At Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, the Plympton Board of Selectmen approved the contract for construction of a new Public Safety Building for the town. Dan Pallotta of P3 came to the meeting to present the contract to be signed for the new proposed police station. Except for a couple of minor details, the contract is complete and was voted to be signed at the March 26 meeting by the chairman of the board, Christine Joy. The performance bond was also approved.
Elizabeth Dennehy, Town Administrator, clarified the new CORI background check policy which selectmen voted to utilize for new hires. In 2015, Plympton adopted a CORI policy for new employees for the town. The meeting this week, outlined the new changes to the CORI check policy, making the form simpler since the old version also included tips to reverse criminal behavior to pass a CORI check. The state adopted a new CORI policy which made the tips a separate document from the CORI form itself. The state then sent their new policy as a suggestion to municipalities and Plympton voted to adopt it. The new version excludes the Dennett Elementary and Plympton Police Department from needing to follow this new policy as both places have their own more in-depth CORI procedures.
Amy Cronin, Conservation Commission, with Brian Wick, Town Moderator, met with selectmen at their meeting March 26, to go over the earth removal bylaw which is being drafted. Cronin and Linda Leddy of the Open Space Committee had volunteered to compose an updated earth removal bylaw, since the current bylaw is outdated and too broad and no longer serves the needs of the town. Cronin and Leddy researched 20 to 30 rural towns within the state such as Sutton, and Hubbardston, and area towns like Marshfield, using their current earth removal bylaws that have already been approved by the Attorney General’s office, to construct a version for Plympton. The draft was sent to Brain Wick to evaluate as he works in cranberry agriculture and has dealt with bylaws regarding earth removal from several towns. Selectmen believed his recommendations would be beneficial for Cronin and Leddy. He was able to add comments and edits to the draft, which he discussed with the board. The need for a more comprehensive earth removal bylaw was made evident when a 100-acre parcel came up for sale on Prospect Road, known as the Atwood property. Should the town opt not to exercise its right of first refusal, as this has been “Chapter Land” taxed at a far less than fair market value, Ryan Vlaco of BRV I, Inc. in Middleborough, has signed a purchase and sale agreement to purchase the property for $1 million. Vlaco owns BRV I, a sand and gravel company. At a meeting several weeks ago, Vlaco told selectmen he would use the gravel on the property to restore a large cranberry bog and would remove and sell the remaining gravel. In his application for an earth removal permit, he estimated that the gravel would be mined for a term of three years, with as many as 100 trucks per day removing it. Many town members, and board officials, after expressing their concerns with the purchase, believe the company wants to claim they are exempt as agricultural to gain approval, and then actually use the land to dig a pit and build a sand and gravel distributing company.
Due to this uncertainty, Brain Wick suggested how to edit the draft of the bylaw to protect the town from potential loopholes.
Cronin, Wick, and concerned town members debated how to enforce these restrictions in the bylaw. One resident suggested any agricultural business must file an application when conducting a new project and that the board of selectmen would then visit these sites to make sure they are following their application. Selectmen found this to be an unreasonable enforcement since it would require companies that have been legally working for years, and even the smallest projects, to file an application, which would become very numerous. Board member, John Traynor, expressed his concerns over which board would oversee all those applications.
Prior to Monday’s April 2 meeting, Mark Russo, Linda Leddy, Rick Burnet, Marta Nover, and Brian Wick met on Saturday for more than four hours discussing the wording and scope of the proposed article. Russo believes they have come “pretty close” and hope to have a final draft by this weekend to send to Town Council for approval as a warrant article for the Annual Town Meeting.
PFD Committees established
The next topic on the agenda was establishing committees for implementing new changes to the Fire Department. Two weeks ago, Municipal Resources, Inc., or MRI, met with the board to discuss their findings after conducting an assessment of the Plympton Fire Department. Their purpose was to provide suggestions for the town to maximize its resources. After receiving the recommendations from MRI, the board has convened a Fire Advisory Committee to oversee the changes to the department. There are currently about 13 volunteers, that may be too large for the small town of Plympton, so the board decided to make two committees: the Fire Department Technician Committee and the Executive Oversight Committee. The Technician Committee is to take all the recommendations of the MRI Report and classify them as most important, important, and least important, estimate costs for the changes, and create a course of action. Within the next several weeks, the board hopes to hear from interested volunteers from the Halifax Fire Department, and will assign them to the appropriate committee. A meeting of the committees will take place at the Halifax Town Hall on Wednesday, April 25.
Continuing on with the Halifax Fire Department, selectmen discussed how attending a joint training session will give those firefighters who have not yet received their Firefighter I/II certification a chance to do so, completely funded by a grant. Also, by training together, the two departments may have a seamless training experience and can learn how to handle emergency situations for each town if needed.
In other news:
• Selectmen heard about plans for the annual Memorial Day parade and ceremonies at the Gazebo on the town green. The music departments have been notified as well as Dennett Elementary School. The possibility of a float this year was introduced, which would be a first for Plympton.
• Tara Shaw, Town Clerk, brought selectmen up to date with her ongoing project regarding the organization of laws and bylaws within the town. Plympton has hired General Code, a company that will review and re-index the current bylaw documents based on state laws, and inconsistencies such as punctuation, and typographical and grammatical errors will be corrected and then the by-laws organized after correction by topic. General Code would also upload the bylaws to a database which then can be searched and then accessed by the public. The town has paid their first installment of $1,735 out of $9,100, that was covered by a Technology Grant from February 2017. The board was very impressed with the project. Mark Russo stated, “The project seems to be really worthwhile.” The town clerk estimated the project would be completed by Fall 2020.
Town-wide cleanup is April 21
• The Gazebo at the Town Green was approved by the board to be used by the Garden Club for a town-wide clean-up day, scheduled for April 21, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. with a rain date of Apr. 28. Any volunteers are encouraged to participate in the event to create a cleaner town.
• The board will next meet Monday, April 9, in open session beginning at 6 p.m.