Proposed Septic Walkover Ordinance and Religious and Secular Displays on Town Property Moving Ahead at the BoS Meeting

Sherman, Conn. (Citizen News) – At the monthly Board of Selectmen (BoS) Meeting last week, the proposed ordinance for the septic tank visual inspection / walkover program gained momentum. The possibility of a newly proposed town ordinance that will allow for temporary religious and secular displays and symbols on town-owned property also received consideration.

In addition, there was a call-to-action from the BoS for Sherman residents to fill vacancies on several boards and commissions. Plus, residents in Southern Sherman without cellphone service will soon have the opportunity to attend a Special Meeting that’s “in the works” with the BoS.

Proposed Septic Tank Visual Inspection / Walkover Program and Ordinance:

At the beginning of the BoS meeting, First Selectman Clay Cope stated “we received dozens of letters of support for the septic walkover program.”

Resident, advocate, and Lake Advisory Committee Waterfront Delegate, Scott Randall, reiterated key points from the two public forums and why residents should support the proposed septic tank walkover program and ordinance. He also provided the BoS with hardcopies of the proposed changes to the proposed ordinance, a list of all the people involved in the well-researched Action Plan for Preserving Candlewood Lake report, and a supplement to this report – Recommendations for Sherman, Connecticut.

After Mr. Randall spoke, residents Doug Cushnie and Monte Clark also showed support and said why they are in favor of this proposed ordinance and program.

The BoS unanimously agreed to have the revised draft ordinance go to Town Meeting before going to referendum. The reason being, as Selectman Bob Ostrosky articulated, the changes were significant enough to warrant discussing them in more detail.

In a follow up conversation, First Selectman Cope said this proposed ordinance will be part of the Town Meeting’s agenda on Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m. in the Emergency Services Facility (ESF). This proposed ordinance will also be included on the referendum. The Budget Referendum will be on Saturday, May 2. The polls will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the ESF.

Religious and Secular Displays on Town Property:

The preliminary discussion about a proposed town ordinance possibility became a New Business agenda item at this BoS meeting.

First Selectman Cope said he looked into the Walpole, Massachusetts ordinance that resident Gary Albert shared, which allows for temporary religious displays on public property. First Selectman Cope also said he reached out to The Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WCCOG) members from all 18 towns to see what they think and to ask them if they can share any information and research on this topic. Next, he will reach out to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) for ordinance information.

Selectman Andrea O’Connor stated how she thinks the Town attorney gave all of them the wrong advice and she has been researching, and will continue to research, Supreme Court decisions on this matter.

Selectman Ostrosky added how passionate this subject is due to the recent non-illumination of the cross at Happy Acres Farm, which is now on town-owned property. They agreed to research this more and will keep it active on the agenda.

Related to this, Treasurer Eric Holub asked the BoS if they asked the farmers about their preference for the cross being illuminated on the silo this year. The reason being, if they want it up, then it’s an easy solution. First Selectman Cope said “I asked them to consider it.” Mr. Holub brought up another question: If they do not want it up then can the Town force them to put it up if there is an ordinance?

A New Appointment

For the Commission on Aging, the BoS appointed Ed Hayes to a three-year term.

A Resignation

Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Dale Baird, resigned and First Selectman Cope read her resignation letter aloud. Ms. Baird will be leaving the area to start a new job. She enjoyed serving and hopes to return to Sherman in a few years once she retires.

Board and Commission Vacancies

The BoS discussed in detail the numerous board and commission vacancies that have become available. Selectman O’Connor suggested that Citizen News should announce what all of the vacancies are. First Selectman Cope provided a post meeting update.

List of Openings:

Zoning Board of Appeals – 2 vacancies, Conservation Commission – 2 vacancies, Housing Commission – 1 vacancy, Board of Education – 1 vacancy, Commission on Aging – 3 to 5 vacancies, Land Acquisition Advisory Board – 1 vacancy (to be filled by a member on the Inland Wetlands Commission), Planning & Zoning Commission – 2 vacancies for Alternate Commissioners, Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission – 2 vacancies for Alternate Commissioners.

Residents are encouraged to contact the BoS, or the board or commission chairperson, if they are interested in any of these openings.

Old Business Updates

Closed Sherman School Kindergarten Wing: Chairman of the Maintenance Committee for the Board of Education (BoE), Joseph Keneally, provided Sherman School updates. Regarding the special taskforce the newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Education, Rowland Hanley, is spearheading, he is planning on meeting soon with the newly formed group to debrief them about what’s going on with the Kindergarten Wing, to-date. This meeting will be mostly organizational.

Sherman School Boiler Replacement: The first bid package was only for the engineering phase. The next bid package will be for the actual installation of the boilers. First Selectman Cope believes this bid package will be ready by May 30.

Regarding the 2015 / 2016 Municipal Budget, Mr. Keneally voiced how he wants the Town to reconsider cutting the shared expense for the Facilities Manager position with the School.

Happy Acres Farm: First Selectman Cope read a progress report email from John Motsinger of Full Circle Farming. “We have 10 new calves so far… we could still have up to 20 more calves on the way this spring into summer. The baby chicks are growing fast… and a baby goat was added.” Sara Burns, a farmer from Shelton, will be growing a vegetable garden at the farm when the weather gets warmer. Full Circle Farming also thanked the Sherman residents who ordered their homegrown beef.

Happy Acres Farm Committee: First Selectman Cope reported that he and members, Sue Moga and Ralph Goreman, will be meeting again with the farmers shortly.

Monthly Financial Summary: First Selectman Cope highlighted where the overage is in the budget, as indicated in the Monthly Financial Statement. There is an increase of $1,890.28 for network support in Town Hall for technology expenses. Building Maintenance is over by $3,531.51 due to three unexpected boiler repairs this winter in Mallory Town Hall, the Public Works Garage, and the Old Town Hall Senior Center.

The Resident State Trooper’s Public Safety Supplies line item is over budget by $2,001 because of a new laser speed gun, but grant money will reimburse the Town. ESF Maintenance is over $1,403.65 due to janitorial cleaning. Road Maintenance, that includes the Briarwood Road bridge and Spring Lake Road repairs, “will be reimbursed by a list of funds [from the Local Capital Improvement Program (LOCIP) Grant],” said First Selectman Cope.

The Public Works Department is over budget due to $2,700 in overtime because of the storms, and Winter Maintenance is over by $9,120 which paid for more salt deliveries.

State of the Roads: The BoS discussed in detail the “State of the Roads”. First Selectman Cope said the Town will be “using funds mostly for road repair this year.” He will evaluate the conditions of the Town roads with the Sherman Traffic Safety Group about some sightline issues and will also evaluate the State roads with a member from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Selectman O’Connor questioned what the status was for 37 East because, at one point, there was a plan for the DOT to reconstruct and repave part of the road that’s near the traffic light. First Selectman Cope said he would follow up with this safety concern. The BoS agreed this area of the road is in really bad condition.

Disbursement Controls Policy: Selectman Ostrosky said he is working on six recommendations for disbursement controls, and he will present them at the next BoS meeting.

Department of Public Works Improvement Strategies: Selectman Ostrosky said he still needs to talk with Public Works Supervisor, Don Borkowski. First Selectman Cope confirmed he received a list of assets from Mr. Borkowski, and now they need to get authorization to sell town property.

Public Works Wash Station Open Bid Announcement: First Selectman Cope said the Town is continuing to modify the document because architectural plans will now have to be included. The Town is using the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) Grant of $205,000 to fund this project.

HVMPO (formerly HVCEO) / SWPRA / WCCOG: First Selectman Cope said he still sees value in joining the new COG and wants to “go back to Town Meeting and vote on joining WCCOG.”

Communications Update

Emergency Radio Communications: “No word yet from the Governor,” stated First Selectman Cope regarding the application for the STEAP Grant of $500,000. In the meantime, $33,000 is in the capital plan for 2015 / 2016 as a Plan B. This will pay for a much needed repeater, which is Phase 1 of the radio communications plan.

Completed Town Projects

Spring Lake Road: First Selectman Cope said this longstanding project is complete and the final payment was made.

Briarwood Road Bridge Replacement: Although this town project was recently finished, First Selectman Cope said he is still waiting on a letter from the DOT to give the official seal of approval. “I am anticipating a letter and I am planning on the final inspection by April 10.”

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department: First Selectman Cope said the new Belardinelli tires were ordered and paid for.

Emergency Services Facility: Acting Fire Department Chief, Dave Raines, gave an update, and he confirmed the air drops are in, hung, and tested. “We are just waiting for the plumber [to hook them up]…” He continued to say the original bill was for around $3,800 but they got it down to about $1,200 by doing the installation / labor themselves.

As for an update on the exhaust system, Mr. Raines said they applied for a grant that would help to pay for the majority of the cost for changing a system that passed inspection but is not ideal. The estimated cost is around $70,000.

Regarding the painted floor in the bay, there was some initial peeling and the floor is now sealed. “We’ll wait and see if the peeling stopped and reevaluate the floor in a few years,” said Mr. Raines.

He also addressed how the department is looking into ways to save 30% of their energy costs by automating what they can. $20,000 a year is the cost for keeping the lights on, for instance.

Related to this, Sherman’s Democratic Town Committee (DTC) Chairman, Joel Bruzinski, questioned the completion status of the ESF project. He also mentioned a quote First Selectman Cope said in another newspaper about the status of the project.

First Selectman Cope’s post meeting reply: “It is complete. The Town has a CO, Certificate of Occupancy. The three items that Mr. Raines brought up in the meeting are for replacing existing equipment.”

Future Agenda Item

Lack of Cellphone Coverage in Southern Sherman:

Residents for Reliable Cell Service in Sherman (RRCSS), formerly known as Southern Sherman Cell Tower Committee (SSCTC), will soon get their Special Meeting with the BoS, which will be open to the public.

First Selectman Cope and Selectman Ostrosky said they will coordinate and consider possible dates to have this meeting – TBD. Selectman O’Connor pointed out that it should be right after the upcoming Easter and Passover holidays.

Miscellaneous

Connecticut State Library for a Historic Document Preservation Grant, as requested by the Town Clerk: The BoS agreed to authorize First Selectman Cope to go into contract with the library. This is for the Town Clerk’s documents.

Public Correspondence

First Selectman Cope said that six residents sent emails and they “expressed enthusiastic support for the Triploid Grass Carp Program, as implemented by the Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA).” This milfoil is the main water pollutant in Squantz Pond and Candlewood Lake.

First Selectman Cope shared two public announcements:

The Month of April is Autism Awareness Month. Show support for this cause by changing out your outside lightbulbs to “Light it up Blue”.

The Month of May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) Awareness Month. There will be a 3K and 5K run / walk options on Saturday, May 23 to benefit this cause. Jackie Stager, a 14-year-old Sherman resident and freshman at Marvelwood High School in Kent, suffers from this debilitating disease. The race will begin 9 a.m. at Veteran’s Field in Sherman. For more information visit: http://fasttracktiming.com/races/5232015-run-for-ehlers-danlos-syndrome-and-chiari/ or to donate a silent auction item contact Eloise Stager, elstager@gmail.com

By Alicia Sakal

Printed in the April 1st Edition of the Citizen News, serving Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut.

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