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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Town Council meeting on Monday

Here’s your preview

By Will Collette

The Town Council meets on Monday, May 13 at 7 PM. This month’s agenda is light compared to the usual, although last month provided plenty of surprises when Councilor Dan Slattery decided to go on the attack against the Rhythm & Roots Festival at the behest of his constituents in the Arnolda neighborhood.

There are plenty of opportunities for flare-ups in this month’s agenda, too. If last month was any indication, this Council term has now reached the point where a monthly battle sparked by Councilors Slattery, Lisa DiBello or Council boss Tom Gentz is de rigeur.

There is a proposal for expanded aquaculture in Ninigret Pond on the docket; that could provide an opening  for Slattery to raise hell on behalf of his Arnolda constituents. There’s also an item describing the plans for summer activities at Ninigret and the efforts by Friends of Ninigret Park to raise money in support. That could set Slattery off, too. Or Councilor DiBello.

We’ll know Monday night whether any of these dormant volcanoes blow.

This is Progressive Charlestown’s regular monthly service where we unravel the Town Council agenda and present it in the actual order the agenda items will be heard – this Council always jumbles the published agenda beyond recognition. And of course, I’ve added my own color commentary and previews.

1.      CALL TO ORDER, Moment of Silence, Pledge of Allegiance

2.      ROLL CALL
Motion to move items 15a, 7a, 8d, 7b, 8b,  12, 8e, 15b and 18a to be heard next on the agenda

a.   Certificate of Achievement for Benjamin Joseph Nadeau for obtaining the high rank of Eagle Scout

a.   Discussion and potential action regarding Church Woods and Shannock Cottages financing and RI Housing update. COMMENT: both projects are incorrectly named in the agenda. It’s “ChurchWoods” (one word) and “Shannock Village Cottages.”

8.         NEW BUSINESS
   d.   Discussion and potential action regarding a Presentation of the Shannock Village - Revitalization Management program by a representative from Bryant Engineering

b.   Discussion and potential action regarding Senate Bill 672 and Senate Bill 672,
Sub A (Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems). Comment: this is one of the many bills that are introduced every year that seek to take some authority away from municipalities. They usually fail. This one is currently being “held for further study.” Various town planners, including Charlestown’s are working on an alternative to this bill that would “study” what rules DEM adopt if towns were prohibited from having their own rules. I predict that the “further study” substitute will probably also be held for “further study.”

b.   Discussion and potential action regarding CRMC file number 2010-01-023 (MODIFIED), Walrus & Carpenter Oysters LLC. Comment: this is the proposed expansion of aquaculture in Ninigret Pond. Charlestown has a new “aqua-NIMBY” movement that opposes pond shellfish aquaculture – even though this helps CLEAN the ponds – when said activity happens within their line of sight. We’ll see if anyone hates the sight of the already well-established aquaculture operations on Ninigret enough to come out in opposition. This proposal also calls for growing and harvesting edible seaweed.

All items marked with “CA” are to be considered consent agenda "Consent agenda" ideas are voted on as a bloc without discussion or debate generally because they are non-controversial. If a Councilor (usually Slattery or DiBello) asks for an item to be taken off the consent agenda, that usually means there will be a fight over it. That's what happened last month when Slattery asked for Rhythm & Roots' request for added camping spaces to be taken off the consent agenda.
Motion to accept approve and place on file the following as the consent agenda: 11a, 11b, 13a, 13b, 16a, 17a, 18b, 18c, 18d, 18e, 18f, 18g, 18h, 18i, 18j, and 18l


“CA” a. Approval of the following events at Ninigret Park with a recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission, subject to review of contracts by the Town Solicitor, receipt of all applicable paperwork and insurance and that all event details are satisfactorily met by the Parks and Recreation Director:

1.   So-Co RI Film Festival Comment: will these be silent films to accommodate the neighbors?
Park Reservation: 7/19/13
Camping: No
Insurance: $1 million is no alcohol served. If approved for alcohol service: $1 million general liability plus $2 million alcohol
Fee: $50.00

“CA” b. Approval of the following events to occur within the Town of Charlestown per RIGL §31-12-12(a):
1.   Ocean State Tour de Cure
Event: June 2, 2013
Route (Charlestown): Shannock Rd to South County Trl and Kings Factory Rd to Shumankanuc Hill Rd to Buckeye Brook Rd


“CA” a. Town Council Minutes:
April 3; April 8 (Executive and Regular); April 18; April 22 (Executive and Special)
“CA” b. Reports: 
Building Official – April 2013 (reports almost $2.5 million in construction activity in April, which is a big improvement); Police Chief – April 2013; Public Works Director – April 2013; Town Clerk (Deaths are outpacing births by a margin of 16 to 12, putting us on track for another year of negative population growth in keeping with the CCA Party’s anti-child policy) – April 2013; Treasurer – March 2013


“CA” a. Memo from Jay Primiano, Parks and Recreation Director, containing summer employee recommendations. Comment: Councilor Lisa DiBello usually challenges anything that Primiano proposes so expect a beef or two here.


“CA” a. Appointment of Constance Bercovici to the Ninigret Park Dog Park Facility Subcommittee, term to expire in November of 2013

“CA” b. Award of Professional Trade Services – Carpentry bid to C & C Investments at $50.00 per hour, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” c. Award of Professional Trade Services – Electrician bid to Brookside Electric, Inc. at $55.00 per hour, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” d. Award of Professional Trade Services – HVAC Maintenance and Repair to CAM HVAC & Construction at $75.00 per hour, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” e. Award of Professional Trade Services – Painting bid to V & M Construction at $50.10 per hour, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” f. Award of Professional Trade Services – Plumbing bid to Stedman & Kazounis at $77.50 per hour, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” g. Award of the Septic Pumping bid to Diffley & Daughters Septic in the amount of $.125 cents per gallon, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” h. Award of the Heating Fuel and Maintenance Service bid to Ginger’s Service Station for heating fuel, with a $.05 per gallon markup over the “Tank Car Price”, based on the Providence Journal of commerce Log Tank Car Prices, $68.00 per hour for regular hourly service and $85.00 per hour for night, weekend and holiday service, with funding to come from 01.620.6020 for fuel and 01.620.6040 for maintenance and repairs
“CA” i. Award of the Professional Well and Pump Service bid to A.B. Hoxie, Inc. in the amount of $96.00 per hour for a tech, $48.00 per hour for a tech helper, $144.00 per hour for emergencies, $72.00 per hour for an emergency helper and $90.00 per hour average, with funding to come from the Building and Grounds Professional Services line item (01.630.6065) as budgeted
“CA” j. Approval of residential tree debris amnesty at the CRCC from May 14, 2013 through June 14, 2013, for tree debris resulting from Storm Nemo
“CA” l. Award of the Construction Materials and Services, with a recommendation from the Director of Public Works (funding as budgeted to come from the General Fund)

Will Slattery object to Ninigret
Park activities again?
e.   Review and discussion for potential action the proposed fundraising actions for 2013, as proposed by the Friends of Ninigret Park Subcommittee. Comment: this could be a surprise subject for a big fight because it involves human beings having fun in Ninigret Park. Councilor Slattery could decide to rekindle last month’s Battle for Ninigret Park Redux; Councilor DiBello could decide to weigh in simply because she usually opposes anything coming out of Parks and Recreation.

b.   Introduction and first reading of Ordinance #357 amending Chapter 158 – Parks, Beaches and Recreation Area: Smoking Prohibitions, to be advertised for public hearing on June 10, 2013. See this recent article on cigarette butts and their effect on marine ecology. It’s already town policy to discourage smoking at town beaches.

a.   Adoption of the FY 2013-2014 Budget, including any revisions, to be put before the voters at the Financial Town Referendum on June 3, 2013. Comment: this budget calls for an unnecessary property tax increase. Charlestown has an excess surplus – the amount above and beyond that recommended by the town’s financial advisors – of $4 million but rather than use that money for tax relief, the Council plans to spend that money by spending $900,000 CASH to pave Klondike Road and $3 million to pay off the loan on the Police Station before it is due. While there are good arguments about long-term savings in interest payments, Charlestown has an unemployment rate of close to 11% - as ex-Councilor Gregg Avedisian testified at the Budget hearing, now is time to give struggling Charlestown residents a break. But I guess no one the CCA Council majority knows is unemployed.

3.      PUBLIC COMMENT for items not on the Agenda




b.   Town Solicitor

c.   Commission Reports


c.   Discussion and potential action regarding Council support of the lowered Chariho budget as proposed by the Chariho School Committee, as this budget is funded the same as last year’s Chariho budget. Comment: read more detail here. Given that the vote is on Tuesday and this meeting will be held on Monday, even if the Council enthusiastically supports the revised Chariho budget, it will be too late to make any difference.


a.   Discussion and potential action regarding House Bill 5953 and Senate Bill 815 (Renewable Energy Facilities). COMMENT: this is the legislation that would streamline permitting of wind turbines on farms – read here for more detail.

c.   Discussion and potential action regarding House Bill 5498 and Senate Bill 0337 (Ethics Commission)


a.   Public hearing and potential action regarding Ordinance #355 amending Chapter 192, Taxation, Article V. Tax Relief for Disabled Persons
b.   Public hearing and potential action regarding Ordinance #356 amending Chapter 192, Taxation, Article IA. Additional Elderly Low Income Tax Benefit Programs
COMMENT: these are two good ordinances (for a change). #355 states that once a person has qualified for a town property tax credit by proving they are permanently and totally disabled, they won’t have to keep re-applying every year. #356 boosts town tax credits to the very low-income elderly.


a.   Discussion and potential action regarding notification from the Charlestown Package Store, Inc. of a transfer of stock ownership
b.   Discussion and potential action regarding an application received from the Charlestown Rathskeller Tavern, Inc. for a Class BV Full Beverage License, to apply to premises located at 489A Old Coach Road, Charlestown RI  02813, to be advertised for public hearing on June 10, 2013. Designated premises: The main restaurant building and patio adjacent to the tavern entrance on the east side, including the small deck, bocce court and horseshoe court areas; from the southeast corner of the restaurant, to include the spring house, the sauna area and fire pit; the grounds located southwest of the main entrance (west side) to approximately two hundred (200’) feet south of the employee parking lot; the open porch and deck on the west side of the restaurant; and from the north side of the restaurant up to the stone wall located approximately ten (10) feet from Old Coach Road. Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.


a.   Board and Commission vacancies


c.   Discussion and potential action regarding a Resolution of the Town Council Allowing the Use of Purchasing Contract Alliances. COMMENT: this resolution is pretty vague. It should be tightened up and the purpose behind it ought to be explained. However, since it comes at the very end of this Council’s actual agenda, there may not be time for the attention it merits.


k.   Discussion and potential action regarding a request from the Chariho Post Graduation Committee
for a donation to the Chariho Regional High School Green & White Up All Night 2013 Event