City Council Minutes 04-24-2018



APRIL 24, 2018


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

Mayor Renny Perry                                   Jay Clark, State Liquor Inspector

Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz                        George Merkel, Police Chief

Alderman David Austin                          Brett Ward

Alderman Mathew Chabot                  Ian Huizenga

Alderman Mark Koenig                        Susan Schaefer

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                    Shannon Haggett

City Manager Mel Hawley                Cheryl Brinkman

City Clerk Joan Devine                      Christine Garrow

Lisa Casey

Susan Rakowski


VISITORS: Vermont State Liquor Inspector Jay Clark was invited to advise the City Council on Vermont Department of Liquor Control’s procedures when they issue a notice of violation to licensees for over-serving patrons. City Manager Hawley also asked Mr. Clark to offer some guidance on a pending application for a second class liquor license to a licensee that holds a first class liquor license for the same location. Currently, he advised, Ian Huizenga, owner of 35C, LLC, doing business as Antidote/Hired Hand, has been issued a first class liquor license and has applied for a second class liquor license for retail sales from the same location. Mr. Clark reported because the product is manufactured on-site, it is allowed but there needs to be a clear delineation between the two areas. For the second class license, the container (growler) would be filled, capped, and sold for off-premise consumption, he advised.

City Manager Hawley advised Police Chief George Merkel provided a memorandum to him that was shared with the City Council at the April 10th meeting regarding the recent notices of violation issued to City Limits Nightclub by Liquor Inspector Jay Clark involving patrons being overserved. The memorandum advised the Department of Liquor Control issued three notices of violation for the offenses. Because Brett Ward, owner of City Limits Nightclub, was unable to attend the last meeting, City Manager Hawley recommended the City Council defer action on Mr. Ward’s application for a 2018 first class liquor license until this meeting. State Liquor Inspector Clark advised the three notices that he recently issued to BKW Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a City Limits Nightclub, for liquor control violations resulted in penalties that have been paid. The Vermont Department of Liquor Control acknowledges that the notices were issued, have been paid, and there will be no suspension of license so the case is closed for them. The City Council, acting as the local liquor control commissioners, can revoke or suspend a license, he advised, but must follow the process in Title 7, V.S.A., § 210. Mr. Clark recommended speaking with the Attorney General’s office and/or the City’s legal counsel for guidance. The local control commissioners can also put stipulations on a license, he advised. The so-called ‘yellow card’ history for City Limits Nightclub, which is a list of all violations since July 1999 when first licensed, was made available to the City Council.

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $40,231.32 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES: Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held April 10, 2018. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.

CITY LIMITS NIGHTCLUB – LIQUOR LICENSE, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT LICENSE: Alderman Matt Chabot disclosed that 10-12 Green Street, the location of City Limits Nightclub, is owned by his employer. Alderman Lynn Donnelly moved to approve the first class liquor license and live entertainment license for City Limits Nightclub. The motion was seconded by Alderman David Austin. Mayor Renny Perry advised notices of violation were issued and penalties have been paid so he did not feel the City Council can punish Mr. Ward again for the same violations and there is a formal process to follow should the City Council decide to do so. Alderman Mark Koenig read some of the violations from the ‘yellow card’ and advised it concerns him to renew a license when known overserving is going on and felt it could be a liability to the City. Alderman Donnelly advised she agreed; she did not want to wait until someone died before taking action. Brett Ward reported he has been in business for 19 years and there have been no deaths associated with his business. He also said he had no noise complaints, bar fights, or other complaints that the police department has had to respond to for years. Alderman Matt Chabot, who resides at 23 South Maple Street, stated he has lived there over 15 years and has filed about a dozen noise complaints during that time period. Alderman David Austin felt it was important to keep this matter out of the courts as it will get very expensive for the City. Just let it lay with Vermont Liquor Control, he stated. City Manager Hawley reported the City has insurance with VLCT-PACIF that would cover any liability claim. He suggested that he formally send the memorandum from Police Chief George Merkel to Vermont Liquor Control on behalf of the City Council to officially express concerns with this licensee. A vote on the motion showed Mayor Renny Perry, Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, Alderman Lynn Donnelly and Alderman David Austin in favor; Alderman Mark Koenig opposing the motion and Alderman Matt Chabot abstaining. The regular meeting recessed at 6:00 p.m. for the scheduled public hearing regarding proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations.


Mayor Renny Perry 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.

Since there was no one wishing to testify, Mayor Renny Perry closed the public hearing at 6:05 p.m.


35C, LLC/ANTIDOTE SECOND CLASS LIQUOR LICENSE: Alderman Matt Chabot moved to approve the application for a second class liquor license submitted by Antidote. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.

CONFERENCE ROOM PROJECT – LOBBY DOORS: City Manager Hawley advised he supports replacing the double-doors between the lobby and City offices to reduce heat loss, the current doors do not lock, an opportunity to increase natural light, and address a safety concern with the lack of visibility. He felt only one door is needed. He was given a price for a single steel-framed 42” wide glass door with glass side panels in the amount of $5,360. Friends of Vergennes Opera House (FVOH) did not like this selection so they engaged Norman LeBoeuf to draft a sketch depicting a wooden door with a large expanse of glass with two glass side panels encased in wood within the existing original doorway casing. Susan Schaeffer agreed the doors could use some improvement and they were willing to work with the City Council. They want to see something that has a historical look. She advised she will share the quote they get from Norman LeBoeuf once it is received by the FVOH Board of Directors. She also pointed out that Norman is their official consultant who is working for them pro-bono. City Manager Hawley asked if the FVOH would consider covering the additional amount if over $5,360. Susan Schaeffer advised they would consider participating in the replacement. No action was taken.

2018 SWIMMING POOL BUDGET AND RATES: The proposed 2018 budget for the operation of the Sam Fishman Memorial Swimming Pool includes actual expenses and revenues for the 2016 and 2017 seasons as well. City Manager Hawley advised this budget is for operation of the pool only and does not include funding for capital improvements or major purchases. In the past, appropriations from the Watershed Recreation Reserve Fund have supplemented the budget for as much as $11,000 while this year he proposes a return to the annual allocation of $6,000 which originally was justified as $3,000 in discounted rates provided to Vergennes residents combined with a $3,000 subsidy. As for expenses, there are some items that the previous swimming pool advisory group would like but are not included in this budget such as the installation of hot water and changing tables. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to approve the operating budget for the swimming pool as presented and with a change to add $5,000 to the budget for capital purchases funded with the current fund balance surplus. The motion was seconded by Alderman David Austin with all voting in favor.

City Manager Hawley recommended swimming pool rates and fees for 2018 that did not change from last year. Alderman Mark Koenig moved to adopt the same rate schedule as submitted. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.

AMENDMENTS TO THE PERSONNEL POLICY: City Manager Hawley reported a comprehensive review of the personnel policy was completed and a draft with proposed amendments was sent to the City Council previously for review. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, who appreciated all the work that went into the review, moved to approve the proposed amendments to the personnel policy. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.

REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, Chair of the City Manager Search Committee, reported they will screen the three finalists on Thursday and have a recommendation on how final interviews should be run at the next meeting.

RECTANGULAR RAPID FLASHING BEACONS PROJECT: The option of rapid flashing bars beneath the rectangular sign is now available for the pedestrian crosswalk signals, advised City Manager Hawley. Previously there was a patent issue with the flashing bars but that has been rectified. The City Council was forced to choose a different option for the Northern Gateway Sidewalk Extension Project and the five other sets of pedestrian signals to be installed under another grant program, he advised. He reported VTrans feels the flashing bars are more effective. Mayor Perry stated that he favored the flashing bars; it is actually what we thought we were getting when we applied for the grant. Manager Hawley advised the original project was to cost $75,000; $37,500 was allocated from the Water Tower Fund and the grant was to cover the remaining $37,500. Alderman Mark Koenig moved to revert to the original plan with flashing bars. The motion was seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot with all voting in favor.

AMENDMENTS TO THE ZONING AND SUBDIVISION REGULATIONS: Since there was no further testimony regarding the proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations at the public hearing held earlier, Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to adopt the amendments as proposed by the Planning Commission. The motion was seconded by Alderman Lynn Donnelly with all voting in favor.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised he is doing his internal check on the budget in preparation for the year-end audit. He reported representatives from the auditing firm have agreed to be at City Hall on July 18th to conduct their fieldwork in advance of his last day of work; July 24th. A copy of the 1272 Order from the State was provided in the agenda packet, he advised, and is no different than the earlier version. The City must proceed to the planning phase as he has applied for $50,000 from the Agency of Natural Resources. This money is not a grant but rather an advance and will be applied to associated projects that eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.

Additional topics included the announcement of the Park Street Streetscape Project award and that the Northern Gateway Sidewalk Extension Project contract has been signed with Don Weston Excavating. The Gateway Project will start on June 4 with a projected completion date of June 30, he advised. An amendment to the State Construction Permit for renovations at City Hall has been sought to allow the construction of a wall in the City Manager’s office to include separate space for the administrative assistant. Mary Johnson Childcare Center will not be running their program in Vergennes this summer; Thunder Care will be run again with an expected increase in participants.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Renny Perry advised he provided a copy of the Charge for the Sam Fishman Memorial Swimming Pool Advisory Committee and announced names of confirmed members. Alderman Lynn Donnelly advised she would volunteer as the City Council member designee.


ADJOURNMENT: At 7:08 p.m. Alderman David Austin moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk