Vol. III No. 6 3/15/2022
Notes from the Select Board, March 10, Hybrid meeting
- Roxanne McCaffrey, Chair
- Chuck Cardillo
- Patrick White
- Michael Canales, Town administrator
- Patrick Sheehan
24 on Zoom
Camera angle precluded seeing those seated in the room
- Minutes from February 10 and 17 approved as written. February 24 minutes approved with correction of typo.
- Police Chief Darryl Fennelly proposed hiring on a fulltime basis, Rosario Messina. Messina worked as a full time Stockbridge policeman before and was "a good fit for Stockbridge." Hiring approved. Chief Fennelly and Messina thanked the SB.
- Hugh Page asked approval for hiring a Highway Foreman. There was some confusion that this would replace Page, however Page is Highway Superintendent. New hire, Carmelo Gardo, approved as Highway Department Foreman.
- Jamie Minacci reappointed as Stockbridge representative to the Great Barrington Public Transportation Advisory Commission (Shared service for seniors and others who need transportation).
- Chair announced presentation by Patrick Sheehan owner of 37 Interlaken (DeSisto).
- Denny Alsop rose with a "Point of Order", that is, a query in a formal debate or meeting as to whether correct procedure is being followed.
- Apparently directed at the Chair, Alsop was asking McCaffrey if she had a Conflict of Interest, and if so, if she would make it public as required by law.
- It was hard to hear because simultaneously the Chair was telling Alsop he was out of order and saying, "I am stopping you here."
- Alsop, intent on his statement and very hard-of-hearing, did not hear McCaffrey.
- Finally, banging the gavel, Chair asked Canales, "Do we have a police officer in the building?"
- Canales nodded and left the room presumably to call a policeman on a hearing-impaired septuagenarian with a soft voice, gentlemanly manner, and a point of order (question).
- Simultaneous with the gavel banging, and possibly related, two men in the back of the room were exchanging swear words and one threat of physical violence (just audible at minute 11 seconds 37 — 50.)
- By the time the police arrived, Alsop had been helped to hear, thanked everyone for listening to his point of order, and sat down without demur. The policeman, therefore, dealt with the two angry men.
- Next the Chair read a statement which seemed to be a legal statement and appeared to be laying ground rules to eliminate any indication of conflict of interest or agentry. McCaffrey read...
- Discussion of Sheehan's vision or future use of 37 Interlaken is precluded. "We will not discuss any plan."
- There is "no application pending before any Town board. This is a general information meeting for Sheehan and the SB to hear from the public."
- "I do not expect the SB to ask much or anything, we are here to listen."
- Sheehan presented a plan, and Michael Roisman asked, "how is this plan any different from the one presented (and turned down at Town Meeting) years ago?"
- Sheehan responded, "really no change."
- Roisman then asked the SB, if the plan is the same, and that plan was voted down at Town Meeting, what is the purpose of the meeting?
- McCaffrey disagreed and said the plan was never turned down, the bylaw change that would enable implementation of the plan, written by Sheehan's lawyers, was voted down.
- Jim Balfanz, Finance Committee member, spoke in favor of the Sheehan development.
- Wayne Slozek, PB member, and Thomas Schuler, Chair Zoning Board of Appeals, thanked McCaffrey for arranging the meeting.
- Others asked questions, for example, was there sufficient sewer and water capacity and would there be any affordable housing as part of project?
- At another point White objected to being prevented by McCaffrey's opening statement of "ground rules" from asking questions or sharing thoughts with Sheehan. Cardillo responded, "it's illegal". Cardillo added since there is no application before SB, it is not the SB's job to inquire. "Get in trouble if we comment before there is an application."
- After the Sheehan presentation, the issue of continuing hybrid meetings was broached. The SB seemed to express mixed feelings, and no vote was taken.
- McCaffrey objected because if the electricity went out, the hybrid meeting would have to be adjourned. Someone replied that would be true for an in-person or a hybrid meeting.
- On the other hand, McCaffrey pointed out Stockbridge had purchased and installed all the equipment necessary for hybrid meeting and planned to extend the capability to a second room at Town Offices.
- Cardillo wished to wait for the Commonwealth to decide, but an attendee pointed out the Commonwealth just voted to extend hybrid meetings.
- White supported hybrid meetings because we have a significant percentage of second homeowners who are away and can Zoom in; the town has an aging population and White said, we should make all meetings available to the most number of people.
Editor's Notes: These notes offer definitions of terms used during meetings. For example —
1. Cardillo's comment "it's illegal" — It is common procedure for the developer to request the meeting. For a board member to solicit a meeting with a developer would "be illegal" as Cardillo mentioned, if it were mistaken for acting as an agent for, promoting, the development. 2. Cardillo also mentioned "no plan before us", that is, the developer asks for the meeting when he has prepared and submitted a plan that includes the required elements. 3. Sheehan did not submit a plan, instead, in a unique approach, his chose to write his own bylaw and submit it to Town Meeting. It was voted down. 4. With respect to turning down Sheehan's plan: Roisman was arguing turndown of bylaw was the same as turndown of the project. McCaffrey was arguing they were different.
Photo: Jay Rhind