The Stonington Board of Selectmen held a regular meeting on this date at 7:00 p.m. at the Stonington Police Station. Present were First Selectman William S. Brown, Selectman Stephen E. Bessette and Selectman Peter L. Balestracci. Also present were State Representative Diana Urban, Director of Planning Jason Vincent, students from Stonington High School, members of the public, and members of the press.
(1) Call to Order
Mr. Brown called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Mr. Brown requested that the Stonington High School students present at tonight’s meeting identify themselves, and they did so.
Mr. Brown stated he would like to move agenda item #4 up to the beginning of the meeting. A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to move agenda item #4 to the beginning of the meeting.
(4) APA 2005 Public Program Award
Mr. Brown invited Jason Vincent, Director of Planning, to come forward and he did so. Mr. Brown then brought forth a plaque and presented it to Mr. Vincent. The plaque was the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2005 Public Program Award, presented to the Town of Stonington for preparation of its Plan of Conservation and Development. Mr. Brown stated that this is a prestigious award and he congratulated Mr. Vincent on his efforts “above and beyond” in bringing the Plan of Conservation and Development to fruition. Mr. Vincent thanked Mr. Brown, but stated that the award really belongs to the team of people who worked on the Plan of Conservation and Development and to the citizens of the Town of Stonington. He suggested that
the plaque should be displayed at Town Hall and Mr. Brown stated he will make arrangements for that.
(2) Comments from the Public
Vincent Faulise commented he objects to the proposed location of the new addition to Town Hall. He feels the addition will detract from the historical beauty of the original building. He also commented that there are other priorities to be dealt with, such as the elementary schools.
Fran O’Neill spoke regarding the trimming of trees in Pawcatuck. She also spoke about financial matters pertaining to Town’s fund balance, questioning why the Town maintains a 10% reserve instead of a 5% reserve (the answer is that the Town can get a better bond rating by maintaining a higher reserve). Mr. Brown commented that money taken out of the fund balance, for the addition at Town Hall, will be repaid by LoCip money. Ms. O’Neill stated she disagrees with that approach.
Dora Hill commented about the Neighborhood Development District and Planning and Zoning’s comment that they will “engage the public during various stages of development”. She stated that she thinks that is a good idea, but questioned how it will happen. She requested that the Board of Selectmen play an active role during the development process in the Neighborhood Development District. She feels it is important that any projects proposed should be compatible with the existing neighborhoods. She mentioned the lack of height restrictions as a potential problem.
Nancy D’Estang thanked the Board for allowing her to speak and handed out copies of a letter dated December 14, 2005 regarding her concerns about the Planning and Zoning Commission and Planning Department procedures and processes.
Gail Shea stated she believes there has been an overabundance of regulation changes and zone changes, to the point where it is difficult for the public to follow and keep up. Many people think it’s being done on purpose and the changes seem to be getting “railroaded”. These activities divert the Planning Office from doing other things, such as working on the Pawcatuck Streetscape project.
Ed Hart commented that the floating zone doesn’t appear in the Plan of Conservation and Development we received the award for tonight. The “H.I.” zone is prime commercial property and shouldn’t be a mixed use of residential and commercial. The developer of the proposed shopping center should not be forced to include housing along with retail.
(3) Representative Diana Urban re: ECS Grants Program
Mr. Brown read a letter dated November 8, 2005 from Glenn Frishman, Chairman of the Board of Finance, indicating the Board of Finance’s support of a suggestion by town resident Ed Hart to create a Stonington Task Force to do a full review of the Connecticut Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant program. Mr. Brown then introduced State Representative Diana Urban, stating that he invited her to speak regarding the ECS Grant Program.
Rep. Urban distributed two documents regarding ECS Grants to the Board. She explained that the State pays a percentage of each municipality’s education costs and there is always an argument about that percentage, because the amount not covered by the State must be covered by the municipality through property taxes. Initially, the State committed to covering 50%. They actually started at 48%, which is now down to 36%, with no cost of living adjustment. The foundation grant is $6,000, which is not a realistic figure because it costs more than that to educate a pupil; the foundation grant should be higher. East Lyme got three times what Stonington got for ECS, because East Lyme is less wealthy than Stonington. Each of the State Representatives wants more
money for his/her district. In order to get more money, a smaller, more affluent city would have to take it away from a larger, less wealthy city. We clearly need to look at increasing the foundation grant and adding a cost of living adjustment, but the State has a budget cap. There’s only so much money, and in order to increase funding in one area you have to take it away from another area. It’s really a simple question, do we want to fully fund the grant? If so, we must cut other areas or break the spending cap. The Governor has appointed a task force and April Smith from the Stonington Board of Education has committed to attending the task force meetings. Rep. Urban mentioned she is chairing a committee on results based accountability, which will study the results of existing programs and get rid of the ones that don’t work. The more constituents contact their legislators to express dissatisfaction, the more
likely the legislators are to change things. Mr. Brown thanked Rep. Urban and Ed Hart, and stated that he is encouraged that April Smith will be attending the task force meetings and anticipates hearing from her on this issue.
(5) Request for building permit fee waiver for roofing project at Edythe K. Richmond Homes
Mr. Brown read a memo dated November 23, 2005 from Mark Comeau, Community Development, requesting that the Board of Selectmen waive the building permit fees for the re-roofing project at the Edythe K. Richmond Homes. The Town of Stonington (Stonington Housing Authority) is the Owner and applicant for this project and it is consistent that the Town waives associated permitting fees.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to waive the building permit fees for the Edythe K. Richmond Homes re-roofing project.
(6) Request for IWWC Application Fee Reimbursement
A memo dated December 2, 2005 was received from Jason Vincent, Director of Planning, explaining that Mr. Scott Cheetham was incorrectly charged $400.00 for Inland Wetland & Watercourses application fees. Mr. Vincent requests that the Board of Selectmen take action to reimburse $400.00 to Mr. Cheetham.
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to reimburse $400.00 to Mr. Scott Cheetham for incorrectly charged IWWC application fees.
(7) Rescind prior Board action and reconsider Montauk Associates offer to gift open space to the Town
On November 9, 2005, the Board of Selectmen discussed an offer from Montauk Associates to gift an 8.5 acre parcel of open space to the Town of Stonington. A motion to accept the gift of land was defeated by a vote of two to one.
Mr. Brown explained that the Board was concerned about removing the parcel of land from the tax rolls; however, if the Town does not accept the land, it will be donated to a land trust and be removed from the tax rolls anyway. He would like the Board to rescind its prior action and reconsider accepting this gift of land.
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to rescind action taken by the Board at the November 9, 2005 meeting that resulted in declining the offer made by Montauk Associates to gift a parcel of land to the Town.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to accept Montauk Associates offer to gift this 8.5 acre parcel to the town and authorize the First Selectman to proceed with this matter.
(8) CCM request for support re: CL&P appeal of DPUC decision in streetlight proceeding
Correspondence dated November 10, 2005 was received from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) regarding CL&P’s appeal of the DPUC decision in streetlight proceedings. CCM will be intervening on behalf of the municipalities in CL&P’s service area, to uphold the DPUC’s decision ordering CL&P to pay millions of dollars in refunds to its municipal streetlight customers. CCM is requesting the Town of Stonington’s support to share in the cost of legal representation, this time as amicus curiae in Superior Court. They expect the Town’s share of the cost would not exceed $1,900.00
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to support CCM’s efforts to uphold the DPUC’s decision ordering CL&P to pay millions of dollars in refunds to its municipal streetlight customers and allow the Town of Stonington to share in the cost of legal representation as amicus curiae in Superior Court.
(9) Bid Awards / Letters of Agreement - None.
(10) 9-1-1 Street Numbering
Joe Larkin, Zoning Official, forwarded the following recommendation for assigning a street number in accordance with the Street Naming and Numbering (Emergency 9-1-1) Ordinance. The Assessor concurs with this recommendation.
54 Stonington Avenue, Pawcatuck, CT 06379
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to assign this street number as recommended by the Zoning Official.
a. Health Care Status Report
Mr. Brown read a memo dated December 6, 2005 received from George Sylvestre, Director of Administrative Services and Frank Connolly, School Business Manager, informing the Board that the heightened concern for and focus on the issue of rapidly increasing health care costs has prompted a review of measures available to deal with this issue. The need for pro-active management of this issue prompted discussion with The Segal Company (the Town’s present health care agent) as well as other health benefit consultants to evaluate the quality of services being provided, consider alternative service providers and determine the best resources available to assist the Town and Board of Education in meeting this challenge. As a result of this process, the Lockton Company was chosen on
October 5, 2005 to replace The Segal Company as Broker of Record to serve the Town and Board of Education. Immediately upon being assigned to this role, Lockton began collecting census data and reviewing the Town’s claims history and other relevant information. They have compared the provisions within the various Town and Board of Education collective bargaining agreements as well as other external sources and will be recommending optimal language provisions for future contract negotiations.
Mr. Brown explained this memo is informational only and no action is necessary.
(12) Re/Appointments Boards and Commissions
a. Various Appointments after Municipal Elections
After each municipal election, the Board of Selectmen is required to make various appointments:
Acting First Selectman (Charter Chapter 5, Section 5-4)
A motion was made by Mr. Brown, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to elect Selectman Stephen Bessette to function as Acting First Selectman in the absence of the First Selectman.
Town Attorney (Charter Chapter 7, Section 7-20)
Mr. Brown commented that the law firm of Conway & Londregan has done an excellent job representing the Town of Stonington.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to reappoint the law firm of Conway & Londregan, PC as Town Attorney.
Tree Warden (CGS Section 23-58)
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to reappoint Paul Rohacik as Tree Warden for a one-year term that will expire 11/30/06.
Capital Improvements Program Committee (CIP) (Charter Chapter 4, Section 4-5.G)
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to appoint the following individuals to the CIP Committee for two-year terms that will expire November 20, 2007:
· Bd. of Selectmen William S. Brown
· Bd. Of Education Frank Connolly
· Bd. Of Finance Andrew Rines
· P & Z Commission Charles Sneddon
· Administrative Officer George Sylvestre
· Finance Officer Maryanna Stevens
· Highway Superintendent William Stewart
· Director of WPCA Harold Storrs
· Director of Planning Jason Vincent
· Department of Police Services David Erskine
· Director of Human Services Beth-Ann Stewart
· Solid Waste Manager John Phetteplace
· Town Engineer Joseph Bragaw
· Information Technology Director Jason Jones
12.b. Board & Commission appointments/reappointments
Commission on Aging
Faith Claspell’s and Virginia Turek’s terms expire December 31, 2005 and they would like to be reappointed to new terms that will expire December 31, 2008.
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to reappoint Faith Claspell and Virginia Turek to the Commission on Aging for three-year terms that will expire December 31, 2008.
Louise Bray’s term expires December 31, 2005 and she regrets she will be unable to serve again. A letter of thanks for her service will be sent.
Cable TV Advisory Council
Arthur Barton’s and James Kelley’s terms on the Council have expired. They have both expressed (verbally) a desire to be reappointed to new terms that will expire June 30, 2007.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to reappoint Arthur Barton and James Kelley to the Cable Television Advisory Council of Southeastern Connecticut for two-year terms that will expire June 30, 2007.
Economic Development Commission
Edward Dear’s, John Delmhorst’s, and Blunt White’s terms will expire on December 31, 2005. Chairman Gary Bennett recommends that they each be reappointed for new terms that will expire December 31, 2010.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to reappoint Edward Dear, John Delmhorst and Blunt White to the Economic Development Commission for five-year terms that will expire December 31, 2010.
Gisele Vance’s term expired November 30, 2005 and she regrets she will be unable to serve again. A letter of thanks for her service will be sent.
Mystic Harbor Management Commission
Terms will expire on December 31, 2005 for Frederick Allard, Richard Lotz, and alternate member John Lee. Chairman David Carreau recommends that they each be reappointed for new terms.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to reappoint Frederick Allard and Richard Lotz to the Mystic Harbor Management Commission for four-year terms that will expire December 31, 2009 and reappoint John Lee to the Mystic Harbor Management Commission as an alternate member for a two-year term that will expire December 31, 2007.
John Phetteplace’s term as Stonington representative expires January 13, 2006. Also, one alternate vacancy exists.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to reappoint John Phetteplace as Stonington’s representative on the SCRRRA Board for a three-year term that will expire January 13, 2009.
(13) Old Business
a. Fee Waiver Requests
Requests had been made by the Mystic Flag Committee ($80.00 sign permit fee), the Lighthouse Community Baptist Church ($530.00 Special Use Permit fee), and the Mystic Seaport ($3,830.00 re-zoning and site improvements fee) for permit fee waivers. The Board of Selectmen discussed the requests, but took no action at a previous meeting. Mr. Brown commented that he had discussions with the Town Attorney regarding the fee waiver Ordinance, but at this point there have been no changes made. It is time to act on these requests.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to waive the $80.00 sign permit fee for the Mystic Flag Committee.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to waive the $530.00 Special Use Permit fee for the Lighthouse Community Baptist Church.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette and seconded by Mr. Balestracci to waive half of the $3,830.00 in fees paid by the Mystic Seaport for their re-zoning and site improvements.
Brief discussion was held, with Mr. Balestracci stating that waiving half of a large fee has been done in the past (for the Edmonites/Enders Island) and he is comfortable doing the same for Mystic Seaport.
There being no further discussion regarding this matter, the motion was unanimously voted.
(14) New Business - None.
There being no further business to come before the Board, the regular meeting was adjourned at 8:02 p.m.
Kathy A. Kent