Minutes of the Selectboard Meeting of Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Members present: Christopher Ashley, Chair; Ed Childs; Linda Cook; Steve Flanders; Keith
Moran; Neil Fulton, Town Manager; Nancy Kramer, Assistant to the Town Manager.
There were about 47 people in the audience.
Also participating: Watt Alexander, Alan Berolzheimer, Liz Blum, Ames Byrd, Joshua Durst, Matt
Fisken, Mary Fowler, Robert Gere, Linda Gray, Nichole Hastings, Joseph Helble, Antoinette
Jacobson, Nelson Kasfir, Steve Leinoff, Cheryl Lindberg, Norm Miller, Kathy Parsonnet, Stuart
Richards, Harry Roberts, Doug Robinson, Alan Schned, Nate Stearns, Richard Stucker, Jonathan
Teller-Elsberg, Irv Thomae, Jim Tobin, Geoffrey Vitt, Jay Whitehair.
Ashley opened the meeting at 6:30 pm.
1. Approval of Agenda (Action Item). After discussion and public comment, Flanders moved (2nd
Childs) to approve the agenda with the following changes: item #7 be revised to be a discussion
only item with the understanding that further discussion/action on this item will be scheduled for
the March 13, 2013 Selectboard meeting and items #8 and #9 be rescheduled for the March 13,
2013 Selectboard meeting. Motion passed 3 to 2 (yes – Ashley, Childs and Flanders; no - Cook
2. Public Comments. Ashley again reviewed the rules and said he would indicate when two
minutes are up and reminded people present that if it was an agenda item to wait for comment
until the item came up. There were no other public comments.
3. Town Manager’s Report (Discussion). The Police Department has received their three
replacement vehicles and they are being outfitted. The Fire Chief will pick up his vehicle
tomorrow. Fulton attended the latest scoping meeting on the relicensing of the Wilder Dam where
it was discussed that a request for a study would be prepared by New Hampshire and Vermont on
the impacts of peaking and ponding on erosion and TRORC is preparing a study request dealing
with recreation and river access.
4. Finance – Board to Sign Accounts Payable/Warrants (Action Item). After a couple of questions
from Cook, Childs moved (2nd Moran) to approve Check Warrant Report #13-27 for General Fund
in the amount of $3,052,974.56, for Fire Apparatus Fund in the amount of $25,472.24 and for
Police Cruiser Fund in the amount of $72,146.72 for the period from 2/14/13 to 2/27/13. Motion
5. Meeting with Norwich Energy Committee (NEC) (Discussion). Berolzheimer, speaking as
Chair of the NEC, said the NEC is adopting a Town-level goal of 90% renewables by 2050 to
support the State’s Comprehensive Energy Plan and they have developed a two page draft of
their plan which was provided to the Selectboard. The NEC is also working on the Home Energy
Challenge goal of weatherizing 3%, 44 in Norwich, of homes. Gray reviewed the pledge to take
action to improve the energy efficiency of your home by December 31, 2013 which is being
partially funded by Efficiency Vermont. Gray also said the NEC is now working with a private
developer on a solar installation with power purchased by the Town/School. Staff level meetings
have been held and possible sites are being investigated. Flanders said he was pleased to see
an active Committee doing real stuff and encouraged them to be involved with the strategic
planning process of the Board. Questions were asked about the charging station at Dan & Whit’s
and the type of power needed. It was agreed that keeping the community informed of
developments was important.
6. Meeting with Norwich Finance Committee (NFC) (Discussion). Stearns, speaking as Chair of
the NFC, said that only five out of seven seats are filled on the NFC and they are concerned about
membership. Stearns also spoke about the Committee struggling with the purpose and that the
charge is not working. The NFC would like the Selectboard to revisit the charge and make it
stronger. Stearns suggested that maybe the NFC could be combined with the Capital Facilities
Committee. Fowler spoke about the pressure to restrain spending due to 15% of the Town being
below the medium income. Lindberg said she would like the Town Treasurer to remain on the
NFC. There followed some discussion of keeping the Town Treasurer on the Committee. Cook
suggested recruiting people for the NFC. The Board thanked the NFC for their work.
7. Approval of Communications Site Lease Agreement (Ground Lease) with VTel for Tower
(Discussion). Fulton said the FCC in 1991 published a Notice of Inquiry seeking comments on
narrowbanding. In 2004 the final deadline was adopted requiring the change to narrowband to
take place by January 1, 2013. Starting in 1997, the Town started buying all new mobiles and
portable radios that were narrowband capable. As a result of propagation studies done in 2011,
fire dispatch was moved to Hanover. Since the switch to narrowband fire, police and public works
personal have been logging area communication problems. The lack of coverage in some areas
is clearly affecting service to the Town. Dispatch services for the Town come from Hartford for
police and Hanover for fire. Neither Hanover or Hartford had an interest in seeking a waiver to
narrowbanding. Fulton gave an example of a Department Head meeting call out where one pager
went off and the other did not. Fulton said the value of a ground lease is hard to determine due to
the capitalization rate being difficult to predict and income varying considerably. The proposed
system is for a simulcast system. Hanover and Norwich received proposals for upgrading fire,
police and public works communications systems on December 7, 2012. Hanover and Norwich
will share the cost. Items discussed were: costs, timeframe, VTel's use of tower being for
broadband and grants. Moran made a statement that he will no longer support the VTel
proposition and is changing his vote to not work with VTel.
Fulton then reviewed the terms and conditions of the Agreement with VTel. VTel leases a 100’ x
100’ area for a total lease period of 60 years. VTel builds the tower, provides space for Norwich at
no cost and maintains the tower. VTel is responsible for obtaining all permits required. VTel
provides backup power for Norwich, builds a pad, allows Norwich to use their ice bridge and cable
tray and builds a nonexclusive access to the tower compound. If VTel decides to discontinue use
of the tower for LTE service then it is removed or transferred to Norwich at no cost to Norwich.
The agreement has been reviewed by Jeremy Farkas of Murphy Sullivan Kronk. The
indemnification provisions have also been reviewed by Frank Olmsted and insurance provisions
by VLCT PACIF. Public comments included: concerns over the tone of the debate and with
delays and costs, discussion of the timeline, details of the contract and next steps. Ashley
expressed unhappiness over the length of the lease, Norwich use being limited to communications
and the first right of refusal being with VTel. Ashley also indicated dismay with the delay in
building the tower since it is needed. Ashley pointed out that Fulton has been doing the will of a
majority of the Board. He feels next steps would include determining how much more the tower
will cost, a Special Town Meeting to increase the bonding authority and rebidding the project.
Other items discussion were: using Reserve Funds, loss of grant monies, VTel being in business
to make money and doing whatever gets the tower built soonest. Cook asked that the
Selectboard let the people decide. Cook also said she had a problem with the numbers and dates
changing and believes the agreement is not cautious enough.
8. Approval of Lease-Purchase Agreement to Fund Norwich Portion of Radio Communications
Project (Discussion/Action Item). Postponed.
9. Approval of Burlington Communications Service Center Purchase Order for Communications
Systems Upgrades (Discussion/Action Item). Postponed.
10. Correspondence (Please go to www.norwich.vt.us, click on Town Offices bullet in left panel,
scroll down to Norwich Selectboard section and click on Recent Selectboard Correspondence to
view resident correspondence):
a) Resident –
1) #10 a). Email from Claudette Brochu Re: Meeting Minutes. Flanders moved (2nd
Childs) to receive an email from Claudette Brochu re: meeting minutes. Motion
a) Approval of the Minutes of the 1/16/13, 1/23/13 and 1/25/13 Meetings. After reaching
agreement by consensus to delay voting on the January 25, 2013 minutes, Cook moved
(2nd Childs) to approve the minutes of the January 16, 2013 and January 23, 2013
Selectboard meetings. Motion passed.
b) Review of Next Agenda (Discussion/Possible Action Item). After changing the meeting
time to 5:00 pm, Fulton reviewed the items that would be on the agenda. Ashley repeated
his belief that the Selectboard is best srved by rotating the Chair on an annual basis.
Cook moved (2nd Moran) to adjourn. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 9:13 pm.
Approved by the Selectboard on March 27, 2013.
By Nancy Kramer
Assistant to the Town Manager
Special Selectboard Meeting – March 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Next Regular Meeting – March 13, 2013 at 6:30 PM
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