HALIFAX — The Halifax Board of Selectmen met Tuesday, Jan. 8, and tackled a lengthy agenda and five appointments in just under two hours. The agenda was wide-ranging, but the lengthiest item involved horse shows at Fieldstone Farm.
Clawson asks for more horse shows
Scott Clawson, proprietor of Fieldstone Farm, through his Stoneham-based attorney Phil Taylor, was before the board asking for two additional horse shows in June at his equestrian show park on Plymouth Street, and one additional show in August, for a total of three additional shows to the allowable 30.
The number of shows Clawson is allowed to hold is governed by a consent agreement signed between the Town of Halifax through the Board of Selectmen and Clawson, first agreed to by the town, Clawson and the Plymouth County Superior Court in 1993, and then updated after an exhaustive series of meetings with the board prior to August 2017, when a new agreement was signed into force.
The board, especially Kim Roy and Tom Millias, were vocally frustrated with Clawson and the board refused to, for now, allow any additional shows without talking to Halifax Town Counsel.
Millias noted that while the board was being asked to add more shows, “My more specific question is, do we have to do it?”
The answer, according to Taylor, is that they do not, although they can at their discretion without reopening the consent agreement. That interpretation was not shared by the board.
Roy and Millias hammered the attorney because of an ongoing issue Clawson had with the building department, where he was constructing a two-story gazebo, something that the building department was not made aware of in original plans, according to Roy and Millias.
The building department, said Roy, would send correspondence to Clawson, but he did not communicate back with the town to resolve the issue in a timely manner.
A solution was eventually found, according to Millias, in which the gazebo is to be used for non-commercial use and is one-story, but only after the town spent considerable effort to attempt to get Clawson to comply with the building department.
Although the issue was separate from the question of adding additional shows, the board in its entirety was visibly annoyed.
Selectman Troy Garron noted that Clawson did not appear to have respect for the authority of the town’s boards, but especially the selectmen.
Millias, who happens to be the Plympton Building Inspector, noted that ultimately responsibility lies with the property owner when the attorney blamed a contractor for the gazebo issue.
Roy said she did not want to punish a business in town but did not want to reward bad-behavior.
The board will take up the issue again at their next meeting, Jan. 22, 2019.
The board approved $10,000 for Highway Surveyor and Cemetery Superintendent Steve Hayward to begin a test run of a “cremation wall” in the Halifax Central Cemetery. The wall, which works somewhat like a post office box, allows family members of the deceased to receive a key to the box where remains are kept as a memento.
Hayward said the money for the wall would come from the “Lots and Graves” account, and that the wall could be built in sections, modularly, as land is cleared and usage is gauged.
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig said that cremation is becoming more and more popular as traditional burials are much more expensive.
Union Files Grievance
AFSCME Council 93 Local 1700, the union representing a highway worker who had filed a previous grievance against Highway Surveyor Steve Hayward, has filed a new grievance against the town on Jan. 2. The original grievance regarded a worker being denied a heavy equipment operator (HEO) position– a decision that the Board of Selectmen upheld in a Dec. 21, 2018 executive session.
The recent grievance alleges that the town should not have released information to the public following the December executive session. Information released to the Express regarding the employee did not paint the worker in a positive light. The December meeting was reported by the Express and the new complaint will be heard by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations.
The information regarding the latest grievance was obtained through a verbal public records request by the Express.
In Other News:
• The board scheduled a Special Town Meeting for Monday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Halifax Elementary School to address funding for that school’s fire suppression system construction project. More information will follow.
• Police Chief Joao Chaves requested that Animal Control Officer Noreen Callahan be appointed Police Matron for the department. The position may be regionalized at some point, he said. Callahan joined the department in 2013 and when asked by selectmen how she felt about taking the position said, “I feel great about it.”
• Police Officer Thomas Hall will retire in February after 21 years with the Halifax Police Department. The board regretfully accepted his resignation and wished Hall luck with his future endeavors.
• The Board of Selectmen will next meet Jan. 22, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room of Halifax Town Hall.