HALIFAX– Halifax Selectmen met on Tuesday, March 8 and as quickly as possible dealt with a lengthy agenda. There were two appointments, both of a serious nature, although after these as the night grew late there was a significant amount of laughter in the room as less weighty subjects were discussed, including determining a pressing question of when to call a dog hearing.
Unprecedented Event Proposed
Robert Bergstrom, best known for his now-annual MudFest truck racing event, has some big plans in the works. The Selectmen seemed to simultaneously sigh with relief when they found out that he has scaled his proposal down in the last several weeks, but Bergstrom would like to hold a two-day concert this summer at Fieldstone Farms, hopefully to raise money for or donate to veterans in some way. He expects a maximum of 5,000 people to show-up each day, with approximately 8 food vendors and 8 other concessions vendors.
The name “Steven Tyler” has even been heard, but Bergstrom is currently being coy about that.
Bergstrom had previously worked with a promoter who raises money for veterans, but decided to shift direction and take on the project himself when that original proposal, for an even larger event, took on a life of its own and did not seem to be something selectmen would support.
The logistics of such a concert would likely be unprecedented for Halifax, despite events of this size being held at Fieldstone Farms for their horse shows. Selectmen Chairman Kim Roy as well as Selectman Tom Millias noted that this concert would be of a different nature than the horse shows, and Millias especially noted that concerts, “can have a tendency to get out of control– or not.” Security is one major concern the board noted.
“The only reason we are even entertaining this idea is because you have had a very good history with us,” said Selectman Troy Garron. Bergstrom replied, “Why, thank you!” Bergstrom, a colorful character, has a good relationship with the Board.
All board members agreed that they needed to see much more detailed plans before they could approve the event, and that all appropriate boards and public safety officials be notified. Bergstrom must contact the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Board of Health, Building Inspector, and more before he comes back before Selectmen on March 29.
Halifax Health Agent Cathy Drinan added that Halifax has many large event requirements pertaining to health and public safety that would need to be met, and that this may well be the largest event ever held in Halifax. Town Administrator Charlie Seelig agreed, saying, “I think that’s what this board is expecting,” directed at Bergstrom.
The proposed date of the concert is coming up quickly, and Bergstrom mentioned possibly pushing it back by one or two weeks to give himself further time to plan and as well for the Selectmen to carefully consider the proposal.
Fieldstone Farms Horse Shows
In an unrelated matter, Scott Clawson, proprietor of Fieldstone Farms, was called before the Selectmen because he had advertised more show dates for his annual “Class A” equestrian event than allowed in an agreement negotiated with the town 23 years ago. He was represented by counsel, Attorney Phil Taylor.
An action by the Building Inspector at that time was litigated, and a settlement was reached with the town. The agreement was signed by Clawson, as well as the Board of Selectmen, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Building Inspector. The agreement includes a cap on the number of horse shows permitted.
Clawson, through his attorney, asked the board to change the agreement, including adding more shows, and noted that because this was a legal agreement, any changes would need to go through the courts and thus Town Counsel would need to be involved.
But the board quickly and unyieldingly began hammering away at Clawson and his attorney stating that the reason the board has summoned him in the first place was because of the fact that he had advertised too many shows in violation of the agreement. Clawson wasn’t supposed to be there asking for more shows, he was there to explain himself for the violation.
Selectman Millias appeared particularly annoyed, the first to make this point. Garron joined him in his expressed annoyance, saying that, “We should have been having this conversation [about adding dates] before you advertised them…we called you out on it.”
Attorney Taylor had an explanation: “It’s easier to cancel shows rather than plan a show.” He apologized for the timing, but Selectmen Chairman Kim Roy appeared skeptical.
The discussion turned to which board has the authority to modify the agreement. Taylor argued that it was the Selectmen, because only they can authorize litigation. But the ZBA feels that it is in their purview, according to a letter sent to the board, as it is their belief that the agreement was executed by the ZBA.
It was not apparent to anyone in the room how the matter ever had anything to do with the ZBA, which particularly befuddled Millias, who mentioned several times that the ZBA is an adjudicating body, not an enforcement authority.
All agreed that nothing could be decided that evening, and that Town Counsel needed to be consulted as to which board had jurisdiction over the matter, if not both.
Clawson added that he had been trying to figure out for over a year which direction to go in, and received conflicting answers from the town. He left essentially with only a scolding for advertising extra show dates before asking the town to change the terms of their agreement.The matter was continued.
Dog bites Dog
Yes, that was an agenda item on Tuesday night. Halifax Selectmen, who have recently adjudicated an inordinate number of dog hearings over the past several months, could and probably would certainly hold a dog hearing if a dog bit another dog that wasn’t from the same household, especially so if it was a serious bite or if one of the dogs was not licensed or vaccinated.
The question of the night, though, posed by Town Administrator Seelig, was, “Is a dog hearing necessary if a dog bites a dog from the same household?” Apparently, the situation had arisen and two licensed and vaccinated dogs from the same household got into a spat where one bit the other.
“What would the point of that hearing be?” asked Troy Garron, the board’s resident animal lover, and also the board member who is most vocal at dog hearings, calling them “People Hearings”.
The room erupted in laughter as the Selectmen considered the scenario, but Seelig finally chimed in with, “Fine, that answers my question.”
Now that the Halifax Board of Selectmen have answered this important question, the only question left unanswered for the Selectmen may be whether to call a hearing if and when a human bites a dog. That, though, might be under another board’s jurisdiction.