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4 January 2018 | Approved: 19 February 2018

[Preceding Meeting Minutes held on 11.27.18]

Mayor Joli McCathran called the continuation of the Special Town Council meeting to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were Council Members John Compton, Pat Klein, Audrey Maskery, Greg Silber and Shelley Winkler. Also in attendance were Historic Preservation Chair, Chair Bob Booher, Charlie Challstrom, Joe Clark, Georgette Cole, Wendy Harris, Andrew Hotaling, Planning Chair Peter Nagrod, Carolyn Rapkievian, David Rapkievian, Jane Seegal, Mimi Styles, Sandy Styles, Mary Warfield, and Missy Yachup. Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson was in attendance. Bud and Carolyn O’Connor arrived at 7:45 p.m.

Mayor McCathran reminded those in attendance this was a continuation of a Special Town Council Meeting which took place on 27 November 2017. She also asked for public comment to be limited to new information rather than repeating what was presented at the previous meeting. Approval of Agenda: John Compton moved to approve the agenda. Pat Klein seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0, approved. Presentation by Shelley Winkler, Council Liaison, Roads & Walkways: Shelley Winkler presented a slide show of the eight (8) homes with porches on Town land referenced in the Permanent Easement Ordinance. There was also some narrative. Historic Preservation Commission (HPC): Bob Booher summarized the events/actions which created the current situation. He mentioned use of the 1898 survey, the sale of surplus parcels solution of the 1980’s and the easement solution currently presented. He suggested the permanent easement solution ordinance was a better balance for both the Town and the property owner in that it is recognized by insurance carriers and provides detailed information for future owners and Town officials. Public Comments: The public and the Town attorney commented about:

  • Protections afforded by an easement should the house with the encroachment burn down
  • Homes were in existence before the first survey and should have priority over the land
  • HPC role in promoting historic integrity
  • HPC’s lack of power to tell property owners what to build
  • Clarification of Permanent Easement – A promise to allow the encroachment to remain in exchange for maintaining the historic integrity of the portion of the main building on Town land.
  • Stating the Public Purpose – to support historic integrity
  • Recognizing the interest of the property owners is as valuable as the historic character
  • Potential disadvantages to property with an easement; insurers downgrade property and IRS house loss

Town Council Discussion: The Council reviewed the petition requirements, the Policy for Sale of Surplus Parcels and the history of previous sales. Shelley Winkler gave a history of the process as she understands it and made several observations including: The Planning Commission chose the concept of a permanent easement in 2014 because they determined at that time it was the best solution to accommodate an owner of a historic home found to encroach on a public right-of-way, this was done after many meetings and with public and legal input; a permanent easement is a significant real estate interest that can be insured; a permanent easement which clearly defines reasons for termination can be terminated fairly easily while in contrast, a transfer of ownership of the real estate by deed which has restrictive covenants would likely require the Town to file and litigate a lawsuit for specific performance (as confirmed by the Town attorney) — a much more expensive and cumbersome process for the Town; sale of the underlying real estate on which the eight homes encroach would mean the Town’s right-of-ways no longer have straight borders, but are carved in and out — a highly unusual way to deal with municipal rights of way; the existing homes, if taken down or rebuilt in the future, should not be able to be built on the encroaching area in any way other than the way in which the historic structure exists. There was additional discussion about:

  • Expectations of those who buy historic properties
  • Original goal of the permanent easement – to help residents
  • Status of land in question – dedicated to public use
  • Placing and enforcing covenants on land to protect historic integrity
  • Legal costs to Town if the covenants are broken
  • Writing an ordinance to declare certain public lands surplus parcels
  • Acting favorably on the petition

Pat Klein moved an ordinance be prepared to provide a process for the transfer of Town properties to adjacent property owners consistent with the 1987 Sale of Surplus Property policy. John Compton seconded the motion. This is considered a favorable action on the proposed petition. There was a roll call vote: John Compton – in favor; Pat Klein – in favor; Audrey Maskery – against; Greg Silber – in favor; Shelley Winkler – against. The meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m. Kathryn L. Lehman, Town Clerk

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