City Council Minutes 09-25-2018



September 25, 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                                               Shannon Haggett

Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz                             Anna Rakowski

Alderman David Austin                                      Sierra Bertrand

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                              Summer Chabot

Alderman Mark Koenig                                     Carrie Macfarlane

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                                  Peter Garon (5:45 pm)

Alderman David Small                                        Robert Trepanier

City Manager Mathew Chabot

City Clerk Joan Devine

VISITORS: Mayor Renny Perry reported the City Council was waiting for a student to express interest in serving on the Recreation and Facilities and Programs Advisory Committee; we now have four interested candidates. He introduced Sierra Bertrand, Summer Chabot and Anna Rakowski and advised Jacob Kadric is also interested in serving on the committee but was unable to attend this meeting. Each of the students gave a brief statement on why they would like to serve on the committee. Mayor Renny Perry suggested maybe appointing 2 of the students as primary delegates and 2 as alternates. The appointment(s) will be made in accordance with the agenda.

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve minutes to the City Council meetings held August 28th and September 11th. That motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig. An amendment was made to the August 28th minutes on the last page; under South Water Street Sidewalk the words “throw up the sidewalk” were replaced with “tear up the sidewalk”. Minutes to the September 11th meeting were amended on the first page under Visitors. The words “New Haven is contributing $2,000” were corrected to read “New Haven was being asked to contribute $2,000”. On the last page of the September 11th minutes, under City Manager’s Report, “was told by an Alderman to remove” was replaced with “was told to remove”. In the next paragraph “revolving flashing beacons” was replaced with “rapid flashing beacons”. Alderman Bertrand moved to accept the minutes as amended, seconded by Alderman Koenig, with all voting in favor.

WARRANTS: The Warrant totaling $770,111.87 was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Chabot pointed out the Warrant includes the 1st quarter installment for the education tax.

CITIZENS COMMENTS: Robert Trepanier advised he is back to follow-up on a national issue he brought to the City Council a few months ago when he asked how the City Council stood on fair and equitable treatment. He cited the restaurant conversation he shared with the City Council regarding a patron being asked to leave a restaurant due to their political affiliation which is not protected under civil rights law. Unless a municipality has an ordinance prohibiting this right there is no standing in the courts, he stated. Mayor Renny Perry advised he has not been able to research this yet to make sure we can legally do it. Mr. Trepanier stated we, the citizens, want to know what protection we can expect in Vergennes so you looking into that would be much appreciated. Alderman David Austin did not feel that we wanted to enact an ordinance as the answer is complex and costly. We should respond to his concern with perhaps a resolution instead. Alderman Koenig suggested letting Mayor Perry do his part first and see if it is feasible and can we do it. Mayor Renny Perry advised he will work with VLCT and do some research.

STUDENT NOMINEES TO RECREATION COMMITTEE: Because four students were interested in being on the recreation committee, discussion was had on how all students could participate with their busy schedules. Mayor Renny Perry advised the Charge addresses it being a 7-member committee but we could appoint all four students who collectively would have up to two votes at a meeting. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to appoint Sierra Bertrand, Summer Chabot, Anna Rakowski and Jacob Kadric to the recreation committee with a limit of two votes. Alderman David Austin seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

PUBLIC HEARING: At 6 p.m. Mayor Renny Perry called the duly warned and posted public hearing to order regarding an amendment to the Land Use Map of the Vergennes zoning and subdivision regulations as proposed by the Vergennes Planning Commission. The Notice of Public Hearing, as required by 24 V.S.A. §4442, was read by the Mayor. As no one wished to give testimony on the proposed amendment, Mayor Perry closed the public hearing at 6:01 p.m.

TRIANGLE BIKE LOOP FUNDING: Carrie Macfarlane, a member of the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County, advised the Town of New Haven has approved their request for $2,000 towards the local match ($3,500) and she hopes Vergennes will support them and approve the remaining $1,500 as was requested. The grant will allow them to hire a consultant who will develop a master plan for a designated bicycle route connecting Addison County’s Designated Downtowns (Vergennes, Middlebury, and Bristol) and New Haven’s Village Center and it is in agreement with Vergennes’ Municipal Plan. City Manager Chabot reported the $1,500 can come from the Water Tower Fund. Alderman Bertrand inquired why Middlebury and Bristol were not contributing to this project. Carrie Macfarlane advised Middlebury cannot be an applicant because they already have a grant and the Town of Bristol does not have a Town Plan so they are not eligible either. Neither one of them is qualified to be applicants of this grant. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the request for $1,500 towards the matching funds and the fund to be taken from the Water Tower Fund. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor. A FY19 Municipal Resolution for a Municipal Planning Grant was circulated for signatures from the legislative body.

ACRPC TOWN ENERGY PLANNING ELEMENT PILOT: Shannon Haggett, Chair of the Planning Commission, reported Addison County Regional Planning Commission has State funding to assist three towns within this Region with development of city plan energy elements that are consistent with the provisions of Act 174. These grants require no matching investment, he advised. A letter of intent is needed from him as the Chair and a decision is likely next week. Unanimous City Council support was offered; Mayor Renny Perry will sign Shannon’s letter indicating that support.

ALTERNATE TO ACSWMD: City Manager Matt Chabot suggested he take retired City Manager Hawley’s position as the alternate delegate on the Addison County Solid Waste Management District’s Board of Directors. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint City Manager Chabot as an alternate delegate to the ACSWMD, seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, with all voting in favor.

VLCT DRAFT MUNICIPAL POLICY: Mayor Renny Perry advised he sent a copy of the draft municipal policy to the City Council early so they would have time to review it. The VLCT policy is their guidance manual. As he is on the F.A.I.R. Committee he should be voting what the City standing wants and not what he wants himself. The election portion was discussed and the City Council supported no “gap” day as it relates to elections.

DOWNTOWN-BASIN MASTER PLAN TASK FORCE APPOINTMENT: Mayor Renny Perry advised Kathy Rossier was appointed to the Basin Task Force as a community representative but she should be switched to a Vergennes Partnership representative as she sits on that Board. Mike Winslow will remain a community appointee. He advised he would like to recommend David Austin for the Council representative and we will wait for the recommendation from the recreation committee for their representative. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to appoint Alderman David Austin to the Basin Task Force as the City Council representative. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

APPOINTMENT OF TRUSTEE TO BIXBY BOARD: Mayor Renny Perry advised the Bixby Memorial Free Library will make their recommendation for a new trustee that will replace Christine Bradford. That appointment to the Bixby Memorial Free Library Board of Trustees will occur at the next regular meeting.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Chabot reported we will be having our firewall replaced this week and are expecting two short blackout periods on Thursday. The Citizens Bank branch office in Vergennes is closing about November 17th so the Clerk/Treasurer and I are searching out and interviewing alternative banks, he advised. Scott Gaines reported to him a Vergennes Day Little City Race profit of $627 and recommends $500 be donated to Vergennes Area Rescue Squad and the remaining $127 be kept by the City for additional signage and supplies for next year. A budget report was made available to the Board. He informed the City Council that he is watching the overtime line item, supplies and equipment, as well as discretionary uniforms in the Police Department budget. He is establishing monthly meetings with each department.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Renny Perry reminded everyone that the State’s public hearing regarding truck traffic on Route 22A is tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Opera House. He hopes a lot of people attend and offer input. VTRANS initiated the consulting firm (Stantec) to do this study which indicates we have their attention. Alderman David Austin stated he felt the City Council should take a position on a bypass. He feels it would discourage truck traffic and promote pedestrian safety

ADJOURNMENT: At 6:35 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk