This page is maintained by Swanton Village, Inc and is intended to be the official online posting of public meetings and minutes in accordance with Vermont’s Open Meeting law (Amended July 1st, 2014).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 12, 2016








Monday, September 12, 2016

7:00 PM




PRESENT: Neal Speer, Village President; Adam Paxman, Trustee; Eugene LaBombard, Trustee; Chris Leach, Trustee; Reginald Beliveau, Village Manager; Dianne Day, Village Clerk; Katelin Brewer-Colie, LocalMotion; Betsy Fournier, Swanton Recreation; Tom Benton, St. Albans Messenger; and Ch. 16.


Unless otherwise noted, all motions carried unanimously.


1.      Call to Order:


Neal Speer, Village President, welcomed all to the Regular Board of Trustees meeting and called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.


2.      Agenda Review:


Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, stated he would need an Executive Session to discuss real estate and contracts.


3.      Approve and Accept Minutes from Monday, August 15, 2016 and from Wednesday, August 31, 2016:


Adam Paxman made the motion to approve and accept the Minutes from Monday, August 15, 2016 as well as Wednesday, August 31, 2016 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: None. Motion carried.


4.      Approve and Accept Village Warrants through Friday, September 9, 2016:


Chris Leach made the motion to approve and accept Village Warrants (#95-#103) through Friday, September 9, 2016 as presented. Adam Paxman seconded. Discussion: Adam Paxman asked what Bob’s Electric was used for. Reg Beliveau advised they used them at the Hydro Plant during plant shutdown. Motion carried.


5.      Katelin Brewer-Colie, Local Motion, Bike Lane Update:


Katelin Brewer-Colie thanked the Board for having her back to discuss the Swanton Walk & Bike Safety Action Plan. She handed out an action plan for the Board to follow. She stated she has been working with Lyndonville, Morristown and St. Johnsbury, all of which are on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail as is Swanton. She said there will ultimately be a 90 mile trail across the state. She said the more these towns invest in their downtown in pedestrian and bike facilities the more traffic they’re getting from people getting off the trail and going into town to eat, shop and enjoy their downtown areas. She said there is great potential for Swanton to experience some of this too especially since this year they’ve experienced record numbers on their bike ferry. Katelin told the Board she is working on this Walk Bike Safety Action Plan through VTrans. She said the purpose of the funding is to help with safety on some key Vermont roads. She also talked about the VTrans On-Road Bike Plan. She said eventually all state roads that are upgraded will be sure to include safe areas for pedestrians and bikers. She pointed out the VTRans Bicycle Corridor Map showing where people bike and where they’d like to bike. Chris Leach mentioned that Route 36 along Maquam Shore wasn’t highlighted on the map and he said that would be a great bike route. Katelin said she wasn’t sure why it was left off but said she would check into it. Katelin said that Swanton Village leadership decided to work with Local Motion to develop a Walk-Bike Safety Action Plan with the goal of identifying short and long term options for road and intersection improvements that will increase walking and biking in Swanton, and to make the roads safer. She said the intent of this plan is to work with the Trustees and Downtown Working Group to build on the progress Swanton has made to date. They discussed the benefits of walking and biking for Vermont communities such as wider shoulders, sidewalks and bike lanes which help slow vehicle speeds on winding country roads. She said the more varied forms of transportation sharing the road, the safer it is for everyone. She said as bike use grows, typically the number of all types of crashes declines.


Katelin identified the issues and opportunities in Swanton. She said some of the priorities listed are to identify short term walk-bike improvements that can take place during the upcoming paving project. She also talked about the long term strategies for improving the safety of the Merchants Row intersection. She said they could do this by installing a roundabout to improve the safety at the intersection of Merchants Row, Grand Avenue and Canada Street. The Board adamantly disagreed with this saying there is a bigger issue at the intersection of Merchants Row, Depot Street and North River Street. They said traffic is easily backed up to Fournier’s Farm Equipment on any given day and they feel by putting a roundabout at the top of Merchants Row would only enhance the problem at the other end. She said roundabouts decrease accidents by 37% and serious injuries by 70%. She said this makes drivers slow down. Much more discussion took place regarding this topic and the Board just doesn’t like the idea of a roundabout in the Village at that location. They would much rather fix the problem on the North River Street end before doing anything like a roundabout.


Katelin then discussed the next steps Swanton Village should take. She suggested the Village apply for a Vermont Bike-Pedestrian Program Grant, Transportation Enhancements Grant or Transportation Alternatives Grant. She said they can select specific projects to implement from the recommendations in this plan. She suggested the Village create a Walk-Bike Committee, a local advocacy group that can shepherd the recommendations in this plan and spearhead future walk-bike projects. She said to elect leadership and ask for Village and regional staff to attend meetings. She also suggested amending the Municipal Plan to include walk-bike goals and policies. She said strong policy language lays the groundwork for long term Village leader support of safety improvements and will make the Village more competitive when applying for grants and other funding for projects. She suggested the Village identify additional pilot projects. She said the steering committee should identify pilot projects that they advocate for demonstrating around the Village. She said to recruit volunteers, borrow Local Motion’s pilot trailer and make them happen. She then suggested the Village celebrate. She said to plan a fall walk-bike event like open streets or a block party to highlight the positive changes in the community so far and celebrate what the Village has accomplished together. The Board thanked Katelin Brewer-Colie for coming in and presenting this information to the Board.


6.      Discussion on Replacing or Repairing Rubber Bag at Hydro Plant:


Chris Leach stated he thought the Board should also consider using concrete as an alternative for the dam. Eugene LaBombard stated that back when they put the rubber bag in a concrete dam was at least 60% more expensive. He said the idea was there it just costs too much. He also said another consideration with that was the possibility of flooding. He said with using a rubber bag they are able to deflate it when necessary and he said it’s very effective. Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, provided the board with the quotes he has received for repairing the rubber bag. The quote from HTE Engineering to repair the bag would be $185,000 and the construction quote that would go along with this repair from PC Construction is $778,000. He said the total cost to repair the existing rubber bag at the Hydro Plant would cost $963,000. He said he received a quote from HTE Engineering to replace the rubber bag completely and that quote is for $948,300. Reg stated there will be permits to file for so he would like the Board to take these quotes home and study them. He said he would like this added to the next agenda so they can make an informed decision. He said after reviewing the quotes the Village is leaning toward replacing the bag entirely but said the Board will decide at their next meeting. Item tabled until September 26, 2016.



7.      Electric Rate Case Discussion:


Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, advised the Village of Swanton had applied for a 4.52% rate increase in the Electric Department. He said they received a letter from the Public Service Board stating they would recommend a 2.05% rate increase instead and Reg stated that after discussing this with VPPSA they agree with this number for an increase. He said Lynn Paradis feels this is a good compromise. Adam Paxman made the motion to approve a 2.05% rate increase in the Electric Department effective September 22, 2016. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.


8.      Review Employee Handbook Changes:


The Board of Trustees acknowledged receipt of the updated Village of Swanton Personnel Handbook and agreed to all necessary changes made by the Village attorney after reviewing it. Eugene LaBombard made the motion to approve and accept the updated Village of Swanton Personnel Handbook as presented. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.


9.      Any Other Necessary Business:


Eugene LaBombard asked Reg Beliveau if he contacted anyone at the State of Vermont regarding the brightness of the new lighted sign that will be erected soon. Reg stated he did and as long as it’s not in their Right of Way they won’t object to it. He said the State feels they are a distraction to drivers.


Any Other Business: Adam Paxman said he would like to promote the new online billing now available for the Village utility bills. He said customers can access their accounts online by visiting the Village’s website at and pay their bills online. He also said he had a conversation with a Selectboard member regarding the wind turbine application being filed and Adam suggested they look into Impact Fees. The Board agreed in this instance it would be worth investigating. Adam also said he attended last week’s Selectboard meeting and he said he was disappointed the Town didn’t receive the grant to hire a full time Community & Economic Development position but said he is glad the Town of Swanton is going ahead and hiring someone on a part time basis for this position. Adam said he feels one year isn’t enough to get the job done but he hopes a lot of good comes out of it. He said he is now Chair of the Economic Task Force and he is very passionate about seeing how they can do this.


Adam Paxman also said he sees that APPA introduced a bill for re-licensing hydro plants. He said this bill is supposed to make it easier for hydro plants to re-license and he is hoping it passes. Reg Beliveau said most likely this bill will pass and going to Washington each year in March has helped this cause.


Adam Paxman also stated he would like to eliminate coin drops altogether in the Village of Swanton. Chris Leach asked if Adam was receiving any complaints. Adam said he hasn’t but said three coin drops held this summer didn’t have the proper signage and he feels they are a safety hazard in his opinion. He said First Street is too busy of a road to have a coin drop on. He said the Fire Department had the proper signage but three others did not. He said he would like to either eliminate them altogether or only have three per year. The Board stated they would take his comments into consideration and discuss it at another meeting. Adam also wanted to remind them about their Joint Legislative Body meeting on October 19th.


Any Other Business: Reg Beliveau stated the Regional Planning Commission has chosen Fairweather for their Brownfield study. He said the Brownfield Study consists of an area that’s not developed being searched for groundwater contaminants. He said he would let the Board know when they are starting.


Any Other Business: Reg Beliveau advised the Board that the large solar project slated for the Frontage Road may move forward. He said they went to the Highgate School Board meeting and if the school partakes in the solar project they may get some solar credits. He said the Village of Swanton might take some green credits also. He said he doesn’t have all the information yet but the contractor has been having a difficult time selling it. He said new laws are coming in to effect in January 2017 which will eliminate the cap for solar customers. He said customer charges will not be eliminated.


Any Other Business: Neal Speer said he wanted to thank the Town of Swanton for improving the walkway on South River Street. He said they cleared trees and brush on the river side of the road making it way more safe for pedestrians to walk.


10.  Public Comment:




11.  Executive Session (If Necessary):


Adam Paxman made the motion to enter into Executive Session at 8:43 p.m. to discuss Real Estate and Contracts. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.


Chris Leach made the motion to exit Executive Session at 9:27 p.m. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.




12.  Adjournment:


Eugene LaBombard made the motion to adjourn the Regular Board of the Trustees meeting at 9:28 p.m. Chris Leach seconded. There being no further business at hand, Neal Speer, Village President, adjourned the meeting at 9:27p.m. Motion carried.



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Neal Speer, Village President                           Date





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Dianne Day, Village Clerk                               Date