In 2011, the Planning Board had a stable membership and participation, though we were pleased to welcome Heri Tryba as an alternate member in April. He brings care, thoughtful views on our regulations and roles, and good cheer to our hardworking group.
The Planning Board had a few applications for land changes; we approved one 2-lot subdivision in September. We also approved three lot line adjustments in the fall. These applications created a fairly light demand on our time. We did revise our application forms, trying to make them more user-friendly. The new application forms are available on the rack at the Town Offices.
The main work of the year was in the area of planning. On April 15, there was a follow-up to Harrisville 2020, the successful visioning event of September 2010. At the follow-up, over 50 residents and interested community members spent an evening reviewing the activities of the working committees that had emerged from Harrisville 2020. Two of the most active are the Energy Committee and the Agricultural Committee. The Energy committee continues to look at ways of conserving energy in the town, both privately and in town or commercial settings, and to explore ways to educate all of us on energy issues. The Agricultural Committee proposed the creation of an Agricultural Commission, which was approved by voters in March. This commission has both an applied aspect and an educational charge, and has many exciting events scheduled for 2012. These include more barn tours and a Farmer’s Market featuring local growers. All of the committees from Harrisville 2020 operate independently from Planning Board oversight and they pursue their areas with support and input from members and town residents.
A most important goal for Harrisville 2020 was to create common goals and vision for Harrisville in the next 10-20 years, which would get translated into a revision of the town’s Master Plan. The work of several of the working committees has led directly into the Master Plan work, especially that of Housing and Small Business. In the spring of 2011, the Planning Board created a sub-committee to work on the Master Plan. Members of this committee come from the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, and the Housing, Agriculture, Energy, Shared Resources and Small Business committees. There are also members from the community at-large.
This Master Plan Committee has been meeting regularly since late spring 2011. The members, Ned Hulbert, Andrew Maneval, Sherry Sims, Winston Sims, Cathy Sorenson, Heri Tryba, and Alison Weber, have been studying a variety of master plan requirements and guidelines, existing master plans, the data from Harrisville 2020 and the input of the working committees. The goal is to have most substantial work on the revised Master Plan completed in 2012. The town should expect to hear updates on their progress throughout the year and there will be many opportunities for input during the year. Meetings are posted and the public is always welcome.
During 2011, the New Hampshire Legislature passed a significant number of bills that do or may have an impact on the way Planning Boards and towns do their business. In an effort to understand these changes, all Planning Board members attended either conferences sponsored by the State Office of Energy and Planning or lectures sponsored by the Local Government Center. The Planning Board anticipates that it will devote a significant amount of time in 2012 working on revisions to Harrisville’s Zoning Ordinances. These revisions will be to keep Harrisville in compliance with state laws; they will also be a response to the work of the Master Plan committee in its work on Harrisville’s future. Any Zoning changes will have public hearings before the town will vote on them.
The Planning Board co-chairs also met during the year with the Selectmen and the chairs of the ZBA and Conservation Commission in a continuation of 2010’s initiative to make procedures consistent and open. These land-use board head meetings, ideally held quarterly, also include participation from the Town Clerk. Good communication has begun and the hope is that this work can continue productively.
One of the important topics from Harrisville 2020 was acknowledging the many people who serve on town boards and committees and the need to bring even more, and new, faces into this important work. The Planning Board sponsored an open house in February at which representatives from various town groups described their roles and activities. The skill, knowledge and professional demeanor of so many volunteers were impressive, and we continue to invite townspeople to offer their skills to the town groups they find of interest. Harrisville is a vital and interesting, as well as beautiful, town and it will maintain its vitality as people continue to be involved.
Many thanks to all who worked on meetings, committees and gave us administrative help, which made the Planning Board’s work go more smoothly. We also extend great thanks and appreciation to our fellow Planning Board members.
Sherry Sims and Ned Hulbert, Co-chairs