6 January 2016 | Approved: 3 February 2016
Chairman Nagrod called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Brenda Gumula, Dave Hix, John McClelland, Deborah Mehlferber, and Steve Werts. Others in attendance were HPC Chair Bob Booher, Mayor Joli McCathran, Charlie Challstrom, Georgette Cole and Maggie Range.
Approval of Agenda:
Steve Werts moved to approve the agenda. Brenda Gumula seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0.
Per recommendations made in the new Forest Stewardship plan, Charlie Challstrom brought forth an item stating the need for boundary markers along the Town forest boundaries. It was suggested that 6 foot tall markers be placed by a qualified surveyor every 75 feet. The project will start on the Kelley Park side of the West Woods. Since the Commission regularly deals with surveying, he wanted them to know about this action.
Approval of the Minutes:
Dave Hix moved to approve the December minutes. Peter Nagrod seconded the motion. There was a minor grammatical change made.
Building Permit Applications:
111 Maple Avenue – Dave Hix reported this building permit application to be straight forward. The HPC review was completed months ago. The Commission reviewed Dave’s handout and the addition plans. John McClelland moved to approve the building permit application for an addition at 111 Maple Avenue. Steve Werts seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Review 319 Grove Avenue Fence: The fence in question has been replaced, however, it is three (3) inches over the line. A permit is required and the fence must be relocated on to private land.
Block 11 Survey of Residual Town Land – Update/Status: Maggie Range (#8 The Circle) came to clarify her reasons for “resistance” as noted in the December minutes of the Planning Commission. She distributed a document titled “Three and One-Half Steps” (See Exhibit A). There was a lengthy discussion about the unpermitted, handicapped steps on Town land, the efforts Maggie has already made to correct the other impediments to opening the shared path in Block 11 and Maggie’s situation with her handicapped son. Chairman Nagrod stated further discussion about this will be on the agenda for the February meeting. He then asked each Commissioner for an opinion of the situation.
- Peter Nagrod – He is comfortable keeping the current location of the steps and making it right when the property changes hands.
- Brenda Gumula – Unless she can see why this is absolutely a unique situation, the steps should be moved.
- Dave Hix – He has no appetite for selling Town land because of the unintended consequences with other properties. He thinks they should be taken out.
- Deb Mehlferber – Deb expressed concern for the future. She also wonders about the State and County regulations for handicapped access. The stairs don’t impede access.
- Steve Werts – He is against selling Town land and doesn’t think the steps should be allowed to stay in their current location. He suggested the steps could be kept where they are until a ramp is built on the side of the house. A gate could be built at the first landing of the ramp in order to accommodate Christopher’s task of loading the bags of pellets into the home.
- John McClelland feels the Sale of Surplus Parcels Policy does not apply to this situation as the majority of prior cases addressed safety issues and none were performed after the fact (in this case the building of the encroaching stairs). The recently adopted easement process also does not apply as its purpose was to protect the historical cottages and porches, not recently constructed, non-permitted stairs. The stair encroachment cannot be accepted nor permitted by the Commission or Town Council. The Town should follow its traditional non-enforcement policy by notifying the property owner to remove the stairs, relying upon the resident’s voluntary compliance but taking no overt action in their actual removal.
- HPC Chair Bob Booher suggested including the property owner in the decision about how the encroachment issue should be remedied and an appropriate time frame for completion. There was an additional discussion about the following:
- Financial hardship
- Legal way to require removal of the steps upon the construction of a handicapped ramp
- 60-day deadline to remove the steps
- Writing a letter with positive alternatives to remedy the problem, including a date for completion
- Let the resident pick the date for the deadline
- Follow-up with a letter agreeing to the date
Public Ways & Property Permit:
The PC Secretary reported being asked about an expiration date for a PW & P Permit. The current documents state; “This permit is valid for 90 days unless otherwise noted.” In the case of a recent application from WSSC, by the time they start their work the permit will no longer be valid. By general consensus, the Commission approved the following language:
“This permit is valid for up to one (1) year from date of issue.”
House Files – Status Report:
Brenda Gumula reported that spread sheets for this information are in the works. Charlie Challstrom is helping with this.
Report from Town Council:
John McClelland reported the following:
- Town Council approved Ordinances 2015-06, 2015-07 and Resolution 2015-08
- Town Council accepted the Audit Report for year ending June 2015.
- In response to a complaint about speeders on Chestnut Road by Linda Buel (405 Chestnut Ave), Bud O’Connor is doing research on equipment to measure driver’s speed when driving in Town.
Mayor McCathran reported the contract on 401 Brown Street was withdrawn. The potential buyers were going to take down a large oak tree to accommodate a bigger driveway. When this became public, a ribbon and a poem were attached to the tree by an unknown person. Mayor McCathran assured the potential buyer that Town officials had nothing to do with this action but the contract was withdrawn nonetheless. The home is on the market again.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.
Kathryn L. Lehman, Town Clerk