The board met with Selectman Kristi Sogofsky present via Zoom. In addition to First Selectman David Bindelglass and Selectman Bob Lessler and staff, some members of the public appeared in person. Several other members of the public appeared via Zoom.
The board handled some routine business including approval of the minutes of our regular meeting of July 15 and the special meeting of July 29. We did not have our regular meeting on Aug. 5. The board approved several tax refunds as recommended by the tax collector and approved a driveway variance and indemnity agreement for the installation of Belgian Block at 194 Morehouse Road.
Vacancies and Appointments
The board took up the matter of filling vacancies on two boards, the Region 9 Board of Education and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Region 9 vacancy was created when a member moved out of town. The resignation of the previous board member was tendered in early July and effective July 31. The selectmen appointed Sarah Lehberger to fill this vacancy last month.
However, a question was raised as to whether an appointment effective at a future date in anticipation of a vacancy is valid. Therefore, the board did a redo of its July 15 vote. Once again the first selectman and Selectman Lessler voted yes and Selectman Sogofsky voted no. This appointment runs until Dec. 1, 2023.
The ZBA vacancy was also created when a member moved out of town. Two sitting alternate members sought elevation from alternate to full member. The board unanimously appointed Tom Dollard to fill the vacancy.
The board approved a resolution for funding the hiring of a consultant to assist the town in preparing the mandatory affordable housing report.
The board received and did a first read of an ordinance to provide a tax exemption for owners of vehicles for use by handicapped people The concept is to cancel any property tax due for such a vehicle whether owned by the disabled person or their parent or legal guardian.
The board received and did a first review of a revised ethics ordinance. A working group is still modifying the document so it is expected that further changes to the draft will be made before the selectmen take what is expected to be a final look at our next meeting.
South Park Avenue Final Report
The selectmen received the final report of the South Park Avenue Advisory Committee. This committee has worked extremely hard over a period of 18 months to carefully assess the future possible uses of the property. The report is very thorough and thoughtful. All residents are encouraged to read this important document.
Road Safety Audit
The selectmen also received the Easton Road Safety Audit. This document, too, is available on the town website for everyone’s consideration. It will be particularly useful in analyzing the proposed projects at the intersection of Center Road and Westport Road and the Pathway Project on Sport Hill Road.
Partial Roof Replacement
The board awarded the bid for a partial replacement of the roof on the southeast corner of the old Samuel Staples building to Gold Seal Roofing in the amount of $514,000.00 as recommended by the director of Public Works. This is the oldest part of the roof on this building dating from 1990. It was damaged in Storm Isaias last year. The work done in 1990 had a 20-year life expectancy.
The selectmen extended the moratorium on installation of 5G technology in Easton until Dec. 31.
Special Town Meeting
First Selectman Bindelglass reported that a special town meeting will be scheduled for Monday, Sept. 13 with a referendum vote on such items as may be adjourned to a machine vote to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 21. There are many items that need to go before the town meeting. Some of these items have been held off due to the pandemic when it was not possible to hold a special town meeting.
Among the likely agenda items are the initial funding for the Pathway Project, the Handicapped Tax Exemption Ordinance, the Ethics Ordinance, the Land Use Ordinance, and the funding for the old Staples building roof project.
As is our custom, the board heard public comment both at the beginning and the end of our meeting. Several residents offered comments on a variety of topics:
5G Moratorium: State Rep. Ann Hughes, Paska Nayden, June Logie, and Daphne (last name not recorded) who is an attorney who represented a party in a recent decision of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals which found against the Federal Communications Commission.
Planning and Zoning Commission proposed rules of procedure, especially rules related to public comment: Jeff Becker, Grant Monsarrat, Dana Benson, June Logie, and Bev Dacey.
Revised Ethics ordinance: Jeff Becker and Bev Dacey.
Requests for information regarding agenda items, notice and procedures for the special town meeting: John Meyer, June Logie, Dana Benson, Grant Monsarrat, and Bev Dacey.
Update from the 9/11 Twentieth Anniversary Commemoration Committee: Bev Dacey
Comment about migrants arriving at Westchester County Airport: Bev Dacey
Request for Information about the Westport Weston Health District litigation: June Logie
Comments on hiring a consultant and counsel for the affordable housing report: Dana Benson, June Logie, and Bev Dacey.
Land Use Ordinance: Bev Dacey and June Logie
Comment on Region 9 Board of Education appointment: Bev Dacey
Comment on difficulty hearing members of the public who are present in person by those attending via Zoom and request to spell out on the agenda that the meetings are hybrid — that is on Zoom but also available for the public to attend in person: Mimi Jacobs and June Logie.
The selectmen also offered final comments as follows:
Selectman Sogofsky reminded everyone that the ethics, land use and handicapped vehicle ordinances are available on the town website. She asked that the new social media policy recently adopted by the Board of Selectmen be posted on the town website. She reminded people of why it is important to state your name and address before speaking at our meetings. Although we may know who you are, others may not.
Selectman Lessler noted that while Planning and Zoning, as all boards, gets to decide whether to have public comment and how to handle it, he hopes they will find a way to offer the public an opportunity to participate. He is hopeful the new school year will get off to a safe and healthy start and the best way to make sure what happens is for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against Covid 19 and to follow masking guidelines.
First Selectman Bindelglass reported that Covid hospitalization numbers are not great. He will speak to the members of the Planning and Zoning Commission about their proposed new rules of procedure. He previewed the mask mandate about to be jointly implemented among the towns of Fairfield, Westport and Easton. He said more information will be coming regarding the Westport Weston Health District lawsuit.
While he can’t comment specifically on this litigation, he cautioned everyone that not all lawsuits have a solid foundation. He announced that the 9/11 Twentieth Anniversary Commemoration event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11, starting at 10 a.m. at the memorial located in front of the library.
You can watch a video recording of the Aug. 19 Board of Selectmen meeting here.