Vol. II No. 06 3/15/2021
Notes from Town Boards
Notes from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC): March 5 via Zoom
- Sally Underwood-Miller, Chair
- Jay Bikofsky
- Patrick White
- Tom Stokes
- Gary Pitney
- Linda Jackson
- Carole Owens
- Anne Rabinowitz
Also present: Laurie Norton Moffatt, Rick Wilcox, Ron Brouker, June Wolfe, Tim Minkler, Ellen Spear, Jane Ralph, Becky Amuso, Mark Wilson, India Spartz, Ellen Spear, Leigh Davis, Lillian Lee, Sarah DelSignore, Arthur Dutil, Bonny Hartley, and Andrea Lindsay
At the last meeting, these requests made by the Town were approved:
- $30,000 Soldier's Monument
- $25,000 Cat and Dog Fountain
- $100,000 Stockbridge Housing Trust
- $0 Stockbridge Housing Repair Trust Fund (determined non-permissible)
The other applications were resolved as follows:
- $15,000 Berkshire Theatre Group's Mellon Barn replacement of deteriorated clapboard
- $10,000 Stockbridge Library HVAC; $10,000 is half of what was requested as Select Board granted library $100,000 from CARES. It was suggested since the Town gives to the Library annually, perhaps the Library would offer the Town a seat on its Library Board.
- $20,000 Stockbridge-Munsee Community for GIS mapping, preservation and deed restriction at the Field Arboretum
- $9998 Norman Rockwell Museum for Linwood estate from CPC Administrative funds@$4999/year for two years
- $50,000 Riverbrook School to create an ADA compliant bathroom, sprinkler system & elevator.
- $5000 Stockbridge Housing Authority for replacement of damaged Heaton Hall sign
- $34,000 Stockbridge Housing Authority to replace wooden siding in buildings A, C, D, E, F and G
- $7270 Naumkeag for restoration of Frederick MacMonnies's bronze sculpture, "Young Faun & Heron". This sculpture is the oldest in the property's collection. Linda Jackson suggested that the preservation include some extra protection against the elements.
- $75,000 Pine Woods to replace driveway and underlying cracked pipes.
- CPC discussed Kathryn Whitney's request for assistance reroofing of her property at 17 Willard Hill. Town Counsel's opinion was if CPC funded the historically correct roof, an historic preservation restriction must be placed on the property. CPC needed input from Ms. Whitney before making a decision. She was not present — tabled.
- Gould Meadows replacement of Mary Flynn sign determined non-permissible by Town Counsel.
- $11,750 Gould Meadows to build walkway over wetlands and continue the tree work.
Funds available for distribution were projected to be $285,000. However, through the efforts of Chair Sally Underwood-Miller and member Patrick White, $86,617 was recovered and returned to the fund. Of the $371,617, all but $3,597 was awarded.
The CPC funding recommendations will go to the Town Meeting for final approval.
Bird condos at Gould Meadows.
Notes from the Select Board: March 11 via Zoom(There was no meeting March 4)
- Chuck Cardillo, Chair
- Patrick White
- Roxanne McCaffrey
- Michael Canales, Town Administrator
The Finance Committee:
- Jay Bikofsky, Chair
- Jim Balfanz
- Bill Vogt
- Neil D. Holden
- Steve Shatz
- Diane Reuss
- Pamela Boudreau
- Special Permit request – 82 Interlaken – Lori Robbins, atty, Mr. & Mrs. Brause, owners, Brent White, engineer--- in light of approvals from Conservation Commission, Planning Board and compliance with setbacks, acreage, and Lake and pond Overlay District restrictions, approved. White requested they attempt to save mature Ash trees.
Convened joint meeting of SB and Finance Committee
- Fire Chief Vincent Garofoli presented FD budget divided between operating budget and capital expenditures. There was lengthy discussion about the relative merits of repairing an older truck or replacing it earlier than scheduled. Matter deferred.
- The Highway Department operating budget reduced by $75,709 due to a vacancy — the Department Supervisor. Otherwise, operating budget level from last year. Similarly, the Highway Department divided between operating budget and capital expenditures. The capital request was for $145,000 for a large truck used for plowing.
- Request for $6000 for Ice Glen old growth forest management plan – approved by joint vote.
- Questions were raised about the CARES money remaining unspent ($19,000) and the amount anticipated from the Biden Bill ($186,000)
The joint meeting was closed and the SB meeting resumed
- An item to raise occupancy and restaurant tax from 4 to 6% will be placed on the Warrant.
- Three zoning changes were proposed by the PB and sent to SB: driveways, signs, and parking. The SB has 14 days to review and return to PB with suggestions in advance of a public meeting. SB will take up at next meeting after reviewing, comparing to existing bylaws, and possibly checking with Town Counsel.
- There was surprise expressed by SB at the differences between the existing and suggested bylaws. Apparently, the request for minor changes was sent to PB from SB over a year ago. McCaffrey said it was returned "unrecognizable."
- At Old Town Hall (next to Congregational Church) documents were discovered from the 1700s (Stockbridge was formed in 1737 and incorporated in 1739). The name Konkaput (a Stockbridge-Munsee Community Chief and Stockbridge Selectman) appears with other names. The proposal is to return them to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. It will appear on the Warrant at Town Meeting. It will require approval by the state legislature and Rep. Pignatelli is willing to move it forward.
- Discussion of Short-term Rental regulations to be placed on Warrant deferred until next meeting.
- Report to SB on CPC recommendations – see Notes from CPC above – those recommendations will be placed on Warrant.
- Lake Management Plan and Lake Monitoring Project – vote to fund passed.
- There will be a Senior Housing Listening Meeting via Zoom. White invited all to attend – look for posting of time.
- Evidently there is available from the Commonwealth, a free electric car charging station. Since this is an annual offer, it was deferred until next year.
- The Shared Streets money awarded to Stockbridge for propane heat and light near outdoor dining previously was declined. The money is still available if SB can devise an alternate use. McCaffrey suggested improvements to signage, trash cans and doggie stations.
- PB Vice Chair Christine Rasmussen requested that the meeting not be closed before approving and sending the three bylaws back to PB. There was a discussion – White wanted the 14 days to review. Rasmussen insisted that would not leave PB enough time to get changes on the Warrant. Canales took out a calendar and demonstrated that there was plenty of time. Rasmussen continued to object and said she thought the SB would just rubber stamp PB recommendations. McCaffrey had not had opportunity to read the bylaws; White wanted the 14 days statutorily granted, and the SB concurred. Canales again asserted there was plenty of time and offered to help Rasmussen with the calendar.
The SB meeting was adjourned.
Inside one of Stockbridge's phragmites forests — a towering wetlands invasive.
Notes from Planning Board: March 2 via Zoom
- William Vogt, Chair
- Marie Raftery
- Christine Rasmussen
- Katherine Fletcher
- Gary Pitney
- Nancy Socha
- Wayne Slosek
- Jennifer Carmichael, secretary
- Consultants: Jeff Lacy and Philip Arnold
In addition: On behalf of special permit requests: Pam Sandler, Bruce Cohen, David Potter, design, Jackson Alberti and Marc Volke, Forsythe, David Brause, Ritch Holben, Brent White, architect and attorneys Elizabeth Goodman and Lori Robbins
- 50 Lake Drive, Special Permit to tear down an 1100 SqFt house and build a 2000 SqFt house. Approved by a vote of 5 – 2; Kate Fletcher and Christine Rasmussen voted no.
- Reopened the Public Meeting for 82 Interlaken in order to discuss altered plans. The guest house and pool were moved out of the Lake and Pond Overlay District (LPOD), and the size of the house was reduced by 618 SqFt. Approved by vote of 5 – 2: Kate Fletcher and Christine Rasmussen voted no.
- Budget: Chair requested approval for continuation of consultant fees ($40,000) in the PB budget for the coming year. A question was asked about how much of the $40,000 was spent this year; it was not answered.
- Bylaw changes: parking, signage, and driveways. The changes were sent to Town Counsel to compare to Commonwealth zoning bylaw. Here finding was that there were no significant differences. Next the Bylaw changes will be sent to the Select Board; however, some members complained that they did not receive a copy of the proposed bylaws in time to read and consider.
- In the final minutes of the meeting, there was an exchange about mixed use, that is, businesses in residential districts and residences in a business district. Rasmussen cited an "emergency" without specifying what it was. She said she had been working with consultant Phil Arnold to address this emergency.
- If the PB subcommittee working with the consultants was deemed noncompliant with Open Meeting Law (OML) and disbanded, is one member working with the consultants and all questions and comments channeled thru that member, also noncompliant?
- If some of the $40,000 allocated for consultants this year is unexpended, does it carry forward for use next year? If yes, wouldn't the PB request to the SB be $40,000 minus the unexpended amount?
Notes from the Planning Board: March 4 meeting via Zoom
Present: PB members and Consultant Jeff Lacy
- Christine Rasmussen asked that only the chat function be used to ask questions during the Zoom meeting; asked that all communication with consultant go through her at all times and asked that a written piece be included in the PB record. Although no specifics were given, it was apparently a written piece contradicting or objecting to an unnamed article in a prior issue of Stockbridge Updates.
- Chair said consultant Jeff Lacy explained NRPZ at the last meeting and suggested he move on to the Cottage Bylaw and Rural Sighting Principles.
- Rural Sighting Principles were developed by our last consultant, Joel Russell. It was suggested by Lacy that we include them in any bylaw as a compliment to NRPZ.
- Lacy moved to the Cottage Bylaw called Cottage era estate (CEE). Lacy raised two initial questions about CEE: should it be a part of the NRPZ Bylaw or separate? Lacy offered to append it but said it would make a very long bylaw (16-18 pages). Should it be appended or separate? No recommendation was made, and no vote taken.
- Lacy asked if there should be a list of the Berkshire Cottages in Stockbridge or if the Historical Commission should determine what is a Berkshire Cottage on a case-by-case basis? No recommendation was made, and no vote taken.
- Lacy continued to use 37 Interlaken (DeSisto) as an example until there was a comment from an attendee. On the CTSBTV replay, since it was required that attendees use "chat" only, the commenter was unseen, unheard, and when the comment was read, remained unidentified.
- Lacy replied that he often used a specific location to explain the impact of a proposed bylaw. However, the commenter offered that it could appear the PB is showing favoritism. At which point the Chair stated that the zoning changes contemplated were motived by what happened at DeSisto.
- The discussion continued and Lacy said before receiving this consulting contract he had never heard of Berkshire Cottages, and "I don't know anything about them." Nonetheless he was asked to produce a zoning bylaw to govern them at next meeting (March 11).
- Lacy complimented DeSisto's planned preservation of the Great Lawn between the Berkshire Cottage and the road apparently without realizing that was a key element in the original Cottage bylaw in both Lenox and Stockbridge. The two key elements were to preserve the Cottage and the relationship between the Cottage and the road. The latter was both typical and definitional of a Berkshire Cottage.
- SU stands by its prior reporting and repeats: the suggestions offered by the consultant are not Stockbridge-specific. NRPZ is a template offered to many MA municipalities.
- SU stands by its reporting: NRPZ is designed to preserve and protect and should be respected for its intent, but whether or not NRPZ preserves our natural beauty, history, and the character of Stockbridge is a function not of the template but of the numbers plugged into it.
- Questions: If, as the Chair stated, the PB's work on the bylaws is motivated by 37 Interlaken, could that be construed as spot zoning? If as member Rafferty stated, SB approval of special permits is over and PB now approves all special permits – when did that change occur? Did the town vote on it or by what process did it occur?
Notes from Water and Sewer Commission: March 4 via Zoom
- Donald Schneyer, Chairman
- John Loiodice
- Peter J. Socha
- Jennifer Carmichael, Secretary
- The Curtisville Project will be started in late March and completed in May.
- Budget for Tuckerman Bridge (by golf course) will be on the warrant at Town Meeting.
- Park Street Pump Station – total budget not yet determined.
- Abatement requests for water bill and sewer in two locations. At one location (water only), it was determined that a soaker hose set on a timer was unnecessarily increasing the water usage. At another location, a $594 abatement was requested (sewer only).
- Stockbridge owns forestry land and the logging is managed by the Water and Sewer Commission. They mark the trees according to what the loggers want in any given year. Stockbridge is paid for the wood, and harvesting is considered best the practice for clean water.
- A question was asked about the excess capacity of the Stockbridge sewer. Tony Campetti reported Stockbridge sewer has an excess capacity of 200,000-gallons. A requirement of 110 gallons per bedroom, per day is estimated, therefore, there is excess capacity for more houses to be connected.
Report from the Cemetery Committee - The Alternative Green Burial
by Candace Currie
Green burial offers an alternative to today's conventional burials. What is green burial? A green burial is one in which everything—body, clothing, and casket—going into the ground is biodegradable. It is considered an environmentally friendly burial. Green burial is legal across the state of Massachusetts, but most municipal cemeteries, including ours, do not allow it.
Embalming or Cooling: There are two ways to temporarily preserve a body: cooling and embalming. There is no state law that requires embalming, but local public health departments may require it for having a public wake in a church or funeral home. It is legal, however, for families to do a home vigil for up to (3) days. This allows family members to wash, cool (in a cool room or with some form of dry ice) and place the body in the casket.
Once at the cemetery, a casket is never opened. Cemetery workers do not know if a body is embalmed or not. While there is little science about what leaches into the soil from a cemetery, embalming fluid does contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen that is ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives.
Caskets: Caskets sold primarily by funeral homes are finished with varnishes or resins. Caskets used for green burials, particularly here in New England, are made of locally sourced, soft white pine. They are as beautiful, and artfully crafted as conventional caskets. Even being wrapped in a bed sheet or shroud, which is used for Muslim burial, is a valid container for burial.
Grave Liners or Vaults: Caskets are often placed in grave liners or vaults. Liners are concrete; vaults can be either metal or concrete. In essence, they become a casket for the casket. Conventional cemeteries often require these because it is much easier to dig next to a concrete grave liner than a wooden casket. When deciding to perform a green burial, it is important to work out how a grave will be dug (backhoe) and accessed (driving over existing graves.) This has been done successfully.
Allowing green burial in local cemeteries is one way for individuals to give back to the earth. What do you want? The cemetery commission would very much like to hear your thoughts and questions on green burial. Email Karen Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about green burial, visit www.GreenBurialMA.org and www.GreenBurialCouncil.org.
Indian memorial at the cemetery.
Report from the Stockbridge Health Department
by Charlie Kenny, Chair
Last fall the Boston Globe reported that PFAS, long-lasting toxic chemicals with potential for causing human health problems, had been dispersed through aerial and ground sprays used to kill mosquitos. Our local Mosquito Control Program (MCP) did not notify us that such chemicals might have been dispersed through spraying in Stockbridge because they weren't sure. They had no plan to determine this. They also had no records that might help determine where such chemicals might have been used in Stockbridge.
The Board of Health found that such inaction and lack of information was unacceptable when facing a public health hazard. Because the Board had unsuccessfully requested information about the locations of spraying and cost allocation methods in Stockbridge, and because CDC and DPH recommendations are to use personally applied DEET (OFF) rather than perform aerial spraying, for the low level of threat of mosquito-borne illness that we now face and have faced for several years, the Stockbridge Board of Health has recommended that the town withdraw from participation in the MCP.
The Board will remain surveillant and recommend taking whatever steps are indicated for public safety following DPH guidelines should a real threat actually arise.