Harrisville Conservation Commission
Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Don Scott, Les LaMois, Winston Sims, Kathy Scott, Andrea Polizos

Agenda Review / Approve December Minutes
Members made no additions or revisions to the agenda. Members then voted to approve the December 2019 meeting minutes, with Ms. Polizos abstaining due to absence.

2020 Finances
The HCC discussed its proposed 2020 Budget for submission to the Select Board for 2020, with one minor addition to account for unanticipated expenses. Separately, members discussed and agreed on language for a draft Warrant Article to propose at the March Town Meeting as follows: To see if the town will transfer $5,000 from the Land Conservation Capital Reserve Fund to the Conservation Fund. The purpose of this article is to reimburse the Conservation Fund for the town contribution toward the Harris Center purchase of a 17 Acre parcel along the south side of the Eastview Rail Trail. Approval of this article transfers town funds from one fund to another and does not impact the tax rate.The HCC will submit this to the Select Board for consideration to recommend.

Winston Sims then asked about two parcels mentioned previously in HCC discussions as potential opportunities for conservation easements. Harry Wolhandler reiterated why the HCC didn’t donate toward the purchase of the Peterson property by Historic Harrisville or the Richardson property at Route 137 and Hancock Road.

2020 Spring Programs & Topics; detailed calendar and assignments
Members discussed upcoming calendar year activities and public education/outreach efforts as follows:

  • Wetlands Protection and Stormwater Management – The HCC will embark on public outreach to communicate the value of wetlands and the value of instituting a wetland buffer. This outreach will coincide with the Ordinance Review Committee’s 2020 consideration of instituting setbacks for construction in wetlands areas.
  • Salamander brigade / Vernal Pool visit. Don Scott noted that it would be helpful to map vernal pools that are close to roads and developed land. The HCC discussed the possibility of working with students and administration at Wells Memorial in conjunction with related environmental/science curriculum activities. Kathy Scott will reach out to principal Shanks to discuss. On the Salamander project, Andrea Polizos volunteered to help plan training and to draft an article for the March / April issue of Common Threads
  • For Weed Watcher training, targeted timing is May/June for Common Threads, with contacting of other towns to begin in March. The HCC’s goal is to work with Lake Hosts
  • Roadside cleanup – As Earth Day is April 22, members proposed Saturday, April 25 as the best day to schedule this year’s roadside cleanup.
  • Rain Garden Project – Members discussed options for an educational sign at the site to explain the purpose. No definitive decision made.

Reports on actions of other committees
Select Board – Kathy Scott reported that the SB is working on the 2020 Budget and drafting of the Warrant. Members were reminded that their commission report for the Annual Report is due Friday, January 10. The Chair will draft and circulate for review.

Planning Board – Members were updated that the PB will vote on proposed zoning ordinance amendments at its regular meeting on January 15.

Broadband Committee – RFP responses are due from providers by January 24. The Committee will hold a Community Conversation on Broadband on Tuesday, January 21, at 7 pm at the Granite Mill.

Other business
By request from Winston Sims, the HCC accepted Mr. Sims’s statement of Third World achievements as part of the HCC record. During the meeting, Mr. Sims summarized that the purpose of the community development model is to foster engagement and he hopes the model will be applied to Harrisville to hear residents’/property owners’ needs, concerns and issues. He believes this will help the HCC provide guidance to residents and property owners on stormwater management and could strengthen the HCC’s Rain Garden Project. Harry Wolhandler then moved to incorporate Mr. Sims’s submission as an addendum to this month’s minutes. Andrea Polizos seconded.  During discussion, Kathy Scott requested that the date be corrected and the last paragraph be deleted given it’s inflammatory tone. Mr. Sims agreed to amend as requested and to resend the revised statement to the recording secretary for posting. All then voted in favor to include the statement as amended.

Separately, Mr. Sims offered to send the website link to the NHACC document that analyzes the new state review process for wetland and shoreland permits. Don Scott then explained the Permit by Notification (PBN) process. Members noted that the five day review begins when applications are signed by the HCC or an appointed person. The recording secretary noted she would keep the HCC apprised of any zoning applications submitted that affect steep slope, shoreland or wetland properties.

To stay properly informed of applications submitted and/or in progress, Kathy Scott moved that the HCC set up a subcommittee to review and approve Wetland PBNs on behalf of the HCC. Andrea Polizos seconded. All voted in favor. Members also discussed that the subcommittee, made up of Harry Wolhandler, Don Scott and Winston Sims, to regularly monitor the state website to identify any shoreland projects of interest. It was noted that shoreland PBNs do not require signoff by HCC.

Trails Committee – Don Scott reported on the Trails Committee’s work to map the old rail trail, identifying the areas in need of repair, and to assess the estimated cost to repair, which the committee believes is approximately $100,000, using outside resources and labor. Trails Committee members will meet with the Select Board to discuss options for enforcement of proper trail use and potential town funding to cover repair costs. It was noted that this trail is town-owned property.

Meeting adjourned at 9:05 pm.