PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Champaco, Councilor Hathaway, Councilor Cheney and Councilor Perkins; Manager W. Reed; Deputy Clerk K. Humphrey; Tax Assessor A. Thomas; Police Chief M. Leonard, Member of the Public Barney Silver, Veazie Food & Gas Owner Manjit Singh.
ITEM 1. The January 9, 2006 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of the Minutes
Motion By: Councilor Champaco—to accept the December 12, 2005 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway, Voted 3-2-0 in favor. Councilor Perkins and Councilor Cheney abstained due to their absence from the meeting.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda
Manager Reed just wanted to note that he had passed out a copy of the escrow agreement that the Town had with Barney Silver regarding the Buck Hill Extension Subdivision. This goes with item 5a.
ITEM 4a. Veazie Variety Update
Manager Reed outlined that included in the Councilor’s packet was a memo from Assessor Allan Thomas regarding the auction of the former Veazie Variety property. Manjit Singh, the owner of Veazie Food & Gas, along with partners from California purchased the property.
Chairman Friedman stated that he was happy with the purchase and that Mr. Singh was growing his business and then wished him luck.
Councilor Champaco outlined that she has heard from a few people that have come from his current business and they have all had positive comments.
Manager Reed outlined that Mr. Singh is going to try to work with R.H. Foster on keeping the gasoline pump.
There was discussion regarding the name of the store. Mr. Singh stated that he would like to keep it simple like Veazie Convenience or Veazie Mini-mart.
ITEM 5a. Buck Hill Extension Update
Manager Reed outlined that Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas and Barney Silver had had a meeting. Barney Silver then met with Manager Reed afterwards and they went over a punch list of items that Mr. Silver has done to date for the Buck Hill subdivision. Manager Reed outlined that Mr. Silver did deserve some recognition for the work that he has done.
Manager Reed explained that no party was fully aware that this water issue would be a problem like it was. In 2003-2004 there were no problems with the area. Many people could come up with many opinions of why it has happened including the 20 additional inches of rain that fell or because people developed the land disturbing subsurface flow. Manager Reed outlined that Mr. Silver was only liable for a year past the performance time frame and escrow agreement items.
Manager Reed stated that the problems that occurred may have been caused by the developers digging up the ground and installing drainage, in which case it would be beyond Mr. Silver’s control.
Manager Reed went on to say that Mr. Silver knew that these residents paid good money for the land and he wanted to work to fix the problem. Manager Reed explained that the Town accepted the roadway in 2003 and therefore Mr. Silver was only obligated until the end of 2004. Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas added that Mr. Silver has done a lot of voluntary work and has tried to help the situation.
Chairman Friedman stated that he had taken a ride up through the area and seen that they were still installing drain tile. Mr. Silver outlined that his crew had gone beside and behind lots and installed drain tile which was attached into the catch basins. He added that a lot of what he has done has not been asked for and he has kept going. He has passed the $50,000 mark that he has put into this improvement project when he could have just walked away. Mr. Silver outlined that he had done all of this work and then only to hear negative comments did not sit well. It was not something that he or the two engineering firms involved with the project could have foreseen.
Councilor Perkins thanked Mr. Silver for the perspective on the issue. He inquired on how many more lots will be sold or developed. Mr. Silver stated that there are four lots left in extension, however there is still future development as far as more lots.
Manjit Singh outlined that he has a lot of water coming down into his property from Route 2 and he wanted to know who was responsible for fixing it. He has shown it to Mr. Silver and CEO Allan Thomas.
CEO Allan Thomas stated that there is a culvert that picks up water on Route 2 by Mr. Silver’s construction business, however it is rusted out so the water is not routing the way it should. CEO Allan Thomas outlined that the culvert is a MDOT culvert and he has spoken with them, however they do not feel that they should have to repair it.
Chairman Friedman recommended helping Mr. Singh and contacting the State. Manager Reed stated that the Town could send a letter to MDOT’s office. Town Staff will also give Mr. Singh Senator Schneider’s phone number.
Councilor Champaco stated that as a homeowner she would hate to be abandoned so she thanked Mr. Silver for trying to repair the problems occurring in the Buck Hill Extension. In looking at the escrow she wondered why the Town was holding onto monies for things that have been completed such as seeding and loam. Manager Reed outlined that Mr. Silver had not asked for it. He went on to explain that one of his concerns for releasing the escrow is the cost of the final paving of the roadway.
Councilor Hathaway stated that he was trying to understand what the real issue is; was there a design flaw in the street, a problem in the site plan or the additional rain the area received. He expressed his concern that this could be a long-term problem. Councilor Hathaway questioned whether there should have been ditches.
Mr. Silver outlined that this is an area that is a little unique. You have to differentiate between maintenance and flaws. He added that the Town had shied away from ditches because they were unattractive.
Councilor Hathaway questioned why the Planning Board would allow a subdivision there with all of the water that comes down the hill. He added that the cul de sac is all broken up. Mr. Silver explained that it was broken up from an amount of water that was not anticipated. CEO Allan Thomas added that Hillside Drive has the same slope and design and is working just fine.
Councilor Hathaway was concerned that the Town may be looking at reconstruction in fifty years because of a unique situation. He outlined that the Council has a responsibility to the taxpayers and is concerned that the Town will have to go in there and spend a significant amount of money.
Mr. Silver outlined that the only answer he or the engineering firm can give is that they do not think so. He added that he thinks he has done what needs to be done. Most everything he did was done after the performance guarantee and he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do.
Councilor Hathaway outlined that the Town was fortunate to have had Mr. Silver doing the subdivision because someone else probably would have walked away leaving the Town to deal with the water issues.
Chairman Friedman stated that Mr. Silver has done more than rectify the situation.
Manager Reed outlined that the design was a late 1990’s road plan. The next round of development will included NPDES drainage.
Councilor Champaco outlined that she was still concerned with the escrow agreement. She realized that the Manager was doing a good job looking out for the best interest of the Town’s taxpayers, however if she had completed the items in the agreement she would feel entitled to that money.
Chairman Friedman outlined that Mr. Silver has gone above and beyond the call of duty to rectify the problem. Manager Reed will sit down with Mr. Silver and calculate what the Town owes him so that he can submit an invoice for the amount owed in the escrow agreement.
Chairman Friedman outlined that it is embarrassing if there are misunderstandings between taxpayers, contractors and Town employees. He added that the Town has excellent employees and a good contractor who also happens to be a taxpayer. He hopes that this is all behind them and hopes they can move forward. Chairman Friedman apologized on behalf of the Council and recognized and thanked Mr. Silver for all of his work.
ITEM 6. Comments from the Public
There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
Manager Reed gave the Council a handout on the sale of the Casco Bay Energy power plant to LS Power by Duke Energy. He will be inviting the plant manager to a meeting once the sale is officially approved and people have more information.
a. The Council reviewed a copy of the School Committee’s meeting minutes and agenda.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of the Penobscot Valley Council of Governments’ meeting minutes and agenda.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of the Employee Assistance Program’s annual report.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from the Housing Foundation giving the Veazie Community School permission to use the Graham School Senior Housing’s community room as a place of refuge during fire alarms.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of the Orono Land Trust’s newsletter.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of a thank you card from the Silver family.
g. The Council reviewed a copy of the Fire Department’s monthly report.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
Councilor Cheney outlined that on the Chase Road in Bangor and the Hogan Road there is a lot of brush roadside that is not being mowed/trimmed. Manager Reed noted that Bangor has cut back on trimming projects.
Councilor Cheney noticed that the electric bill for the school is $3,600 a month. Manager Reed outlined that the only way the school will save money is to switch over to LED lights which would have a high up front cost. He added that the lights in the gymnasium, the air handling system and pumps use a lot of power but for a facility of the square footage of the school they are in good shape
ITEM 9. Town Warrant 14 & 14A, Town Payroll 14, School Warrant 14, School Lunch Warrant 14 and School Payroll 14 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Perkins—to adjourn the January 9, 2006 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney—there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned at 8:19 p.m.