Meeting Minutes of the Select Board

Location:   Town offices Date: June 25, 2021  
Opened:    9:00 am Adjourned: 11:45 am  

Select Board Members: Andrea Hodson, Jay Jacobs, Kathy Scott____________________

Attendees: Pam Thayer, Silas Little, Mary Marchese, Tom Andrews, Donna Stone, Dick Stone, Akhil Garland, Gary Kinyon, Pete Thayer, Scott Stone , Mike Tollett

The SB approved the agenda, with the addition of an item from the Town Clerk notifying the board about unlicensed dogs.

Blood Hill Road / Class VI Roads
The board and Town Counsel Silas Little met with Blood Hill Road property owners to discuss statutes related to Class VI roads and, with respect to road maintenance and activity along the road, to clarify the responsibilities of abutters versus the Town.

Mr. Little explained that the Town bears no responsibility for maintenance of Class VI roads; however, in emergency situations, the Town may make improvements for emergency access within the confines of specific statutes. He further explained an applicable statute requiring written permission from the SB or Road Agent when an abutter along a Class VI Road proposes improvements involving excavation or disturbance of the shoulders, ditches, embankments or the surface improved for travel. (RSA 236:9) Regarding boundary walls that run parallel to Class VI Roads, boundary walls which delineate the Right of Way, these may not be disturbed without incurring a liability.

As the abutter who has taken primary lead and incurred substantial costs maintaining the road, and keeping it passable for neighbors, himself and the community for the past 21 years, Akhil Garland requested clarification of the law and wondered how an approval process would work given how quickly weather can make road conditions hazardous. The board chair noted the objective of the discussion was to clarify this for all parties in order to move forward – to understand statutes related to Class VI road maintenance and to stone walls that serve as right of way boundary markers along them.

The board, town attorney and abutters also discussed a longtime situation in which debris has accumulated along a property boundary wall and rocks have fallen away. The board asked Mr. Little in this instance what can be done and by whom to restore it, and what the basis for determination would be. Mr. Little believes this is an example of why the statute requiring permission to work along the road was established and that the statute allows municipalities to require that stone walls or markers be restored. Board chair Andrea Hodson emphasized that the goal of the discussion is for resolution of the wall situation, and the process moving forward for maintenance of this Class VI road and for all in town. Kathy Scott emphasized that all abutters along a road need to agree to a given plan.

Mr. Jacobs asked Attorney Little if the town bears any responsibility to the covering up of the wall, or if this was an issue for the abutters to resolve. Mr. Little doesn’t believe the town has any responsibility. Later in the discussion, the attorney noted property owners, owning the fee generally to the middle of the road, can maintain vegetation and remove leaves and limbs to keep walls, the boundary markers, clear on both sides. Assigning responsibility to what was done in the past would have to be agreed upon by abutters or resolved in a civil suit, but isn’t a determination for the Select Board. Moving forward, any work to be done could require a bond, as allowed by statute.

Scott Stone asked the board to address the permission given to former property owner John Hansel, around 1996, to upgrade the road for his personal use to the top of the hill. Mr. Stone has asked the board for legal documentation of this in the past but no records have been found. Mr. Stone believes the responsibility goes with the landowner. The board disagreed and stated that the agreement ended when Mr. Hansel sold his property. Following additional discussion, all agreed the board would meet with Mr. Garland as soon as possible to establish parameters for road maintenance moving forward and all abutters would be notified as to the timing of the discussion to allow for input. Mr. Garland supported meeting soon, but noted he’s not necessarily signing on for future commitment for any period of time. The board acknowledged this would be Mr. Garland’s choice.

Quitclaim Deed Request – Skatutakee Road
The board asked Mr. Little’s opinion of Pamela Worden’s request of the town to release the right of way along her Skatutakee Road property. Town Counsel believes the board’s authority to execute a deed is of questionable authority as 43 years have passed since the 1978 Warrant Article that Ms. Worden cites as the basis for her request was passed. Mr. Little recommends the matter be resolved either at another Town Meeting or by public hearing on a proposal to alter the public right of way.

Ms. Worden’s attorney, Gary Kinyon, disagreed and will present his opinion in a letter to the board. Mr. Kinyon believes the board’s unwillingness to grant the quitclaim deed is incongruent with the past actions by the board with other property owners along the road, and that is unfair for Ms. Worden to be treated differently. Mr. Jacobs pointed out the situation is not the same and that Ms. Worden was granted a deed for her parcel containing her domicile, as was executed with other owners. The board will review the entire submission of Ms. Worden’s attorney and take up the matter again once it does.

Electric Aggregation Committee
Andrew Maneval and Ned Hulbert discussed their vision for a working relationship with the SB on the heels of the Town Meeting vote to adopt the Community Power plan. The EAC hopes to continue in an advisory role and undertake the research and legwork to help the SB make its decisions. The town awaits reviews and approvals from the PUC and Eversource regarding the plan. An RFP process will be undertaken to identify a vendor, after which a contract will be negotiated. The EAC also will undertake outreach to town residents. Katie Hamon has joined the committee.

Transportation Committee
The committee continues to collaborate with the Road Agent and Police Department on installation of posts for speed radar signs. Separately Jay Jacobs reiterated the request that the committee submit their road width recommendations to the board ahead of the planned paving projects.

Petition for Special Election
Andrew Maneval submitted a request and proposed motion for consideration by the SB, pursuant to RSA 661:8II, to be sent to the Office of the Governor and to Members of the Executive Council, to hold a special election to fill the State Representative seat vacated by Doug Ley. Representative Ley passed away recently. Following discussion, Jay Jacobs moved to accept the motion as written by Mr. Maneval. The board voted unanimously in favor.

Noise bylaw / Police Department
The board asked the police chief for his input on the idea of a noise ordinance in town. This idea was discussed last fall and prior following complaints about fireworks in particular, but also other nuisances. Chief Tollett shared his experience with Winchester’s noise ordinance and noted the difficulty enforcing them. He will get back to the board with recommendations but noted the board could consider requiring fireworks permits and/or establishing timeframes for activity and, in conjunction, posting on the town website and Facebook page when such activity would occur

Police Department
Traffic enforcement remains a priority for the PD.

The PD will hold two Open Houses on Wednesday, June 30 – from 9-11 am and from 4-6 pm. All are welcome to come meet the new chief and see the renovated station at 167 Main Street.

Town-owned property
The board will revisit the land and property it owns, potential uses, and requirements and process for disposal. The office will check in with Seth Kallman about the wifi booster.

Document review

SB signed current use application for Route 137.
SB signed abatements for corrected tax bills for Chesham Road properties.
SB signed the pay warrant in the amount of $227,533.50.
SB signed Meeting Minutes of June 10, 2021

Streetlight at Sunset Beach
The committee awaits information on the fixture for the beach.