Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Meeting Minutes

The Harrisville Conservation Commission held a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at town offices and via zoom.

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

Members voted unanimously in favor to approve the agenda.

Fireworks – Contribution of heavy metals to lakes/ponds
Christine Destrempes, Skatutakee Lake resident who worked for many years raising public awareness of global environmental issues and local water issues, spoke to the HCC regarding her increasing concern over fireworks pollution and the effect on water quality, public health and aquatic wildlife. Specific concerns revolve around increasing use and strength of fireworks, combined with the influence of climate change and the effect on clean water. An added concern is the manufacturing of the explosives in China with exact quantities of metals and toxic materials unknown. Members also noted that NH has many visitors from Massachusetts, where fireworks are illegal, who take advantage of the lack of fireworks restrictions here. Christine asks that the HCC and the town consider all local decisions within this framework of larger scale and more frequent incidences. It’s possible that frequency of private fireworks this year was a result of the cancellations of public shows.

All agreed further research was warranted, perhaps via a subcommittee of interested parties. Christine offered to draft a one page fact sheet and to reach out to relevant state organizations, such as Barbara Richter at NHACC, Andrea LaMoreaux at NH Lakes, and DES to ascertain status of research in this area. In response to a question about water testing locally, Mr. Wolhandler confirmed that water is tested not for metals but for bacteria and salt levels. The question is how metals released by fireworks interact with different organisms in the water. Christine hopes this starts the conversation and wonders if it can spur studies at higher levels if they still need to be done. Members also noted the long history and tradition of fireworks in this country and the resistance to restricting them. Discussion will resume at next month’s meeting.

Wetland / Shoreland Permit Applications
The chair noted that a new permit application was filed with DES for 87 Eastside Road to correct a drainage issue, to realign the driveway and reconstruct and expand the patio. The town has not yet seen the paperwork or proposal. Don Scott will contact Pellettieri Associates to request.

Proposed Wetlands Ordinance
Mr. Wolhandler reviewed the draft ordinance, the result of a combined effort of the HCC and the Ordinance Review Committee (see attachment to meeting minutes). Members discussed the specific provisions and expressed appreciation for the proposed article, which they believe balances the desire to protect wetlands with property owners’ rights. The Chair reiterated that few parcels in town would be affected by the more stringent setback requirements, and that the opportunity to apply for a special exception for minimal impact projects is included. Kathy Scott asked the ORC to add a reference to the relevant RSA. Also recommended was the use of Code Enforcement Officer instead of Building Inspector.

The Planning Board will review this and other proposed ordinance changes at its next meeting, on October 14. Mr. Wolhandler noted that an article on the draft Wetlands Ordinance would appear in the upcoming issue of Common Threads, and that information, including a town wetlands map, is posted on the Conservation Commission page of the town website.

Rain Garden
The Rain Garden Project at the Harrisville Pond boat ramp is complete. The chair shared photos of the construction and planting work and thanked all who volunteered. HCC members are extremely grateful, particularly for the expertise and time put in by Don Scott. Mr. Scott described the layers of sand and gravel that compose the rain garden and listed the array of wetland plants, including buttonbush, iris, sedges, beebalm, cardinal flowers, asters, and others, which, as they mature, will hold even more water. Recent rains already have demonstrated the effectiveness of the project.

With the HCC’s goal of helping to demonstrate to residents how the rain garden works, they intend for people to envision how similar systems could be used on their own property to manage stormwater runoff. Many alternative designs can be considered. Interpretive signs, printed on aluminum sheets and installed on the fence along the rain garden, will offer educational information for all who pass by.

Trails Committee
Earl Horn reiterated to members that the grant proposal went to Southwest Region Planning Commission at the end of July. Subsequently, the transportation committee, as applicant, provided additional information on radar and trail signs. Mr. Horn also reiterated that no work can be done on the signs until a decision is made on the grant. Regarding trails traversing private land, Mr. Horn noted that private landowners are protected from liability through RSAs if they choose to allow hikers to pass through.

Don Scott noted that, on October 17 beginning at 9:00 am, the Trails Committee will rebuild the bridge on the trail leaving Chesham depot toward Meadow Road. It’s 11 years old and deteriorated. The committee also is repairing/reditching the town owned rail trail between the police depot and Brown Road. Some tree trimming also will be done.

Reports on actions of other town committees
The only additional item noted regarding other committees was that the Ordinance Review Committee has finished its work; the Planning Board will oversee proposed zoning amendments from here, including the holding of public hearings prior to Town Meeting.

Other business
Regarding Mr. Sims’s email to the Chairman and HCC members, Mr. Wolhandler asked if members wanted to take up the matter of mistreatment described by Mr. Sims. With no comments from members, the chair stated the HCC would not address it as it was not relevant to the progress of conservation business.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.