The Harrisville Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting at the town office building located on Chesham Road on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Members present: Sherry Sims, Ned Hulbert, Jonathan Miner Selectman Alternate, Ryan Stone Alternate, Pete Thayer Alternate, Andrew Maneval Selectman, Heri Tryba, Lisa Marie Anderson Alternate
Members absent: Noel Greiner Alternate, Craig Thompson Alternate, Courtney Cox
Members of the public: Winston Sims, Carol Ogilvie participant
Attendance and voting members
The voting members present were Ned Hulbert, Sherry Sims, Andrew Maneval, Pete Thayer and Heri Tryba.
Approval of Agenda
After presentation of the agenda by Ned Hulbert, Andrew Maneval made a motion to approve. Pete Thayer seconded. All voted in favor.
Minutes of previous meeting 10/11/17 and Training Session 10/30/17
Andrew Maneval moved to approve the October meeting minutes. All voted in favor. Subsequently, Sherry Sims noted she would prepare and distribute minutes from the October 30 new member October training session and that trainings will continue every month, generally one week to ten days before the regular PB meeting, until April when Ms. Sims steps away from the board and Ned Hulbert steps down as Co-Chair but remains a board member.
Cucchi Subdivision – Mr. Hulbert stated he hopes to meet with the Cucchis and Pete Thayer to receive the mylars and paper plats and documents pertaining to the conditions of approval from the Cucchis. The parties will meet and sign the documents and Mr. Hulbert and Mr. Thayer will receive the necessary check payment, after which the paperwork will be taken to the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds to be recorded.
Transportation Committee – Heri Trya summarized for the board that the committee’s last meeting focused on reviewing possible plans and setting its focus for nearer and longer-term projects. The Transportation Committee seeks additional members from the PB and elsewhere since Ned Hulbert, Andrew Maneval and Mr. Tryba will move off at some point. With Larry Keniston of the DOT, group members met to mark placement of white lines along the shoulders of the state roads in town for bike and pedestrian traffic. With Mr. Keniston and Bill Lambert, in charge of crosswalks for the DOT, committee members next will discuss potential locations for crosswalks and get the DOT representatives’ input. Committee members also hope to meet with the Police Chief regarding traffic calming on Hancock and Bonds Corner Roads. Ned Hulbert added that the committee will converse regularly with the Select Board so that its agenda can remain aligned with the SB’s objectives and the two groups can move forward collectively. Mr. Hulbert stated he believes the transportation committee’s relationships with the DOT can help further the SB’s own objectives for state roads in town.
Mr. Maneval added that the SB views its job is to maintain the roads and that the exact process of communication between the transportation group and the SB hasn’t been specifically ironed out. Mr. Hulbert responded that he would like to stay on the committee until a smooth communication process is in place.
Water Protection Committee – Ned Hulbert noted that the committee met to follow up on the Community Conversation. Mike Kelley will draft something brief for Common Threads, including a request for participation. The committee is figuring out how to move forward with its limited resources and what its key focus will be. In addition, Erin Langille will reach out to Eric Swope. Sherry Sims noted her concern about sustaining the positive energy that was present at the Community Conversation and hopes for specific action by the committee to help propel the momentum.
Broadband/Cell – Andrew Maneval reported that the committee received the proposed draft of a wireless ordinance article and that the broadband committee would meet to review the proposed language on Friday, November 10. Ultimate review and decision on ordinance language would rest with the PB. The overall study is expected to be completed by the end of November or early December. Discussion ensued about the origin of the broadband subcommittee and under whose jurisdiction the committee was formed. Heri Tryba noted it was formed out of the Master Plan of the Planning Board two years ago. Andrew Maneval added that, following the passing of the Warrant Article, the focus and membership of the group shifted, but he agreed Planning Board involvement is necessary, specifically for the ordinance, and not unwelcome otherwise. Mention also was made of the recent Senate field hearing on wireless in rural areas and a regional wireless committee working to enhance service in underserved markets. Additionally, Mr. Maneval noted there is positive forward motion on the prospect of bonding by towns for improved wireless communications.
Regional Cooperation Meeting with the School Board – Ned Hulbert reported that a meeting was held October 18, 2017 with Jack Calhoun, Erik Anderson, and Dan Petit from the School Board, key administrators, Selectman Jon Miner, and Ned Hulbert and Heri Tryba of the PB. They discussed the AREA agreement and the imminent work of the school board on longer term budgetary planning. The next Regional Cooperation Meeting is scheduled for March 2018. Lisa Anderson raised concerns that the PB was micromanaging work the School Board already oversees. Fellow PB members responded that the goal is to establish a collaborative process and structure to develop efficiencies as well as to focus together on long-term planning for the benefit of the whole town. Carol Ogilvie, attending the meeting as an experienced professional planner, confirmed that the ConVal district, for example, has embarked on similar efforts to collaborate for edification of boards and for towns’ planning purposes. PB members reiterated the importance of developing and continuing a dialog between the town and school board. Questions were raised about the intention of this working group with further discussion to come.
O’Neil Gravel Pit– There is still no date set for the inspection.
A Hard Road to Travel Workshop – Lisa Anderson reported on its usefulness and recommended it to anyone who can attend. She noted in particular the available perspectives from other towns about road issues, information about state standards and jurisdictions, and in general the helpful introduction for newcomers to planning and zoning. Andrew Maneval noted the RSAs which govern how towns must lay out new roads.
Process of Amending Zoning Ordinances with Carol Ogilvie participating.
The board began with an update from the ordinance subcommittee on Article V and related issues. Lisa Anderson noted that the subcommittee focused on 5.3.3., particularly the language about decks, and how this article ties with 9.1.6 and the definition of “Deck, Open” in the Definitions section. The board agreed it wouldn’t get into detail but would leave that to the subcommittee, but did recognize areas with confusing language and the complicated nature of the revision process. Ryan Stone added that the group needs to understand its mandate for near term versus longer term priorities so it can accomplish the needed work prior to Town Meeting in March, with the remainder to wait until after March 2018. Jon Miner confirmed that Article V is more burdensome a task than either addressing the sign ordinance or drafting language on broadband, and Sherry Sims offered that, if clarifying a portion of Article V would help town officials working with the ordinance, then it would make sense to just fix a piece of Article V right now and wait to tackle the rest of the article and interrelated articles.
The group moved into the discussion of the larger revision process and whether or not the current ordinance subcommittee would remain a standing committee. Jon Miner elaborated on his suggestion that the subcommittee evolve into a standing committee with the potential support of an outside planning consultant. Subsequently, Carol Ogilvie was invited to offer her perspective. She summarized that the two biggest challenges include trying to tackle the whole revision process at once, at the risk of overwhelming and terrifying people and the challenge of getting people to understand the purpose of each proposed change, possibly resulting in 20 or 30 amendments on the ballot. She noted that it’s not uncommon for the process to be done piecemeal but that, given the relative newness of the 2014 Master Plan, it may be a good time for a larger scale undertaking.
Ms. Ogilvie pointed out the uniqueness of Harrisville’s topography, with its numerous bodies of water, and the fact that a section on non-conforming uses, lots and structures will always be necessary because they will always exist in one form or another. Given that, she added that the board may just want to approach that section of the ordinance in a different way.
In response to Ned Hulbert’s question about Carol Ogilvie’s involvement with rewrites and the issues surrounding communicating with residents during the process, timing and organization, Ms. Ogilvie stated she believed it would take at least a year to complete the project, publicizing along the way. She emphasized that trust in the PB by the townspeople was key to the effort’s success. For communication, Ms. Ogilvie suggested public meetings, flyers, information with tax bills, posters around town, etc. Andrew Maneval then endorsed the idea of attempting a major revision for the 2019 Town Meeting, assuming the proper focus, communication and trust accompanied the effort.
Sherry Sims expressed concern that getting votes on all 29 articles, given the difficulty and work involved with the ADU article alone, would be too massive an undertaking. Asked by Mr. Hulbert how these difficulties might be overcome, Carol Ogilvie offered it might be doable by the following means: establishing a subcommittee of interested participants or hiring an outside expert to do the bulk of the work with a steering committee overseeing the project; prioritizing issues and sections, possibly consolidating several revisions into one ballot question; approaching the zoning code district by district, or organizing the revisions by making major revisions first, separating the substantive from the cleanup work. She added that she had accomplished a complete rewrite within one year, in Troy, in the 1990s, reducing the number of ballot questions to somewhere between 12 and 15. When asked what worked in her more recent effort rewriting several sections of Peterborough’s ordinance, she noted continual communication with the public, including providing updates and information on the website.
The board agreed having a steering committee was the right approach, with monthly meetings to allow time for the consultant to get the work done. Ms. Ogilvie noted that the first step should be prioritizing which sections are the most problematic. Several members agreed; however, Andrew Maneval suggested that, while there are some burning issues this year, mainly the broadband/wireless ordinance, prioritizing and tackling the revision project one problem section at a time, would create more difficulty than looking at it as a whole — assuming adequate time and resources, ability to communicate with the public, gaining buy-in, and offering the opportunity for input and proposed alternatives – in order that the entire set of ordinances would fit together.
Ned Hulbert subsequently asked Carol Ogilvie if it were possible for her to work with the existing draft rewrite done by Andrew Maneval and proceed from there, to which she responded she could. Sherry Sims then raised the concern that there was no transparency or public communication during Mr. Maneval’s undertaking and that the amount of publicity needed to get the public up to speed would be huge. To the prospective question from the public about why the PB is undertaking to rewrite the zoning ordinance, Mr. Maneval offered several reasons: user friendliness; understandability; reduction of ambiguities; consolidation of unnecessary provisions into one set of necessary provisions; an ability to make it modern while reflecting the town’s current thinking. To that rationale, Lisa Anderson added to help future PBs function better. Mr. Hulbert reminded the board that there would be no decision on the matter that evening but that he saw an advantage in having an outside consultant like Ms. Ogilvie provide an unbiased evaluation of an already existing redraft. He thought a decision could be made at the December meeting. Mr. Maneval expressed serious hope that the PB at the December meeting could take the necessary steps to take a wireless ordinance to Town Meeting. Sherry Sims then asked if the broadband committee could share with the PB, as soon as possible, whatever draft language is available for review.
The board thanked Carol Ogilvie for attending and for her valuable input.
2018 PB Budget
Sherry Sims informed the board that the PB’s budget needs to be submitted to Angela, keeping in mind what might be needed if they decide to hire an outside consultant for the ordinance revision, or other planning costs including, possibly, transportation projects. Heri Tryba asked if money could be included for Community Conversation costs. Mr. Hulbert and Ms. Sims will draft a proposed budget for the board to review at the December 13 meeting, and Mr. Tryba will talk to the co-chairs about proposed CIP budget items.
January Community Conversations.
The group didn’t come to a formal decision on a topic but thought the zoning ordinance would be a good possibility.
SWRPC Fall Meeting 11/14
Andrew Maneval and Lisa Anderson will attend. The topic is Emergency Management and Preparedness.
OEP Conference 11/15-11/16
The title is The Challenge of Change. Sherry Sims noted members can attend just one day and she will email the website link.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 pm.