piece on Churchill Rd. was given a building permit in the seventies, the owners of that lot have been paying taxes to the town of Plympton for almost fifty years, they cannot use that lot; don’t you think you have some moral obligation to make it right for them?”
Joy confirmed that the abutters never built a home on the lot. Springer said the son owns the lot but lives in New Jersey and has no interest in anything except getting some of his money back on the land. Joy asked if the person had ever gone before the ZBA to get a variance. “ZBA might be an option but I was told it wouldn’t hold water if we put a house on it,” Springer said. Joy said that the lot in question is pretty wet and you really can’t build on the property in question. Springer said the owner of the abutting lot in New Jersey would like to sell the lot to his company (Springer’s) and they would sell it to someone to put up a house. Russo said, “Rick, I hear you and I think you’ve done a really good job presenting the best argument you can.” He went on to say, however, that he was still against selling the lot. The Selectmen voted unanimously not to sell the lot in question.
Bill McNulty of the Old Colony Planning Council (OCPC) was there to discuss ways in which the town might be able to restrict heavy truck traffic on non-state roads. McNulty said they did traffic counts on several roads in the town including Main St., Ring Rd, Prospect St., and Pleasant. McNulty said that east of Rt. 58 there were more options for restricting heavy commercial truck traffic. “The town does have the option… on roadways that are under their local jurisdiction… to request a heavy commercial vehicle exclusion from MassDOT assuming that it meets certain criteria,” McNulty explained. He said that in looking at the roadway network in Plympton as well as the data they collected, the town could request heavy vehicle exclusion on Main St. between Rt. 58 and Rt. 106. He said the difficulty would be that Ring Rd. connects into that and since it runs into Kingston, they would have to sign off as well. McNulty said, however, that he believes it would benefit Kingston to do that. He said that in addition to the data already collected, the State would look for mapping as well. If a trucking company does have business on that roadway, they can still use that roadway.
Town Administrator Liz Dennehy asked what their option would be if Kingston did not want to participate. McNulty said they could probably still proceed with the other roadways. Dennehy also asked about enforcement. McNulty said that the local Police Department could enforce such exclusions. Russo confirmed that west of Rt. 58 the problem was a lack of alternate routes. The Board voted unanimously to allow OCPC to do whatever necessary to take steps toward a heavy vehicle exclusion wherever possible.
After some discussion the Board voted unanimously to adopt the State’s remote participation provision 940 Mass. Reg. 29.10. It states that remote participation of some Board and Committee members may be allowed subject to certain procedures and restrictions. The hope is that the greater flexibility would allow for more widespread participation in government.
The Board also discussed a three-year agreement with the Plympton Police Union. She said the main point in the agreement is the cost of living saying that they agreed to an increase of 2.5 percent, 3 percent, and 2.5 percent over the three years. “That seems to be very reasonable and kind of in line with increases given to other municipal employees,” Dennehy explained. She said they also came to an agreement on an incentive tool for retention that would allow people after five years of continuous service to cash out up to two weeks of sick time. She also noted that they would be adding the Juneteenth holiday. Dennehy said there was also something in the agreement per the Chief regarding personal grooming. Before voting, Joy said, “I should probably say that we are coming off of several years of them taking a zero percent increase because they wanted to work with the town and knew what our situation was so they have been more than willing to work with us to make our budget work for the town.” The vote to accept the three-year agreement was unanimous.
Dennehy provided a Town Administrator’s update. She told the Board that the town had signed an agreement with Carver for Animal Control Officer services for the next three years. Dennehy said it will save the town $4,500 annually. Dennehy said they also signed a contract for dispatch with the Regional Old Colony Communications Center (ROCC) for this coming fiscal year. The amount is for $150,000 as voted at town meeting. Dennehy said that the rate could reduce in future years as more towns come on board. Dennehy told the Board that the town had received more than $145,000 in CARES Act reimbursements.
The Board also appointed a number of people to various Boards and Committees. They included Dave Alberti to the Zoning Board of Appeals alternate through 2022, Vicki Alberti to the Open Space Committee through 2024, Joan Burke to the Council on Aging through 2021, Nancy Butler to the Community Preservation Committee through 2022, Rick Burnett to the Conservation Commission and Community Preservation Committee both through 2022, Jason Shepard to the Community Preservation Committee through 2024, Stuart Chase to the Historic District Commission through 2022, Robert Doucette to the Jason Park Study and Development Committee through 2022, Jeffrey Haas to the Recreation Commission through 2022, Linda Leddy to the Conservation Commission through 2022, Gavin Murphy to the Open Space Committee through 2022, Charles Nickerson to the Historic District Commission through 2022, Erik and Katrina Player to the Recreation Commission through 2022, Jane Schultz to the Historical Commission and Community Preservation Committee both through 2022, Ethan Stiles to the Zoning Board of Appeals through 2022, and Alan Wheelock to the Wage and Personnel Board and Open Space Committee through 2022 and 2023 respectively. The Board voted unanimously on all.
The Selectmen ended their meeting with their raves for the week.
Traynor said that his rave was for the Council on Aging ice cream social that was happening that week as more and more things are returning to normal. “I’m looking forward to it, it should be a great time,” Traynor said. Russo said his rave was “for this meeting tonight; I think we got a lot done.”
Joy said that her rave was for selling stickers at the dump. “So glad that the Highway Superintendent is going to be offering that service,” she said.