Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Meeting Minutes

The Harrisville Conservation Commission held  a regularly scheduled meeting at the Town Offices and via zoom, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 7:00 pm.

Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Don Scott, Diana Shonk, Andrea Polizos, Kathy Scott
Members absent: Les LaMois
Members of the public:
Winston Sims

Members reviewed the agenda. Following the addition of an item on a cyanobacteria outbreak on Russell Reservoir, all voted in favor to approve.

Meeting Minutes of June 3, 2020
Members moved and voted unanimously in favor to approve last month’s minutes.

Cyanobacteria outbreak on Russell Reservoir – David Belknap shared with the Conservation Commission information on cyanobacteria found in one area of Russell Reservoir, not at the beach. The state confirmed the findings. The Chair shared photo images with members. The Chair noted that the bacteria is formed when water is warm and slow-moving. Other than reporting the appearance of this very old form of bacteria and temporarily closing the beach, no action will be taken by the HCC.

Rain Garden Update
Don Scott and Harry Wolhandler met with the Road Agent at the site. The Chair shared the final project design and the directional flows of runoff and storm water. The HCC will utilize space along the railing for signage, including signage for Clean, Rain and Dry, for a description of the Rain Garden and how it functions, and recommendations for similar projects at home. Ideas for native plants, and their uses, will be included. Members discussed how waterproof banners can be printed, mounted, and glued to the surface of the top of the railing.  Kathy Scott suggested a sign, “Find the xx” for passersby to spot birds, insects, plants, or amphibians.  Another idea for a panel includes examples of infiltration methods, such as steps, pervious patios and walkways, and vegetated swales. A few members will meet Tuesday, July 7, at 10:00 am at Town Offices to finalize signage design. The Road Agent has laid curbing stones and will proceed as his schedule allows.

Wetland Buffer Zones Revisited
The Ordinance Review Committee has establishment of a wetland buffer on its priority list for the next Town Meeting. Don Scott and Harry Wolhandler are both members of the ORC. They noted the committee is drafting a “problem statement” to frame the issues to be addressed by a proposed amendment. Mr. Scott mentioned “upland creep,” or gradual diminution of wetlands, as the essential problem and noted that the ORC will review model wetlands ordinances from around the state. As the HCC is encouraged to take a leading role in the drafting process, the Chair noted it will be a major agenda item for the August HCC meeting.

Trails and Trailhead signage
Members discussed mounting informational markers at trail heads for hikers. In addition, Earl Horn reported on his discussion with Henry Underwood of Southwest Regional Planning, who will provide an estimate on the first draft of a trail map. A portion of the cost may be covered under a grant being applied for by the Transportation Committee under the Complete Streets initiative, although this remains to be ascertained. Discussions with private landowners continue, where permission is needed to put private portions of certain trails on the map, and privacy concerns remain an issue as far as publication or distribution of any map. The Trails Committee also will continue to work with the town offices to clarify Class VI road delineations and will discuss any parking issues with the Police Chief. The committee will move slowly and carefully to assure a balance is maintained between creating awareness of area natural resources and protecting these resources and residents from excessive use.

Reports on actions of other town committees
Planning BoardDon Scott shared highlights of the Ordinance Review Committee work, including potential amendment to the solar ordinance, drafting of a noise bylaw, changes in setback requirements in the residential/agricultural district, and a wetland buffer.

Historic District CommissionAt its last meeting,the HDCapproved the HCC’s rain garden project. 

Other business
The HCC agreed the Chair will invite Keith Pancake to address the HCC briefly in August, with the potential for a longer discussion at a later date. The August agenda also will include discussions on a wetlands setback ordinance and trails.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.