Board supports VTel wireless broadband project
by Margo Avakian
Jan 29, 2014 | 14627 views | 0 0 comments | 94 94 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- It’s unanimous: The selectboard voted Tuesday evening to recommend that the Public Service Board approve VTel’s proposal to build a telecommunications facility in Halifax Center.

Selectboard chair Edee Edwards, in her capacity of liaison to the planning commission, reported that the commissioners will not sign on to the selectboard’s letter, preferring to issue their own recommendation. Edwards said some on the commission felt they should have been given more time to consider the project. The planning commission was notified at the same time as the selectboard, the Windham Regional Commission, and the relevant state agencies. No member of the commission attended the January 7 meeting to hear and question VTel’s attorney on the project.

Margaret Bartenhagen, one of Halifax’s WRC reps, told the board that one resident who objects to the project’s location has contacted the WRC. The proposal will be looked at by the WRC’s project review committee to determine its “regional significance.” That review will probably take place in early February.

In a brief review of Irene project finances, Christina Moore reported that, “All but one project is closed from our end,” with upward of $200,000 expected to come in soon. The open project is the Deer Park Bridge: FEMA’s rejection of some costs is under appeal.

A midyear budget review, designed to help the board track finances more closely, indicated that spending is generally on track. The board once again noted that switching to a modified accrual system of accounting would make tracking easier and more accurate. Earl Holtz will broach the possibility of making that change to town treasurer Patricia Dow.

The board also took up the question of whether the town should sand the parking lot at the post office. Postmaster Rodney Crawford asked the board to consider it, noting that the town trucks use that lot as a turn-around. Edwards said she is uneasy about a possible “conflict with a private citizen” who is now contracted to do the sanding. She and Holtz expressed reluctance to set a precedent maintaining nontown property and even more reluctance to risk liability issues that could arise if the town does work in areas it is not legally obligated to maintain.

The board was more willing to have the crew sand the school parking lot. The town, which rents its office space from the school, shares the lot. Sanding costs would be deducted from the $10,000 annual contribution to maintenance of the school.

The board voted to direct the planning commission to contract with the WRC for assistance in updating zoning regulations. Bartenhagen reported that she, planner Brian McNeice, and John Bennett of the WRC have already set up a meeting for that purpose.

In other business, the board reviewed its quarterly priorities and heard from board member Lewis Sumner about the latest truck troubles (broken axle, leaking hydraulic system). Residents, said Edwards, have complained about delays in plowing and sanding.
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