The Tuesday, January 28 Halifax Board of Selectmen meeting began with a final interview for the vacancy on the Planning Board. Timothy Fabroski told the assembled Board of Selectmen and Planning Board that he owns a real estate and construction company and has been self-employed since the 1980s. Fabroski said, “I think the Planning Board could use me” and cited his experience on the other side of the table presenting before the Board. Selectmen Chair Troy Garron asked Fabroski his opinion on building in Halifax. Fabroski said, “I honestly think the more you build, the better.” Three other candidates previously came before the two boards; they were Alan Dias, David Mascio, and Ashley DiSesa.
Planning Board Chair Gordon R. Andrews said that the Planning Board was looking forward to having the vacancy filled but also said that he didn’t want to see someone with an agenda assume the position. Selectman Tom Millias made a motion to forgo a vote and wait until May to fill the position when candidates could pull papers and run against one another in the election. Garron seconded Millias’ motion. Planning Board member Amy Troup said, “I think that would be a detriment to everyone that stepped forward.” Troup, who said she would like to see the position filled by someone not currently serving on a board in town, suggested that the experience to serve between now and May would prove a good trial. All four current Planning Board members elected to move forward with the vote.
In order to secure the position, a candidate had to receive votes from four of the seven members of the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen. Millias nominated Dias and Selectman Gordon C. Andrews nominated DiSesa. Gordon R. Andrews, Gordon C. Andrews, Karlis Skulte, and Troup all voted in favor of DiSesa, awarding her the position.
Alex Mazin of Bud’s Goods and Provisions came before the Board just as he did at the previous meeting to hopefully finalize a five-year Host Community Agreement (HCA) for his outdoor marijuana growing facility on River St. in Halifax. Halifax is set to earn 3 percent of Bud’s gross sales, the most allowable under MA state law. Should that law change, however, Halifax will also have a most-favored-nation (MFN) status, preventing Bud’s from entering into another HCA with better terms for another municipality without amending their agreement with Halifax.
Mazin, who grew up in Worcester and attended Babson College, has three retail licenses for a retail store currently under construction in Worcester, another potential one on the Abington/Weymouth line, and a third newly acquired retail license for Watertown. Mazin also operates a facility in Lakeville that he’s hoping to now use for manufacturing purposes; he will be transferring his cultivation license from this facility to Halifax. Mazin explained his belief that outdoor growing will revolutionize the cannabis industry as the environmental impact, cost factors, and sustainability of indoor facilities do not make a viable market.
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig explained to Mazin that while a few final tweaks still needed to be made to the agreement, the selectmen’s intent is to sign the HCA. Addressing any final concerns the selectmen or town may have, Mazin said, “A community that lets us in, we want to make sure is benefitting as well because we are doing something very unique and historic and we’re all taking risks at some degree and some level and risk should be rewarded.”
Newly appointed Council on Aging (COA) Director Susan Lawless as well as two members of the COA Committee provided the selectmen with an update on the COA. Lawless said that the addition of a kiosk has allowed her to track participation in the various COA events. These statistics will prove useful as many of the grants Lawless would like to apply for require them. Lawless also said that the COA has purchased a minivan to help get residents to and from appointments. Seelig said that the town has two interested applicants for the vacancies on the Council on Aging Committee.
Fire Chief Jason Viveiros, Police Chief Joao Chaves, and Highway Surveyor Steve Hayward were all present at Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the town’s campus improvement concept. Chief Chaves explained some of the thoughts shared at earlier meetings including consolidating the police and fire departments into a new, single building, moving the Council on Aging into the current police station, and moving the water department and building maintenance into the current fire station (freeing up space for the highway department). Chief Viveiros recently surveyed all department heads regarding their most pressing needs. Millias said, “Everything is conceptual at this point, we need to get input and narrow it down.” The Selectmen agreed to the formation of a Campus Committee to further develop the global approach to improving the municipal buildings to better suit the various department’s needs. The hope would be to include the department heads and building inspector as members as well as to have representation from the Finance Committee, Conservation Commission, and any other pertinent people. The selectmen hope to have a response to the committee requests by their next meeting.
The selectmen also voted to form a Memorial Day Committee per resident David Walsh’s request at their last meeting. Walsh, a member of the Halifax VFW Post 6258, had requested the formation of the committee, as well as asking that the military lead the parade and requesting more involvement between the elementary school and the veterans. Seelig said that he would request five members for the new committee that will be publicized.
Silver Lake budget
The Silver Lake budget was also discussed. Andrews asked Garron or Millias to attend the Thursday, February 13 public budget hearing to be held at 6 p.m. at the high school as he will be there in his capacity as a school committee member rather than a selectman. Seelig said that the proposed Silver Lake budget calls for a 3.84 or 3.34 percent increase. The selectmen and Seelig agreed that while increases may seem minimal in a single year, they are compounded over several years with the end result being a budget that isn’t sustainable for the town. Seelig also said that he wrote to Senator Michael Brady as well as Representative Kathleen LaNatra about the lack of state aid.
The selectmen, Seelig, and Chief Chaves also discussed the need for and method to pay for an additional 12 hours for the school resource officer (SRO) at the middle school. Currently, the SRO at the middle school is allotted only 8 hours per week, funded by the town of Plympton. The town of Halifax narrowly voted against funding their share of the requested 20 hours for the school resource officer during last spring’s town meeting. Currently, the town of Kingston fully funds the officer at the high school. Seelig said there will be an article on the warrant at this year’s town meeting to fund those hours. All parties are in agreement that there is a need for the officer to be at the school 20 hours a week, though the mechanism to pay for it has been disputed.
Oak Place repairs
Resident Bill Pond of Oak Place attended the meeting to share his concerns regarding the condition of his road and request help from the selectmen for all Halifax residents living on dirt roads. Millias clarified that Oak Place is actually considered an easement rather than a public road. Pond said that the efforts being made by the Highway Department to improve Oak Place are futile and requested that a roller be used. Hayward said that there isn’t enough money to purchase a large enough roller. Hayward also said that according to by-laws, the department is to only go out twice a year with a grader. Hayward further emphasized that they are not supposed to spend any extra money on private roads. Millias suggested to Pond that a place to start might be to petition to accept Oak Place as a public road. Currently the Highway Department rents much of their equipment and hires companies to do much of the work. Andrews suggested to Hayward the possibility of regionalizing with several other neighboring towns and hiring a crew and purchasing equipment to serve the collective communities. Hayward said he would look into the cost of such an endeavor vs. the cost of the current methods.