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NOTES OF NOVEMBER 13, 2013 RYE BOARD OF SELECTMEN MEETING
Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League
Present: Selectmen Jenness, Musselman and Mills. Also present: Cindi Gillespie, Mike Magnant
Present from the public included: Peter Crawford, Victor Azzi, Cecilia Azzi, Deb Cross, Cherie German
Editor’s note: For ease in finding particular sections using the archived video and audio on the Town website, the elapsed time is indicated. Use the slider and the elapsed time indicated at the bottom of the video window to fast forward to the desired section. Videos on the Town website may currently be accessed at www.town.rye.nh.us by clicking on “Town Hall Streaming” at the bottom left of the screen. Follow the link for “Town Hall Live Streaming,” then find the meeting by date under “Previous.”
Non-public session: Probable discussion of Town acquisition of a portion of the former Rand Lumber parcel
The agenda for the meeting lists a non-public session starting at 6:00 p.m. The agenda refers to RSA 91-A:3, II(d), Acquisition. Jim Raynes and Sally King were observed leaving the courtroom as the non-public session ended.
Editor’s note: According to a Portsmouth Herald article that morning, Jim Raynes, Conservation Commission Chairman was to be discussing a potential Conservation acquisition of the back portion of the former Rand Lumber parcel at that evening’s Board of Selectmen meeting. Sally King is a member of the Conservation Commission. See also the notes of the November 12, 2013 Planning Board meeting where the issue of the appraisal of the property and the first right of refusal given to the Town were discussed.
The video starts at 7:02:18 p.m.
Announcements: Tax rates set (0:00 elapsed)
Selectman Mills announced the new tax rates. He stated that the new rate is $10.97. Editor’s note: This rate includes all town-wide taxes, but excludes the precinct and Rye Water District tax rates. He stated that the overall tax rate is down $.25, the Town portion of the tax rate is down $.32, the Rye Beach Precinct is down $.10, the Jenness Beach Precinct is up $.02 and the Rye Water District is up $.10. Editor’s note: See the notes of the November 7, 2013 special meeting at which the tax rate was set.
Selectman Mills stated that some people may not appreciate the reduction in the rate as they had their properties revalued, in his estimation unfairly. However, in this economy reducing the tax rates is something to be proud of.
The audience applauded.
Approval of minutes (0:55 elapsed)
The minutes of the October 28, 2013 meeting were approved unanimously with changes. The minutes of the non-public session of the same day were unanimously approved without changes. The minutes of the November 7, 2013 tax rate setting meeting were unanimously approved with an important change, in that the tax rate was misstated. Selectman Mills stated that he had missed the meeting as he had been in the hospital.
Discussion of increasing the hours of the third person in Town Clerk’s office (4:52 elapsed)
Editor’s note: See the notes of the October 30, 2013 all day budget session of the Board of Selectmen. During that meeting there was discussion of increasing the hours of Andrea Morrissey, who had just been hired. Ms. Morrissey had replaced Donna Decotis who had been promoted to Deputy Town Clerk. Robin Baker, the former Deputy Town Clerk left earlier this year.
Town Clerk Beth Yeaton addressed the issue. She stated that Town Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie had prepared the figures. Ms. Yeaton stated that they still do not know the date on which ObamaCare will require insurance for those working 30 or more hours a week. Ms. Gillespie stated that insurance would need to be offered, but would not need to be paid for by the Town. Town Administrator Mike Magnant added that the Town could be subject to a fine if an employee purchases a policy through an exchange, but the fine is not substantial in the early years.
Ms. Yeaton stated that they have been able to justify three full-time employees for some time. However, they have put off making the request for several years. Selectman Musselman noted that the revenues this year are up $350,000. He attributed that to a lot more vehicle registrations. Ms. Yeaton noted that they have also been registering boats since January 1, 2013. Ms. Gillespie stated that this had generated $1900 in revenues.
Selectman Musselman noted that, if granted, the request would increase the budget by $20,645 to $245,080.
Paul Goldman, Chairman of the Budget Committee, was present in the audience. He noted that the Budget Committee could deal with the issue and iterate with the Selectmen whether or not the request was approved that evening.
No conclusion was reached on the budget increase request.
Discussion of adding part-time employee to Finance Director’s office (16:07 elapsed)
Ms. Gillespie noted that there were three budgets with outstanding issues: Tax, Finance and Conservation. Editor’s note: The reference to “tax” apparently refers to the Town Clerk, who is also Tax Collector. Ms. Gillespie stated that the Conservation Commission did not want to address their budget that evening.
Ms. Gillespie stated that she had been working 48-56 hours per week. However, she will be out 12 weeks the next year for double knee replacements. She needs a part-time assistant at 25 hours per week, which would increase the budget by $28,000 to $206,573. It was noted that Finance had previously shared 10 hours per week of an employee with Recreation, however that did not continue into 2012. The motion to increase the Finance budget to $206,573 carried unanimously.
Un-Merger request for property on Locke’s Neck (19:07 elapsed)
The individual presenting noted that he was representing the Hamblett family, which owns substantial property on Locke’s Neck. He noted that, in 2012, the Legislature had acted to allow the Board of Selectmen to un-merge lots. This can impact the taxes.
He showed a 1901 plan and the various parcels and described the various acquisitions by family members. Everything was not built according to plan, and they ended up with two homes on a single lot. They are not seeking to develop the property or to build on undeveloped lots. Part of the transaction will be a voluntary lot merger once the de-merger has been completed. There are two sons interested in the two properties. Mrs. Hamblett wants to be able to make a gift.
Selectman Mills noted that “Michael” had thought there was no problem. Editor’s note: This is an apparent reference to Town Attorney Michael Donovan. Selectman Musselman stated for the record that their approval was based on the unique circumstances and the long history. These conditions may not exist in other cases and this should not be construed as a precedent, he said. Editor’s note: See N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. (“RSA”) 674:39-aa. This appears to be the statute governing the undoing of involuntary mergers of lots. In fact, contrary to Selectman Musselman’s suggestion, the Selectmen have virtually no discretion to deny a lot de-merger if the request is made prior to December 31, 2016 and if no owner in the chain of title voluntarily merged his lots. This statute was incorrectly relied on by Town Counsel at the November 4, 2013 Zoning Board of Adjustment. See the notes of that meeting.
The motion to approve the de-merger of Map 9.1, Lot 9 into the six lots platted in 1901 carried unanimously. The motion was conditioned on the end result being the creation of two lots with one existing house on each lot.
Presentation of Capital Improvement Program (“CIP”) Plan (36:07 elapsed)
Ray Jarvis, Chairman of the CIP Committee, presented the plan. He noted that members Phil Winslow and Mae Bradshaw were present, but that members Ned Paul, and Jeanne Moynahan were unable to attend. The public hearing had been held, with contributions made by Sam Winebaum, Peter Crawford and Victor Azzi.
Mr. Jarvis explained certain new tables in the CIP plan this year, which is in its fourth year. He looks at the plan as a weather report. There are many factors, and the accuracy diminishes as the time into the future increases.
Mr. Jarvis explained how he arrived at the figure of $17,500 in expenditures equating to a one cent increase in the tax rate. Editor’s note: This figure is accurate for town-wide taxing authorities, but not for the precincts and the Rye Water District. The taxation of these entities does not encompass the entire Town, thus $17,500 in expenditures equates to an increase in taxes of more than one cent in these districts. This is particularly important for the Rye Water District, which is planning a $5.4 million water treatment plant.
Selectman Musslman noted that there was a new item for a bridge on Harbor Rd. Editor’s note: This is the only bridge which is owned by the Town, although there are culverts that are owned by the Town. Selectman Musselman noted that he had talked with Public Works Director McCarthy and determined that the $320,000 estimate was based on a free engineering report. Selectman Musselman stated that his firm does engineering for the Maine and New Hampshire DOTs and that their engineer had looked at the bridge and determined that maintenance would be sufficient, at a cost of $80,000 to $90,000. He suggested that the asphalt be removed, a membrane installed over the bridge deck, followed by repaving. This could be done sooner than the bridge replacement had been proposed, and would prevent water from causing further deterioration of the bridge.
Ray Jarvis, noting that he did not live “down there,” stated that he did not see any reason why a walking bridge with swinging ropes would not suffice. The audience laughed. Editor’s note: Both members Winslow and Bradshaw live on Harbor Rd. on the other side of the bridge.
Selectman Mills asked about the $250,000 for a quint fire truck replacement. Fire Chief Skip Sullivan responded that this was for a pre-owned truck. Selectman Musselman noted that this was down from $750,000 in prior years. Selectman Mills quipped that there must be more parades coming.
Selectman Musselman stated that they do not adopt the plan, they accept it. Selectman Musselman and Town Administrator Magnant both stated that a lot of work had gone into the plan.
Selectman Musselman requested that the change be made and the CIP plan resubmitted, in case he is hit by a bus. Mr. Jarvis stated that, in that event it would become a memorial bridge. The audience erupted in raucous laughter.
Annual Town Holiday Parade (63:02 elapsed)
Police Chief Walsh noted that the insurance is in place and traffic is expected to be light. The motion to approve the event carried unanimously.
Appointment of Tim Sanborn to the Mosquito Control Commission (65:12 elapsed)
Ted Merritt, Chairman of the Mosquito Control Commission noted that Mr. Sanborn had been attending meetings, and had asked good questions. The motion to appoint Mr. Sanborn to the Commission carried unanimously.
Selection of Records Retention vendor (66:15 elapsed)
Town Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie addressed this issue. She stated that the Records Retention Committee had done a study. There is a question of what to do with the storage room at the Public Safety Building. The ceilings are high, leaving unutilized space. The boxes are not labeled and training is needed.
Town Clerk Beth Yeaton noted that four bids had been received. One did not meet the needs at all. Another was closer to what they were looking for, however the proposal was to take files to Manchester for categorization and storage. That was unacceptable so they rejected it. A third firm was from Texas and requested that the Town coordinate with the local Home Depot for supplies.
The last bidder, King Information Systems had done work for the Town earlier this year, or late last year. They are a bit more expensive but will do the detailed training that is needed. The Records Retention Committee unanimously recommended that King be retained, at its bid price of $17,548. Ms. Yeaton stated that the warrant article had been for $25,000. Editor’s note: This is a reference to 2013 Warrant Article 8, which passed 662-431 and provided for the retaining of a firm specializing in New Hampshire municipal records to facilitate improvements in the Town’s record retention system.
Ms. Gillespie noted that there is a recommendation that the volume of records be reduced through the use of microfilming and electronic imaging. Town Administrator Magnant stated that the big piece was training.
The motion to approve the contract with King, at a price not to exceed $17,548, carried unanimously.
Correspondence regarding difficulty of exiting driveways onto Route 1A (73:41 elapsed)
John Riley, 1285 Ocean Blvd. addressed the letter which had been sent by Eleanor and Frank Barnes, Judy and Frank Scott and Joan and John Riley. Mr. Riley stated that there are 3 ½ properties on the west side of Ocean Blvd. where residents have trouble exiting their driveways. In other areas there is not a problem as parking is prohibited. A change was requested a number of years ago, but the request had been turned down. Visitors’ cars are frequently parked into the driveways and onto the white line. When backing, the residents’ cars are 1/3 of the way into the road before they can see oncoming traffic. Signs are needed.
Selectman Mills suggested a site walk. There was a suggestion that 12 spaces be removed, two on each side of the driveways for each of the three houses. It was agreed that Town Administrator Magnant will set up the site walk.
Letter from Donald Walker regarding workforce housing (78:42 elapsed)
There was a brief discussion about this. The letter requests that the Town take a position advocating a change in the State law. Selectman Musselman and Mills stated the Town should not do so. The matter was referred to the Planning Board.
Letter from Ed Hayes volunteering to serve on Town Hall Committee (79:59 elapsed)
Selectmen Jenness indicated that the Town Hall Committee was more than halfway through its meetings. Victor Azzi, Chairman of the Town Hall Committee, who was present in the audience, agreed that it was too late to consider new members. Selectman Musselman suggested that Mr. Hayes be considered the following Spring, when a new Committee may be formed for the next phase. Selectman Jenness suggested that Mr. Hayes be invited to attend the ongoing meetings of the Committee.
Editor’s note: Mr. Hayes is listed as manager of the company that acquired the former Rand Lumber parcel earlier this year, according to records available from the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds. The former Rand Lumber property is currently before the Planning Board. The developer is seeking approval of a 20 unit Retirement Community Development, with the back portion of the parcel to be placed in conservation, if possible (see the notes relating to the non-public session earlier herein). If the land cannot be placed in conservation, the developer’s intent is to subdivide the land into 14-16 single family lots, according to statements made before the Planning Board.
Webster at Rye raffle (82:29 elapsed)
This raffle was unanimously approved.
Senator Stiles letter on 400th anniversary of the Isles of Shoals founding (82:47 elapsed)
This relates to a monument at Rye Harbor which would face the Isles of Shoals. The matter was referred to the Heritage Commission.
Katy Sherman’s letter regarding generators on the beach (84:14 elapsed)
Ms. Sherman was in the audience and read her letter. Editor’s note: Katy Sherman is a member of the Beach Use Ordinance Committee. Among other things, the Committee has been dealing with Zumba classes which are being held on the beach. These use amplified music and have generators to run the equipment, according to assertions made during the meetings of that Committee. The letter expressed concerns about safety, health and the environment. While generators should be kept dry, according to an OSHA fact sheet, they were used on the wet sand last year. Propane grills are not allowed on the beach, and generators should not be permitted either, she said. The letter proposed a warrant article banning generators on the beach.
Selectman Mills indicated that they would obtain input from the Fire Chief. Selectman Musselman stated that he thought this warrant article was a good idea.
Lori Carbajal’s letter regarding amplified music on the beach and in adjacent parking areas (87:14 elapsed)
Ms. Carbajal, 18 Tower Ave., was in the audience and stated her position. She is concerned that amplified music takes away from the natural environment and invites commercial use. A ban would preserve the integrity of the Master Plan. Towns in California and Florida have the sort of ordinance that she is proposing. She suggests that no amplified loudspeakers larger than a 6-inch boom box be permitted.
Selectman Mills asked how this would affect beachfront owners who want to have music on their decks. Ms. Carbajal acknowledged that that would be a different issue.
Selectman Mills related the story of a man who lives across the street from the Abenaqui Country Club and complains about the noise from weddings. Chief Walsh tells them to shut off the music by 11:00 p.m., he said.
Selectman Jenness stated that this would be different from a noise ordinance. Selectman Musselman underscored the complexities of enforcing an ordinance relating to noise, and stated that issues need to be addressed by either the amount of noise or the type of device. Banning generators is an easier issue to deal with. They would need to take this under advisement, he said. Selectman Jenness stated that there must be sample ordinances out there. Ms. Carbajal stated that these are all available online and cited numerous examples.
Ms. Carbajal requested a warrant article. Selectman Musselman stated that they have a couple of weeks to look into that and come up with something enforceable.
Deb Cross letter regarding issues at the Town Hall (92:54 elapsed)
Selectman Mills declined to read the letter as it was lengthy. The motion to retain the letter as part of the record carried unanimously. No mention was made of the contents of the letter.
Rye Water District Saturday work (93:40 elapsed)
Police Chief Kevin Walsh addressed this issue. He had brought individuals working on the project with him. He stated that the company is looking to do Saturday work. He expressed concern about traffic on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when locals are expected to use Route 1A to avoid the traffic on Route 1. Chief Walsh stated that the area in question was between Washington Rd. and Ragged Neck.
The individual present stated that they would like to work Saturdays through November. Fire Chief Skip Sullivan stated that there have already been problems with the temporary water services freezing. Thus, the Town should expedite the project if possible. Editor’s note: On March 30, 2013, voters at a Rye Water District meeting approved a $3.4 million debt issue for water main replacement. However, above ground temporary mains have only recently been observed between Rye Harbor and Washington Rd. The reasons for the delay in commencing the project are unclear.
Chief Walsh stated that he had made them aware of the Town noise ordinance. The contractors could start fueling and setting up signs at 6:30 a.m. If there is a complaint they would not be permitted to start work until 7:00 a.m.
The Selectmen did not indicate there was a problem.
Public Works request to hire part-time worker (97:14 elapsed)
Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy stated that an employee was on short-term disability, with an anticipation that that he would transition to long-term disability. The individual is 7 months from retirement and it is not expected that he will return. Mr. McCarthy wants to hire a part-time employee (20 hours per week) to fill in, particularly for plowing, until they know that a full-time person can be hired. There was no objection.
Islander Magazine follow up (100:22 elapsed)
Town Administrator Magnant raised this issue. Selectman Mills stated that he had no problem. Selectman Jenness stated that they did not need anything from the Selectmen. In response to a question from Mr. Magnant, Selectman Musselman stated that he had no problem with the Islander Magazine forming an informal committee. Editor’s note: In prior meetings the Selectmen declined to endorse official Town involvement in the magazine, however there was no opposition to it being distributed in Town.
Town seal date change and Town flag (101:52 elapsed)
Selectman Jenness outlined what she had come up with. She noted that the seal currently states that the Town was incorporated in 1726. However, it was not actually incorporated until 1785. There were originally two proposals on the table: (1) change the date to 1785; and (2) include all three important dates (settled 1623, established as the Parish of Rye in 1726, and incorporated in 1785). The Heritage Commission voted to simply show the date as 1623. Three were in favor, there was one abstention and 3 persons members were not present. The Historic District Commission voted to have the seal state “Settled 1623.” A majority of the Rye Historical Society voted to use all three dates. So, there are now four proposals on the table.
Selectman Jenness noted that the date of 1623 is shared with Portsmouth, which claims that the settlement, which is in what is now Rye, became Strawberry Banke. The date 1726 is the first time that the Town was referred to as Rye. Up until then it was referred to as Sandy Beach. At that point, the southern end of Town was not included. Rye became a Town in 1785.
Selectman Jenness stated that she thinks that it is important to have all three dates. The motion to accept this proposal carried unanimously.
There was then discussion about the Town flag and the proposal for one with the Town seal on a green background. Selectman Musselman then displayed a number of entries from the flag contest. A total of 92 designs were submitted, he said. Most appeared to have been submitted by schoolchildren. Fire Chief Skip Sullivan suggested that these be displayed at the Deliberative Session.
Medallions commemorating Little League championship win (114:00 elapsed)
The motion to approve spending just under $302 for these carried unanimously.
Adjournment (114:39 elapsed)
Whereupon the meeting adjourned at 8:57 p.m.