The Harrisville Conservation Commission held its regular monthly meeting at Town Offices at 705 Chesham Road on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
Members present: Winston Sims, Andrea Polizos, Les LaMois, Jay Jacobs Selectman
Members absent: Harry Wolhandler
The meeting opened at 7:00 pm.
Adding the topic of the new kiosk at Silver Lake, Les LaMois made a motion to approve $70.00 in funds for materials. Andrea Polizos seconded. All voted in favor. Separately, Winston Sims added an item on the program at Antioch, moving it up to agenda item #5.
Minutes of August Meeting
Mr. Sims opened the discussion of minutes requesting to add a point to this month’s minutes that the HCC has a long and honorable history dealing with issues, whether related to the Natural Resources Inventory or the Master Plan, dealing with subdivisions or Planning Board applications.
Subsequently, Mr. Sims raised the issue of the Right to Know Law, requesting to add to the minutes a list of 14 points he noted from the site visit to the Cucchi property in June. Fellow committee members stated that the Chairman was reintroducing matters that had been settled and voted on, or deemed out of the purview of the Conservation Commission, at the June and July meetings and that they had voted to accept the previous meeting minutes as written. A long discussion ensued over what and how much content should be included in meeting minutes with all board members, except the Chairman, agreeing that minutes should reflect summaries of discussions and should note actions taken and decisions made. Mr. Sims stated his belief it is a breach of the Right to Know Law not to include all comments made. Les LaMois made a motion to approve the August Meeting Minutes. Jay Jacobs seconded. Mr. LaMois, Mr. Jacobs and Andrea Polizos voted in favor. Mr. Sims did not announce his vote.
Nothing was discussed on this agenda item.
Mr. Sims also termed proposed Ground Rules for the HCC a “Code of Conduct.” Andrea Polizos asked if these would be part of the Draft Conservation By-laws listed subsequently on the agenda. Mr. Sims responded yes. Jay Jacobs suggested calling them “Rules of Procedure”, as done by other town boards and the group generally agreed. Mr. Sims stated that the topic could be left in abeyance for the time being, no matter what the group ultimately agreed the document would be called or how it might be incorporated into any adopted by-laws.
Winston Sims reviewed responses to the survey, which the group had discussed during the July and August meetings and which are noted in those meeting minutes. He also reiterated that the HCC’s goals are process goals more so than target goals, and that the HCC is making an ongoing effort to be more involved in the application and permitting process. Andrea Polizos stated one of the ongoing frustrations is not receiving copies of the applications in advance so that the HCC can review issues relevant to the committee.
The board then discussed the role, funding (or underfunding) of and fee structure of the DES and how that affects the permitting process and burdens applicants. The group agreed that increased support from the state would help alleviate the financial strain on those who can’t afford the administrative costs associated with construction.
In discussing the principle ways the HCC contributes to the town, all members agreed that education is the most significant undertaking. Andrea Polizos added protecting the land and water as another. Winston Sims noted the roles of public meetings and community conversations and working with other town boards. As a final point on the survey, Andrea noted it would be helpful if the NHACC offered a conference on scope of work for newcomers to conservation commissions and issues.
Draft Conservation By-Laws
Winston Sims had provided copies of samples of by-laws from different towns and proposed reviewing each article to determine how and if the proposed article could serve the HCC in clarifying its roles and responsibilities. Andrea Polizos then proposed moving this item to the end of the agenda, after which Les LaMois proposed forming a subcommittee to work on this. Both he and Andrea agreed to serve on it. The subcommittee agreed to meet the following morning.
The group discussed Antioch’s outreach to local organizations to work with Antioch masters-level students on a year-long project. Andrea Polizos noted that, from her experience there, the school is looking for a substantive undertaking for its students. Winston Sims wondered if water protection in Harrisville would be an appealing topic. Jay Jacobs recommended that the specific problem or goal or scope of work should be identified prior to proposing any joint effort. The group agreed that such a consulting program, and the topic of water protection, is good idea but that the HCC wasn’t ready and should keep it in mind for next year. The committee reiterated the need for an end goal and to identify who might need to be involved.
Meeting adjourned at 8:45 pm.