Crowd size breaks off Halifax meeting

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HALIFAX — After community members raised concerns about the number of people attending a meeting during the coronavirus pandemic, the Select Board adjourned Tuesday's meeting and rescheduled it for Friday.

Board Chairman Lewis Sumner said that in three days, as many as 75 people could gather indoors in Vermont. At the time of the meeting, only 25 would be permitted under the governor's orders related to the state of emergency.

Linda Lyon of Halifax counted more than 44 attendees.

"We're all taking health risks here because of your selfish behavior," Bob Teree of Halifax told the board at the meeting inside the town garage where an agenda item involved a petition submitted to the town in response to the controversial purchase of a gravel pit.

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In November, the town entered an agreement with Brad and Peggy Rafus to buy property adjacent to the town garage at 637 Hubbard Hill for nearly $100,000. Some residents have raised concerns related to Brad Rafus being one of the three board members and the town road foreman, and what they view as lack of transparency about the project.

The petition features 75 signatures from residents and calls for holding a special town meeting for a community-wide vote on the project, extending the timeline of the purchase and sale agreement, making the town publish all engineering analyses and permit information about the property on the town website, and requiring another vote by citizens before closing on the sale.

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Board members do not plan on holding meetings by teleconference as they have done in the past. Select Board Vice Chairman Mitchell Green said people talk over each other in that format.

The board scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. Friday at the same venue, in the yard if the weather is nice and inside the garage if not, despite concerns from community members.

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"I know several people who cannot attend because they need to quarantine for themselves or quarantine for a family member," Lyon told the board. "They have a serious medical condition."

Lyon said people should not have to choose between participating in town business and maintaining the health of their families.

Some could be heard in a recording provided to the Reformer saying board members were holding an illegal meeting as they quickly approved fuel bids before adjourning.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.


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