Harrisville Planning Board
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Meeting Minutes

The Harrisville Planning Board held a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at town offices and via zoom.

Members present: Ryan Stone Co-Chair, Lisa Anderson Co-Chair, Kate Neary Alternate, Jon Miner Alternate, Andrea Hodson Select Board Representative, Courtney Cox, Don Scott, Kathy Scott Select Board Alternate Representative, Noel Greiner, Pete Thayer

Members absent: Ned Hulbert
Members of the public
: Carol Ogilvie Consultant, Dan Rancourt, Silas Little Town Attorney

Ryan Stone opened the meeting at 7:05 pm.

Attendance, Roles and Voting Members
He noted that the voting members for the evening were himself, Lisa Anderson, Courtney Cox, Jon Miner, and Andrea Hodson.

Approval of Agenda
With the attendance of Mr. Rancourt, requesting a consultation on a lot-line adjustment, the co-chairs stated they would attempt to address this at the end of the meeting and otherwise will follow up with Mr. Rancourt. Subsequently, all voted in favor to approve the agenda.

Minutes of previous meeting: 3/10/21
All voted in favor to approve.

Application for Lot-Line Adjustment (continued), Gordon and Virginia Snyder, 18 Blackberry Lane (Map 70 – Lots 15 and 16)
The PB confirmed receipt of the modified plat for the Snyder application and confirmed that the requested modifications to the plat had been made by Mr. McKenney, the surveyor. Mr. Stone, exhibiting the modified plat as well as the original plat for comparison on screen, noted that the boundary line had been readjusted to ensure previous encroachment by the shed within the setback was resolved. Mr. Stone also confirmed the well and septic delineations.

With no further questions or discussions from members, the Co-Chair subsequently moved to approve the Snyder Lot Line Adjustment application and plat as submitted by Mr. McKenney for Map 70, Lot 15 and Lot 16. In a roll call vote, Ryan Stone voted yes, Lisa Anderson – yes, Jon Miner – yes, Andrea Hodson – yes, Courtney Cox – yes. The board voted unanimously in favor, approving the application 5-0.The Co-Chair thanked Mr. McKenney for all the detailed information. Mr. Stone added he will prepare the Notice of Decision, and sign the plat, after which Secretary Pete Thayer also will sign it and file it at the Registry of Deeds.

Primer on Class VI Roads (Attorney Silas Little)
Town Counsel Silas Little presented an overview of PB authority related to allowing building on Class VI roads. Mr. Little described the origin of Class VI roads, which are public roads but are not maintained by the town and have different restrictions related to development along them. He also shared relevant legal statutes and caselaw. Mr. Little explained that most roads become Class VI because either the town didn’t maintain them for 5 consecutive years or, at Town Meeting, voters voted to make a road subject to gates and bars. He further explained that the two ways roads come into existence is through layout or acquisition by prescriptive use. Surveyors, when surveying land for subdivisions, are supposed to determine the status of roads, whether public or private. If a plan shows a Class VI road, the surveyor should be able to show how it became one.

Mr. Little noted that, under RSA 674:41, the Planning Board can agree to allow building to occur on a Class VI road, and to so advise the Select Board of its decision. In turn, the Select Board may grant a permit, but the town doesn’t have to. The statute is complicated and has been amended several times. If someone seeks a permit on a Class VI road, the town my grant it, but the property owner must release the town from liability if town services can’t be provided; in addition, the property owner is responsible for transportation to schools. At some point in the past, Harrisville decided it would allow building permits on Class VI roads, but the policy absolves the Town of liability through a waiver form. (See Issuance of Building Permits on Class VI Roads). In some cases, he noted, property owners have had difficulty with either insurance and/or mortgages because of the lack of road maintenance by the town; or they can have difficulty selling because of underwriting standards.

The state’s stance in essence is that building should not occur on a Class VI road and, thus, towns must ‘opt in’ to allow building there. The legislature has determined that additional development potentially imposes a burden on the town and potentially opens up the possibility of petitions by homeowners to the town to lay out the road. The whole purpose of a Class VI road is to allow the public to pass and repass without any obligation by the town to maintain it for travel. And, while permitting development along a Class VI road gives people access to land they own, it halts protection of land from excessive development. Pre-existing buildings may hold a different status – e.g., if an existing home wanted to build an addition.

Discussion touched on the difference between access and frontage, as many property owners have access to, but not legal frontage on, Class VI roads. Members also discussed examples of  roads that the town has taken over in recent years and now maintains.

Mr. Stone note the process doesn’t seem black and white. Mr. Little responded that different standards and issues apply for a proposed house versus a minor or major subdivision and the subsequent pressures on the town. Members debated how much burden should be borne by the town versus property owners for the costs associated with development. It also was noted that every application should be considered on its own merits and that actions of previous boards are not binding on the town.

Master Plan Visualized (Carol O & Lisa A) : general review & group composition
Carol Ogilvie shared samples of other towns’ visual summaries of their master plans and accompanying graphics to give the PB ideas for presentation of Harrisville’s Master Plan. She suggests it as a way to provide a snapshot of a town’s master plan with status, goals and implementation plan. Those interested can then further consult the complete plan. Lisa Anderson noted that a working group will create a visual master plan summary document and that the group will include herself, Ms. Ogilvie, 2 community residents, and another PB member, with ZBA and other input on particular subject topics.  PB members should suggest names to the co-chairs via email. Members agree it’s a great idea, especially for newcomers to town as part of welcome information.

Electric Aggregation Committee (EAC)/Community Power
Andrea Hodson offered two brief updates. First, the Committee continues to attempt to thwart HB 315, drafted by Eversource and damaging to the Community Power initiative. She will know more next week where this stands. Second, the EAC is considering a Joint Power Agreement with the Community Power Coalition of NH. This group would be run by municipalities for municipalities. The committee endorses signing a Level 1 Membership, giving the town access to technical support and networking opportunity and legislative advocacy. The committee is considering holding one more community conversation prior to the May 22 Town Meeting.

PB Annual Business / Election of Officers
– With the need to elect officers, Andrea Hodson moved to nominate Ryan Stone and Lisa Anderson to continue as Co-Chairs. Jon Miner seconded. In a roll call vote, Pete Thayer voted yes, Courtney Cox – yes, Jon Miner – yes, Ryan Stone – abstain, Lisa Anderson – abstain, Andrea Hodson -yes, Don Scott -yes, Kate Neary – yes.  The motion passed.

Subsequently, Ryan Stone nominated Pete Thayer to continue as Secretery. Jon Miner seconded. By roll call vote, all voted unanimously in favor, with Mr. Thayer abstaining. The motion carried.

Review of Silver Lake Boat/Beach Parking
Following motion to table the subject until next month, Andrea Hodson recommended that members tune in to Select Board meeting tomorrow night, when the board reviews input received at the public hearing last Thursday. She will email authorization statutes and information to PB members. Kathy Scott summarized that the state is responsible for 700 feet and otherwise state agencies defer to the town to manage.

Take-away points from “Working of a Planning Board”– Kate Neary and Lisa Anderson attended recently. They highlighted PB requirements for Master Plan revision and submission.

Upcoming opportunities: Webinar: NHMA: Local Officials Workshops 5/18/21 at 9am – 4pm Free (5/Town); Webinar “ZBA Basics” 4/13/21 at noon-2pm; Webinar: NHMA: Right-to-Know Law and Public Meetings and Governmental Records Virtual Workshop 4/15/21 1:30-3:30pm $40; Webinar: Plan NH: Pop-ups 101 with Rebecca Stone 4/15/21 9am  $10/$15; Webinar: Smart Growth: New Approach to Parks & Recreation System Planning 4/16 free; Webinar: NHMA: 2021 Hard Road to Travel 5/6/21 9:00-12:30pm $55; Webinar: NH OSI: Spring 2021 PB/Zoning Conference 5/15/21 9-noon  Free

New  Business:
The board heard questions from Daniel Rancourt of Bonds Corner Road regarding the process and feasibility of a lot line adjustment on his property. The board will await a formal application.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 pm.