Guilford briefs
The Hale Road Bridge and its steel plate.

Guilford briefs

Selectboard clarifies Open Meeting Law

GUILFORD — GUILFORD - Selectboard member Sheila Morse recently attended a meeting hosted by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) and brought back some information on Vermont's Open Meeting Law.

She shared her findings at the Oct. 13 Selectboard meeting.

According to Vermont 1 V.S.A. & sect; 312: “Right to attend meetings of public agencies,” a.k.a., the Open Meeting Law, section (c)(2) states, “The time, place, and purpose of a special meeting...shall be publicly announced at least 24 hours before the meeting."

Morse said she learned that anyone who provides a written request asking for notice of meetings must receive one, and public electronic posting of the meeting's warning - for example, on the town's website - does not constitute sending that person notice. That warning must be sent directly to the person requesting it.

A question Morse brought to the VLCT was about quorum - specifically, at what point is a group of Selectboard members a “meeting” that has to be publicly announced?

“If you are discussing an issue with three or more - in other words, quorum - you may not all participate without warning” it as a meeting, Morse said she learned.

Clarifying further, Morse said, “you can't discuss an issue or act [on it] without prior notice, but you can gather information."

Board Chair Anne Rider gave an example: a roads tour with Roads Commissioner Dan Zumbrowski.

If board members were “just looking” at a bridge or road, and Zumbrowski was pointing out issues, that would not be considered a meeting, Rider said.

But, the board could not, at that moment, decide what to do about the road or bridge.

“Gathering information is fine,” Rider said. “Making decisions is not fine,” without calling it a meeting and warning it ahead of time.

Morse said she also asked VLCT officials what is not a meeting. “Say, the entire board wanted to get together for a drink or coffee to celebrate,” something like a budget passing, she said.

“Could we?” she asked the VLCT.

Their response, Morse said, was “yes, as long as you don't discuss the issues or make decisions about them."

Hale Road bridge update

GUILFORD - Roads Commissioner Dan Zumbrowski gave the Guilford Selectboard an update on the Hale Road Bridge at the Oct. 13 regular board meeting.

In September, Zumbrowski and his crew placed a steel plate on the bridge to cover a spot where the corrugated metal beneath the bridge had worn away.

The town has been waiting for officials from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) to inspect the bridge. Zumbrowski told the board he has not heard from the AOT inspectors, and is uncertain if the bridge has been inspected.

Zumbrowski said he did get the okay from Mark Pickering of the AOT to install a concrete slab to replace the bridge's surface in the future, and he will get an engineer's estimate on the cost of the long-term fix.

Meanwhile, Zumbrowski said he hopes to install a better temporary fix before winter, but the bridge “will be all right” without it.

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