Regular Meeting of Monday July 24, 2023 at 7:00 PM
At South Hero Town Hall and via Zoom
Board Members Present: David Carter/Chairman, Ross Brown/Vice Chairman, Skip Brown/Board Secretary, Anne Zolotas and Chuck Hulse
Board Members Not Present: none
Other Staff Present: Sue Arguin, Town Administrator, Kim Julow, Treasurer and Naomi King, Town Clerk. Also see sign in sheet of in person and Zoom attendees. *Attendance SB 2023-07-24-2023
1. Called to Order:
-The meeting was called to order by Chairman Carter at 7:00 pm
2. Adjustment to Agenda:
-Judy Duval of Granny’s Attic Cancelled
-Ross Brown made a motion to approve the minutes of July 10, 2023. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
4. Public input:
A. None at this meeting
5. New Business:
A. Informational session to discuss the upcoming Town Plan vote on August 1, 2023:
-Bev Blakely asked about the minimum lot size in designated Village zoning districts. Note that there are currently no minimum lot sizes stipulated in the current development regulations in the designated districts. If the draft of the Town Plan passes and new development regulations are enacted, then the new minimums may be ¼ or ½ acres depending on the location. Note that the Town Plan does not automatically change the development regulations. That will be another whole process to change the current regulations. She referenced the Old South Hero Meeting House (OSHMH) comment in the draft of the Town Plan and did not see a reference to Granny’s Attic, who currently utilize the 2nd floor of the building as a thrift shop. The Granny’s Attic group has been invited to several meetings and has cancelled. More discussion will be necessary to see the outcome of their location, when and if the OSHMH is stabilized and restored.
-Jan Doerler asked again about minimum lot size and wondered why many new houses wouldn’t be built. The Town is not a developer and does not own the property in Village designated zoning districts. The Town does not actively build residential units and that is not what is stated in the draft of the Town Plan. It was noted that the water and septic capacity in South Hero has limited development in the past. Currently the “municipal” water system is Fire District #4 and is not run by the Selectboard, as it is a separate entity that maintains its own system and is paid for by the users. The system apparently has approximate capacity for 26 more hookups. Septic capacity is hard to find in the South Hero soils and all wastewater systems are regulated by the State, not the Town.
-Charlie Tipper questioned the wastewater feasibility study that is currently occurring. Grants were available to do this study. Note that no test pits have been dug and that archeological studies are being done before any digging will be done. If, and only if, any septic capacity is found, then a community septic system may be planned. Any system that may be built will be an in ground system approved by the Town and regulated by the State. The rumors about the Town planning a municipal sewage treatment plant project with wastewater being discharged into the Lake are false.
-Note that a Town Plan is required by State Statute. If the Town Plan does not get voted for, then there will be consequences for the Town. See attached.*CONSEQUENCES OF A LAPSED TOWN PLAN
-This Q and A session ended at 7:35.
B. Informational session to discuss the upcoming Town Charter vote on August 1, 2023:
-The Board explained that in 2022 the Town voted and approved a 1% meals and alcohol local option tax. The tax department agreed to this, and then reneged. The tax dept. then said that the Legislature needed to approve the local option tax even thought the Town so voted. After discussion in the 2023 legislative session, the Legislature then decided that in order for South Hero to collect a local option tax, it needed to have a Town Charter. South Hero and many Towns in State do not have a Town Charter. Hence the vote on August 1 to enact a Town Charter.
-Rich Montorosso asked how the extra tax income would be allocated. The money raised by the 1% local option tax would probably be about $40,000./year, as the State keeps 1/3 of that money for administrative costs. If it is approved, then the money would be allocated to Town building upkeep and recreation.
-This Q and A session ended at 7:45 and the regular Selectboard meeting continued.
C. There was tax sale for property that had been in arrears. The attorney hired by the Town suggested to not wait for years to hold such a sale. Anne Zolotas made a motion to send a letter to property owners whose taxes are in arrears explain the process of a tax sale. The motion was seconded; Ross Brown recused himself and did not vote. The others in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
D. The State has set the FY 2023/2024 education tax rate for the Town. It is $1.744 for the homestead rate and $1.725 for the non-homestead rate. This is an approximately 9% increase and is set by the State, not the Town. The Town portion of the tax is $0.4885 which is basically the same as last year. See Attached * FY 2023-2024 Tax Rate Skip Brown made a motion to set the tax rate at $2.2325 for residential and $2.231 for non-residential. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
E. Anne Zolotas made a motion to allow Treasurer Kim Julow sign the line of credit application and approval from Community Bank NA. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
F. Anne Zolotas made a motion to approve the move of South Hero Fermentation, LLC, dba Two Heroes Brewery and Public House facility and permits from Ferry Rd. to Route 2. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
6. Town Administrator and ZA Reports:
A. See the written reports filed with these minutes (Below on the website or in Town Hall).
7. Old and Ongoing Business:
A. none at this meeting
8. Announcements and Communications:
A. Tree Warden Anne Zolotas has been in touch with VEC and DJ’s Tree Service about large dead and dying poplar trees on South St. VEC has agreed to remove some trees and the Town is waiting for an estimate from DJ’s for some other trees.
9. Other Business:
A. Chuck Hulse made a motion to approve and sign orders 24-02 and to pay the bills associated with the orders. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
B. Town Clerk/Treasurer updates: See above, plus the vote for Town Plan and Charter will be on August 1. The Town Hall will be closed for regular business on that day.
C. Recreation Commission (RC) update: Debris from the flooding will be cleaned up. It was suggested that perhaps a dog poop bag dispenser be installed. More info will follow.
D. Road Department update: Anne Zolotas made a motion to allow the Road Dept. utilize a $10,000.00 grant with a $2500.00 match for a lined ditching project. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motions carried.
E. Old South Hero Meeting House (OSHMH) project: Testing for lead and asbestos was completed and results are pending. The Town would like to thank Chris Dubuque for the use of his man-lift that the Town borrowed to fix hanging boards on the OSHMH.
F. ARPA fund updates: none
G. Wastewater (WW) update: Archaeological studies are being done on areas where test pits are anticipated to be dug.
H. Town Hall Feasibility study committee: Read the minutes from that committee for more info.
-Chuck Hulse made a motion to adjourn at 8:15 pm. The motion was seconded, all in attendance so voted and the motion carried.
Respectfully submitted, Approved by,
Graham Brown, Secretary David Carter, Chairman
TOWN ADMINISTRATOR REPORT FOR SELECTBOARD MEETING OF 07/24/2023
1. I will be attending the Town Fair at the Double Tree By Hilton in South Burlington on Tuesday
the 26 th of September and Wednesday the 27 th from 8am-3:30pm. The registration for this event
doesn’t happen until August 1 st but I’m planning on signing up. Many town/city employees get
together and exchange ideas that work in their towns.
2. The small street study we were required to do for us to place our feedback speed limit signs
took place on Thursday the 20 th of July. The next step is when we get the report back, we submit
a Permit 1111 Application with VTrans. From what I understood from Kyle Grenier the process
should move along quickly at this point. I’ll keep you updated.
3. The Municipal Energy Efficiency Resilience Grant Application is now completed, and I’ll be
submitting it this week to the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, Marlena Valenta. We
are applying for $500,000 to aide in the highway department’s building, Museum and White
Meeting House. Keep you posted.
July 24, 2023 ZA’s report to the SB
1. I asked Ed Pierce of VTrans if there was any way for the Town to restrict cars from
parking in the breakdown lane on RT 2 within the 2 village zoning districts. Although it is
legal to do so, cars parked there create a safety hazard where views are blocked for cars
trying to enter the roadway and for cars already on the road. This has been an issue in
the past with the Blue Paddle in South Hero Village and the previous Blue Paddle on the
Bay in Keeler Bay Village. The popularity of the recently opened Two Heroes Brew Pub
at 252 US RT 2, just as traffic is entering South Hero Village, has me concerned that
there may be parking along RT 2 during their busier times. Ed replied that the Town
Selectboard would have to write a request for the Vermont Traffic Committee to
consider a “No Parking” zone so it could be legally enforced. Of course, this would
affect the South Hero Museum who doesn’t have any other options besides crossing the
road from the Meeting House parking lot or the lot at the Town Office. I’d like to have a
conversation with the Board about this and ask that it be put on a future SB agenda.
2. Zoning 101 classes will continue on the last Thursday of each month (this month July
27 th ). This month’s class will be the 4 th of the series.
The final draft of the Town Plan is available for review on the Town website (southherovt.org).
Development Review Board
The Board has 2 hearings this Wednesday, July 26. I am currently scheduling hearings into the
latter part of August.
Martha Taylor-Varney, ZA