Harrisville Conservation Commission
October 2, 2019
Attendees: Harry Wolhandler, Winston Sims, Les LaMois, Andrea Polizos, Don Scott, Jay Jacobs Select Board Alternate Representative
Members approved the agenda as written.
Minutes of previous meeting 9-4-2019
Members unanimously approved last month’s minutes as written.
Members revisited the discussion and debate surrounding last month’s vote to approve the Rain Garden project. The Chair expressed frustration and concern at Winston Sims’s refusal to accept the other members’ decision of that meeting and to keep discussion focused on the motion at hand. Mr. Wolhandler then addressed Mr. Sims’s sending of numerous emails, following the HCC’s vote, to a wide group of town officials about Conservation Commission matters. The Chairman and fellow members agreed this was improper procedure and an impediment to the HCC’s progress. The Chair and fellow members also noted that, on several previous occasions, Mr. Sims had been warned about violation of Right-to-Know Laws (RSA 91-A) related to conducting board business outside of a public forum/by email and that he had been asked on several previous occasions to air board matters at scheduled meetings. Based on these issues, Mr. Wolhandler recommended terminating Mr. Sims’s ex officio position as a member of the HCC.
Mr. Sims disagreed, stating his belief that it was the HCC that thwarted procedure by not adequately discussing the rain garden project. Mr. Sims also stated he was not aware his membership status had transitioned to ex officio following term expiration, believing from town meeting that all board members’ positions would continue until such time as new members were named.
Discussion then turned to important qualities for membership and for contribution to the HCC’s mission and the proper definition of the term ‘consensus’. Following input from all members, including Mr. Sims, Mr. Wolhandler moved that the HCC no longer recommend Mr. Sims as ex officio member of the HCC. Les LaMois seconded. The vote was 3-1 in favor with Andrea Polizos opposed believing accommodation could be made for Mr. Sims.
Rain Garden / Pervious Parking update
It was noted that the State Wetland Permit was granted. SB also has approved the project and will work with the Highway Department to collaborate. Members discussed installation of a forebay to help with sediment. Timing may be this year but possibly next. Members look forward to using the Rain Garden as an education model with residents and as a foundation for a broader initiative to mitigate stormwater runoff throughout town. For the Rain Garden project, they further discussed ideas for a kiosk and an educational display/interpretive board and will discuss further at a future meeting. On the question of what maintenance could be required for the rain garden, Don Scott referred to UNH studies about levels of perviousness with or without maintenance of surfaces and doesn’t believe it will be an issue.
Tabled to next meeting
Fall programs and topics
Tabled to next meeting
Managing Conservation Fund & Land Conservation Capital Reserve Funds
Members discussed recent HCC expenditures and goals for managing funds moving forward. In discussion of recent support of the Harris Center’s purchase of the 17-acre parcel along the Harrisville Rail Trail, members expressed hope the town would reimburse the HCC with funds from the LCCF by moving 5,000 to the Conservation Fund. Jay Jacobs reiterated why he opposed the expenditure initially. Members further discussed key dates in the history of the Conservation Fund and the desire not to draw it down. Mr. Wolhandler asked members to think about how the HCC can spend on fund gains.
Updates from town boards/committees
The chair shared an update from the Ordinance Review Committee and asked Mike Wilder to join the committee’s next meeting on October 22 at 5:30 pm at town offices to discuss a potential zoning amendment regarding wetland setbacks. Mr. Wilder will attend.
Meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.