HALIFAX– Despite Halifax Selectmen finishing the bulk of their seemingly brief agenda in about 10 minutes on Tuesday, July 26, the agenda actually contained many scheduled appointments which kept the board busy for hours. Among the appointments were the ninth meeting with Fieldstone Farms proprietor Scott Clawson, a hearing on no-parking signs on Brandeis Circle for the purpose of discouraging access to Silver Lake and a continuation of a dog hearing for Tarawood Kennel.
Fieldstone Farms consent agreement signed
Finally, after nine lengthy meetings with Scott Clawson, a contentious update to the legal consent agreement under which he operates horse shows was signed by Clawson and the board.
There was a sense of relief in the room as the lengthy process, which had been adversarial at times, is coming to an end. The agreement still needs legal review.
The update to the 20-year-old legal agreement came after Clawson set off red-flags among town officials by advertising more shows than were allowed in the agreement for this summer, but Clawson turned the chastising he received from the board for that transgression into a discussion about changing the contract.
Lawyers for the town and for Clawson worked out the details of the changes that Clawson wanted to see, up until past 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Clawson will see an increase in the number of shows, an increase in the number of RVs on site to house show security and other personnel as well as an increased number of horses counted by entries, not heads.
He had to compromise on several issues, including the number of RVs, whether they could have generators or not– they cannot– and concerns that various public safety officials had, especially regarding the on-site medical staff.
He will also be able to ask for an extra date if he gives the Board sufficient notice.
The agreement was renegotiated line-by-line in painstaking detail over the course of the process.
The board rejected a proposal to put up “No Parking” signs on Brandeis Circle in order to prevent access to Silver Lake via a property that is no longer in use and has a trail to the water’s edge.
Reportedly, many recreational users of Silver Lake leave their vehicles in front of the property, and Jeffrey Bolger, a neighbor, suggested “No Parking” signs to discourage this illegal trespassing.
Yet, despite a recent drowning, neighbors expressed their disapproval for the signs, saying that they would prevent get-togethers where extra parking is required.
Police Chief Edward Broderick stated that his department stood ready to assist neighbors if they called in what they believed to be parking violations, or trespassing on the parcel or their property, at any time.
Although the board will continue to monitor the situation, they were not prepared to have signs installed.
Silver Lake is a public water supply and is not open for recreational use, although due to a lack of enforcement and unclear jurisdictions, people often use it for recreational purposes.
Tarawood Kennel, at 7 Plymouth Street, is owned by Jennifer Choate. The board called her back before them for the third part of a dog hearing to address on-going barking issues.
Last week the board ordered her to take remedial action immediately to reduce barking that neighbors say they can hear at all times of day and night and to hire a sound engineer to look into fixing the problem in a more permanent way.
Although the board, Choate, her attorney and some of her supporters were speaking back and forth, no one in the room from the public was recognized to speak by Chairman Troy Garron. Neighbors turned out in droves, to the point where extra chairs had to be found by Town Administrator Charlie Seelig.
Choate has spoken to a sound engineer, and began moving around some dogs within the facility in an attempt to reduce barking, she said.
They all agreed to continue the hearing until August 23rd at 8 p.m. until some more work can be done.
Further complicating matters, though, was a citizen’s petition that Selectmen are obligated to take up, giving them authority over the entire kennel operation, not just the barking issue. Since 25 residents signed, they must hold a hearing. That hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 8 p.m.
This may obviate the Aug. 23 hearing, but Seelig recommended that the two processes run parallel to each other.
Choate is currently seeking an increase in the number of dogs she can have on premise from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Selectmen will now have authority superseding that of the ZBA in all aspects of the kennel.