All posts by Joan Devine

City Council Minutes 01-09-2018


January 9, 2018


Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. The agenda was amended to include item 5j – Polling Hours. Those in attendance were:


Mayor Michael Daniels                                        City Clerk Joan Devine

Senior Alderman Renny Perry                         Andy Kirkaldy

Alderman Lynn Donnelly (6:10 p.m.)           Robert Trepanier

Alderman Mathew Chabot                               Alicia Grangent

Alderman Jeffrey Fritz                                        Logan Barbosa

Alderman Mark Koenig                                      Shannon Haggett

City Manager Mel Hawley

VISITORS: Mayor Daniels introduced Alicia Grangent, Director of Northlands Job Corps, and Logan Barbosa, Business Community Liaison at Northlands Job Corps. Alicia Grangent advised they were present to familiarize themselves with local government affairs.

MINUTES: Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held on December 19, 2017. The motion was seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz. On the second page in the first paragraph, the fifth sentence was amended to read, “Shannon Mahoney stated she felt the City Council has been negative towards all of her interactions…” In the same paragraph the seventh sentence was amended to read, “The Public Works Department put up the lights for several years and the Vergennes Partnership organized the Holiday Stroll last year, he stated.” A vote on the motion with corrections showed all voting in favor. Senior Alderman Perry advised he would like the minutes to reflect that although Shannon Mahoney stated that the effort (Lighting of the City Green) was handed to her at the last minute, that was not the case. He stated she took it upon herself to purchase and coordinate putting up the lights and organizing the event.

WARRANT: The Warrant, totaling $97,847.22, was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Hawley advised recent bills for salt are included in this amount.

ADDISON COUNTY REGIONAL PLAN – TRANSPORTATION SECTION: City Manager Hawley reported he has reviewed the proposed amendments to the Transportation Section of the Addison County Regional Plan and made changes and corrections he would like considered. He advised he feels it is important the City Council participates in this and has a voice. Senior Alderman Perry suggested some changes he had marked on his copy that he would like included if the City Council agrees with them. Alderman Koenig pointed out the population of impacts on Main Street compared to Route 17 is not a one-to-one comparison. Mayor Daniels added that the document refers to a truck route and calls it a by-pass in other areas so he would like clarity that the City is looking for a truck by-pass. There were no objections to Manager Hawley submitting the changes.

SETH WARNER – RHONDA FARRAND CHAPTER OF THE DAR: A request has been made to install another bench, this one honoring the Korean War Veterans, at Macdonough Park. City Manager Hawley advised the bench would be similar to the one installed in the spring honoring the Vietnam War Veterans. Senior Alderman Perry moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz, with all voting in favor.

REMOVAL OF LIGHTS ON THE CITY GREEN: City Manager Hawley reported we customarily shut off the holiday lights on the City Green on January 2nd. This year that did not happen until last Tuesday. Senior Alderman Perry advised volunteers from Vergennes Partnership will take down the lights on the lower levels of the trees and leave the lights up on the higher levels. Alderman Fritz inquired who was going to store the lights that the City did not own. Manager Hawley advised he will notify the Public Works Department that it will not be their responsibility to take down the lights this year but they can certainly help if needed. Alderman Koenig questioned the electrical costs this year for the display. Manager Hawley reported we paid $290 for 2015; $320 for 2016; and $340 for 2017. Alderman Koenig suggested checking with Shannon Mahoney to see if she wanted all or some of the lights left up seeing as how they are hers; he would be willing to do that. Alderman Jeff Fritz advised he would like all the lights to come down. Alderman Chabot agreed. They are seasonal and not so special when lit year-round, he stated. Senior Alderman Perry also agreed with the exception of the taller trees. He favored leaving the lights up at the top and hopefully they will work next year.

CITY HALL CONFERENCE ROOM: City Manager Hawley reported Christopher Pettibon prepared drawings a few years ago for possible renovations to City Hall’s layout to better utilize the space. One of the drawings proposed removing the lobby wall to the City Clerk’s office which would have people directly accessing the City Clerk’s office once they go through the double doors in the lobby. Instead, advised Manager Hawley, he was looking for City Council permission to remove the lobby wall to the conference room which will be used predominately at night thus keeping the City Clerk’s office secured. All the demolition in the conference room has been done by Mayor Daniels, he advised, and we are at the next stage which will require moving some electrical lines and a heating unit. Senior Alderman Perry agreed the clerk’s office needs to be secured and felt the conference room would be large enough for City Council meetings but he did not support leaving it totally open. He suggested a folding wall that could be opened when additional space was needed. City Manager Hawley advised he would not have a problem with that but it would add to the cost. Most members did not support a folding wall at this time but noted it could be added in the future if deemed necessary. The next step would be to acquire the necessary permits to begin the work, advised Manager Hawley. He advised when discussion was held previously on this project it was determined this is a capital improvement and would qualify for Water Tower Fund funding. Mayor Daniels stated he estimated the project originally at under $15,000.

RECTANGULAR RAPID FLASHING BEACON OPTIONS: City Manager Hawley reported there are two options for the pedestrian crosswalk flashing beacons. Option one has small lights around the perimeter of the sign and the other has a beacon above. Both options have space on the pole for installation of a flashing light bar. He advised the grant for these signs and beacons was briefly suspended due to patent issues regarding the light bar which cannot be installed on the pole in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. It was his recommendation to go with option two; all members expressed a preference for option two.

MEMBERSHIP TO ADDISON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The Addison County Chamber of Commerce (ACCC) used to do a lot more for the City as it relates to events, advised Manager Hawley, but recommended to continue membership at a cost of $175. Senior Alderman Perry, who is also the President of Vergennes Partnership, reported he and Amy Bodette-Barr met with representatives of ACCC and were advised of their desire to create a position as an event planner for the towns. Alderman Matt Chabot moved to continue membership with ACCC, seconded by Senior Alderman Renny Perry, with all voting in favor except Alderman Fritz who was opposed.

SANDWICH BOARD AND TEMPORARY SIGNS IN STREET RIGHT OF WAY POLICY: Senior Alderman Perry submitted his second draft with corrections incorporated from the first review. City Manager Hawley advised the Planning Commission offered their assistance in this regard. Senior Alderman Perry very much appreciated the offer and Shannon Haggett, Chair of the Planning Commission, confirmed they would return a draft policy to the City Council.

APPOINTMENTS TO THE REVOLVING LOAN FUND COMMITTEE: City Manager Hawley reported, according to the policy, Alderman Lynn Donnelly’s appointment to the Revolving Loan Committee expired March 1, 2016 since the term of her appointment runs concurrent with her term of office as a City Council member. City Manager Hawley suggested she be appointed to the Revolving Loan Fund Committee until March 6, 2018 when her term as a City Council member expires. If she seeks reelection in March 2018, and is elected to the City Council, she will need to be re-appointed to the Committee for a two-year term. Mayor Daniels advised Patricia Ganson has agreed to serve on the Committee as the citizen at-large. Senior Alderman Perry moved to appoint Lynn Donnelly to the Committee until March 6, 2018 and Patricia Ganson for a two-year term. The motion was seconded by Alderman Chabot with all voting in favor.


POLLING HOURS: Alderman Chabot requested an update on when the Board of Civil Authority (BCA) will be meeting to discuss the polling hours. City Clerk Devine advised a BCA meeting has been scheduled for January 31st and hours of the polls will be discussed regarding the upcoming Primary and General elections. Changing the polling hours for the Annual City Meeting will require an amendment to the City Charter which is a lengthier process. City Manager Hawley was asked to create a calendar to see if it was possible to have this as an article on the Warning for March.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised the swimming pool budget ended the season with a fund balance of $9,824. Members of the Fishman family have historically donated $2,000 a year towards the operation of the pool. He reported speaking to Audrey Fishman Franklin this summer and expressed appreciation for their financial support of the Sam Fishman Memorial Swimming Pool. A donation of $4,000 was received in December. He advised they read the Addison Independent and are aware of the various challenges at the pool. As a result of consolidating positions at the pool with Jennifer Kingsley as Pool Director and Lessons Director, and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Rick Chaput managing chemical use and water quality, payroll expenses were substantially reduced. There was an increase in revenues resulting from more members on the swim team which also contributed to the fund balance. He reported hot water is needed at the pool, baby changing stations, and the roof needs to be replaced but feels much more confident starting off with such a favorable fund balance.

The Planning Commission has a public hearing scheduled for February 5, 2018 regarding their proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations, advised City Manager Hawley. It is expected that the proposed amendments will be submitted to the City Council sometime in February.

The City’s 2017 common level of appraisal (CLA) has been certified at 101.82 percent which is slightly higher than 2016.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Daniels reported he has received the information from Vergennes Partnership that he has been waiting for and will move forward with discussions on local option taxes. He is scheduling a Cracker Barrel in January, he advised, where he plans to discuss local option taxes and truck traffic in the city. Robert Trepanier questioned the parameters for turning the local option taxes on and off that was mentioned a few meetings prior. City Manager Hawley explained that legislative approval is needed for local option taxes which would be accomplished by an amendment to the City Charter. Once there is language in the Charter to allow this tax, a specific tax would be proposed to the voters for approval before it would go into effect. Senior Alderman Perry pointed out that the City Charter could be amended but take no immediate action to implement a local tax. Mayor Daniels advised this is not happening this year as the City Council is not rushing into anything.

Speaking on the City Manager position, Mayor Daniels advised City Manager Hawley will likely retire this year. Manager Hawley advised he does not have a contract with the City, nor has he ever felt a need for one, but generally, if there was a contract, it would address what is called a non-renewable clause which calls for three months notice prior to departure. He advised he would give at least that much notice when he does decided to retire. He also suggested the City Council commence work immediately upon notice as it can involve a lengthy process. Mayor Daniels advised he has already been reaching out to department members for their input.

Mayor Daniels congratulated Alderman Jeff Fritz for his recent appointment as the secretary of Addison County Economic Development Corporation for 2018.

ADJOURNMENT: At 7:15 p.m. Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk

City Council Minutes 12-19-2017


December 19, 2017


Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Michael Daniels Shannon Mahoney

Senior Alderman Renny Perry Robert Trepanier

Alderman Lynn Donnelly City Manager Mel Hawley

Alderman Mathew Chabot City Clerk Joan Devine Alderman Lowell Bertrand

Alderman Mark Koenig Alderman Jeffrey Fritz

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held on November 14, 2017 and the special meeting held on December 4, 2017. The motion was seconded by Senior Alderman Renny Perry with all voting in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant, totaling $948,843.47, was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Hawley advised the second installment of education taxes is included in this amount.

REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR LIGHTING OF THE CITY GREEN: Shannon Mahoney, owner of Raintree, was present to request additional funds for Lighting of the City Green for this year and in the future. She advised the total cost to buy and install the lights came to $6,412; the City Manager had previously committed $1,000 to this project as has been done in the past. Shannon passed out a list of donors’ names, merchants and individuals, reflecting commitments totaling $4,313 of which $3,763 has been collected. She pointed out that Raintree and Malabar are each donating $500 towards the cost but they are still short about $1,100 and are hoping the City will help out with more funds. In the future, she envisions the Holiday Stroll to encompass what was done this year with additional tree lighting on various streets that will be sponsored individually. This year’s volunteers want to create a destination for people to visit, she advised. Because this effort was handed to me last-minute, it did not allow for planning, she stated. She advised she and Malabar will pay the outstanding balance if they have to, but would like it to be a budget item for next year. Mayor Daniels advised the City Green is very nicely decorated. Senior Alderman Perry inquired how the lights were going to come down. Shannon reported she can do some of them and will hire Barrett’s Tree Service for the remaining ones. She has also heard from people that would like some of the lights to remain. Vergennes Partnership President Renny Perry advised they could probably help getting volunteers to take down some of the lights. They also have a friend with a lift that may be able to help take the upper lights down as well as put them up next year too, he advised. He inquired if she wanted to leave some up or if they were all to come down. City Manager Hawley advised the extension cords running on the ground are a trip hazard once the snow is gone and would be a mowing issue in the spring. He went on to advise the City’s $1,000 was paid to Barrett’s Tree Service and is in the Warrant. Alderman Matt Chabot stated all the feedback he has received has not been positive. He assured Shannon Mahoney that he understood her intent when she took this project on but that the City Council is struggling with paying for things that we have to have and not things we want to have. He advised he was appreciative she was able to get that many donations. Shannon Mahoney stated that if City Council does not want to spend more than the $1,000 budgeted, that was fine. She advised she will give up the big picture and just do her own lights from now on. City Manager Hawley advised the City Council has a budget process to follow and felt it was an unfair statement for her to say the City doesn’t want to help so now she’s done. This is not the time to take additional dollars from the budget, he stated. Mayor Daniels agreed with City Manager Hawley and said we can look at this in May when we work on the budget. Alderman Mark Koenig guessed she might need the same next year. Shannon Mahoney stated she would like the City to budget $2,000 to $2,500 in the future for this. Senior Alderman Perry said he cannot definitely say the Vergennes Partnership will help next year with this event because he hasn’t talked to the Board of Directors but feels they could possibly offer help with a fundraiser. He went on to say the lighting of the City Green will be done again and we will know in advance what we need and can plan for it. Shannon Mahoney stated she felt the City Council has been negative with all of her interactions and she will run-out her lease and move her business out of here. City Manager Hawley reported the Vergennes Area Chamber of Commerce organized the lights and Holiday Stroll for many years in the past until they dissolved. The City then took it over for several years and the Vergennes Partnership did it last year, he stated. He went on to advise the City Green does look amazing this year but did not feel it looked nine times better than the $700 spent last year. Alderman Lynn Donnelly, speaking to Shannon Mahoney, said, “I feel horribly that you feel the City Council has been negative to you. You bring in something that we can plan for yet you threaten you will not participate next year if we don’t give you more.” Alderman Donnelly said it was unfair when we have a budget process to follow. Mayor Daniels went around the table looking for a consensus on Shannon Mahoney’s request for additional funding. Senior Alderman Perry did not know where additional dollars would come from. Alderman Koenig announced the request will allow consideration in the future and that he would support an additional $200 this year if available. Alderman Bertrand said no to this year but budget for it in the future. Alderman Fritz requested Shannon Mahoney come to the City Council at budget time with a plan. Shannon Mahoney advised she only had four weeks to put this event together and knew before she arrived that the City Council was not going to support her. She departed at 6:13 p.m.

VENDOR LICENSE – C & J HAULERS: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the application for a 2018 vendor’s license submitted by C & J Haulers, LLC. The motion was seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.

ADDISON COUNTY REGIONAL PLAN – TRANSPORTATION SECTION: City Manager Hawley advised he sent each City Council member a link to the proposed amendments to the Transportation Section of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) Regional Plan that is being updated. He reported he is in an awkward spot as Mayor Daniels did not support the northbound truck route that requires trucks to use VT Route 17 that is being proposed in the plan. A prior referendum vote in the mid 1990s for a bypass was supported by voters, he advised. In March 2016 the voters supported the creation of a northerly truck route from Route 22A, east along VT Route 17, to US Route 7; totals were 588 people in favor and 230 opposed. VTrans recognized the City has a problem and said they would look at it and have, he stated. ACRPC scheduled two public hearings for the proposed re-write of the Transportation Section; one on December 13th and the final hearing on January 10, 2018. Due to the amount of changes recommended at the first hearing, the final public hearing will not be held in January. Manager Hawley advised he would like the City Council’s position on the by-pass proposal no later than February as the amended plan will likely be scheduled for adoption in March. Mayor Daniels reported the ACRPC Transportation Advisory Council (TAC) says the State will own the by-pass and determine its location. Senior Alderman Perry stated the by-pass issue has been studied and discussed quite a bit; this is not a new issue and he did not feel it was going to happen. He went on to report that a lot of communities who built a by-pass suffered because both cars and trucks by-passed the town. Senior Alderman Perry stated he did not know today’s feeling in the community. Mayor Daniels stated there are options out there that can filter those who want to be here. Alderman Lynn Donnelly advised Vergennes suffered when they created the Route 7 by-pass many years ago. We have carefully brought ourselves back over the years, she stated. She felt there was nothing more destructive in the downtown than trucks but was hopeful with new paving that the trucks would not be heard to that degree. She cautioned everyone to think about what we are hoping for. Mayor Daniels pointed out that we now have several restaurants that draw people into town. Alderman Jeff Fritz announced he likes the concept of a by-pass but agrees with Senior Alderman Perry; it is not going to happen but the trucks are a problem. City Manager Hawley pointed out the Transportation Section of the regional plan is important. TAC is developing policy and procedures for the region so we need to take this plan seriously and have our position clearly stated. Discussion will continue at the next meeting.

AMERICAN LEGION CORRESPONDENCE: City Manager Hawley advised the Development Review Board received a similar letter as the City Council and Chair Peter Garon has responded with a letter on behalf of the Board. He reported no formal application has been filed by H V 2005, Inc. for an affordable housing project so no testimony will be taken yet. Manager Hawley recommended writing something back to the American Legion to advise of such. Mayor Daniels announced he is a member of the American Legion so he will recuse himself. Members agreed with the recommendation by City Manager Hawley; he will work with Senior Alderman Perry to respond on behalf of the City Council.

ADDISON COUNTY RIVERWATCH COLLABORATIVE – FUNDING REQUEST: A letter requesting $400 for their stream-monitoring activities was received from Addison County River Watch Collaborative. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the request and release payment as reflected in the sewer department budget. The motion was seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.

VERMONT COUNCIL ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT – FUNDING REQUEST: A letter requesting a contribution investing in their work was received from Vermont Council on Rural Development. City Manager Hawley recommended a contribution of $150 as was made last year for their effort involving the Community Visit. Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to contribute $150. The motion was seconded by Alderman Lowell Bertrand with all voting in favor.

THE PRESERVATION TRUST OF VERMONT – FUNDING REQUEST: A letter requesting support in funding was received from The Preservation Trust of Vermont. City Manager Hawley recommended no action as he was waiting for a response to an email he had sent to their Executive Director relative to whether they received funding from other municipalities. Senior Alderman Perry advised he is supportive of this request. No action was taken.

APPOINTMENTS TO THE REVOLVING LOAN FUND COMMITTEE: City Manager Hawley advised the City Treasurer does not have to be appointed as the City Treasurer is a voting ex-officio member per the policy. A City Council member needs to be appointed and the following members’ respective terms ran out in April but have agreed to continue:

Scott Gaines – Vergennes Partnership

Nancy Larrow – Realtor

Christopher LaPierre – Banker

Hillary Devine – Business/Commercial Property Owner

Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to re-appoint the four members as stated for two-year terms. The motion was seconded by Alderman Bertrand with all voting in favor. Alderman Lynn Donnelly, the prior City Council representative, said she would be willing to serve another 2-year term but encouraged other City Council members to consider the position to get an idea how the process works. The citizen at-large position on the Committee also needs to be filled. City Manager Hawley advised $60,000 is available to loan.

SANDWICH BOARD/TEMPORARY SIGNS IN STREET RIGHT-OF-WAY POLICY: Action was deferred. City Manager Hawley advised the Planning Commission has offered to assist Senior Alderman Perry in drafting the policy so that it coincides with the zoning regulations.


LOCAL OPTION TAXES: Mayor Daniels advised he is still waiting for information and will be scheduling a cracker barrel meeting.

RAIL TRAIL PROJECT: City Manager Hawley advised he searched in the municipal development plan and found only one reference to the rail trail and it simply says that it is being planned. He wondered if this project was a priority. Senior Alderman Perry suggested not scrapping the project as some of the paths have been developed with gravel and three bridges have been installed as a part of that project years ago. He felt the City may eventually find a grant with enough dollars to complete it.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley reported he feels pretty good about the budget. He also alerted the City Council that a claim has been filed by J.K. Thiese for an injury she received when she fell exiting her apartment on South Water Street where the sidewalk is being replaced. VLCT-PACIF has been notified. The City has also been listed as a co-defendant in a Superior Court case that Wanda Green, owner of the property at 93 West Main Street, has filed against River’s Edge Associates, he advised. City Manager Hawley said he has met with an attorney designated by VLCT-PACIF who will be representing the City.

ADJOURNMENT: At 6:45 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk