Back to Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes 2008
February 26, 2008
Regular Session 8:15 pm
Ms. Tully, Mr. Riley, Ms. Burns
The Board resumed open session.
The Board discussed warrant articles
Affordable Housing Trust Allocation Plan
The Affordable Housing Trust by-law requires that if the Trust receives funds the Trust must present a plan explaining to town meeting how the funds will be spent. This is Town Meeting action is to give an overall direction to the Trust on how funds should be spent. The proposed warrant article directs that unrestricted funds to be allocated as follows: 50% for existing affordable housing, 15% for construction, !5% for loan or grant programs, 15% engineering, accounting appraisals, legal advice and 5% for administration of the Trust. There are still funds coming in under the Inclusionary Zoning By-law that allowed Canterbury Estates to be built. This bylaw will come up every time Community Preservation funds are directed to the trust. Mr. O’Brien said the trust was formed under C. 491. This is to insure that town meeting is informed each year as to where the money is to be spent. The trust also requires that the Board of Selectmen approve any land acquisition. The HAHT is also interested in administering a loan program. The by-law states that the allocation plan can be amended by Town Meeting but will only take effect if the trustees of the Housing Trust vote to agree to that plan. Mr. O’Brien explained that the allocation percentages reflect the focus on the preservation of existing stock. The allocation plan may be modified in the future based on responses from residents on what they feel is needed. The 40B approach is not a sustainable way to reach an affordable housing goal. Mr. Riley noted that the town meeting vote spoke of oversight b y the Selectmen and asked how that would come into play. Mr. O’Brien explained that if there were borrowing or purchase in the Trust or Town’s name then it would come to the selectmen for approval.
Voted - to support the affordable housing trust allocation plan as written.
The Affordable Housing Trust is working with the developer on the Selectmen’s parcel. Mr. O’Brien commented that this parcel may not be developed under 40B, but rather under 40R. The amended wording of the vote under Article 42 of the warrant for the 2005 Annual Town Meeting would allow the town to go forward under 40R if the Town chose to follow that route. The developer who submitted the successful proposal for the property is looking at other state and federal grants that may be available under other programs but not under the LIP program..
Voted - to support the proposed amendment to the wording of the vote under Article 42 of the warrant for the 2005 Annual Town Meeting.
Scenic Road Warrant Article
Ms. Tully said she appreciated receiving the additional information regarding the scenic road designation from Ms. Davis. She said that after reviewing the material she was ready to vote on the article. Ms. Burns and Mr. Riley said that they were also prepared to vote on the article at this time.
Voted - to support the article to designate South Pleasant Street as a Scenic Road.
Assessors - Property Tax Deferral Rate and Age and Asset Limitations
Mr. Partridge said this is an annual discussion that he would like to propose no longer be done annually. The rate by statute is 8%. In the past two years borrowing rates were such that 4% would cover any borrowing cost if the Town were in the position of having to borrow to cover tax deferrals. The recommendation from the Assessors is to tie the property tax deferral rate to the Town’s borrowing cost under the State House Note program. Mr. Partridge suggested that the Board decide to tie the deferral rate to this rate and, thereby, eliminate the need for an article to set the rate each year.
Voted - to support tying the property tax deferral rate to the rate for State House Notes program.
Mr. Partridge advised the Board that all the statutory exemptions are under MGL C59 S. 5 are being made available to the maximum. The last two things that the Town is allowed to do would be to change the asset limits from $30,000 to $40,000, if single and to reduce the age of eligibility from 70 to 65. This will allow the greatest possible exemption to benefit the older residents. Ms. Burns said she felt the town should do as much as they can. Mr. Partridge said the Assessors’ Office employees watch to make sure that people get the best benefit possible.
Voted- to recommend maximize the asset and age limits for exemptions under Chapter 59, Section 5 of the Massachusetts General Laws in order to provide the greatest possible exemption for residents.
Zoning – 40R
Mr. O’Brien said the 40R statute, as recommended, would allow the 2.96 acre site for Avalon Bay and the Selectmen’s parcel to be combined as a single 40R district. Combined the two parcels would allow for development of over 100 housing units and qualify the Town for a $200,000 payment for affordable housing. He advised the Board that the language of the zoning article allows design standards to be added after town meeting. Standards would be in keeping with the Shipyard, as permitted, and the RFP for the selectmen’s parcel.
Mr. O’Brien further informed the Board that the appeal process needs to be bonded to insure that, if anything should happen, the appellant has to cover costs. He explained that timing is most important. Avalon Bay delayed pulling the permit until such time as the by-law was submitted. DHCD is clarifying whether the additional incentive payments are per unit or per building. The Planning Board hearings are on-going and there is the possibility of some minor changes. Any design standards have to be approved by DHCD as well as the Town. If DHCD does not approve what the Town chooses, the payment can be negated and the Town can withdraw. Mr. Riley asked if design standards referred to street layout or the design of the buildings themselves. Mr. O’Brien advised that the design standards refer to the buildings themselves. These standards cannot be too subjective and must be approved by DHCD. The permitting authority would be the combined Planning and Zoning Boards.
Ms. Murphy noted that the two biggest pros are that when there is a project that is going to happen and the choice is 40B or 40R, 40B throws out the Zoning By-Law and allows no opportunity to redesign the project, whereas 40R allows creation of design standards as well as the infusion of cash. She said the concerns are the complexity of the 40R statute and that it might be being rushed. She said that once 40R is in the Zoning By-Law it might be easier for other parcels to come in under 40R. Ms. Murphy said it is troubling that even I you have a valid concern, you are told to even appeal you have to put up a bond for thousands of dollars. This is muzzling people and affecting their due process. Once adopted, the by-law cannot be changed even by a word unless DHCD approves the change. It was suggested that if the by-law is adopted and the Town received the $200,000, then the improvements to Beal Street should be the recipient of some of the funds.
Mr. Healey commented that the issue of the looser pays is troubling to him. This means you are saying ton the residents you have to trust us to get this right. He said the other point that is unsettling is the role of DHCD in the process. That agency applies the yea or nay to the design rules; this is handled by one person who is ready to retire. The state doesn’t seem to be ready to handle these things quickly. Mr. Healey also noted that if this does pass it is likely that there will be more projects put forward. Ms. Burns explained that any future 40R would have to go through the state, the Town Planning Board and town meeting so it is unlikely that these projects will be popping up all over the place.
The Board took the matter under advisement.
Mr. Prentiss explained that the proposed warrant article would update the regulations promulgated in 1987. He noted that about half the communities in the state have their own by-law. He said that he had researched the establishment of enforcement authority through the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions. Show cause hearings have been very popular in communities that have this provision which requires the homeowner to come to the hearing. The nearest towns accepting similar regulations are Duxbury, Cohasset, Norwell and Wellesley. Communities tailor their regulations for their own situation such as coastline. This revision would not have any effect on 40Bs since these proejcts fall under state act which allows building right up to the wetlands. The Board took the matter under advisement.
Conservation Property Transfer.
The proposed transfer of property to the Conservation Commission was agreed to at the time the Town entered into a lease for the former police station property. The proposed warrant article a necessary step to effect that transfer.
Voted - to recommend that the Town place a parcel of approximately 6.21 acres on Assessors’ map 38 under the care, custody and control of the Conservation Commission.
Mr. Alexiades explained that the current ambulance rate policy is Medicare plus 30%. That rate has been going down and the Town is not collecting as much as it once did. This proposed charge is what insurance customers usually accept. The increase in rates will help stop the loss of revenue.
Voted - to adopt an ambulance billing policy of Medicare plus 50%.
Mr. Cristello explained that in order to facilitate the Shipyard developer’s land swap with the MBTA the T needs to know that Shipyard Drive this is an accepted roadway. This is solely for the purpose of facilitating that land swap. The roadway will be finished in accordance with the Town’s specifications. Shipyard Drive is a public way. The developer will be responsible for maintaining sidewalk. The T has responsibility for the parking lot. Mr. Cristello also noted that the Town has had out people at the project inspecting during construction of the road, etc.
Voted - To approve and accept “Areas A and B of Shipyard Drive” as shown on a plan entitled Plan of Land Exchange Shipyard Drive in Hingham, Massachusetts provided, however, that such acceptance is solely for the purpose of facilitating the land transfer with the MBTA and shall not relieve the “Owners” from their obligations under the Memorandum of Agreement drafted June 29, 2006 and the First Amendment to the Memorandum of Agreement dated February 6, 2007.
Bela Street Corridor
Mr. Cristello said that the contract to design the improvements to Beal Street as discussed a few months ago. The added scope to the project exceeded the amount of funds the Planning Board had negotiated. By leaving the road in binder for a while the Town can get the road done as outlined in the preferred design and stay within budget. Mr. Cristello noted that there will be a check from the developer for the full amount of the contract. The Town will be responsible for the final paving of the road. Ms. Burns said that the funds the Town will receive from the state for a 40R would be a one time payment and it does seem to make sense to use that money for Beal Street. She noted that it would need a town meeting appropriation to do that. If it were to be appropriated
at this town meeting it would give a cushion. Mr. Riley said that leaving the binder coat out there for a year would make a better job.
Voted - to sign a contract in the amount of $85,000 with Vanasse & Associates for design services for the Beal Street Corridor Transportation and Improvement Project.
Reserve Fund Transfer
Mr. Cristello advised the Board that it would required the Town to spend as much money to repair the floats as it would be to replace them. It seems prudent to get these floats repaired before the boating season.
Voted - to recommend a transfer from the Reserve Fund to the Harbormaster Repair and Maintenance Account in the amount of $17,850.
In order to print the Historic Districts Commission Handbooks the Commission will put in $7,500 of their funds and ask for $4,000 from the Reserve Fund. This will allow the handbooks to be printed and distributed this year.
Voted - to recommend a transfer from the Reserve Fund to the Historic Districts Preservation Projects Fund in the amount of $4,000.
The Board received a request from Melanie Hutchinson to proclaim May 13 as Livestrong Day in Hingham to recognize the battle with cancer. Ms. Burns commented that this would be a nice event for people to come together an think about how their lives have been touched by cancer.
Voted - to proclaim May 13, 2008 Livestrong Day in Hingham.
Voted - to renew the Limousine License of Richard Fraher, SMA Transportation Inc., expiring January 1, 2009. (Two limousines have passed inspection from the Police Department and an insurance rider has been provided.)
Voted - to appoint the following residents to the Hingham 375th Anniversary Committee:
Joan R. Getto
William E. Wilcox
Voted - to appoint Lysa Curry to the Fourth of July Parade Committee
The park in downtown at the intersection of North and South Streets has been discussed in previous meetings. Ms. Burns noted that the Garden Club had suggested several names that were taken under advisement.
Voted - name park to be designed on south side of intersection of North and South Streets Founders Park.
Voted - to voted to accept minutes of January 20 and February 5, 2008.
Selectmen/Town Administrator’s Reports
Ms. Burns met with Jerry Seelen regarding the suggestion that there be a permanent building committee in Town. Over half the towns surveyed have some form of permanent building committees. Ms. Burns commented that there is a lot more to be learned and recommended that a committee be formed to look into this in greater depth and come back to the Board with a proposal. Suggestions were made as to possible candidates for the committee. Ms. Tully reminded everyone to come to the special town meeting next Monday, March 3. Mr. Cristello had a meeting with ACOE regarding the clean up of petroleum at the bus depot. He said that a fuel tank discovered 16 years ago. The well in the area needs to operate and the Town doesn’t want to draw contamination into the well. He said that, hopefully, the ACOE will decide it is responsible. Ms. Tully commented that they said many years ago they were responsible. Mr. Cristello also noted that Congressman Delahunt’s staff provided good support and they are doing what they can to assist the Town on this.
Mr. Cristello also attended a meeting today of the newly forming trust to control the Plymouth County health care. The group voted to increase rates for everything but Master Health by 3%; Master Health will go up 15% because it is an expensive, problematic product. There will be an attempt to meet with every subscriber in Plymouth County to show them there is a PPO that will provide better coverage. Mr. Cristello also said that within the next month the Town will have to vote to join the group and appoint a regular member and an alternate.
Meeting adjourned 9:55pm.
Betty Foley, Clerk