The Town Council of the Town of Tiverton, County and State aforesaid held a Regular Council Meeting on

Monday, October 26, 2020 at 7:00 via a Virtual Meeting viewable at Tiverton Videos on YouTube.



Council President Hilton called the meeting to order with the pledge of allegiance to the flag.

    Members present

Council President Hilton           Councilor Perry                        Council Edwards                  
Vice-President deMedeiros       Councilor Clarke                      Councilor Driggs                        
Councilor Cook                                               

Town Administrator Cotta, Solicitor Marcello, Town Clerk Mello and Deputy Clerk Veegh were also present.         



Council President Hilton read the 100 Year Proclamations for each of the four Centenarians into the record, which was followed by congratulations and standing applause. 


President Hilton read the items on the Consent Agenda.


Note 3:  All items listed within the Consent Agenda are to be considered routine by Town Council and will
                ordinarily be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a
                member of the Council, or a member of the public so requests and the Town Council President permits,
                in which event the item will be removed for separate consideration later on the agenda.

A. Approval of Town Council Minutes
     1. September 26, 2020 –
Special Session

     2. September 28, 2020 – Regular Meeting
     3. October 8, 2020 – Joint Planning Workshop

     4. October 13, 2020 – Regular Meeting
B.  Acknowledge Receipt of Minutes from Boards/Commissions/Committees
      1. Personnel Board (3)

      2. Board of Canvassers (5)

C. Acknowledge Receipt of Reports

     1. Treasurer – Denise Saurette –September Budget and Revenue Reports

D. Acknowledge Receipt of Correspondence     

            E.  Approval of Tax Assessor Abatements

            F.  Approval of License Renewals – Non-Advertised (December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2021)

                        Tobacco Dealers License Renewals

                        Victualling License Renewals

                        Holiday License Renewals

                        Antique License Renewals

            G. Town Administrator - Approval to Advertise for Annual Fees and Fine Resolution

            H. Correspondence from Zoning Chair Gescheidt – Referred to Town Administrator and Town Solicitor


Councilor Driggs motioned to approve Consent Agenda items. Councilor Edwards seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.



     The Public May Send Written Comments via email to or by regular  

     mail to the Town Clerk at 343 Highland Road, Tiverton, RI 02878 or place in the grey drop box located    

     outside Town Hall by 12:00 noon on Monday, September 28, 2020


A. Comments received
     Don Libbey – Support of Groundswell Café & Bakery class BLV liquor license

     Phil Zachary & Amy McNamee - Support of Groundswell Café & Bakery class BLV liquor license


The above mentioned commenters were not present. Councilor Hilton opted to hold reading the comments into the record until the relevant agenda item 8-A.



            A. Historic Preservation Advisory Board – (5) Member Board - (3) Year Terms -(2) Vacancies

                 1. Stuart B. Hardy, 51 Summerfield Lane - Requests re-appointment to expire 4/15/23


Councilor Edwards motioned to waive policy and proceed to re-appointment. Seconded by Councilor Perry, the motion passed unanimously.

Councilor Edwards motioned to approve the relative re-appointment. Seconded by Councilor Perry, the motion passed unanimously.


            B. Tax Assessment Board of Review - (3) Member Board - 3) Year Terms - (2) Vacancies
                 1. Kathleen G. Skrzypiec, 230 Kearns Avenue - Requests re-appointment to expire 10/15/23


Councilor Edwards motioned to waive policy and proceed to re-appointment. Seconded by Councilor deMedeiros, the motion passed unanimously.


Councilor Edwards motioned to approve the relative re-appointment. Seconded by Councilor Driggs, the motion passed unanimously.



            A. John McDowell/Groundswell Bakery & Café, 3883 Main Road - Requests approval for BVL Liquor



Councilor Hilton read the previously noted two letters of support. Owners John McDowell and David Fierabend were present to answer questions, explaining the intent was to compliment the light menu offerings with a wine and beer option. They confirmed hours of operation will be 6am to 6pm, 7 days a week. If the requested license were granted, closing would extend to no later than 10pm.


Richard D’Addario, attorney for the owners, explained his clients were deeply committed to Tiverton having invested heavily in the purchase and renovation of two commercial buildings as well as a home in the Nanaquaket area of town. He added that there will be no table service; orders will be placed at the counter and taken to tables inside or to four small tables on the porch. He believed the café will attract people from throughout the state, benefiting other Four Corners retailers. He finished by noting that an upgraded septic system design had been submitted to DEM to address a deficiency to accommodate the café as presently set up.


Building official Bill Moore offered that when the Certificate of Conformance is issued by DEM, a new CO can be supplied with the BVL license included on it. Councilor Hilton noted the importance of ensuring the license specifically notes the septic system contingencies.


Administrator Cotta asked multiple times if any members of the public wished to speak; there were none.


Councilor Edwards motioned to approve the relative BVL Liquor, subject to all legal requirements and a Certificate of Conformance of the septic system. Seconded by Councilor deMedeiros, the motion passed unanimously.



A. Approval/Ratification of a Three-Year Contract Commencing October 26, 2020 and Ending October  

    25, 2023 for Deputy Chief James Costa


Administrator Cotta noted that in accordance with the provision in the contract that outlined the deputy position, had worked with the chief to establish acting captain James Costa as nominee. He was highly recommended by Chief Jones, who added that Costa was the senior most member of the department, familiar not only with operations but also the community.

Councilor Edwards queried if future vacancies will include testing requirements. Administrator Cotta replied that while Officer Costa had worked his way up through the department, testing might be appropriate for future candidates.

Councilor Cook expressed concern that the job was not posted. Administrator Cotta replied that the only agreement with the union was that the hire was within. Solicitor Marcello agreed it was a promotion within the department, up to the Administrator who consulted with the Chief and exercised their authority under the Charter to make the appointment.

Councilor Hilton wished to make clear that although there was a verbal agreement with the union to promote within, she did not want precedent set to allow the union to have a say with management jobs, this being an administrative mgmt. position.

Councilor deMedeiros motioned to approve the Three-Year Contract Commencing October 26, 2020 and Ending October 25, 2023 for Deputy Chief James Costa. Seconded by Councilor deMedeiros, the motion passed unanimously.


            B. Town Clerk - Approval of Modification of Deputy Clerk Jeannie Veegh Contract expiring June 1,
                 2022 and approval for 2% raise as of June 1, 2020

Town Clerk Mello explained the modification noting that original signed contract had a substantial amount of unnecessary “boiler plate” language unrelated to the position. She assured there would be no impact with the changes. She added that the Solicitor had reviewed and approved the revised draft. Regarding the 2% increase, she noted that Ms. Veegh is dedicated, performs the job well, and has never taken a sick day in a year and a half.    

Councilor Cook felt an impact statement was necessary. Clerk Mello offered to add one to the next meeting.  Councilor Hilton noted there was a 2% increase already budgeted via the FTR.  It was noted the 2% increase equated to a .49 cent raise. Solicitor Marcello made a request that Sec. 22 Choice of Law be added back in which states that if there is a dispute over the contract, it would be governed by RI law.

Councilor Cook motioned to approve Modification of Deputy Clerk Jeannie Veegh Contract expiring June 1,
2022 and approval for 2% raise as of June 1, 2020. Seconded by Councilor Edwards, the motion passed unanimously.

            C. Approval/Ratification of a Three-Year Contract Commencing October 1, 2020 and Ending September
                 30, 2023 for Town Administrator Christopher Cotta


Councilor Edwards questioned the lack of a fiscal impact statement included in the backup. Council Hilton reminded that the salary in the contract is the same amount in the adopted FTR budget. Administrator Cotta added that the amount should be substantially less as he was taking neither town healthcare nor pension. Councilor deMedeiros and Cook questioned the irregularity of the raise schedule in the contract, noting previous intentions to revert to merit based raises.    

Solicitor Marcello briefed Council on contract language. He noted a few significant changes including a “carve out” for an outside role as a volunteer Board of Director member of the National White Collar Crime Center. He furthered that in lieu of insurance coverage and participation in MERS, the employee will be allowed to enroll with a deferred compensation plan with ICMA or similar, with up to a 6% annual employer contribution. The Solicitor finished summarizing standard items such as time off allowances, liability/life insurances etc.   

Councilor’s deMedeiros and Cook suggested the section 4-B related to salary increases be changed to mirror language in Deputy Chief Costa’s contract. Administrator Cotta was agreeable.  

To prevent ambiguity, Councilor Edwards suggested the last sentnance in Sec. 5 be modified to read “and will contribute a dollar for dollar match of employee contributions up to six percent (6%) of the Employee’s annual salary.” Administrator Cotta was agreeable. 

Councilor Perry motioned to approve Three-Year Contract Commencing October 1, 2020 and Ending September 30, 2023 for Town Administrator Christopher Cotta. Seconded by Councilor Edwards, the motion passed unanimously.

            D. Town Clerk – Approval of Transfer of $10,000 from Acct#1100-6995 (Financial Town Referendum)
                 to Acct#1020-6890 (Council Contingency Fund)

Clerk Mello explained much of the extra workload due to COVID and related FTR postponement was handled by the clerk’s office, saving considerable monies which helped offset extra anticipated expenses. Therefore, she believed the unused excess funds should be returned to the Council Contingency fund. She noted an additional 18K remained for an FTR in the spring.  

Councilor deMedeiros motioned to approve the relative budget transfer. Seconded by Councilor Edwards, the motion passed unanimously.

            E. Council President Hilton – Discussion Regarding Direction and Guidelines to the Town Administrator
                  for Policy on Merit Based Increases for Department Heads

Councilor Hilton recapped previous discussions to move away from standard 2% budget raises towards a merit based system, whereas equivalent funds would be placed into the Contingency fund. She added that that although the current council may not be the council that adopts policy, development of a fair written policy to bring to a future council should begin. She provided a draft concept for consideration and suggested for logistical purposes, all review dates happen at the same time in the fiscal year. She furthered that the Administrator could not exceed the fund pool amount without special Council approval.  

Administrator Cotta agreed with the template, noting he had already begun to research methods using actual metrics rather than a standard repetitive checklist. He also believed goal setting should be in collaboration with the department heads.

Councilor Clarke was in complete favor of such a “corporate” type approach, with clearly stated policies. He furthered, and Councilor Edwards agreed, that a human resources position for management should be considered.

            F. Councilor Cook – Discussion and possible vote to advertise a public hearing for proposed ordinance
                 amendment – Article I – Section 10 - Public Nuisance of Animals

Animal Control Officer Jennifer Stills briefed Council on the necessity of the relative ordinance amendment noting most complaints they receive are for dogs at large and dogs barking. She furthered that any amendment to address noise should include animals other than dogs, and added that the written fee structure seemed somewhat excessive, suggesting lower amounts.

Solicitor Marcello opined that the original nuisance ordinance was likely repealed for being too vague. He offered to look further into the barking dogs’ portion, noting it would be hard to enforce. Clerk Mello reminded that the “fees and fines” section should be pulled and placed into the annual fees and fines resolution. It was mentioned that although a worthwhile endeavor, due to the ongoing election process, the item should be held for the next Council to handle. Councilor Hilton expressed some concern about the impact of a noise ordinance on rural farms that raise animals.

Councilor Cook was disappointed by the idea of postponement, concerned a new council may fail to act. Solicitor Marcello suggested moving the public hearing until the end of November, to allow additional time to research the barking dog portion.   

Councilor Cook motioned to advertise a public hearing for proposed ordinance amendment to be held at the November 23, 2020 meeting. Seconded by Councilor Edwards, the motion passed unanimously.

            G. Councilor Perry – Discussion and update on Recreation Directors’ position and gate attendance

Councilor Perry requested to table the item to a future meeting to allow time for a workshop to review contracts.


            A. Council President Hilton
                 1. Brief Public Health Update on COVID-19

Councilor Hilton noted that of 50 states, RI had the second largest percentage increase in terms of 2 week growth in cases. She also noted hospitalization rates have increased and that Tiverton has seen a significant bump in the last couple of weeks. She reminded all to be cognizant to help keep others safe.

            B. Town Clerk
Update on November 3, 2020 General Election

Clerk Mello had provided a copy of the polling location advertisement that had been placed on the website as well as in two local newspapers. She noted that emergency or early voting participating rates were high and mail ballots are continually coming in with currently over 10% of active voters to date. She clarified that all seven polling locations will be open on Election Day.   

            C. Town Solicitor
Decision on OMA complaint filed by Nancy Driggs against the Tiverton Town Council
                     (Finding of no APRA violation by A/G Office)

Solicitor Marcello updated that no OMA violations were found relative to the advertising, posting and notice for the December 2019 solicitor candidate interview process.

                 2. Signed Abatement Appeals Agreements

Solicitor Marcello noted that of the numerous council approved tax abatement appeals, all five were now settled and the final two releases were distributed in the packets.

            D. Town Administrator
                 1. Update on status of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank Community Septic System Loan
                     Program for additional $900,000 approved on September 14, 2020

Administrator Cotta updated that the infrastructure bank has approved the loans and have released of funds to RI Housing. He noted there were 8 applicants who have now started the loan closing process. Mr. Cotta noted that together with Wastewater, they will ensure RI Housing provides info on a timely basis. Only $600k was released to start, then a process will commence to release the remainder.

                 2. Update on Landfill

Administrator Cotta shared that, although not yet in writing, DEM has approved a landfill extension. As the license expires this December, we are in the process of applying for a new license to allow either two additional years and/or an allowance of 30k tons to reshape the top of the landfill, whichever comes first. We believe there is ample room that will give time to start the closing process. He furthered he was also working on obtaining bid specs to begin closure.

Councilor Holton wished to thank Administrator Cotta for his efforts and diligence in working with DEM to bring the project to fruition and to help alleviate budget pressure. The Administrator credited Pare Engineering with their involvement in negotiations with DEM. Councilor Driggs also thanked the Administrator as well as Councilor Cook for helping to propel the matter.  


            A. Council President Hilton – 42-46-5(a)(6) – Prospective Business – Industrial Park - Plat 109 Lot 32,
                 33, 34, 35

Councilor Edwards motioned to enter executive session pursuant to 42-46-5(a)(6) – Prospective Business – Industrial Park - Plat 109 Lot 32, 33, 34, 35. Councilor Perry seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Council entered executive session at approximately 9:25 pm

Council returned to open session at approximately 9:36 pm

Councilor Edwards motioned to seal the minutes of Executive Session. Council Vice-President deMedeiros seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


Solicitor Marcello announced the Town Council took no votes in closed session. There was only general discussion relative to purchase and sale agreement on Plat 109, Lots 32,33,34,35.


Councilor Edwards motioned to adjourn the meeting. Councilor Driggs seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m.



A True Copy.



                 Nancy L. Mello, Town Clerk


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