The Harrisville Conservation Commission met for its regular meeting on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road.
Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Winston Sims, Kathy Scott, Les LaMois, Andrea Polizos
The meeting opened at 7:13 pm.
Winston Sims requested the addition of aquatic invasive species to the agenda. With this addition, all voted in favor to accept the agenda.
Minutes of 8/15/2018 – review and approval
Harry Wolhandler reviewed suggested amendments from Jeff Taylor, Winston Sims and Harry Wolhandler, which are noted in red in the Approved Meeting Minutes of 8/15/2018. Winston Sims moved to accept the revised minutes. Kathy Scott seconded. All voted in favor.
Invasive Species – Japanese Knotweed Management
Harry Wolhandler presented a document from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on glyphosate from March 20, 2015, titled IARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides.The group discussed the meaning of the term “probably carcinogenic” and Mr. Wolhandler noted the paper’s statement that, regarding the herbocide glyphosate, “there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma” as well as the paper’s statement of a lack of consensus because of the confusion surrounding all the different herbicides to which farm workers are exposed. Mr. Wolhandler read further about findings related to various types and quantities of applications, subsequently moving to discussion of a different paper on glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), entitled “Is it time to reassess current safety standards for glyphosate-based herbicides” (Vandenberg LN, et al. J Epidemiol Community Health2017;0 1-6). Mr. Wolhandler cited several passages noting effects are dose dependent and noting the need, given increased use of glyphosate since safety evaluations were conducted, for further studies and examination of by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Mr. Wolhandler cited one final article from the IARC’s “League of Nerds” which closely examines the claims that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic and finds that it probably is not. The author believes there isn’t a strong enough link to state that it is but knows that scientists need to look further. Mr. Wolhandler stated that none of the papers says not to use glyphosate, though they caution how and under what circumstances it should be used, recommending targeting the invasive vegetation and not any native species. Members agreed glyphosate can’t be determined to be completely safe but, depending on where and how it’s used and in what quantities, very limited and targeted application could possibly be safe. They discussed questions of whether knotweed should be attempted to be managed, how it should possibly be managed, and the expense associated with waiting or acting sooner rather than later, with a consensus among members and the town necessary before taking any action. Members also discussed how to get names of potential additional presenters/experts in academia or elsewhere to advise on the safety issue. Regarding education and information awareness for residents, members emphasized the importance of articulating the reasons for managing knotweed, including that it becomes a monoculture, prevents continuation of native species and reduces biological diversity in the region and why is this important? Andrea will draft something for all to review next month, attempting to articulate why this is important. Members discussed timing and ideas for reaching out and the best means to do so, and they agreed to continue discussion next month. Possible ideas include a community conversation, articles in Common Threads, and/or mailings to residents, possibly beginning late this fall. The possibility of waiting until next year also was raised.
Winston Sims hoped members would keep in mind that, in the U.S., regulatory mechanisms only come into effect when something becomes serious and that new compounds, etc. are assumed to be safe until proven not safe, whereas Europeans assume something is unsafe until it is proven safe. He also wondered how the HCC should be involved in the matter. Mr. Wolhandler asked to review these questions next month.
Wetland Setbacks – Recommendations for our current ordinance
The group reviewed the current setback requirements under Article XII (Wetlands Conservation District) and asked whether the current requirements are sufficient to protect wetlands and serve the town well. Mr. Wolhandler explained that the Ordinance Review Committee is considering whether the septic setback should be stricter and whether a setback for structures should be added. Kathy Scott expressed concern about the large number of non-conforming lots and the high number of residents who live close to water, suggesting that further restrictions could unreasonably restrict property owners. Members reviewed setback requirements of other towns. One example discussed was Dublin’s ordinance, which requires a 50’ buffer for construction and 100’ for septic. Members noted that soil scientists, not town officials, delineate wetlands and discussed how the wetlands maps were derived. They also noted that further restrictions and permitted uses are outlined in the ordinance under provisions addressing areas with poorly drained soil and very poorly drained soils.
Mr. Sims noted that the state DES is looking at revising wetland rules, including changes involving accessory structures, beaches and decks, and that everything being proposed in the meetings he has attended involves a weakening of restrictions. Kathy Scott noted the ordinance committee is looking at issues that have most troubled land use boards and residents.
After further discussion, the general consensus was a 50’ setback for structures and 100’ for septic systems could be a reasonable preliminary proposal to the ordinance committee for its consideration and presentation to the Planning Board. Any concerns will be addressed by HCC at its next meeting.
Report on Lead Sinker Collection at Transfer Station – Wings of Dawn
Andrea Polizos noted she would write to Brett Thelen and report back.
Transfer Station Recycling Program Changes
Kathy Scott and the commission discussed changes at the recycling center, including that plastics #3 through #7 will no longer be recycled. She also updated the group on the presentation by Mike Durfor of NRRA about contamination and also the lack of a market for many materials. Ms. Scott added that Harrisville is currently paying about 10% of what other towns are paying and that our system, which is dual stream, is cost effective. Single stream shutting down in places around country. NRRA also suggested we save our equipment and recommended we consider organic compost pile. HCC agrees.
Harry Wolhandler discussed SB365 and the biomass bills veto update. Andrea Polizos stated much controversy surrounds it but not the bill on net metering.
Events update – Keene State College -2 events about pollination on Saturday, September 8 and NH Climate Rally in Keene on Saturday, September 8.
Meeting adjourned at 9:20 pm.