The Halifax Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, August 13 began with Halifax Police Chief Joao Chaves introducing three candidates for special police officers.
Thomas William Reed, a West Bridgewater resident, had a long list of credentials including 27 years as an East Bridgewater police officer, several years with the Department of Corrections, 7 years as an armed security officer, and a MA in criminal justice. Reed also serves on the Board of Directors of Cops for Kids with Cancer.
Jay Guidaboni, a Plymouth resident, has a BS in business from Bridgewater State University and has spent the last two years at the Plymouth County Sherriff’s office as a reserve deputy in addition to being a branch manager in the private sector for over 20 years.
Herbert Wiltshire, an army veteran, comes to the table with 20 years of experience as a patrolman in Halifax.
Chaves explained, “All three candidates have had extensive experience in the law enforcement field and will bring a wealth of knowledge and training to the department and the residents of Halifax.” The selectmen joked with Wiltshire about returning to the town. Wiltshire said, “I enjoy working here. I enjoy the people and the community and I enjoy the people that I work with.” Vice chair Tom Millias said that he defers to the Chief’s judgement in these matters. The other selectmen agreed, voting to approve a motion to appoint the three men as special police officers in Halifax.
A continuation of the tree removal hearing from the previous meeting was held with contractor Ryan Kress speaking on behalf of National Grid.
Kress brought Millias on a tour of some of the work that had already been started in East Bridgewater to give an idea of the scale of the work to be done. Millias shared, “We did take a tour and I have to say that all the work that I looked at that had been done previously looked appropriate, nothing was done more than necessary. Some of the trees that we looked at on Elm St., I understand that it would make some people unhappy but at the same time you can see the load over the lines and some of those if they were to be trimmed quite that much it would destroy the tree. I think the work proposed is appropriate.
As far as the trees on personal property, that is something that they have to work out with the property owners.” Millias also added that as much as he would like to have the town grind stumps and replant trees for concerned residents, it just isn’t possible as doing it for some would likely mean needing to do it for all.
Kress estimated that it will be about two months before work commences in Halifax as Pembroke is scheduled to be completed first. Chair Troy Garron said he also took a drive down to look at the proposed trees to be cut and also felt that the work to be done is appropriate. Kress shared that National Grid will be removing any stumps that may interfere or pose a danger to snow plows in the winter. The selectmen approved a motion to move forward with the work once the tree warden signs the permit.
Fireworks Committee plans for next year
The Halifax Fireworks Committee also met with the Selectmen to go over this year’s firework display as well as some anticipated needs for next year. Garron addressed the committee smiling saying, “All I know is I had a nice seat in front of the library to watch the fireworks and it was great.” The committee said that the cost of this year’s event was $9,500 and that the cost for next year would likely increase by about 25% due to tariffs. The committee said that they are hoping to raise those extra funds through fundraising events at the town hall such as craft fairs, garage sales, and even a possible paint night. They are also looking into a wine and beer tasting at the country club.
Garron mentioned that while most people seemed pretty pleased with the fireworks, the biggest complaint was the lack of activities in the morning. The committee acknowledged the lack of morning festivities saying it just isn’t possible to do with a committee of only three people. Two new volunteers were present, however, and the committee asked the Board to approve their appointment to the Halifax Fireworks Committee. Mike and Susan Hill, who have lived in Halifax since ’95 said they felt it was time to get involved in the town. The Board unanimously approved their appointments.
Nips make up much of the litter on roads
Jeanne Kling spoke to the board on behalf of the Halifax Beautification Committee regarding the town’s issue with litter, specifically miniature beverage containers commonly referred to as nips. Kling said that the nips bottles are a big source of the litter found during town clean-up days and acknowledged that locals are likely not the only source of the problem as there are many roadways through town frequented by non-residents. Illustrating the extent of the problem, Kling shared that resident Shirley Graf has collected 908 of these bottles just since January, with 668 of them found just within her neighborhood alone. The committee feels strongly that the issue is one that cannot be addressed solely at the local level. There is currently a house bill sponsored by Representative Randy Hunt of Sandwich asking that the nips be added to the bottle bill. Adding these bottles to the bill would hopefully deter littering as they would have a refundable deposit. The bill is currently stuck in joint committee. The Beautification Committee sent letters to Representative Kathleen LaNatra, State Senators Michael Brady and Marc Pacheco, and Representative Josh Cutler requesting that nips bottles be added to the bottle bill. Kling requested that the Board of Selectmen also send a letter to the legislative delegation acknowledging the problem and requesting that they support the idea to add nips to the bottle bill. Millias said, “I know that the liquor store owners don’t like this idea but I agree with you.” The Board agreed, directing town administrator Charlie Seelig to send the aforementioned letters.
Kling also took the opportunity to publicly thank C-Mac for their work to fix up the the island on Route 58 and 106.
Retail marijuana facility inquiry
Gregory Conway, who grew up in Halifax and has a graduate degree in public policy, met with the board to get their thoughts on a retail marijuana facility in town.
The board and Seelig shared with Conway that the town had previously voted to allow facilities on land zoned industrial but not commercial. Conway questioned the board as to what kind of concerns were voiced by the residents in regard to the commercial zone.
Selectman Gordon Andrews said that many residents were concerned about a retail establishment’s proximity to schools or other locations where primarily children convene. Seelig added, “There are people who feel that 500 feet is not enough and just don’t want it even 1,000 feet away.”
Another concern mentioned particularly in regard to abutters, was odor. Currently there are two petition articles that have been referred to the Planning Board for a public hearing.
The articles would be to 1) allow recreational marijuana facilities on commercially zoned land and 2) prohibit such facilities within 300 feet of any land zoned agricultural/residential.
This hearing will likely occur sometime in September with the board making a recommendation and the vote being taken at town meeting. Garron said, “Bottom line is, it’s up to what the people decide they want.”
The board also discussed the search for a new director for the Council on Aging. Applications for the position were due this past week and at the time of Tuesday’s meeting, 12 had been received thus far.
Seven people including two representatives from the Council on Aging, two town officials, and three residents were appointed by the Board to the search committee.
The Board also requested that Seelig ask the search committee to provide them with four applicants for review. Brenda Fitzgerald was named as the interim COA director.