By Beth David, Editor
At its meeting on 2/11, the Fairhaven Selectboard again bumped the issue of Fairhaven Getty’s license without a vote, despite resistance by Selectboard chair Daniel Freitas. The board was short-handed, with two of three members present, because Charles K. Murphy, Sr. was absent due to the death of his mother last week.
“I’m ready to roll on it,” said Mr. Freitas, reiterating his contention that if the owners were going to comply the would have already. If not, he said, they should simply lose their license to operate.
At issue is the gas station, which also has a license to sell used cars, routinely having too many cars on the lot, allegedly parking cars on the street, and blocking the driveways and fire lane. The business has been in front of the board numerous times over the years, with the latest complains dragging on for months as the issue keeps getting continued for a variety of reasons.
At the last meeting, the business had asked for an extension to 2/26, but the board only granted it until 2/11, because it was unclear why they were asking for the extension.
Selectboard member Bob Espindola said he did not like not knowing the reason. He said, though, that being out of the country was “legit.” It was unclear if the owner or his attorney was the one out of the country.
Mr. Freitas said he would use his discretion as chairperson not to put it back on the agenda. He said if the business complies by the next meeting on 2/27, then they comply. If not then they will not have a license, although that route does require a vote of the board.
“It’s gone on for far too long,” said Mr Freitas.
Mr. Espindola seemed to question how that would all work if it does not get on the agenda.
Town Administrator Mark Rees said he would make sure that the Getty complies with staff recommendations by making the physical improvements to the site.
“They’ve just got to agree,” said Mr. Freitas.
Mr. Rees agreed, saying, “This is not a negotiation.”
The board made the deadline for compliance 2/20, to give allow a few days before the next meeting.
Louis Baptiste, who owns RRR Auto, which is across the street from the Getty, and whose complaints about his rival have reached legendary status, told the board that the owner of the Getty was simply showing disrespect for the town, the board and the bylaws.
“If that was my license, I’d have to be on my deathbed not to be here,” said Mr. Baptiste as he walked out the door.
Because Mr. Murphy was absent, the board did not vote on the wage classification plan amendment that would have added the water and sewer superintendents to the plan. The board continued it from the last meeting after some disagreement with Board of Public Works members. The item was removed from the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.
The board also held a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant project for Hedge Street.
The project is the second phase of a three-phase project. Phase one improved Hedge Street from Cherry Street to Main; this year will be Cherry Street to the Acushnet River; next year, phase 3, will be Main Street to Adams Street.
No members of the public attended.
The board also voted to approve the appointment of long time Planning Board member Wayne Hayward as interim Planning Director.
Gloria MacPherson quit abruptly after about eight months on the job, saying she was going back to school.
The board voted to exempt Mr. Hayward from the ethics clause because he will also be a paid employee and also an elected official on the board that interacts with the Planning Director most often. He will serve until a new PD is hired.
The board also heard from Conservation Agent and Sustainability Coordinator Whitney McClees, who gave the board details on the project proposal the town will submit detailing how the $174,535 Green Community grant will be spent.
The town has four specific projects outlined.
The first is LED lighting for the Senior Center and Recreation Center. The project will include smart controls. The reduced energy consumption is estimated to save the town $14,562 annually. The project will use $76,376 of the grant money.
The second project will install an energy management system at the high school to “refine and tighten building temperature controls.” The new system will allow for remote control of the system. Estimated savings are $10,946 per year in gas and electric savings. The project will use $48,600 of the grant money.
Project three will install an energy management system at Hastings Middle School. As with the high school, the new system will allow for remote control of the equipment. The cost to install the system is $40,800, and it will save $7,293 per year.
The fourth project is also for FHS, and will install a Variable Frequency Drive to control water flow. It will allow the system to change speeds as needed for recirculating water that is hot/chilled, instead of the pumps running at constant speeds. It will tie into the new energy management system. The project will use $5,705 of the grant money and will save $1,174 annually.
The remaining $3,054, will be set aside as a retainer for SRPEDD (Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District) for consulting assistance.
“Their assistance was invaluable during the designation process and I would like to continue utilizing that relationship and knowledge,” wrote Ms. McClees in her memo to the board.
The board voted to authorize the project to go forward, and allow Town Administrator Mark Rees to sign.
The board also received a recommended budget from Town Administrator Mark Rees, with an estimated total of $50,978,082 in revenues and expenses projected for FY20.
In another matter the board voted to allow the previous owner of 30 Evergreen Street to redeem the property. It was taken for foreclosure due to nonpayment of taxes. The owner will have to pay all back taxes, fines, and legal fees.
The board also voted not to allow a spouse of a deceased town employee to get on the town’s health plan, because the man was not on the plan when his spouse died.
The town should have a policy in writing, said Human Resources Director Anne O’Brien.
The board voted to allow spouses to stay on the plan if they were already on it when the town employee died, but rejected the idea that a spouse could join the plan after.
In other business, the board:
• Appointed Bradford Perkins to the Municipal Fiber study Committee;
• Appointed Sallie Lou Johnson to the Dog Park Study Committee
• Granted an extension of the Purchase & Sale agreement for the Oxford School building. Mr. Rees told the board that the company is making progress on getting funding, and has overcome some hurdles that were slowing down the project.
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