New Town Counsel Brooks & DeRensis got its first assignment from the town of Halifax at the same meeting at which they were appointed. The new firm will look into what action, if any, will be needed regarding the number of complaints that have been issued by and against several residents.
A number of people had filed complaints against Amy L. Troup including Margaret Selter, Theresa Renaud, Gerry Fitzgerald, and Holly Merry. Troup had also filed one against Theresa Renaud. Finally, a complaint was filed by David Mascio against Margaret Selter. Renaud currently serves as the Administrative Assistant for the Building Department as well as Secretary to the Conservation Commission. Selter serves as Administrative Assistant for the Board of Health. Fitzgerald is a member of the Conservation Commission and Troup is a member of the Planning Board. Mascio does not currently serve for the town though he has recently submitted several talent bank forms and interviewed for some vacant positions. Town Administrator Charlie Seelig recommended to the Board that they forward the complaints to Brooks & DeRensis for advice. The Board agreed.
The Halifax Board of Selectmen met in-person on Tuesday, June 29. Early in the meeting they turned their attention to the appointment of Town Counsel. They had interviewed several firms during their previous meeting including Lawrence P. Mayo PC who had served as Halifax’s Town Counsel for the last several years. Longtime Selectman Troy Garron made a motion to reappoint Mayo saying, “He’s aware of our situation and he’s done a good job for all the years I’ve been here.” Selectmen Chair Gordon Andrews asked if there was a second but there was not so he then asked if there was a motion for another firm. Ashley DiSesa made a motion to approve Brooks & DeRensis. It was seconded and the vote passed two to one.
The Selectmen met with Town Historian Susan Basile to discuss her reappointment. Basile also serves as Chair of the Historical Commission. Andrews asked Basile if she could explain a bit about what the Town Historian does. Basile, who has served in the role for thirty years, replied that she tries to protect the history of the town including pictures, newspaper clippings, and other related items. She said she also researches the town’s history. “I think you’ve done an excellent job,” Garron said. “I think the perspective that I had was to come and tell everybody what it is that you do so the town and community is more aware of what all the Boards and volunteers are doing for our town,” Andrews explained. Vice Chair of the Historical Commission John Shea also came before the Board. The Selectmen voted unanimously to reappoint Basile.
The Board also held interviews for the Zoning Board of Appeals. First to interview was Marline Amedee who has interviewed for a number of vacancies across multiple Boards and Committees as well as running during the town election for certain open positions. Asked by Andrews why she wanted to serve on the ZBA Amedee said, “It’s been my agenda all along to serve the community that I’m in and I’m trying wherever I can because I do believe that I have the capacity to serve in any of the Boards that are available here.” Amedee said that she does not have any background in zoning but believes she would bring other assets that would be beneficial.
Next to interview was Robert Gaynor. Gaynor, who has served as a Halifax Police Officer for 28 years, said he has sat on the ZBA for 32 years. “I’ve worked with a fantastic group of people who each have their own unique contributions that they bring to the Board and I think that we certainly work very well together,” he told the Selectmen. He acknowledged that things can get “complicated” and “involved.” Gaynor said that he has taken a number of courses on zoning laws, etc. “I enjoy it. I wouldn’t stay on the Board if I didn’t and I would like to continue with giving my time and efforts to the town; I think it’s made a difference,” he explained.
Next to interview was David Mascio. Mascio, who has been a resident of the town for six years, said he has closely followed town news the last several years and has attended several ZBA meetings. “I feel I could play a decent role and learn some stuff along the way; I know quite a bit about the bylaws,” Mascio told the Selectmen.
Elizabeth McEwan took the hot seat next. McEwan, who has been a resident for 7 years, said, “So this year I decided that I wanted to get more involved in the community.” McEwan said that in addition to attending town meeting and participating in the election she has also been reading meeting minutes of various Boards. “What was enticing to me is that the Zoning Board of Appeals already has written bylaws, so from my background, I’m all about documentation; I like understanding rules so it was just an easier fit for me,” she explained. McEwan said that while she didn’t think there would be a conflict of interest, she wanted to state for the record that the company that employs her underwrites bid bonds and contract bonds. “I just want to make sure that it wouldn’t be perceived that I was trying to steer anyone wanting to work in the town to my company,” she explained. She further emphasized that she isn’t even licensed to sell insurance.
Thomas Pratt was next. He said that he has been a resident for 8 years and is the father to two young children. He said he spent 13 years in banking but has recently transitioned to insurance. Pratt said he owns a property and casualty firm in Hanson. “We do have some overlap with customers, both builders and buyers in Halifax,” he explained. He said that his father instilled in him a sense of wanting to volunteer in the town in which you are raising your family. “I have no preconceived notions or ideas in sitting here other than to serve,” he told the Selectmen. Like several of the other candidates, he said he doesn’t have any direct experience with zoning but said, “that doesn’t scare me away from the opportunity to learn.”
The final interview for the ZBA was with Tina Kenyon. Kenyon, who has lived in Halifax for 14 years, said she is currently a real estate agent but was in construction for 25 years prior and has two degrees in architectural engineering. “I’m very familiar with codes and enforcement and everything else that goes along with building,” she told the Selectmen. She said she wanted to run for the ZBA as she saw a lot of things trying to change in the town, some that she felt could be changed for the better.
Following the conclusion of the interviews, Garron made a motion to reappoint Gaynor to the ZBA. “He’s done well in the position over the years and even though there may be some agitated individuals, that comes along with the job,” Garron said. DiSesa said that she felt that despite Gaynor’s experience she would like to see another individual appointed as Gaynor already serves in other positions in town. Andrews recused himself from the vote. “We’re at a standstill,” Garron said. Seelig said that if Garron wouldn’t second a different motion from DiSesa, that would, in fact, be the case and they would have to deal with it at a future meeting while having a vacancy on the ZBA in the meanwhile. “I motion to move it to another meeting,” DiSesa said. The Board agreed to move it to the July 13 meeting.
A candidate was also interviewed for the Youth & Recreation Commission. Sarah Nobles, who joined by phone, said she has lived in town for 16 years and is the Vice President of HOPS. She said she was also behind an adult volleyball program that unfortunately was cancelled due to COVID. She spoke about hoping to improve existing facilities. The Selectmen voted unanimously to appoint her.
Amedee appeared before the Board for a second time that night, this time to interview for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Garron asked Amedee how she was acquainted with the law. “I am, as I mentioned before, a social worker… I work mostly with kids with disabilities,” she replied. She said she has been working in the field for the past 20 plus years. Garron moved to appoint Amedee to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The vote was unanimous.
In between their myriad of interviews, the Board also voted unanimously to approve the contract with Police Chief Joao Chaves. The Board, with Andrews recusing, voted to make Robert Piccirilli the temporary Building Inspector for several weeks. Garron agreed but noted that he believes Piccirilli should be made the permanent Building Inspector and continue to serve in the role as he was previously. Piccirilli currently has a case in federal court against the town regarding his lack of reappointment.