TOWN COUNCIL OF NEW CANAAN

REGULAR MEETING

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 

 

                                                                                     

MEMBERS PRESENT:

Dr. Lewis Annunziato                                      Paul Foley

Barbara Beall                                                   Christine Hussey

Ken Campbell                                                 Thomas O’Dea

Kathryn Devereaux                                Ruth Smithers

Mark DeWaele                                                Dick White

John Emert                                                      Penny Young

 

ALSO PRESENT:  George Maranis, Administrative Officer;  Gary Conrad, Chief Financial Officer;  Judy Neville, First Selectman; Johnny Potts, Selectman; Paul Giusti, Selectman; David Abbey, Superintendent of Schools;  Sally Hines, Chairman, and Tucker Murphy and Deb Edwards, Members, Board of Education; Christine Wagner, Chairman, and Dan Ward, Penny Rashin, and Werner Meier, Members,  New Canaan High School Building Committee; Andy Ashforth, Principal, A.P. Construction Company; Joe Gambino, Construction Consulting Group, Owner’s Representative; Mark Jeffko, O&G Industries, Inc., Project Manager;  Edward Nadriczny, Police Chief; Jim Cole, Police Commissioner; Carol McDonald, Director of Human Services; Chris Jarboe, Town Attorney; John Kovach, New Canaan Advertiser;  John Mordecai, New Canaan News-Review;  and four or five members of the public.

 

 

Dr. Annunziato called the meeting to order at 8:25 p.m.  Ms. Young read the Notice of Meeting and called the roll, recording the presence of each of the members.  Dr. Annunziato then asked that the minutes of the Regular Meeting of December 14, 2005 be approved.  Upon motion of Ms. Beall and second of Mr. DeWaele, the minutes were approved unanimously, Mr. Foley and Ms. Hussey abstaining due to absence.  Dr. Annuinziato then asked that the minutes of the Special Meeting of December 20, 2005 be approved and, after an amendment offered by Dr. DeWaele, they were approved unanimously on the motion of Ms. Young and the second of Dr. DeWaele (Ms. Beall, Ms. Hussey, and Mr. Campbell abstaining because of absence.)

 

Dr. Annunziato then asked that the Council enact the Amendment to Ordinance on Health and Human Services Commission and, upon the motion of Mr. White and the second of Mrs. Young, the Council voted unanimously to approve the Amendment.

 

Mr. White next  moved, and Mr. Emert seconded, a motion to approve the Amendments to Tax Relief Ordinance.  The Council discussed at length proposed changes to the Ordinance.  Mr. O’Dea proposed separating the tax credit  from the deferral of taxes and raised issues regarding (1)ability of trust fund recipients to qualify, (2) use of “1.5 times the average sale price of homes” as a standard, and (3) the one year residency requirement.  Dr. DeWaele also thought the Ordinance would benefit from being “tightened up.”  The Council also discussed the appropriateness of the interest rate charged by the Town to the applicants.  Carol McDonald appealed to the Council, arguing that the need of certain residents for tax relief is great.  Ms. Hussey questioned a provision of the ordinance which makes the grant of tax relief by the Town permissive rather than mandatory, and she questioned a provision which requires an applicant to first make application for relief to the State in order to be eligible for Town tax relief.  After addressing all of these issues, the Council agreed to two amendments.  Upon motion of Mrs. Hussey and second by Mrs. Smithers, the Council voted unanimously to amend the ordinance as follows – (1) to delete the provision at Section 57-2H which provides that the value of an applicant’s home cannot exceed “1.5 times” the average sale price of homes in New Canaan and to insert in its place a provision stating that the value of an applicant’s home cannot exceed “the average” sales price of homes in New Canaan, and (2) to require appointment of a committee in two years to review the ordinance, rather than in three years.  Upon motion of Ms. Hussey and second of Ms. Young the Council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance, after incorporation of the two changes above.

 

Upon motion of Mr. Campbell and second of Ms. Hussey the Council then voted unanimously to adopt the Amendment to Ordinance on Fees.

 

Upon motion of Mr. White and second of Mrs. Young, the Council then voted unanimously to refer the proposed Ordinance Providing for Noise Pollution Control back to committee for further study.  This action was precipitated by the public dissent expressed in the Public Hearing held earlier in the evening.

 

The Council next heard a request from the New Canaan High School Building Committee for an appropriation of $2,786,358 for continuation of asbestos abatement at New Canaan High School.  Ms. Wagner made reference to an extensive presentation made on December 20, 2005 to the Council on this matter, and proceeded to analyze bids recently received for the next phases of asbestos removal.  Discussion then focused on possible cost reductions, with Ms. Neville advising the Council that the Town had met with representatives of the State Department of Public Health who have agreed to work with the Town to amend the present onerous and costly protocols for abatement.  Discussion next focused on the recent meeting between the Council’s Education Committee and the New Canaan High School Building Committee, with Chairman Hussey expressing concern over  lack of communication with the Council, including the use of contingency funds for asbestos abatement.  At this point, Ms. Hussey made a motion , seconded by Mr. Foley, that the request for funding be approved with the condition that monthly reports be submitted to the Council by the New Canaan High School Building Committee and that no money be taken from the contingency fund without prior approval by the Council.  The request for $2,786,358 was then unanimously approved, Mr. Campbell abstaining.

 

The Council then, on the motion of Ms. Hussey and the second of Mr. DeWaele, unanimously enacted a resolution entitled “Resolution Appropriating $2,786,358 For Continuation Of Asbestos Abatement At The New Canaan High School And Authorizing The Issuance Of $2,786,358 Of Bonds Of The Town To Meet Said Appropriation And Pending the Issuance Thereof The Making Of Temporary Borrowings For Such Purpose.”

 

Before proceeding further, Ms. Wagner, as well as contractors on the project, protested that the Council’s previous vote attaching conditions to the appropriation request for $2,786,358 could create situations where asbestos abatement and renovation work might have to stop until the necessary funds were released by the Council, an often prolonged process.  After further discussion, the Council realized that, in fact, this could prevent the Building Committee from performing its work in a timely manner and, upon the motion of Mrs. Hussey and the second of Dr. DeWaele, the Council voted to rescind its prior vote, ten in favor, with Mr. Foley voting against and Mr. Campbell abstaining.  The Council then modified the motion and, upon the  motion of Dr. DeWaele and the second of Ms. Hussey, it unanimously voted (Mr. Campbell abstaining) to approve the request for $2,786,358, upon condition that the Building Committee not use the contingency fund for asbestos abatement-related costs except for emergencies, and that if the funds are used, notice shall be given to the Town Council in the following monthly report provided to the Council.

 

 

There being no further business, upon motion duly made, the meeting was adjourned at 10:45 p.m.

 

                                                         Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

                                                         Penny Young, Secretary