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Selectmens Meeting Minutes - 9/27/11
Selectmen’s Meeting
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
September 27th, 2011
7:30 PM
Call to Order – Chairperson Houten called the meeting to order at 7:33.  Present: Mr. Cresta, Ms. Jones, Ms. Lindberg, Mr. Prentakis, Town Administrator Mr. Singer, Police Chief James DiGianvittorio and Treasurer Donald Carter.
Approval of MinutesMs. Lindberg made a motion and was seconded by Mr. Cresta to read and initial the minutes to indicate their acceptance. The motion carried 5-0-0.
Approval of Warrants - The Board approved a Payroll Warrant in the amount of $373,723 which includes some overtime.  They also approved a Payables Warrant in the amount of $559,686 which includes payroll deductions of $138,000 as well as the quarterly assessments from the North Shore Vocational School and the South Essex Sewerage District. The third warrant is the school construction warrant for $1,364,578.
Town Administrator’s Report
       Phase 2 of the School Building Project is progressing nicely.  The site is coming up to meet the necessary grade.  It should be at grade in four to six weeks.  Most of the drainage is installed.  The sidewalk and the asphalt will be complete in late November.  The newly sodded baseball field looks great.  There have been fewer problems than anticipated with the temporary traffic plan.  The playground equipment is on order and could be installed in mid-winter.  The grand opening with state officials is planned for November 29th.
       The waterline installation on Wennerberg Road is almost complete.  The street will be patched and allowed to settle over the winter.  A full repaving will be done in the spring.
       The contract for the reconstruction of the Danvers Water Treatment Plant on Middleton Pond, has been officially awarded to Waterline Industries of New Hampshire. The engineering firm is SEA
       The groundbreaking for the Regional Emergency Communications Center will be Tuesday October 4th at 3:00 PM.
       In good economic news, a new company has decided to come to Middleton.  Polygon Group will be consolidating their operations in NoMid Industrial Park.  They specialize in restoring documents that have been water     damaged.  They will bring thirty jobs to Middleton.
       Middleton has received its biennial affordable housing report from Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), listing 103 units as deeded affordable.  Oak Knoll was incorrectly dropped from the          inventory and the proper steps are being taken to restore it.
       And finally, a portion of a movie which stars Adam Sandler is being filmed in Middleton.
Introduction of New Middleton Police Sergeant, David Arathuzik – Police Chief DiGianvittorio introduced Officer Arathuzik.  He is a 14 year veteran of the Middleton Police Force and also serves as the Assistant Harbor Master in Danvers.  Officer Arathuzik was sworn in by Assistant Town Clerk, Kate Brochu.
Introduction of Five New Middleton Police Reserve Officers - Police Chief DiGianvittorio introduced the five officers, Mark Finer, Jose Hernandez, Michael Linehan, Daniel Musto and Michael Vangelist.  They each read a brief statement and then were sworn in by Assistant Town Clerk, Kate Brochu.
Review of Captain’s Assessment Center Process including Timetable and Designation of Selectmen’s Representatives – Chief DiGianvittorio has three Chiefs of Police lined up for October 12th, preferably in the morning.  He has contracted with CoCoKeys for a room for a four hour block.  The candidates will be given a series of essay questions the night before.  They will have to prepare their answers to be reviewed in the morning.  Then they will begin a series of “in-box” exercises where the candidates will go through some scenarios.  The three chiefs are from departments that are similar to Middleton’s.  Ms. Lindberg indicated that she could be available that day at 8:00 AM.
        There are two candidates from within the Department.  The panel should make its recommendation that afternoon.  If the decision is unanimous, the one candidate will be presented to the Board of Selectmen.  The results will be presented to the Board at the meeting following the Assessment Center.
Conservation Commission Interviews – There were two candidates before the Board.  Mr. Anthony Pesce of Mill St. introduced himself.  He is a self-employed attorney and very interested in preserving conservation areas.  He is flexible and can be available for site walks.  He does most of his work in the Everett area so it is unlikely that he will have any potential conflicts.
        Mr. Tom Skinner has lived in Middleton for 34 years and served on the School Committee.  He works for Executive Office of Environmental Affairs in an information technology position, so he doesn’t foresee any conflicts.
        Mr. Prentakis made a motion to place both names in nomination.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Mr. Prentakis voted for Mr. Pesce.
Ms. Jones voted for Mr. Skinner
Ms. Lindberg voted for Mr. Pesce.
Mr. Cresta voted for Mr. Pesce.
        Chairman Houten announced that Mr. Pesce would be appointed as a regular member and Mr. Skinner as an alternate member.
Request by Mr. Richard D’Angelo, Owner of Dunkin Donuts at 323 North Main Street to Include a Zoning Amendment on the November 29, 2011 Special Town Meeting Warrant to allow a Restaurant Drive Through in the Business and Manufacturing Districts and to Refer Proposed Amendment to the Middleton Planning Board for Public Hearing - Attorney Lawrence A. Simeone, who represents Mr. D’Angelo reported that Mr. Anthony Pacillo has collected the necessary signatures to add this item to the Special Town Meeting Warrant.  He is asking the Board of Selectmen to refer the matter to the Planning Board in accordance with state law.  Mr. Houten asked about the wording that allows walk ups to the drive thru window and asked if that could be amended.  Mr. Singer explained that the process is for the Planning Board to call a public hearing and that they can recommend an amendment based on that input.  If the petitioner agrees to the amendment, they can proceed with the amended article.  If the petitioner does not agree they have the right to put the article on the warrant as presented.  He also noted that a Zoning by-law change requires a two-thirds vote and that the Planning Board must make a recommendation.
        Mr. Simeone pointed out that the language in the petition is the language currently in the zoning by-law.  The petitioner’s only request is that the by-law be changed to allow the use in the B and M-1 districts by Special Permit.  Ms. Lindberg asked what section of the by-law he was s referring to.  He said it was Section 10, and the Permitted Use Table.  He added that on the advice of the Zoning Enforcement Office, he used the definition of drive-in retail establishment.  The language presented tonight has been reviewed by Town Counsel, the Town Administrator and the Building Commissioner.  The only change is to change the allowable use in the M-1 and B districts for Restaurant Drive Thru from “N” to “BA” (by Special Permit).
        Mr. Cresta asked if there were enough time for the Planning Board to act.  Mr. Singer said that he assumed that the Planning Board would hold a special meeting at the end of October for the Public Hearing on the zoning change.  If they were to wait until November and there were a change in the wording, it would not leave sufficient time to publish the warrant fourteen days before the Special Town Meeting on November 29th.  Ms. Jones asked if it wouldn’t be better to do zoning changes as part of regular Town Meetings.  Mr. Singer replied that the petitioner has met the requirement of the law so the Town should do what is necessary to bring the process forward.
        If there is a timing problem, the meeting could be moved up a week or two.  However, since there are appropriations on the warrant, this would hold up the setting of the tax rate.  Ms. Lindberg said that the Planning Board would have to vote in open session to schedule the Public Hearing.  Then they would have to advertise it at least two weeks in advance.  Mr. Singer agreed it is a tight schedule but unless there is substantial disagreement between the Planning Board and the petitioner about the wording, he feels it can be accomplished if all parties are willing.
        Mr. Cresta noted that as many people signed the petition as voted in the last municipal election, so the Board of Selectmen really should accommodate this petition.   He also pointed out that just because drive-thrus become an allowed use, doesn’t mean that an establishment is entitled to a drive-thru.  They would still have to go through the Special Permit Process with the Zoning Board.
        Ms. Jones expressed her concern that the wording that allows walk-ups might result in a negative response at Town Meeting.  Mr. Prentakis feels that it would be up to the Zoning Board to prohibit walk-ups.
        Mr. Cresta made a motion to refer the petition regarding drive thru windows to the Planning Board.  Mr. Prentakis seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Appointment to Scholarship Committee - Ms. Claudia Johnson has written a letter expressing interest in serving on the Scholarship Committee.
        Mr. Prentakis made a motion to appoint Claudia Johnson to the Scholarship Committee for a term ending in 2014.  Mr. Cresta seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Appointment of Council on Aging Alternates to Full Members – Mr. David Cowie, chair of the Council on Aging has asked the Board to appoint the two current alternates, Ann Donahue and Martha Fucarile as full members.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to appoint Ann Donahue as a Member of the Council on Aging for a term ending in 2013 and Martha Fucarile as a member of the Council on Aging for a term ending in 2014.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Assignment of Responsibilities for the Design Review Committee for the Landscape Design and Master Planning Services RFP There is a memo in the packet with a list of the individuals who have been asked to serve on the committee to evaluate the proposals when they are received.  Mr. Singer hopes these individuals will also stay on to oversee the project.  The memo details their responsibilities.
Mr. Prentakis made a motion to establish a Landscape Design and Master Planning Services Oversight Committee.  Mr. Cresta seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Other Business
Request by the Town Treasurer, Mr. Carter to place an Article on the Special Town Meeting to increase the demand payment for delinquent tax accounts – The demand schedule has not changed in thirty years.  It requires an act of Town Meeting to change it.  Mr. Carter reported that last year 1740 demand notices were sent out.  At the current late fee of $5.00 this is $8700.  At $15.00, it would have generated $26,000 in fees.
        Each year, the Town sends out about 3500 real estate tax bills, about 260 personal property bills and 9500 excise tax bills.  Collection expenses on overdue bills including court fees, filing fees and attorney costs can run between $12,000 and $24,000 per year.  Clearly $5.00 is not a deterrent.
        The cost of recording a tax taking is $75.00.  Recording a tax taking is not the same as taking the property by foreclosure.  It simply protects the Town’s lien on the property.  116 tax bills are eligible to go into tax taking.  Last year the process of foreclosure was begun on one property.  This year there are three.  Three of the 116 properties in tax title should go into foreclosure because taxes have not been paid in 12 to 15 years.   Mr. Cresta asked how much the outstanding bills on the properties totaled.  Mr. Carter said that it was close to $250,000.
        Mr. Cresta asked if the Town employed the services of a deputy collector and if that fee would also go up.  Mr. Carter said that the deputy collector’s fee is $10.00 and those services are only used for excise taxes.
        Mr. Prentakis asked if the purpose of raising the fee was to deter people from paying their tax bills late or to recoup the expense of collecting.  He wants to know if the fee could be higher such as a percentage of the outstanding bill.  Mr. Singer replied that the fee is capped at $30.  Mr. Cresta commented that the fee will never be a deterrent but it is necessary to recoup the costs.  Mr. Singer added that if the fee only recoups a third of the cost of collection, then the taxpayers who pay on time are subsidizing those who don’t.
        Ms. Jones noted that looking at what other communities charge, $15.00 seems to be right in the middle.  Mr. Cresta asked that the Board receive regular updates on the status of unpaid taxes.
        Since this was not on the agenda, it will be brought up at the next meeting for a vote.  Mr. Cresta said that he would like to see regular updates on the status of unpaid taxes.
Adjournment – Mr. Cresta made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  All were in favor and the meeting was adjourned at 9:10.
Respectfully submitted,
Mary Jane Morrin                        
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary