Minutes POA Executive Board Meeting May 3rd, 2021 (Approved)

Minutes of


Monday, May 03, 2021 @ 7:00 PM

Meeting conducted using Zoom application

Board members present: Peggy Haering, Joe Thomas, Robert Dahill, Ray Seligson, Mark Law, Seth Hershman, Bruce Calderone, Richard Greenalch, Robin Sandler, Linda Sachs, Peggy Taylor, Len Farber,

Agenda Item 1. The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. 

Agenda Item 2. Approval of Minutes, upon motion and second the minutes from the March 1, 2021 meeting were approved.

Agenda Item 3,  Communications: RTM update-Tom Brockett the 7th District representative to the RTM, reported on two recent meeting.  One dealt with the Blackstone Library, whose chiller went out recently. While the library has sufficient funds to take care of this problem, a sinking fund will be created to manage future needs.  The Finance Director is looking to refinance the town of Branford’s debt;  Upgrades have been funded for schools/police.  Solid waste is the town’s largest expense. There is a pending legislative proposal to increase the deposit on bottles to $0.10. and to apply deposit requirements to additional types of containers. 

The president opened the public hearing on the proposed amendment to the Pine Orchard Zoning Regulations.  Dick Greenalch, chair of the Zoning Committee, led the discussion.  He said that the proposed amendment would permit patios to be placed within the setbacks and would remove “patio” from the description an “accessory building” in Section 4.3 of the ordinance.  Patio, defined at grade level would be added to Section 16 ‘Definitions’ ‘Structure, following the sentence on sidewalks.  This would allow patios at natural ground grade level to be located within setback lines.  This hearing represents the final opportunity for members to express their views on this subject.  Bob Dahill said that the proposed changes make Pine Orchard’s zoning ordinance consistent with how other communities, including the town of Branford and Sachems Head in Guilford, deal with patios.

Jeanne Hughes, of 39 Meadow Wood Rd., a lifelong resident of Pine Orchard wants to keep distance between neighbors.  She feels it would make for nicer community.  One of her neighbors just built a sports court near the property line.  She is concerned that people will put grills and fire pits too close to their neighbor’s property line.  She feels that people may not understand how this will impact the community and suggested that a vote be put off until after the Annual  meeting.

Jim Killelea, 22 Halstead La., is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).  He is opposed to the amendment.  He said that zoning issues depend on circumstances, such as the size of a building lot. The ZBA has authority to consider these issues.  If passed this amendment would give landowners an unqualified right to locate a patio wherever they like.  In his view, the ZBA acts as modifier between landowners and parties who want to relief from rules; keeping that requirement is appropriate.

Kate Gillis, of 12 Gaylea Drive, expressed concerned about fire pits.  The Fire Department has a rule forbidding open fires within 20 feet of property lines. Our current zoning regulations do not address firepits.  She feels that people should be aware of fire pit regulation.  Joe Sepot, 1 Yowago Ave, feels that the current regulation had no process for approving patios; he said that for 30 years patios were treated the same as driveways.  He asked, if there is no difference between a patio and a driveway, how to we regulate them?    Bob Dahill asked that whether removing patio from Section 4.3 (accessory uses) and adding it to definitions would make patios less obtrusive. 

Eric Rose, 26 Selden Ave, said that if we remove patios from treatment as an accessory building, we will remove the requirement for approval for patio construction.  He said that there are plenty of people in Pine Orchard who need this flexibility.  Most people do not want to have patios up against setbacks.  We were not previously aware of this regulation.  He feels the current regulation takes away from people’s right to use own property. 

Jeanne Hughes feels that the association should consider different rules for different zones, such as allowing placement of patios within one-half of the setbacks in smaller lots.    Martha Lombardi of 31 Meadow Wood Rd. opposes the amendment.

Robin Sandler, made a motion to approve the amendment as presented.  The motion was seconded by Ray Seligson.  Before the vote, Ray asked whether any letters had been received regarding the amendment.  Jeff Forbes, of 42 Island View Ave. says that Pine Orchard has become more congested.  He wants to preserve the open space, which is protected by setbacks.  He does not support outdoor patios encroaching on setbacks. 

Jeanne Hughes restated her objection to the regulation.  Setbacks assure peace and harmony.  Peggy Haering said that people with large lots do not need this change.  Dick Greenalch said that our zoning laws do not give us ability to draw distinctions among zones.

Robin Sandler asked for a roll call vote on the amendment to remove “patio” from Section 4.3 of the ordinance and to provide that a patio constructed at natural grade not be treated as a structure. 

Roll call vote:  Bob Dahill—Abstain, Bruce Calderone—Abstain; Robin Sandler—Yes, Mark Law—Yes; Ray Seligson—Yes, Seth Hershman—Yes, Peggy Taylor—Yes, Joe Thomas—Yes, Peggy Haering—No; Linda Sachs—Yes.  The motion carried, and the amendment was approved.

Agenda Item 4. Treasurer’s Report (L. Sachsreviewed the budget. As of 5/1/2021 we had $12,050 in building permits, 3 times the amount from prior years.  We have spent only $250 on shoreline maintenance this year.  We have cash on hand of $186,484.  James McBurney asked about accrued legal fees.  Linda said that billing was recently received; she is not ready to report out on that yet.  She is working through the invoices.  She expects that Bob Dahill will have the final numbers in 2 or 3 days.  She did confirm that the billing was over $20,000.  Upon motion and second the Treasurer’s Report was accepted. 

Agenda Item 5. Committee reports

A. By-Laws (M. Law, R. Seligson) Proposed modifications to the bylaws will deal with process, such as breaking tie votes, clarifications on use of email instead of regular mail to communicate with members.  They want to change to email notification where members have consented to that as a means of  communication.  Conflict of interest rules will also be addressed.

B. Nominating Committee Robin Sandler gave an update on POA Executive Board

terms and open seats for the July 2021 annual meeting.  The office manager sent out email and postcards soliciting nominations for board seats.  Four seats will be available for the upcoming year.  All will be voted on at the annual meeting, now set for July 12, 2021.  Two current board members, Peggy Haering on Island View Ave. and Seth Hershman on Elizabeth Street, are up for re-election.  New nominees for board seats are Dr. David Silverstone of 13 Island View Ave, a 20-year resident of Pine Orchard, and Matthew Barez of 18 Hart Avenue. Matthew moved to Pine Orchard in Oct. 2019 and works at Sikorsky Aircraft.  Upon motion and second, the nominations were approved.  Robin added that nominations can also be made from the floor during the annual meeting and that others can run for open seats. 

C. Municipal /Community Liaison (B. Calderone, S. Hershman)  Seth said the Board wants to survey neighbors to gauge their interest in installing sidewalks. 

D. Long Range Planning–Linda Sachs has moved forward with a three-year fiscal-plan.  It is proposed that we keep the current mil rate at 4 for the upcoming year. The rental income on one of the garage bays at the Headquarters building will be adjusted; building permits are expected to be higher in the coming year. Shorefront maintenance will need additional work.  If an item is included in budget there is a question whether each expenditure needs to be approved by board. 

Robin Sandler received a quote for repairs to the sidewalk at the Island View Avenue access point.  He believes that the chair should not spend the budget without board approval.   Dick Greenalch said that substantial expenses should be brought to board. Ray Seligson said that it would be helpful to understand how to spend money; how to allocate budget on projects.  If there is a broad category of expenses, he wanted to understand criteria that would be used.  If a repair Is over $1000 maybe that should be brought to the board.  If it’s an emergency a special meeting should be held. 

E. Waterfront: Maintenance & Access–Robin  Sandler has two estimates for repairs on the Island View Avenue access point.  One estimate was for $5100 from JDL Construction; the second one from Brooks Stone was for $2490.  Peggy Haering said that it was difficult to evaluate the two bids because the explanations of work were imprecise, and It is not clear whether the two contractors were bidding on the same statement of work.  Robin will follow up with the bidders and come back to the Board.

F. Building Maintenance (J. Thomas, S. Hershman) New lights and a new sign have been installed on the headquarters building;  we have a quote of $4240 to pave the upper lot.  Paving is not in budget until the next fiscalyear.  We will replace the existing lamp post and add 2nd lighting for the parking lot.

G. Zoning/Chapel Liaison (D. Greenalch) a) Short Term Rental Francis Wihbey is challenging Pine Orchard’s prohibition of short term rentals claiming that his operation of a short term rental property is grandfathered .  The case was recently argued in the Superior Court; the judge has 120 days to issue an opinion.

 b) Chapel Update:  Dick Greenalch reported that phase 1 of the chapel restoration is almost finished.  Work on the cupula is almost done, and state reimbursement is expected.  Phase 2 will include replacement of some windows, electrical work, and painting of the exterior.  The chapel will need to raise additional funding for this work.  The Chapel will not be open for events in 2021 but is expected to reopen in 2022.

H. Tax CollectorLen Farber reported that taxes were 100% collected for this year.

I. Beautification (P. Taylor, B. Dahill) – “Art in the Park” Update.  The association has been exploring installation of two works of art in Triangle Park for a 15 month period.  Insurance must be procured, and the Branford Arts and Cultural Alliance (“BACA”) does not have the final cost of insurance. It is unclear what the cost of the installation will be.  We will not go forward with this unless the Board approves it.  Triangle Park is hard to maintain.  The water vault is scheduled to be set up in Triangle Park for watering plants.  Bob Dahill read a letter addressed to the Pine Orchard Association and the First Selectman. The member recommends that the new stairs on Spring Rock Rd. be landscaped.  Bob Dahill said that the town and Department of Public Works have that on their agenda.  The writer also commented on people placing their own plantings in the right of way.  Bob thought that issue would be addressed by the First Selectman.

Agenda Item 6. New Business: The Board has approved moving the annual meeting from July 5 to July 12th due to holiday.  One garage bay at the POA Headquarters is available for rent.  The space is 300 sq. ft. and is lockable; comparable space in town is renting for $400 per mo.  It should become available in August

Agenda Item 7. Office Manager’s Report – Peter is preparing to issue tax bills for 2021/2022.  He is working to install a mirror at the Pine Orchard Rd. end of Spring Rock Road.  The paving estimate for the parking lot came in at $4240.  A sky-friendly fixture will be installed in POA headquarters parking lot.  The office manager has reached out to public works department in Branford; getting a streetlight installed at corner of Ozone & Pasadena.

Agenda Item 8. Adjournment  Upon motion and second, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Remaining 2021 Meeting Dates:

POA Annual Meeting held on Monday July 12, 2021.   Space has been reserved at the Pine Orchard Club.  Further details will be provided as the date approaches.

Respectfully submitted,

Margaret Haering, Clerk

Documents reviewed:               Treasurer’s Report

                                                          3-yr. plan