[Recommended by the Select Board. Majority vote required.]
The motion was made to accept Article 02 as read. Selectman Jacobs explained that the accounting system required by the state is different from the one used in the Town Ledger, which provides a more specific breakdown of department budgets, expenses and revenues and the one which the town uses for day to day management of the budget. Two 2018 budget highlights were noted by the Selectmen: one was a slight increase in town employee payroll budget and the other was an appropriation in the Planning Board budget for consulting fees related to zoning ordinance revisions, a focus of the Planning Board in the coming year or two.
Questions related to line items on sand and gravel, recycling payroll and operations, and revenues from recycling and timber tax were raised by residents and addressed by the Selectmen. Also explained was the difference in the operating budget and capital reserves and expenses, and how each is incorporated into tax rate calculations. Both the Town Treasurer and the Select Board encouraged residents to attend the annual budget hearings to better understand, and leverage early on, opportunities to discuss the town budget. Resident Jack Calhoun thanked the Select Board for moving the Article on the Operating Budget further up on the Warrant to encourage maximum engagement by Town Meeting attendees.
Article 02 PASSED by voice vote.
Article 03: Land Conservation Capital Reserve Fund
To see if the Town will vote to discontinue the Land Conservation Capital Reserve Fund created in 2008. Said fund with accumulated interest to date of withdrawal are to be transferred to the municipality’s General Fund. [Recommended by the Harrisville Conservation Commission. Recommended by the Select Board. Majority vote required.]
The motion was made to accept the article as read. Harold Wolhandler explained the Conservation Commission’s reasons for proposing this article, including its belief that the funds currently available were adequate for near-term needs. Mr. Wolhandler subsequently explained why the HCC now was asking the Town to vote down this same article, stating more information had come to light pertaining to potential uses of funds for land acquisition and easements, justifying reasons to maintain the LCCRF one more year as the HCC further considers the matter. Several residents, as well as Winston Sims, Chairman of the HCC, spoke to support Mr. Wolhandler’s request to oppose the article, highlighting the various potential uses of conservation land and funds for environmental causes. Mr. Wolhandler noted the town’s historic interest in and support of conservation initiatives and noted the HCC’s interest in growing its commission membership to strengthen discussion input moving forward. Selectman Maneval added that 25% of the town’s land is currently in conservation and that, whether funds for conservation are locked in a trust or released into the General Fund, the money all belongs to the town at large.
Article 03 FAILED by voice vote.
Article 04: Highway Vehicle
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $58,328 to purchase and outfit a 2018 Ford F550 dump body to replace the existing highway vehicle, further to authorize the withdrawal of $58,328 taken from the Road Equipment Capital Reserve Fund for that purpose. [Recommended by the Select Board. Majority vote required.]
The motion was made to accept the article as written. Selectman Miner explained the need for the new highway vehicle, a Ford F550, which will be outfitted with a plow and sander, and that the funds for the vehicle would come from the Road Equipment Capital Reserve Fund.
Article 04 PASSED by voice vote.
Article 05: Hancock Road Rebuild
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $175,000.00 to rebuild the section of Hancock Road from the Busy Brook Bridge (at Jaquith Road) to Route 137, said sum to be raised from general taxation. This will be a non-lapsing appropriation per RSA 32:7(VI) and will not lapse until the project is complete or December 31, 2019, whichever is sooner. [Recommended by the Select Board. Majority vote required.]
The motion was made to accept the article as read. Selectman Jacobs explained that the actual cost of the project is an additional $50,000, an amount within the General Fund that derives from a block grant from the state’s infrastructure program and is earmarked for road projects. The $175,000 would be raised through general taxation. He further explained the process for rebuilding the road and the reason that particular section of road was chosen.
Article 05 PASSED by voice vote.
Article 06: Capital Reserve Funds
To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $55,000 to be added to the Capital Reserve Funds previously established and to allocate the sum as follows: Road Equipment – $5,000; Fire Equipment – $10,000; Police Equipment – $5,000; Town Buildings – $10,000; Bridges – $10,000; Dams – $5,000; Re-valuation – $5,000. [Recommended by the Select Board. Majority vote required.]
A motion was made to accept the article as written. Selectman Maneval noted the amounts were slightly smaller than in recent years but the Select Board was comfortable where the town is based on the performance of the Trust Funds outlined on p.37 of the Town Report.
Article 06 PASSED by voice vote.
Article 07: Petition Regarding Street Lights
To see if the Town will vote to retain the existing “Radial Wave” street light fixtures in at least the National Historic Landmark District, as recommended by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. Furthermore, the Town, with the assistance of historic preservationists, will petition Eversource for its support in maintaining the existing street lights. A committee of stakeholders and community members will be formed to establish the next steps, which will include considering ways to save energy and reduce costs. The committee will provide an interim progress report to the community by September 30, 2018, and a recommendation by Town Meeting of March 2019. This is a Petitioned Warrant Article.
Selectman Maneval moved to amend the Article to read as it had originally been submitted, adding the following words to its beginning: “To see if the Town will vote to rescind 2017 Article 03: Street Lights and…” with the remainder as written and read. Amendment PASSED by voice vote. A motion was made to accept the amended Article.
Numerous residents, including Seth Farmer, Andrea Hodson, Kathy Scott, Don Scott and Katrina Farmer, as well as Kathy Bollerud for Historic Harrisville, spoke on behalf of the Article, citing the historic value of the existing lights, the importance of Harrisville’s National Historic Landmark District status, the desire to preserve the town’s streetscape at night, the desire to further research options from electrical manufacturers, and the desire to continue to lobby Eversource for the possibility of retrofitting the existing fixtures with cheaper and more energy efficient bulbs. All expressed their belief that more time is available and should be taken before acting.
Selectmen Andrew Maneval encouraged voters to vote down the petitioned article, emphasizing the highly collaborative effort, discussions and work done by all interested parties, including those speaking on behalf of the petitioned article, Historic Harrisville and the Historic District Commission. He stated that the result of this effort and discussions was a reasoned and thoughtful solution, and that a compromise agreement between Historic Harrisville and the town had been signed. Mr. Maneval highlighted the following: Eversource’s adamant and unequivocal position as told to the town that they will not permit the repair, replacement and reinstallation of existing lights on its poles; the group approach and solution was based on work of the Select Board over the past year with the Historic District Commission, Historic Harrisville, interested residents, Eversource and LED light manufacturers; the higher cost and inefficiency of the existing system; the obligation of the town to provide adequate street lighting for drivers and pedestrians; and the fact that the historic replica Jamestown Radial Wave LED fixture, the lights provided for in the agreement between Historic Harrisville and the town, offer the historic look of the town’s existing radial wave fixtures while providing more cost- and energy-efficient lighting. As a resident and Trustee of Historic Harrisville, Mr. Maneval pointed out the organization’s longtime interest in fostering an active, safe community where the intersection of work, leisure, educational, social, public and private lives was possible while honoring the historic qualities of the area. He cited safety studies as well that point to the benefits of adequate street light.
Discussion from both sides also touched on the amount, quality and effect of the existing incandescent light as compared to the Jamestown radial wave LED fixtures and how each type met the purposes of its proponents and what would be appropriate.
Kathy Bollerud then outlined Historic Harrisville’s position that, though it signed the agreement and honored the work of the Select Board, the agreement states that the organization’s first preference is to save the incandescent lights. She confirmed that, should taking more time and conducting further research not yield the desired outcome of preserving the incandescent lights, then Historic Harrisville would honor its agreement with the Select Board.
Speaking for the Transportation Committee of the Planning Board, Ned Hulbert stated its opposition to the proposed article, and its support of the compromise agreement between Historic Harrisville and the Select Board, based on the Transportation Committee’s efforts to promote safer streets and safety measures around town for pedestrians and vehicles. Mr. Hulbert further stated the committee’s belief that the compromise agreement honors the Master Plan and historic preservation interests while allowing the town to evolve environmentally and technologically.
Jack Calhoun strongly urged residents, decision on lights aside, to please wear safety vests, carry flashlights and otherwise outfit themselves to alert drivers of their presence when walking on the roads. He received generous applause.
Asking voters to support the article, Kathy Scott outlined the research she conducted into retrofitting the lights, stating that, mechanically. it is possible and that plenty of spare parts for so called Wheeler Boston lights exist in warehouses of lighting experts around the country. Ms. Scott also expressed concern for the long-range costs of repairing the lights agreed upon in the compromise plan and the role the incandescent lights play in representing the industrial history of Harrisville. She later addressed questions related to the DOT’s standards for safe lighting and accident thresholds and Police Chief Driscoll added that, in the past year, there were no reported accidents due to insufficient lighting. Don Scott spoke to urge voters to allow another year for further research believing that LED options offering better light distribution than offered by the PEMCO/Jamestown Radial Wave fixtures lie ahead.
There was continued back and forth, including from a resident who was injured walking on the dark road, to a resident urging the town to maintain its uniqueness, to a selectman noting the potential scenario if the warrant article passed and the compromise agreement is not implemented.
Selectman Jay Jacobs then addressed voters, reviewing the effort of the Select Board to honor the Warrant Article passed at the 2017 Town Meeting, which was based on extensive research and the goal of installing an energy-efficient, cost savings, safe street light system for the town, as well as the work since then, including extensive discussions with all interested parties, work with the Historic District Commission, which chose the appropriate color light, and the compromise agreement reached with Historic Harrisville that addressed concerns of all sides. Mr. Jacobs urged voters not to hold on to unverifiable facts or false hope, and repeated Eversource’s position that it would not allow anyone else to repair the lights and put them up on their pole. He instead asked residents to vote for lights that properly light the streets and provide for adequate safety.
Resident Katrina Farmer cited a town in Nevada with 12 vintage radial wave lights that received an exemption from the PUC to retrofit their lights. She asked for the extra time to pursue the opportunity to sit down with executives of Eversource.
Resident and Conservation Commission member Andrea Polizos expressed concern that the existing lights are not dark-sky compliant and cause light trespass while the LED fixtures do not.
With completion of discussion, Moderator Colony called for vote by paper ballot.
Article 07 PASSED by paper ballot. YES 95 NO 31
Article 08: Receive Reports of Agents
To hear reports of agents, committees, and offices chosen and pass any vote related thereto.
Moderator Colony reviewed locations in the Town Report of the various department, board and commission submissions and subsequently made a motion to accept the reports as written. Motion PASSED by voice vote.
Article 09: Business Transactions
To transact any other business that may legally come before this meeting.
Moderator Colony was thanked for all his work.
The results of the March 13 Elections were read aloud by the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk announced that, for Select Board, Kathy Scott received, and was declared elected, with 172 votes. Ranae O’Neil received 86 votes. All other officers ran unopposed. In addition, David Robins was elected Cemetery Trustee.
A motion was made and seconded to close the 2018 Town Meeting. Motion PASSED by voice vote.
Meeting closed at 10:18 pm.
Mary Ann Noyer, Recording Secretary, for Patty L. Massey, Town Clerk
March 22, 2018
Attest: A true copy of the Minutes of the Harrisville Town Meeting held March 13 and March 14, 2018.
Mary Ann Noyer, Recording Secretary
March 22, 2018
Patty L. Massey
March 22, 2018
Attest: A true copy of the Minutes of Harrisville Town Meeting held March 13 and March 14, 2018
Patty L. Massey