2017-01-05 / Sutton

Selectmen notes: Board passes on purchasing Mendon Road property

By Tom Reilly

Sutton – The Sutton Board of Selectmen met in rescheduled regular session on Dec. 20 at Sutton Town Hall. Present for the meeting were selectmen John Hebert, David Hall, Paul Maynard, Jesse Limanek and Michael Kenney. Town Administrator Jim Smith was also in attendance. The meeting began at 7 p.m.

The Board continued a public hearing as to whether or not the Board shall exercise its right of first refusal on to purchase land at 479R Mendon Road as that land emerges from Chapter 61B. When land protected with an agricultural restriction is no longer to be used for that purpose, a municipality can purchase the land rather than see it go for some other use such as housing. In this case, the interested party is the Whitinsville Water Company, which is interested in using the land for a watershed. The Selectmen agreed that this landlocked parcel represented a win/win for the town and would produce additional revenue. The Board voted not to exercise its right to purchase the property.

Town Administrator Jim Smith said that the Police Department conducted liquor law compliance checks on Nov. 16 and two businesses failed by serving an under-aged patron. Eight others passed.

The two that failed were Sutton Wines and Liquors and Tony’s Pizza. The Board voted to hold a hearing on the violations at its meeting on Jan. 17. Hall said that he wanted to send a letter of appreciation to the police as the selectmen have urged them to continue to monitor compliance. Maynard said that everyone knows that these checks are coming and that if businesses went awry, they needed to be talked to.

Smith said that he believes that the town is well prepared to handle the state’s new public records law. Town Clerk Laura Caruso will serve as the town’s public records officer, assisted by Police Chief Dennis Towle, Fire Chief Matt Belsito, and Superintendent of Schools Ted Friend. Smith said that the town would be holding training for department heads as well as those from Douglas and Northbridge on Jan. 5.

Smith is proposing to charge retirees under 65 for 50 percent of their healthcare costs rather than the 30 percent they pay today. Smith said that this will save the town about $40,000 annually and $100,000 in OPEB costs. He said that people retiring early generally had the means to pay this increased cost. Hall asked Smith if this needed to be bargained with the unions and Smith said it did not but that he was bargaining it anyway. He said that everyone seemed to think it was reasonable but that he would wait and meet with the insurance advisory board first. Hall said he had mixed feelings about this because it meant that the town was going back on promises it had made to people. At the same time, the cost the town was asking these retirees to pay was reasonable.

Smith said that the town is auctioning off excess property at municibid.com. All proceeds will go into the appropriate enterprise fund, free cash or other accounts. Bids will be accepted until Jan. 6.

Smith said that the town has been notified by the Massachusetts School Building Administration that it has completed its final audit on the school project. The town will be receiving $240,000 back as a result of this. He said that the school building committee will be meeting on Jan. 11 to decide what to do with the money. Smith said that he hoped that some of it would go toward building a sidewalk from the school complex to the Shaw Farm athletic fields.

Maynard said that the food pantry at the Senior Center is overflowing and thanked everyone for their generosity during the holidays.

Kenney praised the condition of the roads during the weekend’s snowstorm.

The Board renewed the licenses of Progressive Automotive and Hampton Motor Sales, Class 2 licenses that came in late. Everyone urged these businesses to get their paperwork in on time next year.

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