Back to Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes 2008
December 4, 2008
Special Session 2:10 p.m.
Mr. Riley, Mrs. Burns, Mr. Rabuffo
Conservation Land Gifts
Conservation Officer Cliff Prentiss, speaking for the Conservation Commission, presented two properties that were offered as gifts to the town and which the Conservation Commission voted to accept. The acceptance of these parcels of land needs the approval of the Board of Selectmen.
The parcel at 257 South Street, the gift of Mrs. Barbara Shea, is a 3/4 acre parcel of wooded wetland along the Greenbush rail line that provides a green buffer between the houses and the rail line. This piece of land soaks up water and tends to lessen the drainage issues of Town Brook. The Commission is very excited with this offer. The second parcel at 297 Main Street is the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Reed. This desirable 3 acre woodland lot is in the center of town, abuts the town-owned recreation property behind Town Hall and is accessible from Burr Road and Playground Road. It is heavily wooded and contains 2 or 3 possible vernal pools. Mr. Prentiss is also requesting permission to consult Town Counsel to work with the donors of these properties.
Mrs. Burns had no questions on the South Street property but asked if the Main Street property was available for recreation. Cliff responded that it is available for passive recreation and there are vernal pools that after storms act as retention areas for drainage from the surrounding properties. It also serves as a break between the neighbors and the recreation fields. There is no possibility of development. The owners are selling for the tax benefit. There is some money needed to complete the transactions, however, there is enough money in the Conservation Fund to take care of the costs. Town Meeting approval is not needed for this acceptance.
A Motion was made by Chairman Riley and seconded by Bruce Rabuffo:
To accept the recommendation of the Conservation Commission and approve the acceptance of a gift of land from Mrs. Barbara Shea at 257 South Street and a gift of land from Mr. and Mrs. Scott Reed at 297 Main Street, both parcels to be designated as Article 97 land which protects the properties in perpetuity. It was further voted to give permission to the Conservation Commission to consult Town Counsel in order to complete these transactions. Unanimously voted.
Deputy Harbormaster Ken Corson stated that the current mooring fee for Hingham residents is $2.00 per foot and non-residents pay $4.00 per foot. He had surveyed surrounding towns and said that most charge by the foot while some charge by classifying boats in a range of length.
Hingham’s fees have been the same for at least 8 years. Laura Burns said that the reason for raising fees is for dredging, improving the town float, condition of the sea walls, among other things. The pump out boat is under a federal grant which pays for 3/4 of the service. Presently the mooring fees are being used to pay off the Whitney Wharf debt; there are one or two years left. Bruce Rabuffo asked how much we collect in mooring fees. This year to date, we have colleted $71,000 with more to come – maybe $85,000 total. Any left over goes to dredging fund. Dredging should start mid-October with an estimated cost over $4,000,000. $1,000,000 is on us and we have $800,000 on hand. Ms. Burns would like to raise the mooring fees and devote the money to dredging after the Whitney Wharf debt service. There is a waiting list for the inner harbor of about 50. Mr. Riley remarked that Scituate is the only one around to charge for 10A permits. We should consider charging for 10A permits, we probably have about 30 in town. (Mr. Rabuffo, Nick Bonn’s are Chapter 91). Scituate charges $500 for a 10A permit. Laura questioned whether these fees would be considered mooring fees or would they go into the general fund.
Ken Corson was asked if the Harbormaster has a proposal for the mooring fees. They do not at this time. We would need to set the rates by February 1. John Riley suggests the Harbormaster come up with a schedule of fees that are reasonable and fair and not apt to discourage boat owners. Also, to get a broader coverage of current fees in other towns on the North Shore and the Cape. He is in favor of a 10A fee that is reasonable. The Selectmen will come back to this before February 1.
John Hersey, resident, asked if there was a by-law that floats are supposed to be out of the water at the end of the season. Ken Corson said that it is recommended to take them out but there is no by-law that says they have to come out. A winter stick is put on the mooring. Mr. Riley said they only have to come out if it interferes with shipping. Question from the Press: What is a 10A permit? It is a seasonal permit issued by the Selectmen for floats, which are secured by bottom anchors. Chapter 91 permits are issued when the float is held by pilings. James Clarke, resident, asked how do we avoid having the boaters bear the cost of land improvements such as Whitney Wharf. It might have been part of the Town Meeting vote to use mooring fees for the Wharf. Mr. Clarke continued that now we have a shortfall for dredging and need to increase mooring fees. Ms. Burns replied that we set aside money every year for dredging and now have to revisit how much to set aside. She also asked Ken to change the by-laws to require marinas to list owners of boats. The mooring fees issue was taken under advisement to come back with more information and make a decision. Bruce Rabuffo noted that the Harbormaster is the only one that can rent moorings in the inner harbor. Slips are under the control of the owners, which includes private moorings near residents’ docks.
Local Preference – Back River Townhomes
James O’Brien, Chairman of the Affordable Housing Trust, appeared to explain some changes in the local preference guidelines in lotteries for 40B, and similar type, projects. DHCD controls the lotteries and has regulations as to what the local preference is to be. Said regulations changed in June 2008. The four categories (for Back River Townhomes) are: Residents of Hingham, employees of the Town of Hingham, employees of businesses in the Town, and parents of METCO students. These changes were made by DHCD and the town has to work within the parameters. Mr. O’Brien then gave a detailed explanation of how the lottery works; income guidelines; Federal requirements; the differences between the recent Avalon lottery (rental) and this one (ownership). Mr. Rabuffo asked if illegal aliens could be on the list. No, they would not. The monitoring agents are bonded and tax returns and income levels are checked.
The applicant would like to move on with this since it was started October 31, 2008. It is 95% resolved. The Trust is meeting on December 8 and if everything goes well, they are ready to sign and forward to the Board of Selectmen by December 16. They are very close to a completed application. Answering a question from Mr. Ken Dunbar, 1 Heron Way, Mr. O’Brien said that the units would be 70% local preference – 3 units local and 2 outside. Denise McDonough said she was satisfied with the explanation. Chairman Riley noted that in the future, permits should include selling the affordable units when they are ready. Robert Keyes, Hingham Housing Authority felt that the Hingham Housing Authority should run all the lotteries and that the applicant had agreed to that but later made a change.
Scheduling Lynch and new DPW Fields
The Sports Partnership is concerned about Lynch Field. Can people outside use the fields? DPW fields are not usable for another year. Scheduling of Lynch Fields will be handled in the Selectmen’s Office. Bruce Rabuffo has talked with Tom Hoffman and that arrangement is OK with him but that the Sports Partnership should have preference. Robert Keyes, Recreation Commission, said the field is “destroyed”. Laura Burns said we are now looking at what resources we have in DPW and how much work there is and what is needed. John Riley said the situation is beyond our control and decisions are made by financial considerations and that we are gathering information and would welcome any suggestions.
We have had requests for more committee minutes on the website. Betty Foley noted that it is required that committees file their minutes with the Town Clerk and that we like a courtesy copy. Minutes can be filed electronically. We will contact committees under our jurisdiction about timely filing of minutes. Unapproved minutes are not filed. John Hersey, resident, asked why all committees are not filmed. Currently there is only one room that has that capability, but we are working toward making more rooms available for filming.
A Motion was made and seconded to send a memo to all committees and commission under the Board of Selectmen’s jurisdiction and ask them to file their minutes electronically with the Town Clerk. Unanimously Voted
The upcoming Christmas Party was discussed. Questions regarding a cash bar; location; cost; is simply recognition of the holiday spirit enough? and should we have one at all. Betty Foley will talk to David Basler.
Suggestions for Selectmen’s budget cuts in the FY 2010. Betty Foley suggested that we print fewer copies of the Warrant and make it available on the website and at various places throughout the town. Laura Burns suggested the Board forego their salaries. A minimum salary must be given to the elected Boards who receive a stipend in order to be eligible for town health insurance.
A motion from Bruce Rabuffo to form an ad hoc committee to study the tax levy and report back to the Selectmen was tabled until this evening’s meeting.
Voted, by roll call vote to adjourn to executive session to discuss pending litigation and personnel issues and not return to open session.
Mr. Riley – yes
Mrs. Burns – yes
Mr. Rabuffo – yes