Town Council Meeting – Thursday, December 7, 2023
The December 7, 2023 Meeting of the Barnstable Town Council was conducted in person. The public was able to attend in person or participate remotely in Public Comment or during a Public Hearing via Zoom. The public was able to view the meeting on Barnstable Government Access Xfinity Channel 8 or in High Definition on Xfinity Channel 1072 or live stream through the Town website. Town Council President Matthew Levesque called the meeting to order and Town Clerk Ann Quirk took the Roll Call. Next President Levesque led the Pledge of Allegiance and offered a Moment of Silence was offered for Councilor Paul Neary’s father-in-law Robert Bancroft who passed away last week and all who have lost a loved one during this holiday season. President Levesque extended Happy Hanukkah wishes.
President Levesque announced that Mr. Ells’ Town Manager Communications for the period of November 15-December 6, 2023 had been pre-recorded and was shown on our Government Access Channel prior to the meeting. The recorded version of Mr. Ells’ Town Manager Communications may be viewed here and the itemized list is shared below:
- We are proceeding with the budget action calendar for FY 2025 (attached). As a reminder the Town Manager Calendar Year Fee Hearing was held on Tuesday, November 14th via Zoom. The proposed calendar year fees have been taken under advisement and comments will be accepted through Thursday, December 14, 2023. After December 14th, the Town Manager will either approve the fees as proposed, reduce the proposed fee or not approve leaving the current fee unchanged. For information on our fiscal year budgets please view the Town’s Open Budget website at http://budget.townofbarnstable.us.
- Mark Milne, Finance Director, and Lane Partridge, Director of Assessing, presented the proposed tax levy shifting options for the Fiscal Year 2024 tax levy to the Town Council at the November 16th meeting. This includes an option to split the tax rate between the residential class of property and the commercial, industrial, and personal property classes (CIP). This option allows for shifting a larger portion of the tax levy to the CIP class from the residential class. The presentation included an illustration of the tax levy and tax bill impacts from the adoption of a residential exemption. This option shifts the tax burden within the residential class from owners of moderately valued residential properties to the owners of vacation homes, higher valued homes and residential properties not occupied by the owner. The votes on both these items are scheduled for the December 7th Town Council meeting. These votes are necessary to set the Fiscal Year 2024 tax rates and to issue the 3rd and 4th quarter tax bills by December 31, 2023.
- The public comment period to weigh in on the proposed Dog Control regulations is open until Friday, December 8th. To date we have received around 80 comments that are both positive and negative. Staff has been reviewing the comments and responding to questions. Once the comment period is closed, the Town Manager will take the comments under advisement and evaluate potential revisions to the Dog Control Regulation language.
- Eversource Energy is proposing to modify electric infrastructure located in Bourne, Sandwich, and Barnstable, Massachusetts. The following project changes would enable the operation of a previously approved transmission line between Bourne and Barnstable known as the Mid Cape Reliability Project. The proposed Project includes: (a) operating and interconnecting the line between Bourne and Barnstable; (b) expanding the West Barnstable Substation for operation; and (c) constructing a new switching station in Bourne. The Siting Board conducted a public comment hearing on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. The Town Legal Department attended the hearing and filed written comments written comments on November 28, 2023. The comments are attached. We will keep the Town Council advised of this proposed project as it proceeds through the permitting process.
- In response to a question I received from a Town Councilor relative to the Park City Wind Energy Facilities Siting Board’s permitting process I offer the following response prepared by our Legal Department:
The Vineyard Wind and Park City wind projects initially were being advanced by the same project proponent as one project with two phases: Phase I from Covell’s Beach to Independence Park, and Phase II from Covell’s to the Oak Street substation. The Town had intervened in Vineyard Wind on Phase I before the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) and expended significant staff resources pushing back on what were seen at the time as key issues for the Town. As contested hearings before the EFSB approached on the original Vineyard Wind petition, the Town and Vineyard Wind successfully concluded weeks of difficult negotiations in the form of a Host Community Agreement (“HCA”). The HCA covered Phase I, which was in the permitting process at that time, and clearly contemplated a subsequent Phase II.
The Town Council authorized the Town Manager to sign the Vineyard Wind HCA. The HCA essentially served as a comprehensive settlement agreement, outside of the EFSB proceedings, which resolved all issues between the parties. It addressed the key concerns of the Town to protect Nantucket Sound by banning any wind project in the Sound from using Vineyard Wind cables to connect to the grid. It also required the parties to develop protocols to maximize protection of groundwater from a potential release of hazardous materials at the electric substation. While the containment and mitigation commitments secured in the Vineyard Wind HCA may seem like commonsense measures now, at the time there was no guarantee that they would be secured in the state permitting process. In fact, the EFSB had rejected the Town’s objections to Cape Wind’s containment designs in the Cape Wind proceedings. The Vineyard Wind HCA helped avoid unknown outcomes associated with the EFSB hearing process and allowed the Town to secure contractually what it might not achieve otherwise.
The Vineyard Wind HCA was signed on October 3, 2018, and then filed in the EFSB case. It required the Town to support the project. Vineyard Wind and the Town agreed that the Town would not pursue objections to the project at the EFSB. Thereafter, the Town did not take any continuing formal role as an intervenor in the Vineyard Wind hearings.
When Vineyard Wind announced on November 19, 2021 that Phase II of the project had been handed off to Park City Wind, the parties agreed that a separate HCA specific to the Park City Wind project would be signed given that Vineyard Wind and Park City Wind were two separate companies. In recognition of the fact that the first HCA had originally contemplated two phases of one project, the Town did not attempt to renegotiate the HCA with Park City Wind. A separate HCA was prepared that was closely modeled on the Vineyard Wind HCA, primarily changing the name of the developer to Park City Wind and relocating the landfall site to the west end of Craigville Beach at the suggestion of the Town. The Council authorized the Town Manager to sign the Park City Wind HCA, and the Town Manager signed it on May 6, 2022.
Like the Vineyard Wind HCA, the Park City Wind HCA required the Town to support the Park City Wind project before all agencies. As with Vineyard Wind, it was expected that the Town would not further engage in the EFSB process.
The Town’s participation in the Vineyard Wind case was resolved through an HCA that had favorable terms to the Town. The Town got what it wanted, avoided a repeat of years of litigation experienced in the Cape Wind matter, and the Park City Wind HCA was essentially treated as an extension of the Vineyard Wind HCA. In both cases, the Town agreed to support the projects. Active participation and intervention in EFSB hearings didn’t seem necessary after executing the Host Community Agreements, but there have been unanticipated changes in the offshore wind industry and to the Park City Wind project since then, for which intervenor status may have been useful. Going forward, particularly with Commonwealth Wind, a project that the Town currently does not support and for which there is no Host Community Agreement, we will absolutely file for intervenor status as soon as it is feasible to do so.
- The Town has contracted with consultant (Sky Freyss-Cole) to assist with the development and implementation of a public outreach program relative to the use of opioid funds that we received from drug manufacturers and distributors ($379K to date). A “Design Team” consisting of the Chair of the Human Services Committee, Deputy Chief of Police, Hyannis Fire Chief, Inspectional Services Director, the town’s Communications Director, and Barnstable Public Schools’ Director of Social-Emotional Learning and Student Services has been created to work with the consultant. In order to carry out this work in a way that is effective, long-lasting and meaningful for the Town of Barnstable, the consultant along with the Design Team will work closely together from the start to the finish. Their first meeting was conducted on November 21st. They will meet weekly or bi-weekly, as needed, to plan and execute the efforts of this process. This group will be responsible for honing the process and determining if other elements or events are needed and how the efforts will be rolled out. Some important actions the consultant and Design Team will implement include identifying key stakeholders, developing a communications strategy, and conducting public meetings in the form of workshops and focus groups. The first public meeting is expected to occur in late January 2024.
- The Department of Public Works contractor plans to begin site preparation and sewer installation on West Main Street, from Route 28 to Strawberry Hill Road on Friday, December 8, 2023. The anticipated duration of the work is three weeks. The first day of work will require single-lane alternating traffic before transitioning to a full road closure during work hours. Work will occur Monday through Friday, from approximately 7:30AM to 5:00PM, weather permitting. Local resident and emergency access will be maintained throughout construction, with traffic control onsite to assist motorists. Businesses on West Main Street will remain accessible via Route 28. Additional information about the Route 28 East Sewer Expansion Project and the Town’s Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP), can be found on barnstablewaterresources.com. Town-wide roadwork impacts and real-time road closures will continue to be shared via Barnstable e-News, the Town’s Facebook Page, the MyBarnstable Mobile App, and through the Town’s Waze for Cities partnership.
- The Town of Barnstable has been awarded ‘Community of the Year’ by the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association. The recognition is given annually to a municipality that provides an outstanding contribution to the field of planning. The Planning & Development Department’s efforts in support of the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Hyannis were noted, including drafting comprehensive revisions to the zoning ordinance. The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association enhances and supports planning in Massachusetts through education, advocacy, outreach, communication, and provision of services and resources to the planning community.
- Elizabeth Jenkins, Director of Planning & Development, provided an update on the Local Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Jenkins’s PowerPoint presentation may be viewed here.
Town Manager Mark Ells responded to Councilor questions. First Assistant Town Attorney Thomas LaRosa provided additional information regarding the Energy Facility Siting Board.
The Council voted to approve Public Session Minutes: November 16, 2023.
Next was Communications from elected officials, boards, committees, and staff, commission reports, correspondence and announcements.
President Levesque started the Orders of the Day.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-067 Allocation of Tax Levy Fiscal Year 2024 – Residential Exemption
Amendment to have residential exemption at 30% was amended to have the initial amendment from 30% to 25%. The amendment was approved.
Presented by Finance Director Mark Milne. The item was approved as amended. Mr. Milne’s PowerPoint presentation may be viewed here.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-068 Allocation of Tax Levy Fiscal Year 2024 – Tax Factor
Presented by Finance Director Mark Milne. The item was approved.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-074 Resolve authorizing the Town to convey property at 259 Barnstable Road, Hyannis to Ronald Bourgeois.
Presented by Director of Asset Management David Anthony. The item was approved.
Town Council President Levesque recused himself for the next item and turned the meeting over to Town Clerk Ann Quirk. As the Town Council doesn’t currently have a Vice President, Clerk Quirk turned the meeting over to Precinct 1 Town Councilor Gordon Starr.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-075 Appropriation Order in the amount of $905,000 in Community Preservation Funds for the purpose of acquiring a conservation restriction on 5.5 acres of open space at 150 Wheeler Road, Marstons Mills, Barnstable; and authorization to expend a Fiscal Year 2024 Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of $488,700 to defray the cost of said conservation restriction referred to a Public Hearing on 12/21/2023.
President Levesque returned to the dais.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-076 Authorization to contract for and expend a Federal Fiscal Year 2023 COPS Hiring Program Grant in the amount of $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services
Presented by Chief Jean Challies. The item was approved.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-077 Appropriation and Loan Order in the amount of $770,000 for the purpose of funding the Bearse’s Way Vacuum Sewer Replacement Project was referred to a Public Hearing on 12/21/2023.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-078 Authorization for sale of land at 164 Route 149 (Cotuit Road), Marstons Mills, MA
Presented by Planning & Development Director Elizabeth Jenkins in collaboration with David Anthony, Director of Asset Management. The item was approved.
Ms. Jenkins’s PowerPoint presentation may be viewed here.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-079…… Authorization to contract for and expend a Fiscal Year 2024 Grant in the amount of $15,097.80 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to acquire three electric vehicle charging stations
Presented by Director of Asset Management David Anthony and Environmental and Sustainability Manager Sean Hogan.
The item was approved.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-080 Authorization to contract for and expend a Fiscal Year 2024 Grant in the amount of $264,409 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to acquire thirty-one electric vehicle charging stations
Presented by Director of Asset Management David Anthony and Environmental and Sustainability Manager Sean Hogan. The item was approved.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-081 Authorization to contract for and expend a Fiscal Year 2024 Grant in the amount of $242,424 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Elder Affairs to support staff salaries and programs of the Barnstable Council on Aging Division
Presented by Director of Community Services Christopher Gonnella. The item was approved.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-082 Order authorizing an intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Barnstable and Barnstable County for dredging services was referred to a Second Reading 12/21/2023.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-083 Appropriation Order in the amount of $100,000 in Community Preservation Open Space/Recreation Funds for the purpose of providing funding to the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills (COMM) Water Department for professional services to evaluate the suitability of acquiring lands or interests in land adjacent to or within a Zone II, as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Drinking Water Regulations, and adjacent to existing COMM Water Department drinking water supplies was referred to a Public Hearing on 12/21/2023.
AGENDA ITEM 2024-084 Resolve Approving a Letter in Support of Senate Bill 1315
Presented by Town Attorney Karen Nober.
A motion was made to amend the letter which was approved. The item as amended was approved.
The amended letter may be viewed here.
President Levesque handed the meeting over to Town Clerk Ann Quirk for the
Paula Schnepp (nominated by Gordon Starr)
Felicia Penn (nominated by John Crow)
Craig Tamash (nominated by Kris Clark)
Gordon Starr (nominated by Paul Neary)
The Council posed questions of the Town Clerk and the Town Attorney to get clarity on how things move forward.
Councilor John Crow made a motion to suspend the rules to vote for leadership at tonight’s meeting which did not pass.
The next regularly scheduled Town Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, December 21, 2023. The public is able to view through Xfinity High Definition Channel 1072 (or Xfinity Channel 8) or Live Streaming on the Town of Barnstable’s website. Real-time public comment may be addressed to the Barnstable Town Council utilizing the Zoom video link or telephone number and access meeting code which will be included on the Agenda. Written Comments may be submitted to: https://tobweb.town.barnstable.ma.us/boardscommittees/towncouncil/Town_Council/Agenda-Comment.asp. The meeting Agenda will be available on the Town of Barnstable’s website (www.townofbarnstable.us