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Council Appoints New Fire Chief, Tax Assessor

The Portsmouth Town Council met Monday night at Town Hall.

Featured here is a report of the Portsmouth Town Council meeting: 

7 p.m. — Town Council presents letter of commendation to Joseph Yates, who researched a project and constructed a household-size wind turbine in Africa. Yates is a student at the Portsmouth Abbey. Audience stands and applauds Yates. 

7:05 — Council hears recommendation to appoint Mathew Helfand as tax assessor and Michael Cranson as the new fire chief. The town received 62 applications from 25 different states for the position of fire chief. 

7:12 — Council votes 6-0 to appoint Helfand as tax assessor. Keith Hamilton is away on business. Council votes 6-0 to appoint Cranson as fire chief. The audience errupts in applause after each are sworn into office. 

Did you take a photo of Michael Cranson being sworn in as the new fire chief? Add it to the gallery here or e-mail it to Sandy@Patch.com

7:28 — Council approves various liquor and holiday licenses for businesses.  

7:38 — Council approves bills of more than $100,000. 

7:43 — Council votes 6-0 to postpone public hearing on the Wastewater Management District Ordinance. 

7:47 — Council approves fee waiver for youth lacrosse clinic. 

7:48 — Council President Joseph Robicheau proposes tabling discussion on Fairview Lane right-of-way. Judi Staven says she'd like to hear the discussion. "There's no rush," says James Seveney, who agrees on the postponement. 

Should the town council take action on Fairview Lane or postpone the discussion? Tell us in the comment section below! 

8:11 — Motion to postpone discussion on Fairview Lane fails 3-3 with Staven, Liz Pedro and Paul Kesson in favor of continuing talks. 

8:13 — Robicheau withdraws suggestion to "enter executive session." 

8:15 — Staven motions to make Fairview Lane as a "public right-of-way." 

8:31 — Motion to designate Fairview Lane "as a public road to the water" fails in a 3-3 vote with Michael Buddemeyer, Seveney and Robicheau against. The issue will now be posted on the next council agenda. 

9:07 — Council ends discussion on town's pension plan. 

9:08 — Police Chief Lance Hebert provides an update on a boat sunk in Blue Bill Cove. "This has gone on way too long and people down there are being affected by it," Hebert said. Hebert says the boat is breaking up into pieces, which are hitting other boats.

9:12 — Hebert says he would like the council to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) to research costs for removing boat. Donald Kidd of Portsmouth gives photographs of boats sunk in cove to council. 

9:14 — The boat has been in the cove for more than a year. Seveney asks about issuing an emergency RFP. 

9:24 — Brandon Kidd says he was a bidder to remove boat and proposes property tax credit in exchange for removal. 

9:25 — "So we can explore some 'out of the box' options," asks Seveney to Dave Faucher. "I'm not sure about the tax option," Faucher says. 

9:34 — Council votes to issue an emergency, lowest cost RFP for removal of boat. 

9:58 — Seveney motions to continue issue on tank farms to next council meeting. 

Bill Carson October 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Portsmouth Town Council ,Tuesday Oct. 23 options for dealing with the wind turbine at Portsmouth High School: The Town Council will discuss the financial viability of repairing the town owned wind turbine. The town council will review an expert report about the poor siting of the wind turbine next to the town water tank ,gear box failure and the attention needed to review the stability of the wind turbine blades as outlined in the report . The repairs after the short three year life of the turbine including the blades could be near one million dollars. The only way to repair it would be to float a one million dollar bond with no guarantee the same thing wouldn't happen in another few years . The math is simple: The turbine made 400 thousand over three years and the repair bill is near 1 million. Can the town afford to spend 600 thousand every three years in order to be a Green Community ? Can the taxpayers be asked to shoulder the mistakes made by the Town Council in 2004-2006 ? http://www.portsmouthri.com/documents/Turbine_Gearbox.pdf
old timer October 23, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Let's see, Mr. Molleur felt a right of way in his neighborhood, which his deed says he has a right to use, was being blocked. Instead of taking the offending party to court he complained to the town council. Before taking action the Council hired an attorney to determine if the right of way was even public and they had any power to act. The attorney, Mr. Scott, said it was private. Mr. Molleur wasn't satisfied and got the RI Attorney General involved. After about a year of research, (at taxpayer expense), the attorney general issued a report agreeing with Mr. Scott. CRMC, the state agency responsible for deciding which rights of way are public has been notified of the controversy and has not seen fit to declare it a public right of way. Somehow, without any public vote, the Council hired another attorney, Mr. Liberati, to look into it, (at taxpayer expense of course). Now Staven, Pedro and Kesson don't want to wait to hear his advice they just want to vote to declare it's public. Three things occur to me: 1. the council majority will just keep hiring attorneys until they find one who will tell them what they want to hear; 2. If, in the end they can't find one to agree with them they will just impatiently do what they want anyway because "they've heard enough"; and 3. we are spending a lot of taxpayer money to fight Mr. Molleur's private battle, (in which it seems no other neighbors want to join him).
Clay Commons October 23, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Re: Fairview Lane boat ramp. This is a matter that could have been settled through civil discourse among the neighbors when it first became an issue two years ago, but it's too late for that now, with all the lawyers and agencies, misrepresentations and outright lies. Now there must be winners and losers; not the best way to live with your neighbors. What should be done now? Looking past the issues of takings, deeded access that is no longer, town liability for maintenance and repairs, etc., sooner or later the ramp will need a management plan, because it is a very small area with narrow roads, very limited parking, children swimming and quahogging, a mooring field, etc. That WILL require civil discourse. Better late than never, but it won't be easy at this point.

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