The Harrisville Conservation met at the town offices on Chesham Road on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.
Members present: Winston Sims, Harry Wolhandler, Jay Jacobs, Doug Gline, and Les LaMois
Members absent: Andrea Polizos
Members of the public: Jillian Miner, John Cucchi, Anne Cucchi
Meeting opened at 7:00 pm
Harry Wolhandler asked what hadn’t been examined yet regarding Mr. Cucchi’s application and, subsequently, Jay Jacobs moved to strike discussion of the Cucchi application from the agenda. Harry Wolhandler seconded. Les LaMois asked Mr. Cucchi if he had anything new to present. John Cuccchi said no, mentioning the imminent review by the Planning Board and the site visit scheduled for the following evening. Winston Sims stated that this was a new application and he believed other elements were new and should be considered given the application had been accepted by the Planning Board and that the HCC owed it to Mr. Cucchi to give it good and sound thinking. Mr. Sims added that not many applications come before the HCC. Mr. Wolhandler noted he thought it was premature to discuss it any further given that subdivision applications are the Planning Board’s domain and that, come the time any building was proposed at any particular location, that would be the proper time for the HCC’s consideration. Winston Sims reiterated he believed it was the HCC’s position to consider it and how, and if, the ordinances apply. Doug Gline stated he attended the Cucchi’s presentation of their application before the PB and that he believed the PB had adequate information to deliberate, with more information following the site visit, and he didn’t believe it was necessary to have on the HCC’s agenda that night. Harry Wolhandler moved to vote on Jay Jacobs’s motion. Jay Jacobs restated his motion to strike the item from the agenda. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Winston Sims opposed.
Request by Jillian Miner on behalf of the Silver Lake Association
Jillian Miner noted that the Association decided to maintain a small trash receptacle with a lid at the boat landing and that a volunteer from the board would empty it. She hoped the Association could obtain a kiosk similar to that installed at Harrisville Pond. Winston Sims asked Les LaMois if he would have any trouble integrating the kiosk with the trash barrel in terms of design and Les LaMois stated he didn’t see a problem and that he and Doug Gline could construct it. They offered to meet Jillian Miner at the proposed location to discuss the design and the best place for it. Winston Sims asked Ms. Miner about the Lake Host Program and she stated the program hosts have been so helpful. She estimated that Silver Lake had roughly 800 boats visit last summer and that Judy Putnam is still looking for another staff volunteer for Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. Jay Jacobs moved to approve the request for a kiosk at Silver Lake. Harry Wolhandler seconded. In the discussion, Winston Sims recommended that the HCC approve up to $350 for purposes of construction. All voted in favor.
Previously Approved Application for Special Exception
Concerning a previously approved application by the ZBA for a special exception, Winston Sims stated he didn’t believe the ZBA had addressed the property’s location on shoreland. Harry Wolhandler asked if the application had been approved and the group responded yes. Jay Jacobs stated it was an application for a home-based business and not for construction or expansion and that it was well-vetted by the ZBA. Reading from the ordinance that “all special exception applications shall be made in harmony with the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance” and shall be in accordance with its general and specific rules, Mr. Sims disagreed. Jay Jacobs stated any concerns should be addressed to the ZBA and not by the HCC. When Les LaMois asked why the HCC did not receive a copy of the application, Jay Jacobs responded that the application was for a use, not for shoreland protection or a building or any change in topography.
Harry Wolhandler stated the point relates to a later agenda item regarding HCC recommendations on zoning and planning and that, in his mind, the town wants new businesses, development and younger people but, at the same time, needs extra protections in place to contain things such as hazardous fluids. Mr. Sims noted there are regulations within the town’s current ordinances. Jay Jacobs added that he believed the application reviewed by the ZBA included proper management and containment of any hazardous material and that the owner’s insurance company also requires it and visits properties to ensure compliance. Doug Gline added he understood the applicant had submitted a hazardous waste plan to the state, but that it would have been nice to have been included in the conversation. Jay Jacobs noted that the meetings and agendas are always posted at the post office and at town offices. The group agreed they should have attended the ZBA meeting to air their concerns. Jay Jacobs added that the decision had been made and the appeal period had long since passed and that the best thing to do moving forward is for the HCC to pursue its interest in the permitting process as a whole. Les LaMois agreed that the group wasn’t considering challenging what was a done deal but asked if as a policy every board receive a copy of any application so that everybody is included in the discussion. Harry Wolhandler suggested coming into the office where the information is available. When Winston Sims noted the application was made for a special exception but not for shoreland, Jay Jacobs asked if he was sure one was needed for a use change. Jay Jacobs added Charles Sorenson made that very clear in his response to Winston Sims.
In discussing the desire to promote growth but not at the expense of the environment or way of life in town, jay Jacobs noted what he sees as contradictions in the Master Plan and expressed the desire for more flexible zoning to promote more home-based businesses and for further address of these issues by the Planning Board to clarify language for the Zoning Board.
Winston Sims reiterated his position that he didn’t believe shoreland location was considered and read from the ordinance language regarding preserving the natural woodland buffer and stabilizing the soil. Harry Wolhandler noted it was a preexisting lot without trees and noted the improvements made by the owner. Others noted that these issues and issues related to hazardous materials were specifically addressed. The question of enforcement was raised and Jay Jacobs noted it is not the ZBA’s job to enforce their decisions but the relevant departments in town and that, if the Select Board receives complaints, it acts on them.
Jay Jacobs stated he would recommend to fellow Select Board members compiling a list of all pending applications each week to be shared with each board. All were in favor of the idea.
When asked by Winston Sims who would take minutes if the Recording Secretary were absent, Les LaMois responded he understood his role was limited to completing forms for the Commission. Jay Jacobs stated it was up to the Chairman to appoint someone to take minutes. It was left that Les LaMois would continue as Secretary subject to the responsibilities previously agreed to.
Old Home Days – July 7 and 8
The group discussed the potential need for additional space to cover lake host or watershed issues, which relate to the Planning Board working group. Winston Sims noted it was a good opportunity to put out maps of the town, maps of watersheds and aquifers and lake host information. Harry Wolhandler suggested advertising for additional lake hosts, noting the pay. Mr. Sims noted he would be meeting with Andrea Polizos June 14 to discuss lake host and old home days matters should anyone want to join them. He added that he hoped to get lake host point people together to coordinate scheduling. As for volunteers at the HCC booth on Old Home Days, Harry Wolhandler raised his hand as did Les LaMois. Doug Gline will be volunteering elsewhere but will be around.
HCC’s Most Important Unmet Needs
Funds – Harry Wolhandler introduced that the HCC set as a priority deliberating on the matter of what is a reasonable amount of money the Commission should retain for conservation issues. Winston Sims stated there are a number of proposals for the HCC to take up small pieces of land and that taking up easements can be costly and time consuming.
Invasives – Mr. Wolhandler also introduced the issue of aquatic invasives which, he stated, if left unmanaged can become extremely costly. Winston Sims stated a comprehensive weed watcher program is key to managing invasives and that a statistic cited at a New Hampshire Lakes Workshop recently was a 20% loss in property values around lakes where there are invasive species, affecting both lakeside and non-lakeside property owners because of the increased tax burden on the latter.
Speakers – Mr. Sims discussed the possibility of having a speaker knowledgeable about aquifers and watershed protection address the group. Doug Gline mentioned inviting an expert on easements and land conservation, mentioning the Town of Chesterfield’s expert as a reputable possibility. Jay Jacobs discouraged the idea believing it infringes upon property owners’ rights. The group discussed the goals of conservation agencies versus those of landowners and mentioned the idea of inviting Jack Calhoun to speak. Winston Sims suggested a speaker from DES on watersheds.
Jay Jacobs suggested the group limit its focus to 3 issues rather than spread itself too thin. On the Lake Host program, Mr. Jacobs mentioned encouraging increased involvement and engagement. Harry Wolhandler recommended focusing on knotweed and attempts to get rid of it. Winston Sims added governance as a possible focus, as well as linkages between town bodies.
The group discussed when, how and where minutes are available. Doug Gline expressed frustration with the town website. All hoped minutes would be shared as quickly as possible among all boards. It was noted that copies of all minutes are available at the town office and, when approved by each board, on the website.
Jay Jacobs moved to adjourn at 8:41. Harry Wolhandler seconded. All voted in favor.