Select Board Kicks off 2022

The Holliston Select Board held its first meeting of 2022 on Monday, January 3, 2022.  Chair Tina Hein called the meeting to order at 7:00pm. The first order of business was to continue the discussion of a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Zen LLC.

HCA Request

Zen CEO Steven Valchuis, and Attorney Blake Messing (above right) met with the Board for a third time to provide more detail about Zen’s proposed cultivation facility at 72 Jeffrey.  Members of the Board expressed continuing concern about Mr. Valchuis’ experience with operating a marijuana cultivation business.

Town Counsel, Kate Feodoroff, was on hand to offer answers and guidance to the Board.

Ultimately, a motion to authorize the Town Administrator, working with Town Counsel, to craft a Host Community Agreement between the Town and Zen LLC was put forward.  There was no second for the motion.  Hence, the request for the HCA was denied.

Annual Audit

Terenzio Volpocelli, CPA, the Town’s Auditor from the firm of Roselli, Clark, and Associates presented his annual audit report.  This is the kind of report every municipality wants to receive.  “A clean audit with no deficiencies.  The Town is doing very well financially.”

Much of the discussion focused on what might be done so the Town maintains its AAA Bond rating.  Cross-training, succession planning, tweaking internal controls / policies, and rotating the role of auditor within the current firm came up in the conversation.  The Board is interested in receiving future audit guidance as it allocates ARPA funds.

Since this will likely be Mr. Volpocelli’s last meeting with the Board for a while, the Board thanked him and his firm for their work and assistance in getting our AAA rating.

Public Hearing

The hearing was re-opened at 7:42 pm to discuss the change of address for Authentic Auto Body from 229 Lowland St. to 7 Jeffrey Ave.

Owner Steve Proia (below) described how the new location would be the headquarters of his growing business.  He currently has a Car Dealer License which allows him to rent cars.

The Board was supportive of Mr. Proia’s work in Holliston and unanimously approved his change of business address. The Public Hearing was closed at 7:48pm.

COVID-19 Community update

Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy provided his weekly updates to the Board:

  • Currently 114 active cases in Holliston
  • Many are due to within family spread
  • Nearly 50% are breakthrough cases
  • Holliston’s positivity rate puts us in the Red category
  • Case counts are being added regularly, and, with the new CDC guidelines, cases are being removed frequently.
  • Vaccination / Boosting are still the best ways to avoid serious illness – even with Omicron.
  • The Town has received 90 home rapid tests:
    • 30 each have been distributed to: the Board of Health; The Pantry Shelf; and the Senior Center
    • These tests are intended for use by the most vulnerable among us who may not have access to over-the-counter tests.
    • The ARPA Steering Group will follow through to monitor the effectiveness of this approach.
  • New data from South Africa and the UK suggest that if you are infected by the Omicron variant, the natural immunity you build will work against all other known variants.
  • A State program called “COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave,” of up to 40 hours that the Town can apply for reimbursement.
  • The Town Hall staff successfully worked from home on December 23rd to test the business continuity plans and technology.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling – $1,657,654.68

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • The Town Hall septic upgrade has been completed (there was some speculation who had the first flush)
    • Happy New Year
    • Great First night on trail and farm – had a great meal at Bar Athena
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • 323 responses have been received so far on the                 Envisioning Future Holliston survey.  Take the survey by clicking here ->Envisioning Future Holliston Survey
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Over 3,000 people attended the First Night trail walk
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:  Mr. Ahern shared the following with the Board:

  • Some members of the Select Board went to the DPW facility to see the new brine dispenser (above)
    • The odor that some reported will no longer be present following pre-treatment
    • This is more environmentally friendly than rock salt.
    • The tank can only be half full (no joke) at this point as it temporarily sits in the back of an existing Town truck.  The proper flatbed truck which is on the way will allow the tank to ALL full.
    • The Board complimented Mr. Robert Walker, Interim Deputy DPW Director for his work since taking the position in the fall.  His partnership with DPW Director Sean Reese is noticable.
  • The Town-wide grounds division discussion will continue in the coming week.
  • The Governance Committee will hold a joint meeting with the SB as part of next Monday’s meeting.
  • Several important topics will be on upcoming SB agendas – see the schedule here ->

Board Business: The Board took the following actions:

  • Approved the minutes of the November 29, 2021 meeting.
  • Approved the draft Rental Policy/Agreement and Fee Schedule for Upper Town Hall during CY2022
  • Accepted a $250 donation to HPD from Century-Ty Wood.

Other Business:

  • Mr. Cronin: The Marshall Street Recycling will be open this Saturday AND Sunday from 8 – 3.
  • Mr. Sparrell: None
  • Mrs. Hein: Reminder to Board that Town Administrator evaluations are due to Town Clerk Liz Greendale no later than January 10, 2022.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:42pm.

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Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Tina Hein on January 5, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    A decision to sign a Host Community Agreement (HCA) delves into the nuanced and unique qualities of each request. Town Counsel advises the Select Board on every HCA request to carefully consider whether the applicant/location/business plan present a good partnership for the Town. An HCA is a long-term agreement with community impacts. Water usage, traffic and safety concerns, odor and other nuisance issues, public health risks (especially to our youth) are all considered as potential impacts. Owner/employee experience, property improvements, the business model, and revenue projections are on the applicant side. A decision takes into review all these factors. This most recent HCA request received Board deliberation at 3 public meetings over the course of the past month+. Holliston is and remains open to the cannabis industry, as allowed by state law and town by-law, and the Board will continue to use it’s legal authority to carefully deliberate on all future requests. Public comment is welcome and meeting agendas are posted 48 hours in advance. I am available to answer questions or address comments by email:

    Tina Hein, Chair, Select Board