VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL MEETING / PUBLIC HEARING ON
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE ZONING AND SUBDIVISION REGULATIONS
March 27, 2018
Mayor Renny Perry was unable to attend the meeting so, in his absence, Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. Those in attendance were:
Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz Andy Kirkaldy
Alderman David Austin Robert Trepanier
Alderman Lowell Bertrand Shannon Haggett
Alderman Mathew Chabot Cheryl Brinkman (5:50 p.m.)
Alderman Mark Koenig Tim Cook (6:00 p.m.)
City Manager Mel Hawley City Clerk Joan Devine
WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $179,032.40 was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Hawley advised the Warrant includes the fourth and final contribution of the fiscal year to VLCT-PACIF for insurance coverage.
MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held on February 27, 2018. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.
ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER: Manager Hawley explained the City has in the past adopted Roberts Rules of Order for executive boards and small committees which waives various formalities and calls for the Mayor to vote on all motions. Alderman Mark Koenig moved to adopt Roberts Rules of Order for executive boards and small committees. The motion was seconded by Alderman Lowell Bertrand with all voting in favor.
ELECTION OF SENIOR ALDERMAN: Alderman Matt Chabot moved to appoint Jeff Fritz as the senior alderman. Alderman Lowell Bertrand seconded the motion with all voting in favor. Per the recently adopted policy, the senior alderman will hold the title of Deputy Mayor.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY: The Conflict of Interest Policy requires that it be reviewed by the City Council annually at the first regular meeting in March at which time it may be amended, repealed, or readopted. City Manager Hawley advised he does not feel this policy conflicts with Roberts Rules of Order as Alderman Donnelly suggested at a prior meeting. He advised that the City Council simply agrees to adhere to both Roberts Rules of Order and the Conflict of Interest Policy. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to re-adopt the Conflict of Interest Policy as presented. The motion was seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot with all voting in favor.
DESIGNATION OF NEWSPAPER: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to designate the Addison Independent as our newspaper of record, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor. City Manager Hawley explained that all legal notices will be published in the Addison Independent.
APPOINTMENTS: Deputy Mayor Fritz read a list of positions requiring re-appointment in March and the recommended appointees. He noted that any appointments involving City Manager Hawley will terminate on July 24, 2018.
Delinquent Tax Collector – Mel Hawley
Tree Warden – Mel Hawley
Service Officer – Joan Devine
Bixby Library Trustee Designation – Christine Bradford
ACSWMD Board of Supervisors Member-Cheryl Brinkman
ACSWMD Alternate Member Mel Hawley
Alderman Mark Koenig moved to adopt the slate as presented. The motion was seconded by Alderman Lowell Bertrand with all voting in favor.
2018 LIQUOR LICENSES, OUTSIDE CONSUMPTON PERMITS, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT LICENSES, AND OUTSIDE SEATING AGREEMENTS: Liquor License applications, Outside Consumption Permits and Live Entertainment Licenses for 2018 were submitted by Addison County Eagles, American Legion Post #14, Antidote/Hired Hand, Black Sheep Bistro, Champlain Farms, City Limits Nightclub, Kinney Drugs, Pork Squid, LLC (Park Squeeze), Porky’s Place, Shaw’s Supermarket, Small City Market, Strong House Inn, Three Squares Café, Vergennes Laundry, Vergennes Redemption, and Vergennes Wine. City Manager Hawley requested the applications by City Limits Nightclub be deferred as he is waiting on a memorandum from Police Chief George Merkel regarding this establishment. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved, acting as the local control commissioners for the liquor licenses and outside consumption permits, to approve all applications as submitted except for those involving City Limits Nightclub. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor. A restriction was placed on all Live Entertainment Licenses that exterior doors and windows remain closed during periods of live entertainment.
ADVERTISEMENT IN VERGENNES MAP BY DOUGLAS LAZARUS: City Manager Hawley advised he does not generally pass every solicitation for advertisement to the City Council but felt if the City Council was inclined to pursue this particular offer, he would suggest the $350 come from the Otter Creek Basin Fund which derives revenue from donations by boaters at the docks’ collection boxes. Alderman David Austin stated the sample brochure looks good but was unclear what it was trying to accomplish. He desired more information about its distribution. Alderman Chabot suggested having Doug Lazarus come to the next meeting. Alderman Mark Koenig said that the docks are typically at capacity and did not see the need for such advertisement. Alderman Lowell Bertrand advised he likes the brochure but would also like to know more about the distribution.
ABATEMENT OF TAXES AND SEWER DUE TO LATE FEES: City Manager Hawley advised the voters approved a 15-day grace period for property taxes and sewer assessments that has worked marvelously. This particular situation deals with a payment mailed to the City postmarked February 15, 2018 (a copy of the envelope was provided in the City Council agenda packet) that was properly addressed to the City’s post office box. The envelope and check was returned to Marc and Denise Dukette by the post office several weeks after being mailed with a label indicating “return to sender, attempted – not known, unable to forward”. The City Council is the Board of Abatement under the charter, he stated, and recommended they abate $12.56 in property taxes and $9.54 in sewer charges due to an error made by the postal system. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the recommendation. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.
CERTIFICATE – NO APPEAL OR SUIT PENDING: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to officially close the 2017 grand list as allowed by statute. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor. The certificate was passed for signatures of the City Council members and will be signed by the Listers.
APPOINTMENTS TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION: The Planning Commission normally operates with seven members. There are currently five members and filling those vacancies were deferred while the Planning Commission worked on proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations, advised City Manager Hawley. Shannon Haggett, chair of the Planning Commission, has since advertised the two vacancies and three highly qualified residents have expressed interest in the positions. He and Shannon Haggett recommend all three be appointed and that the Planning Commission increase to having eight members for the time being. They recommended the appointment of Carrie Macfarlane for a term expiring August 1, 2018 and the appointment of Christine Garrow and Danelle Birong for respective terms expiring August 1, 2019. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the appointments as recommended. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.
RECESS: Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz recessed the meeting at 6:00 p.m. to allow for the public hearing by the City Council regarding proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations.
Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz opened the public hearing regarding the proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations at 6 p.m. and read the public notice. The purpose of the public hearing is to hear and receive testimony regarding the amendments as proposed by the Vergennes Planning Commission in accordance with 24 V.S.A. § 4442. City Manager Hawley read a letter submitted by property owner and developer Scott Hardy who recommended reducing the minimum lot size in the high density residential district from 15,000 sf to 10,000 sf. His letter also supported the energy considerations and upgrades being proposed. Recognizing affordable elderly housing is important for a community, he also felt just age 55+ is not the best for the community as a whole; multi-generational living is best for everyone.
Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised the planning commission had a lot of discussion regarding making smaller lots for one-family dwellings in the high density residential district. It was their consensus to look at density bonuses first and speak with residents in and near these areas before proposing any changes.
As there was no further discussion, Deputy Mayor Fritz closed the public hearing at 6:13 p.m.
REGULAR SESSION – continued
REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: A copy of the formal posting, advertisement, city manager job description and application process were available in the City Council agenda packets. Deputy Mayor Fritz pointed out areas that were amended since the information was previously distributed. Alderman Chabot inquired how long the advertisement would be running. Deputy Mayor Fritz reported the job would be posted on Monday and it would be advertised through April 15th. He also reported the committee is recommending there be an employment agreement. The committee will meet again Thursday.
CITY COUNCIL CALENDAR: City Manager Hawley advised the City Council calendar for the year reflects two regular meetings per month with the exception of July and December that have just one regular meeting.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE ZONING AND SUBDIVISION REGULATIONS: City Manager Hawley advised this was the first public hearing on the proposed amendments. The purpose for the amendments was in part to bring them into conformance with the municipal development plan that was approved by the City Council in 2017. Shannon Haggett pointed out that all zoning permits have to comply with the existing zoning and subdivision regulations as well as the proposed amendments until such time as the proposed amendments are adopted by the City Council. They become effective on the 21st day following adoption. Alderman Mark Koenig moved the second public hearing on the proposed amendments be scheduled for April 24th at 6 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room. Alderman Lowell Bertrand seconded the motion with all voting in favor.
CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised revenues appear fine with the exception of police fines. In the administration budget, the final contribution of the fiscal year for insurance has been paid so that line item should be near 100 percent. Medical insurance premiums have been paid through the tenth month of the fiscal year so he felt that budget was in pretty good shape. The police department expenses are at 79 percent of the budget, he advised, but the bond and bond interest for the police station have both been paid. The public works budget; well it snowed but he still feels good about where we are at. The fire and recycling budgets are both in good shape, advised Manager Hawley, and he feels pretty good at this point about the sewer fund budget.
NORTHERN GATEWAY SIDEWALK PROJECT BIDS: We had a good response receiving seven bids, advised Manager Hawley. Although the project has not been awarded yet, the lowest bidder was Don Weston Excavating, Inc. at about $129,000. Engineering costs will be $50,000 to $60,000, management expense at about $30,000 and the low bid will allow us to complete this project well under the estimated budget of $305,000.
PERSONNEL POLICY UPDATE: City Manager Hawley reported Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT), after reviewing our personnel policy, had some recommended edits that focused on compliance with state and federal employment laws. He advised he did not want to hastily make those amendments so he will have it ready for review by the City Council at the April 10th meeting.
OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST: City Manager Hawley read a memorandum to the City Council regarding the written complaint by Shannon Mahoney. The memorandum will be filed as part of these minutes.
City Manager Hawley reported that he recently met with Lee Shorey, a counselor at VUHS, and student Carson Hoffman. They would like some improvements at the Skate Park. Amanda Guinness also emailed him today regarding the same topic. City Manager Hawley advised he felt the Skate Park was ill designed with a poor location and he and Mayor Renny Perry suggest the City Council conduct a site visit.
City Manager Hawley reported Jennifer Kingsley will return as the Pool Director this summer. The pool budget ended in good shape last year with much credit to her, he stated. Letters have been sent to lifeguards that worked at the pool last season to see if they have an interest in returning this year. He advised the cement has been order and is on its way for Mark Koenig’s repairs.
DEPUTY MAYOR’S REPORT: Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz apologized to all involved with the Shannon Mahoney complaint that was filed with the City Council. He explained the City Council did not have a procedure in place on how to handle a complaint and it was totally mishandled from the beginning.
Deputy Mayor Fritz read a Proclamation by Mayor Renny Perry proclaiming April 3, 2018 as National Service Recognition Day. The Proclamation will be filed as part of these minutes.
ADJOURNMENT: At 6:48 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.
Vergennes City Clerk