Vol. II No. 02 1/15/2021
Boards and Committees
Notes from the Stockbridge Community Preservation Committee
Meeting Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 6:00pm
CPC Committee members are representatives from other town commissions, boards, and committees as follows:
Planning Board: Gary Pitney
Finance Committee Representative: Jay Bikofsky
Parks & Recreation Representative: Steve Knopf
Historical Commission Representative: Linda Jackson
Conservation Representative: Sally Underwood-Miller — Chair
Select Board Representatives: Jessica Meagher and Dr. Carole Owens
Board of Assessors Representative: Tom Stokes
Sally Underwood-Miller, chair
Also present, Selectman Patrick White
- On behalf of Naumkeag, Mark Wilson discussed application to restore and place a 10' statue given to Joseph Hodges Choate by architect Stanford White.
- Arthur Dutil, Ron Brouker and Tim Minkler will apply for funds to continue their work on the 80-acre Gould Meadows. Tasks will include building a raised walkway, removal of invasive species and trees (including stump grinding).
- Bonnet Hartley and Rick Wilcox will request funds for GIS mapping of the Field Arboretum.
Editor's note: GIS stands for Geographic Information System. It is ground penetrating. It gathers, manages, and analyzes data, and organizes it into a visualization form — maps and 3D scenes.
- Town Administrator reported on the Children's Chime Tower. The cost to restore the tower may be as much as $330,000 — more than the total budget of CPC estimated at $250,000. Canales added the town may not, therefore, submit a proposal to the CPC. However, Canales said a letter of support from CPC and/or a small match would be helpful. Canales also reported on progress with restoration of the Soldier's monument. The cost may be as high as $50,000.
- India Spartz, who replaced Barbara Allen as curator of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives, described the failure of the HVAC in the library archives. The amount of money is probably beyond CPC's ability to grant. It was suggested that the library seek federal funds.
- Laurie Norton Moffatt, on behalf of the Norman Rockwell Museum, discussed an historic structures report on Linwood — an administrative building on the grounds of the museum.
- Sarah Del Signor and Dr. Joyce Butler, on behalf of Riverbrook, are seeking over $300,000 for an elevator and sprinkler system.
- Kate Fletcher and Carl Sprague, on behalf of the Cat and Dog Fountain restoration, reported progress. The money is already set aside.
- On behalf of Heaton Hall, Sarah Del Signor requested funds to repair or replace the historic sign blown away during a storm. She also mentioned water seeping under boards on the siding.
- On behalf of Parks and Recreation, Steve Knopf proposed replacing the tennis court surface and nets at Pine Street.
- Jay Bikofsky presented a proposal for establishing a Housing Trust Fund. It would provide funds to off-set the cost of a down payment to first-time home buyers purchasing a primary residence. There would also be a fund for home repairs. The funds granted from both trusts would be in the form of a loan.
Those wishing to apply, must submit ten hard copies of the final proposals in the Selectman's Office by January 22 at NOON. One digital copy is due to the Committee via e-mail. This is a hard deadline, and no application will be accepted after noon on January 22, 2021. The CPC will meet February 19 - 5pm to discuss and vote on the eligible applications.
Photo: Joan Gallos.
Notes from the Board of Assessors
Meeting Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 9:00 am
Gary Pitney, Chair
Doug Goudy, and Tom Stokes members
Michael Blay, Town Assessor
Patrick White, Select Board member
- The Board conducted its regular business which included tax exemptions, for example from property tax if the owner is a second homeowner or a renter, and tax abatements for homeowners with economic troubles.
- Evaluating the worth of our utilities is now made mandatory by the Commonwealth. That would include evaluating National Grid, Berkshire Gas, Eversource and more. Blay was not certain how to proceed. For example, can Stockbridge accept the business's own full market value or must Stockbridge find a formula to determine it?
- Board to review & sign FY21 Real & Personal Abatement Applications; however, abatements must be considered in an Executive Session. Blay will determine how to create an Executive Session in a Zoom meeting.
- Balance of meeting was a discussion of the Residential Tax Exemption. Questions were raised and opinions were shared. A process for determining how Residential Tax Exemption would work in Stockbridge was agreed upon. The suggestion that a committee be formed with representatives of town residents, second homeowners, the select board and the assessors, was set aside. Instead, the Board approved Michael Blay collecting information for presentation at the next meeting.
- Residential Tax Exemption (RTE) is a state initiative. Enacted in 1979, the RTE is an option under the property tax classification that shifts the tax burden within the residential class from owners of moderately-valued residential properties to the owners of vacation homes, higher-valued homes and residential properties not occupied by the owner, including apartments and vacant lands. (To read more go to: Mass General Law: C 59, sec. 5C )
- It is important to note, therefore, that the Select Board could enact RTE without discussion or public involvement; however, the current Stockbridge Select Board values input and may choose to bring it to Town Meeting.
- There was discussion about how to decide who is a resident; however, the definition of a resident is state law: "A resident is a person who maintains a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts and spends more than 183 days of the taxable year in Massachusetts. Whether a person maintains a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts is a factual determination." (Mass General Law: TIR 95 - 7)
Notes from the Planning Board
Meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 6:00 pm
William Vogt, Chair
Introduction of and presentation by a new consultant, Jeff Lacey was the majority of the meeting time. Lacey is one of two new planning consultants. The two were hired after two others: Joel Russell who presented a full review and report, and Randall Arnedt who made a presentation. The Russell reports and Arendt presentation are available on the town web site.
Lacey is hired to write an Open Space Residential Design and Natural Resource Preservation Bylaw that includes Historic Estate Preservation and Development. It is interesting to note that he made a point of stating his respect for consultant, Joel Russell, and his intention to work from Russell's reports.
Another issue addressed was the sign bylaw. At one point it sounded as if the PB would take over sign review and approval. If that was accurately stated and correctly heard, then it is not at the discretion of the PB.
Editor's note: If an approval function is to be moved from under the purview of the Select Board to the PB, then there is a formal process to follow. What a select board does is a matter of law. Under the Mass General Laws: "The select board performs three functions: legislative (enacts local ordinances, regulations and policies); administrative (prepares and presents the budget, oversees all town expenditures, supervises personnel and controls town buildings and property); and has a quasi-judicial role determining private rights in certain areas." Read more under the General Laws available online.
Notes from the Finance Committee
Meeting Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 6:15pm
- Reserve fund transfer discussion and approval for Town Hall A/C repair
- Discussion of the FY22 Operating Budget process
- Public Safety: Police, Fire and Ambulance
- Public Works: Highway, Transfer Station, Water & Sewer
- Development of a 5 Year Capital Budget
- Development of a Town Capital Equipment Inventory
- Project Status:
- Larrywaug Bridge
- Averic Bridge
- Curtisville Bridge
- Park Street Pump Station
Editor's note: Please compare the items on the Finance Committee agenda with the duties of the select board, are some of these items beyond the purview of the Finance Committee? Thank you all for your dedication, your time, and enthusiasm, and please take the time to consider the answer.
Photo: Joan Gallos.
Notes from Board of Selectmen
Meeting Thusday, Jan. 14, 6:30pm
Ernest (Chuck) Cardillo, Select Board Chair
Roxanne McCaffrey, Select Board Member
Patrick White, Select Board member
Also present - Michael Canales, Town Administrator
Since SU publications dates are the 1 and 15th of each month — the January 14th meeting will be covered in the next issue
Editor's note: In a prior meeting, the Select Board approved the process to qualify for the MVP program. MVP is the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program. MVP offers funding to municipalities that wish to assess their vulnerability to and prepare for climate change impacts, build community resilience, and receive designation from the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) as certified MVP communities that are eligible for MVP Action Grant funding and other opportunities.
The program helps communities to:
- Define climate related hazards
- Understand how they may be impacted by climate change utilizing the latest science and data at http://www.resilientma.org/
- Identify existing and future climate vulnerabilities and strengths
- Identify opportunities to take action to reduce risk and build resilience
- Implement priority actions identified through the planning process