Plympton Selectmen Monday night wrestled with several tricky issues, including whether to do background checks on business license applicants, held a tax classification hearing, and dealt with how a multipurpose building at Sauchuk Farms might be wired for electricity.
CORI Checks for business license applicants?
Both Selectman Mark Russo and Dale Pleau, Town Coordinator, looked into whether CORI (criminal record) checks could be done on business license applicants as had been the previous practice of the town. The issue arose when Angels Auto & Towing requested a Class II license to sell used cars, not specifically because of a problem with them, but because Russo wanted to look into the legality of the practice.
According to Town Counsel and the Police Chief Patrick Dillon, this is not legal due to CORI reform laws. Someone in town could be trained to perform what Pleau has termed “CORI-lite” checks, but as of now the board does not know of anyone with the training or the cost of that training. Pleau will look further into the matter.
The Class II license for Angels Auto and Towing passed, with Selectperson Christine Joy opposed. When interviewed after the meeting, Joy stated she was not opposed to Angels Auto and Towing per se, but that she felt that all business license applicants should be vetted as to whether they are suitable candidates to run businesses in town in order “to protect the citizens of Plympton.” She used the example of someone with a history of larceny as someone unsuitable to run a business in town.
Residential/Commercial tax rate split?
The board held an annual hearing required by law to determine whether or not to split the residential and commercial tax rate. The hearing was technically a Board of Assessors meeting within the Selectmen’s meeting, and is always held after assessors have set their final values and submitted them to the Department of Revenue.
Splitting the rate increases the tax bill for commercial and agricultural businesses and reduces the tax bill for residents. Most nearby communities do not engage in the practice, and if they do, it is not by very much. Selectmen and assessors agreed that splitting the rate could discourage business from entering a town as it raises their tax bill.
Principal Assessor Deborah Stuart prepared very detailed documents on what other communities do and compared them to Plympton. She also presented in detail the consequences of each of the four motions before the Selectmen, because she stated that she was asked to by a concerned citizen this week.
Susan Ossoff of the Plympton Finance Committee commented from the audience that she believed that the rate should not be split.
Without much discussion, the Selectmen decided against splitting the rate, as has been the practice in the past.
A Complicated Maze at Sauchuk Farms
Sauchuk Farms owner Scott Sauchuk came before the board to request an alternate wiring inspector for a multipurpose building that he constructed as a farm stand for the corn maze he runs at the farm. Sauchuk has been having trouble getting the proper permitting to wire the building. He stated that there was a possible conflict of interest with the Zoning Enforcement Officer, Bob Karling, being the wiring inspector as well.
Although the two men disagreed vehemently, they were calm and polite.
Sauchuk stated that the use of the building will be simply to consolidate operations for the corn maze. The Zoning Enforcement Officer wants time with town counsel because due to agricultural bylaws, any building built on agricultural land is technically an agricultural accessory building, whether it is a shed or a barn, or in Sauchuk’s case, a building with bathrooms, ticket vending, and a farm stand.
Wiring standards are different for agricultural accessory buildings than normal commercial buildings for several reasons, including the risk of explosion in areas where hay is stored and animals sensing voltages differently than humans in concrete, for example. The wiring for agricultural buildings versus commercial buildings is much more expensive, said Karling.
But Sauchuk said there will be no animals or hay in his building.
He is going ahead with wiring the building (at his own risk, according to Karling), although he legally can start 5 days before pulling a permit.
The Selectmen agreed to allow Karling time with town counsel, and because Karling has no problem stepping aside in his role as wiring inspector in this case, the deputy wiring inspector will follow up.
In other news:
• The Selectmen expect to hire their new assistant within the week. Six applicants were considered.
• The new Blue Wave solar PPA will be presented at the next board meeting. It offers a better deal than their last one: 10.5 cents per KwH over twenty years with no escalator.
• The board will continue to explore coordinating with Carver over industrial land on Spring Street.
• The Parsonage Road basketball court is half repaired; one new backboard was installed, but the Recreation Department is waiting for a second.
• The Public Safety Building Committee continues to regularly meet and seeks public input at their open meetings. Selectman Colleen Thompson says “things are looking good” for keeping everything on the current Town House “campus.”
• The Board of Selectmen will begin its regular fall schedule, with meetings on Mondays at 6 p.m. The next meetings are September 21st, September 28th, and October 5th.