The Board of Selectmen held its second regular meeting for the month of January with all members present but members of the public participating only by Zoom.
The board reviewed, revised and approved the minutes of the January 6th meeting and approved several tax refunds as recommended by Tax Collector Krista Kot.
The board appointed Kacey Gormley and Carolyn Oppenheim to the Park and Recreation Commission, and Stephen Landa to the Pension and Employee Benefits Commission.
The board also appointed Slavica Prevelige to the Senior Center Advisory Board. In addition, the first selectman advised the board that Vivian Hardison has resigned from the Conservation Commission so she can assume her new role as a member of the Board of Ethics. Maria Corti was elevated from an alternate to a full member of the Conservation Commission. Sarah Cwikla was moved from a full to an alternate member of the Conservation Commission by the first selectman. Karen Niesyn moved from alternate to full member of the Conservation Commission by appointment of the first selectman. Finally, the first selectman re-appointed Alison Witherbee to a new four year term as the town’s Municipal Agent for the Elderly.
There are seats remaining to be filled on the following boards and commissions: one seat on the Senior Center Advisory Board, one alternate seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission, one adjunct seat on the Cemetery Committee, and two alternate seats on the Conservation Commission. Anyone interested in serving should contact the Democratic or Republican Town Committees or the first selectman’s office.
Public Act 21-29 allows towns to opt out of three provisions related to state zoning statutes. These are state rules related to the installation of temporary health care facilities, parking space requirements for dwellings and accessory apartment provisions. The board voted to opt out of all three provisions preferring to allow the local Planning and Zoning Commission to adopt its own rules. The belief is that rules adopted at the local level would be better tailored to the needs of our town. This is the path the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to the board.
Several members of the public offered thoughts to the board at the beginning and ending periods of public comment.
On the topic of the Public Act 21-29 opt out: John Meyer, Jeff Becker, Grant Monsarrat
On the topic of more detail in agenda items: Grant Monsarrat, Jeff Becker
On the topic of the microphone donated to the board for use at its meetings: Dana Benson
On requiring people to speak only on their own behalf during public comment and not “for many people” or similar anonymous phrasing: Carolyn Oppenheim
On withdrawing his name from consideration for appointment to the Park & Recreation Commission: Lou DiPietro
On whether federal CARES Act funding is available for the Arts Council: Jeff Becker
On lack of public access to last week’s Planning and Zoning Meeting: Jeff Becker
First Selectman David Bindelglass reported that Covid cases in town have declined each of the last three weeks from a high of 129, to 101 to 48 as the week ending 1/15/22. The number of people hospitalized in the state is also declining. It does appear that a clear pattern of declining numbers is happening in the state. This is consistent with the rapid rise and fall of the Omicron variant in other places.
He also reported that Covid tests and masks are available at the Senior Center. Generally, both home tests and PCR tests are more readily available now as compared to the past several weeks.
The first selectman acknowledged the retirements of two outstanding public servants: now former fire chief, Steve Waugh, and now former firefighter Jim Wright. Both have served the town for many years and offered tireless and dedicated service to our community.
Rob Klem is the new fire chief and he is welcomed to his new post.
The first selectman thanked the Tasi family for donating a town of Easton flag to the town. This is the second flag the Tasi family has given to the town and it replaces the first one which has come to the end of its useful life.
The first selectman extended his thanks to the matching gift donation of $150,000 from Janet and Renn Gordon to the EMS foundation in support of its efforts to raise funds for the new EMS building. The board urges everyone to make a donation to the EMS foundation between now and March 2022, so the town can receive the full benefit of the generous donation from the Gordons. Any amount will help and will be greatly appreciated.
The other selectmen offered no comments.