Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes

Pillsbury Memorial Town Hall
93 Main Street Sutton Mills, NH
Sutton Mills, NH  03221

Board of Selectman

February 26, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.


The meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m. by Robert Wright, Jr., Chair. Those present at the meeting were: Robert Wright, Jr., Chair; William I. Curless, Selectman; Dane Headley, Selectman; Robert DeFelice, Budget Committee Chair and KRSD Municipal Budget Committee Member; Emilio Cancio-Bello; KRSD School Board Member; Anita Blakeman, Carol Merullo, Pete and Marne Thompson and Elly Phillips, Recording Secretary.

At 5:00 Emilio Cancio-Bello, Sutton KRSD School Board Representative, Chair, KRSD Transportation Committee and Sutton’s CNHRPC Representative, met with the Board to discuss transportation matters and to address citizens’ concerns in light of the recent incident where two buses slid off the road. The Board received an email from Carolyn Penrose which identified her concerns regarding school buses getting stuck on the dirt road as well as student safety. The citizens would like the Town to pave the roads in Rowell Hill due to dirt road/bad conditions during inclement weather. Mr. Cancio-Bello wondered whether the Highway Department’s budget was sufficient to meet the Town’s road maintenance needs.

Mr. Cancio-Bello felt that the Highway Department’s budget has been reduced over the years (since 2011). Mr. Cancio-Bello said that the KRSD bus company, that drives 5,000 miles, a day and that compared to the other six towns in the district there are more road issues in Sutton. Mr. Cancio-Bello wondered whether this was an issue of not enough personnel, inadequate equipment or insufficient materials.

Robert DeFelice, Budget Committee Chair, said the highway department’s budget has not been cutback; however, savings have been achieved. Mr. DeFelice asked whether, perhaps there were more incidents in Sutton because busses from the 7 towns converged here. Mr. Cancio-Bello responded that he thought the issues were during pick up/drop off.

Selectman Curless said that he had met with Stephen Bagley, Road Agent, to discuss the issue of the bus going off the road. Selectman Curless reported that on that morning (February 16, 2018), on initial inspection Rowell Hill Road was soft but passable. The Highway Department began sanding Sutton roads as the need arose. The truck sanding the Rowell Hill area went back to reload and the first bus slid off during that time. Sutton requested assistance from New London who was in the area and got some sand down. Another bus was dispatched to the area and also went off the road. Selectman Curless discussed rapidly changing road conditions in some areas and cited examples of how quickly the road surface can change. Selectman Curless has asked Road Agent Bagley whether the Town should increase the sand and salt budget. Mr. Bagley is reviewing the budget in anticipation of Town Meeting in the event that additional materials will be required.

Mr. Cancio-Bello said that he understood the issues with dirt roads during weather inversions, and rapidly changing weather conditions. Mr. Cancio-Bello reviewed the chain of communications between the seven towns’ Road Agents. Sutton is very good at reporting weather conditions. Other towns within the district are not as consistent at reporting road conditions. The reports occur at 4:15 in the morning. By 4:30 a.m. the decision is made as to whether to delay or close school. Lack of communication from Road Agents makes the District’s decision-making process difficult in determining whether or not to close schools. The Superintendent will be coordinating a meeting in the Spring with the seven Towns’ road agents and select board representatives to coordinate communications.

Mr. Cancio-Bello asked whether there was anything Sutton could do to bring it roads on par with the other six towns. Selectman Wright stated that he felt Sutton was doing a great job on the town roads in view of the number of miles of roads, personnel and budget. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that the transportation company told him that when they enter Sutton there is a “marked difference between Sutton’s road conditions and what they find in the other towns.” Selectman Wright asked for the record, “was this an oral assertion or a written assertion.” Mr. Cancio-Bello said this came out during a transportation meeting. Selectman Wright asked whether this statement would be in the minutes. Contact information for the bus company was requested in order for the Select Board to follow up on this claim. Mr. Cancio-Bello advised that the statement was made by Stacey at the bus company “STA.”

Selectman Wright read a portion of Carolyn Penrose correspondence to the Board into the record as follows: “After speaking with the bus company about what we can do to meet with the leaders of the town to encourage them to pave the road in our neighborhood for safety, I was told to reach out to you . . . We pay almost $9,000 a year in taxes that provide us as taxpayers with very little in this town and the least it should provide are roads safe enough for our children to be transported to and from school via bus.”

Selectman Wright said the matter would require some research and try to identify the specific problem(s) and develop a solution. Mr. Cancio-Bello said the town needs to do whatever it can to keep these roads in good repair.

Ms. Blakeman observed that there were roads in Town that are substandard for buses and noted that in those instances the buses don’t/shouldn’t go up there.

As this was new information to the Budget Committee Chair, Mr DeFelice requested that the Selectmen coordinate a meeting (prior to town meeting) with Budget Committee Members, Mr. Cancio-Bello and the Road Agent and a representative from the school district. Marne Thompson advised that kids on Baker Road have to meet the buses on Kearsarge Valley Road. Mr. Cancio-Bello discussed the safety requirements for bus pickups.

A meeting will be scheduled for March 5, 2018 to discuss the matter. Selectman Headley asked if the roads that were deemed problematic could be identified prior to the meeting in order for the Town to respond to concerns.

Mr. DeFelice asked whether the District was going to stripe the turnout lane for the middle school. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that he would follow up on that matter.

Selectman Curless moved to approve the minutes from February 12, 2018 as written. Selectman Headley seconded the motion. The motion passed by a unanimous affirmative vote. The Board reviewed and approved the following manifests:
VENDOR MANIFEST: $ 366,977.45

The Board approved a building permit for Rodney Sigua, 08-135-049, Penacook Road for a solar PV installation.

The Board discussed citizen concerns which were raised pertaining to the Conservation Commission Public Information Session regarding a proposed Class A Trail on a Class VI portion of Kings Hill Road, which was conducted on February 21, 2018. Phillips advised that after the information session concluded, the Conservation voted unanimously to make a motion at Town Meeting to table the article for further study. The Board discussed the procedure for tabling a warrant article and will leave that to come from the floor at Town Meeting. Selectman Wright opened the topic for discussion noting that members of the Board of Selectmen were not in attendance at the meeting. However, the Board has received correspondence regarding the conduct of the meeting from both Anita Blakeman and Robert DeFelice who were in attendance.

Mr. DeFelice stated that he had procedural concerns that he had reviewed with the Town Administrator. Mr. DeFelice expressed his concerns regarding the posting/notice process for the public hearing portion pertaining to the Warrant Article and whether or not it needed to be done ten days ahead and also whether abutting property owners who did not reside in Sutton would have an opportunity to speak at the meeting as they were not registered voters.

Phillips advised that she has confirmed that a public hearing prior to Town Meeting was not required for reclassification of a Class VI portion of road to a Class A trail. The correspondence verifying that from Town Counsel to the Conservation Commission is privileged so in order to release it, the Conservation Commission would need to vote to do so. It was suggested that the Board of Selectmen have Counsel summarize the procedure for the public in order to clarify that aspect. Selectman Curless made a motion to request Counsel to provide a summary of the procedure for reclassification for public dissemination. Selectman Headley seconded the motion which passed by a vote of 3-0. The Board will post the procedure as outlined by Counsel on the website so that interested members of the public don’t have to wait a month for the Commission to vote on whether or not to release the correspondence.

There was a general discussion regarding the distinction between a public informational meeting and a hearing. Robert DeFelice indicated that a public information session should provide information and respond to questions. In this instance, it appeared that testimony was taken and there was back and forth banter.

Anita Blakeman elaborated on how confusing the notification procedure was and that publicity was not timely. Ms. Blakeman said that she wasn’t aware of the matter until it was posted on the website. As the reclassification would affect property owners/rights, she indicated that a higher level of scrutiny was necessary, especially as it pertains to potential for increases to the taxpayer. It seemed as though the Conservation Commission was putting forth the warrant article without having a public hearing.

Selectman Wright clarified that the Commission, through their Chair, brought the matter to the attention of the Board of Selectmen at the Selectmen’s Meeting conducted on January 8. The Selectmen determined that the proposed reclassification should be brought before Town Meeting for a vote. The Warrant Article was put forth by the Board of Selectmen and was not a petitioned Warrant Article. Ms. Blakeman asked why the Board of Selectmen didn’t host the informational session? Selectman Wright identified the Board’s concerns regarding the condition of a Class VI section of Kings Hill Road/public safety. Selectman Curless noted that he had verified that the trail could be reclassified to a road at Town Meeting should a future need arise.

Ms. Blakeman felt that additional measures to correct the erosion problem should have been explored adding that the Conservation Commission was not in favor of using their discretionary funds to correct the erosion problem. Ms. Blakeman felt that the reclassification was a deterrent to development, opining that the Town’s regulations were already very strict. Ms. Blakeman observed that restricting these rights from abutters could constitute a taking which potentially could result in a tax burden to Sutton property owners. Ms. Blakeman advised that neither of the potentially affected abutters were Sutton residents.

Mr. DeFelice suggested that a representative from the Board of Selectmen should be present at all public information sessions.

There was a general discussion regarding the appointment process for Boards and Committees and the Select Board was encouraged to do more outreach to attract a wider base of citizens to local government.

Mr. DeFelice noted that at the conclusion of the public information session citizens were instructed to leave the meeting room/building prior to the conclusion of the meeting. The Board of Selectmen agreed to follow up with the Commission regarding the session/adjournment.

Mr. DeFelice discussed the interpersonal interactions that occurred during the meeting and Ms. Blakeman referenced her email to the Board regarding her impressions on how the meeting was conducted/evolved.

The Selectmen will endeavor to have a representative of their Board attend all municipal public information sessions and improve on publicity/notification for public information sessions. Arranging for police presence at information sessions was also discussed. The Board expressed their appreciation for the input.

Selectman Wright executed a revised proposal from Roger Wells for data collection/Analysis and Conceptual Design advice and construction administration advice. Mr. Wells will donate time to the town as an in-kind donation to the library. Any out-of-pocket expenses for printing, copying and travel outside of Sutton will be charged at cost.

The Board noted the following items of correspondence:
Town of Warner Conservation Commission, update on Warner River Designation to RMPP
NH DOT Regarding 2018 Resurfacing – Shim Bradford-Sutton from 103in Bradford to North of the intersection of Gile Pond Road in Sutton (7.2 miles ¾” average shim).

Selectman Curless provided an estimate from A.S. Bartlett & Son for upgrade to the electrical system at the Old Store Museum in the amount of $3,075. The proposal includes:
New 100 amp overhead electrical service; Mast through the roof per Eversource specification. New meter grounding per code. Breaker box to be located in the attic to preserve historic ambiance, 8 new porcelain fixtures and 4 new receptacles. All wiring to local and national code. Selectman Curless recommended accepting the proposal. Selectman Wright made a motion to accept the bid from A.S. Bartlett & Son. Selectman Curless seconded the motion which passed by a unanimous affirmative vote. The Historical Society will be notified of the project. Selectman Curless has been designated as the Board’s liaison for the project and will respond to any questions or concerns from the Historical Society who serve as stewards of the Old Store.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:31 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Elly Phillips
Town Administrator