The Halifax Planning Board was back in action on Thursday, Feb. 4. The previous two meetings became contentious at points with members of the Board disagreeing over whether Cled’s Tree Service was in compliance with their site plan. The discussion continued during the most recent meeting as well.
The previous meeting had to adjourn abruptly as Planning Board member Amy Troupe fell off the call during the discussion on Cled’s. Troupe cited technical difficulties as the reason. Board member Gordon Andrews has recused himself from all discussions involving Cled’s. Board member Mark Millias was not present for the previous discussions on Cled’s so Chair Alan Dias took a few moments to get him up to speed on the situation.
Dias said that there was no question that the plan that was approved previously was not a legitimate plan. He said that both the engineer and Cled’s Tree Service had substantiated the claim. According to Dias, the plan that was received from Bracken Engineering was marked up without Bracken’s knowledge and submitted to the Planning Board for approval.
Dias asked Troupe, who had previously defended Cled’s from noncompliance and fraudulent claims, if she still had concerns. Troupe said she believed it should have been obvious to anyone that the marked-up portion of the site plan was not done by an engineer. She said she didn’t believe it was presented that way. Dias said he wanted to move on from the discussion of the fraudulent claims and figure out a plan for getting Cled’s into compliance. He recommended giving Cled’s the same amount of time as outlined by the Fire Department to come into compliance. Cled’s is in violation of the fire code and was previously given until early March to bring things up to code.
Millias asked Dias if he was suggesting that the Planning Board ask Cled’s for an updated site plan or an existing conditions plan. Dias said he felt that doing so would be a waste of resources as Cled’s was proposing to put up a building.
Millias asked Dias to confirm that he felt that Cled’s was in violation of his site plan. Dias said that he was and Millias asked him to speak to the existing infractions. Dias cited the storage of logs, the storage of wood chips, and some equipment, namely a grinder. Millias responded that he didn’t believe those to be Planning Board issues. Millias instead made a motion to send a letter asking Cled’s to come into compliance within the same time frame as given by the Fire Department. Troupe said she didn’t feel it was necessary and noted it seemed like doubling up as the Fire Department had already done that. All other non-abstaining members voted in favoring of sending the letter giving Cled’s until March 10 to come into compliance.
The Board discussed a few other projects as well including a preliminary site plan review discussion for Liddell Brothers at 285 Holmes St. Dias asked Joshua Liddell about a cease and desist order that had been issued by the Building Department. Liddell, who was speaking on behalf of his uncle Gary Liddell, said that the heat was not working in the building so NorthStar Mechanical was hired to do a switch over. They didn’t have a permit so a cease and desist was issued. Liddell said they have obtained the necessary permit since.
Liddell said that they were only proposing a fence at the moment. Millias recommended that it be kept inset from the property by a few feet for maintenance.
Board member Rick Merry said he would be recusing himself from future discussions on the project moving forward as he lives nearby. He said that the project likely impacts him more than any other resident or abutter. Merry said that he suspects that the work, which he said has been ongoing for months, has included a lot more than just fixing the heat. He said the property now looks akin to a two-acre parking lot running down the street. “My house shook for about a week while they compacted it all,” Merry told the Board.
The Board also discussed Bud’s Goods and Provisions who have a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with the town for a marijuana growing facility. Dias asked for a motion to request a $5,000 retainer to review the plan saying the estimate is around $4,700. Andrews said that they needed to reach out to more engineers to ascertain prices for reviewing. Millias said he didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask Bud’s to pay for things that are much further down the line in the overall process. It was decided, instead, to ask Bud’s for $2,500 initially and let them know that as the money was used up it would need to be replenished.
Dias also said that given the large scope of the project, he would like to ask for a site visit. The other members agreed.
The next Planning Board meeting will include a question and answer session with Attorney Kwesell to go over the process for site plans and special permits.