VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL
MAY 23, 2017
Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room located at 50 Green Street. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Those in attendance were:
Mayor Michael Daniels Christopher Reck
Senior Alderman Renny Perry Sandra Reck
Alderman Lynn Donnelly Shannon Haggett
Alderman Mathew Chabot Joe Fortune
Alderman Mark Koenig Cristy Goyette
City Manager Mel Hawley Nicholas Schieldrop
City Clerk Joan Devine Shannon Mahoney
Teri Kuczynski Ian Huizenga
Don Maglienti Cheryl Brinkman (6:05 p.m.)
MINUTES: Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to approve the minutes of May 9, 2017. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig. Corrections were made on the first page in the first sentence under VIDEO. That sentence was corrected to read: ‘Vergennes Partnership President Renny Perry showed the new Vergennes video to its first public audience.’ Under CITIZENS COMMENTS the last sentence was corrected to read, ‘They could be installed and ready for use before July 4th at the Vergennes Falls Park, she advised.’ A vote on the motion with corrections showed all voting in favor.
WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $791,272.68 was circulated for review and signatures of approval. The fourth quarter installments of education taxes were included in the Warrant.
CITIZEN’S COMMENTS: Shannon Mahoney advised she was present to address pedestrian safety. She reported she did not witness the accident this week on Park Street involving a car and child but was upon the scene immediately thereafter. The parents were visitors from Saratoga Springs, New York and had stopped to allow their child to play on the City Green. She advised in that area there is no STOP sign, no speed limit sign, no pedestrian crossings, and no sidewalk on North Street. She requested that pedestrian safety be put back on meeting agendas and that the City Council look at public safety. Shannon Mahoney advised if she continues to feel unsafe she will uproot her family and take her business with her. Sandra Reck reported she has been in the crosswalk and nobody stops. She recommended pedestrian signal systems like they have on Pine Street in Burlington. Shannon Mahoney stated the sidewalks in Vergennes are unsafe and we need to make it a safe place; get pro-active about it. Mayor Daniels advised we will convene the task force. City Manager Hawley advised the intersection of Green Street and Main Street, which is controlled by a traffic signal, does not fall into the category that motorist must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. He went on to report the City is in pursuit of a highway safety grant to fund a full-time police officer. The Police Department has been doing speed enforcement but we could use an officer in the downtown. Manager Hawley advised the minimum speed limit allowed by State law is 25 mph. There is not a speed limit sign on Park Street because we do not want vehicles travelling 25 mph on that short stretch of road. As for a sidewalk on North Street, he advised he has never had that request. Mayor Daniels advised the task force will look for quick changes and improvements that will require budgeting.
TAXICAB LICENSE: An application for a license to operate a taxi was submitted by Nicholas Schieldrop, d/b/a Shelburne Car Service. City Clerk Devine reported Mr. Schieldrop has held a taxicab license in the past and has submitted the appropriate paperwork and fee. Senior Alderman Perry moved to approve the application, seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot, with all voting in favor.
SPECIAL EVENT PERMIT: An application for a Special Event Permit was submitted by Stonecutter Spirits for a 1920’s Speakeasy Pop Up Bar at 7 South Maple Street on Memorial Day. Senior Alderman Perry moved to approve the application, seconded by Alderman Matt Koenig, with all voting in favor.
CATERER’S LICENSE: A Request to Cater Malt, Vinous and/or Spirituous Liquors at a Vergennes Partnership meeting being held at Vergennes Falls Park on June 1st from 5-7 p.m. was submitted by Bar Antidote. Alderman Matt Chabot moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor except Senior Alderman Perry who abstained as he is the President of Vergennes Partnership.
VERGENNES FARMERS’ MARKET: City Manager Hawley reported the land ownership at and around Kennedy Bros., Inc. is complicated. The City, State, and Kennedy Bros., Inc. all own land and rights-of-way in that area and some is covered by the public land use license agreement with Kennedy Bros., Inc. He contacted Jeremy Brooks, manager of the DR Power retail store, and the gravel portion north of the paved area was requested to remain clear of obstructions for deliveries to DR Power. Robert Feuerenstein, representing Kennedy Bros., Inc., has signed off on the Vergennes Farmers’ Market proposed layout included in the packet. Manager Hawley stated he intends to issue a public assemblage permit for this activity unless there are any objections from the City Council. Alderman Koenig questioned if the Vergennes Farmers’ Market was ongoing yearly if they should apply for a zoning permit. Zoning Administrator Hawley advised some of the land being used is not on property owned by Kennedy Bros., Inc. and not covered by the public use license which did not envision the Vergennes Farmers’ Market moving to Kennedy Bros., Inc. There was no objection to the granting of the public assemblage permit for the market.
FOOD SCRAP AND DROP-OFF COLLECTION: Cheryl Brinkman, the City’s representative on the Addison County Solid Waste Management District Board of Supervisors, advised the Board of Supervisors formed a committee to study how trash and recycling works for Addison County in preparation for the new law that was scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2017 regarding food scraps. She advised the July 1st deadline for haulers has been moved out a year by the Legislature to 2018; they are ready for public school generated food scraps though. Cheryl Brinkman advised they received grants and collected resources to make this happen. Teri Kuczynski, District Manager of ACSWMD, reported they are ready for food scrap collection now and offer a 5-gallon bucket for each household at no charge for those who want to begin. Part of their mission is to reduce waste at the landfill, she advised, and Act 148 bans all food scraps entirely from the landfill beginning in 2020.
VENDOR’S LICENSE – C & J HAULERS: City Manager Hawley advised C & J Haulers does not have a contract with the City to provide their service. They are operating under an Itinerant Vendor License that will expire in June. The Itinerant Vendor License was only issued for 6-months in anticipation of Act 148 that was suppose to go into effect July 1, 2017. That date has been extended for another year, he advised. Alderman Matt Chabot moved to extend C & J Haulers’ Itinerant Vendor License through December 31, 2017. Senior Alderman Perry seconded the motion with all voting in favor.
PLANNING GRANT RESOLUTION: A Resolution for a planning grant under the Vermont Community Development Program for Mary Johnson Children Center was passed for signatures. City Manager Hawley advised the funds will go through the City just like they did for the senior housing project off Armory Lane. The resolution designates Barbara Saunders, Co-Director of Mary Johnson Children Center, as the person with overall administrative responsibility related to the grant agreement and Mel Hawley, City Manager, as the authorizing official to execute the grant agreement and other necessary documents to secure the funds. Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to adopt the Resolution, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN: Proposed amendments to the municipal development plan as approved by the Planning Commission were officially submitted to the City Council. Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised they have been working on these amendments for the last year along with those involving the downtown development district that were completed and approved in the last three months. City Manager Hawley advised some of the amendments, if approved, will require updates to the zoning and subdivision regulations as well. The City Council is required by statute to schedule its first public hearing in not less than 30 days, he stated. The first public hearing was scheduled for June 27th at 6:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station on Green Street.
PROPOSED NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT AREA: City Manager Hawley advised Chittenden County has five State-approved neighborhood development areas. Properties in these areas can qualify for lower State wastewater fees, possible exemptions from Act 250, and other benefits for development in the designated area. A boundary of a neighborhood development area is generally one-half mile surrounding a downtown development district. An individual property owner can apply or the City can be an applicant which was preferred by the Planning Commission and Vergennes Partnership. The map distributed showed the existing downtown development district and the proposed neighborhood development area. Manager Hawley reported the Planning Commission and Vergennes Partnership support this designation but also feel the City Council should give endorsement of the application. He advised he feels the City suffers from stagnant population and creating this area will give benefits for additional housing development. Senior Alderman Perry reported creating this area does not change our zoning regulations but will create, in essence, an overlay district with benefits to a developer; it is a financial incentive for a project to happen. The objective to creating these districts is that they are within walking distance of a downtown development district. Senior Alderman Perry moved to endorse the application, seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot, with all voting in favor.
DOG WARRANT: City Clerk Devine presented a dog warrant for the remaining 17 unlicensed dogs in the city. Each dog owner has been sent two letters after the April 1st deadline that quotes State law regarding the requirement that their dog be licensed. The warrant was circulated for signatures from the City Council and will be given to Police Chief George Merkel for enforcement. Alderman Mark Koenig announced he will not sign the warrant due to its language which calls for killing a dog and the fact that it is not the dog’s fault.
PROPOSED FY2018 RECYCLING PROGRAM BUDGET: The recycling program fund has a projected July 1, 2017 fund balance of $393.71, revenues of $75,000, expenses of $73,084.80 forecasting a June 30, 2018 fund balance of $2,308.91. Senior Alderman Perry moved to adopt the proposed budget as presented, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.
VERGENNES FALLS PARK – HARMONY PARK: Alderman Mark Koenig moved to authorize Vergennes Rotary to install Harmony Park in Vergennes Falls Park once the location is approved by the City Council. Senior Alderman Renny Perry seconded the motion. City Manager Hawley advised the Development Review Board recently deemed that the improvement is not exempt and thus needs site plan review. He also said the park is subject to a State land use permit. It may also require discussion with representatives of Green Mountain Power Corporation as they have a utility easement through the park, he advised. Mayor Daniels reported he will be speaking with Green Mountain Power Corporation representatives about possibly putting other improvements on the land such as Frisbee golf, a small pavilion, along with Harmony Park. Alderman Donnelly reported she and Matthew Daniels went down and the area of use lies within the 50’ right-of-way line. She proposed the City Council meet there to locate it. A site visit was scheduled for June 13th at 5:30 p.m. at Vergennes Falls Park. A vote on the motion showed all voting in favor except Alderman Donnelly who abstained as a Vergennes Rotary member.
CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised the budget really looks good except for the Sewer Department budget. The line item for electricity at the wastewater plant will go over in part due to problems related to the solar array. Also, the blowers for the lagoons and the treatment filters are using more power than customary but better effluent is the result. Mayor Daniels advised the City should approach Green Mountain Power Corporation for help to put solar panels on the fire station. Alderman Mark Koenig noted the pool bathhouse needs a new roof too and the City should consider solar there as well.
The 2017 Grand List has been filed, advised Manager Hawley, showing a 1½ percent increase. Grievance meeting has been scheduled for June 6th at 5:00 p.m. in his office.
ADJOURNMENT: At 8:00 p.m. Alderman Mark Koenig moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Senior Alderman Perry, with all voting in favor.
Vergennes City Clerk