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Selectmens Meeting Minutes - 12/15/2009
Selectmen’s Meeting
Fuller Meadow School
Nathan Media Center
December 15, 2009
7:30 p.m.


Chairman Jones called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.  Present:  Mrs. Lindberg, Mr. Prentakis and Town Administrator. Mr. Houten arrived at 8:10 p.m.

Mr. Prentakis made a motion and was seconded by Mrs. Lindberg to read and initial the minutes to indicate their acceptance. The motion carried 3-0.

The Board approved Warrant #1024 dated December 15, 2009 in the amount of $499,727.

Administrator’s Report:

  • The Town is still waiting for final approval of the tax rate documentation and recap sheet sent to the Department of Revenue. When it is approve, the Town expects the rate to be $11.84 up from $10.00 from last year but with the average single family home dropping in value by 6.54% and condominiums at 13.42%. Most bills only up .7% or average about $39 and condominiums will go down almost $268 each. Hope to mail bills by December 31st although the Governor is expected to sign a late bill for extending the billing period for 3rd quarter actual bills to January 30th.
  • First snow report from the DPW Superintendent for the December 5th storm and last week’s early morning snowfall. No contractors were used and between the two storms the Town only used about $1,700 in overtime or about 1/3 of the cost of the overtime spent by MELD to put up the holiday lights three weeks ago.
  • Proceeds from the BAN sale are now in the Town’s treasury and have been reinvested in CD’s in local banks which will earn the Town more than the actual cost of the interest on the notes due a year from now. And even more important is the fact that the money stays in the region to be loaned by the banks for local economic development and construction projects that create jobs.
  • Progress is being made every day as the Town’s design architects and project managers move the project closer towards formal bidding scheduled for February through April. Pre-qualification is almost complete where up to 19 General Contractors and 138 Subcontractors in the 15 statutory sub-bid trade categories will be pre-qualified under the Construction Reform Act in preparation for advertising for formal bids. The Pre-qualification Committee has met four times and has one more meeting to wrap up their work under the law. All names and evaluation sheets will be sent to DCAM for formal listing. Work continues on the Access road where all 108 structural geo columns of stone were installed last week with the stone fill now being placed and the concrete box culvert installed to carry the water from the swale and lowlands to the wetlands.
  • Tax Auction on December 3rd again yielded no buyers despite lower minimum bids and will try again in the spring when additional properties are conveyed to the Town through Land Court tax title actions.
  • Calendars are on sale for $5.00 from the Middleton Historical Society that feature the historic school buildings in Middleton including some very interesting photos of the original construction of the Howe Manning School during the depression in 1937. In contrast to what is happening today in the same area some 73 years later.
  • Tri-Town School Union Regional Readiness Subcommittee continues their aggresive meeting schedule with a meeting tomorrow night at the Flint Public Library focusing in on measures to strengthen the current school union governance structure. Kosta Prentakis, Deirdre Donarumo and George Dow are representing Middleton and Mr. Singer will join them tomorrow night as the three town administrators each agree to attend some of the meetings for input.
  • The FY 2011 Budget Guideline and initial projection of revenues and expenditures have been issued to Department Heads. In the coming weeks, the Department heads will be working on and presenting their FY 2011 Budgets to Mr. Singer for inclusion into the overall operating budget, which will then be reviewed by the Selectmen and Finance Committee beginning in early February.
  • Lighting of the Menorah and Christmas Lights on the two nights were very successful.  

Acknowledge Letter of Resignation from Selectman Richard Kassiotis:

Chairman Jones informed the Board that she served on the Finance Committee with Selectman Kassiotis in the 1980’s, and he was also elected and served as Electric Light Commissioner for many years. Mr. Kassiotis was elected as Selectman in 1984 where he has served his community and Board of Selectmen for twenty-five years.

Mr. Prentakis made a motion and was seconded by Mrs. Lindberg to accept reluctantly the letter of resignation from Selectman Richard Kassiotis. The motion carried 3-0.

Masconomet Regional School Committee Interview and Appointment – Ms. Janice Lisiak:
Masconomet School Committee Member, Ms. Betsy McGinnity was present for this interview.

Ms. Lisiak and her husband moved to the North Shore in March of 2008 and she is very interested in volunteering her services to the Town.  In late 2008 she was appointed Director of the Learning and Leadership Project for the North Shore Education Consortium, which serves 18 member school districts on the North Shore including Masconomet.

Ms. Lisiak informed the Board that her professional career includes over 40 years in the field of education. Ms Lisiak skills and experience are directly relevant to this position are those gained from her experience at Phillips Academy in Andover. In over fifteen years at the Academy, she had the opportunity to work in all aspects of school administration and community education: admission, hiring, curriculum development and planning, advertising (including catalog production and ads), faculty and student recruitment, student, parent and community relations, residential and day student life (including, but not limited to, discipline and social functions), budgeting (over $2 million annually), risk management and alumni relations.      
Ms. Lisiak was Director of Phillips Academy for 17 years and served on the Administrative Council, faculty representative on the Discipline Committee and various positions as a volunteer in community programs.

Ms. McGinnity made a motion and was seconded by Mr. Prentakis to appoint Ms. Janice Lisiak as Middleton’s Representative to the Masconomet Regional School Committee until the May 2010 Annual Town Election. The motion carried 4-0.

Presentation by Roger Talbot Demonstrating the Town’s New Website:

The redesign committee featured a wide range of Middleton officials including Health Director, Police Chief, town Accountant, Town Clerk, Council on Aging Director, Cable Access Director and resident Roger Talbot and Maynard based Virtual Town Hall employee Miriam Gross. The Website Committee first began collaborating with Virtual Town Hall in August.

Mr. Talbot explained that with Virtual Town Hall, little computer programming expertise is needed to post updates that normally would not have reached the public in an online format.  Residents are able to download forms, all types of applications, licenses, permits meeting minutes, meeting agendas and town bylaws, etc. Middleton now has a sleek-looking site packed with calendar items, news, and in-depth pages for all town departments.

Mr. Singer stated that he would like the Website to contain videos of past meetings and events and, eventually, offer live streaming video of meetings that have significant interest. The transition cost of the website to Virtual Town Hall cost approximately $5,000 which is partly funded through the Cable TV funds to include the online features for Middleton Public Access Television.

Joint Meeting with Regulatory Boards to Discuss Potential Zoning Bylaw Amendments for the May Annual Town Meeting:              

Regulatory Board Members Present:

Mr. Richard Bienvenue,
Ms. Lynn Murphy                 Mr. Robert Murphy
Mrs. Mary Tragert                       Mr. Paul Richardson
Mr. Robert Aldenberg                    Ms. Sarah George, Town Clerk

Adult Entertainment Bylaw Discussion:

Ms. Lindberg stated that on the first night of the May 2009 Town Meeting the main discussion was about the article for the new school. And on the second night there was a larger contingent of Sharpners Pond Road residents that attended to vote on this article.

Mr. Singer stated that the North Shore Technical High School located on Log Bridge Road would be moving within the next three years when they merge with the new Essex Agricultural Technical High School in Danvers. This isolated industrial area could be an ideal spot for the adult zone.

Many officials agreed that much of the discussion surrounding the adult zone has been redundant and that a strong voter turnout from all areas of Town may help the passage of an adult zone and there will be opposition no matter where the adult zone is located.

Mr. Prentakis suggested that aerial maps would allow for a better view of the proposed sites to show the physical condition of the terrain of both sites and would educate the citizens as to why the Town needs this adult zone. These maps could be posted on the Town’s Website.  

In-Law Apartment Bylaw Discussion:

Building Commissioner Bienvenue explained that an in-law apartment is defined, as areas in single-family house with separate living quarters, are currently not recognized in Middleton. If these in-law apartments are constructed without proper regulations, then many important aspects can go unnoticed including exits, fire protection, and carbon monoxide protection. If the Town approved such a bylaw, the Town could offer several months of amnesty so that homeowners could have their apartment inspected without any repercussions.  The Town would have the ability to regulate unsafe apartments and also allow some homeowners to make their current in-law apartments legal.

Mr. Aldenberg informed that because of the tragedy involving fatalities from a fire in illegal apartments in Quincy, the Board of Building Regulations and Standards has recently notified Building Inspectors across the state regarding their procedures when discovering an illegal apartment. The Building Inspectors are to evict those illegal apartments immediately.

Mr. Singer stated that estimating the amount of in-law apartments in Middleton would be a good start to the process of creating a new bylaw. The creation of an in-law apartment bylaw could motivate some homeowners into making their in-law apartment legal and adding value on their house.

Mr. Prentakis questioned the difference between an in-law apartment and a two-family home.

Mr. Aldenberg replied that the main difference is that there is a firewall preventing the spread of fire between the two units of a duplex.

Building Commissioner added that Middleton residents are allowed to rent a room in their house to non-family members as long as the individual shares living quarters, such as a bathroom and kitchen with the homeowner.   

It was agreed that the Selectmen and the Bylaw Review Study Committee will continue discussions for zoning bylaw changes that would include an Adult Entertainment Bylaw and an In-Law Apartment Bylaw and hopefully an article for an Adult Entertainment Bylaw will be ready for the May 2010 Town Meeting.  

At 9:30 p.m., Mr. Houten made a motion and was seconded by Mr. Prentakis to adjourn the meeting. The motion carried 4-0.

Timothy P. Houten, Clerk
Middleton Board of Selectmen