HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
MEETING MINUTES OF WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2018
The Historic District Commission of the Town of Harrisville held a public meeting on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at the Harrisville Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road.
Members present: Doug Walker, Kathy Scott, Noel Greiner
Members absent: Scott Oliver, Tom Weller
Members of the public: Don Scott
Doug Walker opened the meeting at 7:06 pm.
Mr. Walker reviewed the agenda. Mr. Greiner moved to approve as proposed. All voted in favor.
Meeting Minutes of September 4, 2018
Mr. Greiner moved to approve the minutes as written. All voted in favor.
Given that Gretchen Murray could not attend, the second item on the agenda was postponed until next month.
Right-to-Know Law Reviewed by Doug Walker and Kathy Scott
The HDC discussed that the legal requirement for posting meeting notices is either posting in the newspaper or in 2 public places in the municipality. The RSA’s requirement is the minimum required but town regulations can be stricter. The group discussed best practices and whether it is desirable to post in additional places, as has been done in the past, and also whether or not the agenda could and should be posted as part of the meeting notice. Following agreement that consistency is important and the more locations notices are posted the better, Kathy Scott moved for the HDC to draft agendas one week prior to its meetings and to post meeting notices and agendas one week prior at town offices, at the post office and on the website. Noel Greiner seconded. All voted in favor.The recording secretary will post the information on the website and at the post office and the HDC will ask the Select Board’s office to handle posting at the town offices and the notification board at the entrance to the town office and fire department parking lots.
The group then discussed the different types of meetings including regular meetings, public hearings, non-public meetings (also called Executive Sessions) and “non meetings”, e.g., a meeting of board members with an attorney or occasions where board members happen to encounter each other at a public or social gathering place but where no official business is discussed. Next, they discussed the importance of electronic communication and the need to be careful so issues and applications are not discussed anywhere except at a public meeting.
Lengthy discussion followed about application procedures and the difference between receiving, accepting and reviewing applications, the timeline involved, and who bears responsibility for overseeing the process. While members believe they can modify their own board procedures, they understand any board regulations must go before town meeting. If it’s decided a board secretary should oversee the application procedures, the HDC needs to nominate a member for this position. Kathy Scott noted, according to HDC regulations, the board is supposed to nominate its officers in April. The question of dividing responsibilities also was raised, as well as if the current process be changed, how and when. No decisions were made.
Finally, members discussed the issue of making minutes and documents publicly available on a timely basis and the minute-taking process. Again, no decisions were made or changes recommended.
Mr. Greiner asked about follow up on previous approvals and how it’s known whether or not the work approved was done the way it was proposed. Members discussed examples of what should or could be checked and whether this was the board’s responsibility or the building inspector’s. Kathy Scott noted that, depending on how substantive the matter, a new application would have to be submitted.
The group asked members to look at existing Historic District Ordinance and guidelines and to consider how the commission might want to modify procedures and/or guidelines. Mr. Walker recommended exploring other towns’ ordinances for best practices.
For the next meeting, the board also asked members to review the existing application procedures and waiver form and to consider board organizational structure, considering any recommended changes.
Members moved to adjourn at 8:20 pm.