Select Board
Thursday, January 5, 2023
Meeting Minutes

Select Board: Andrea Hodson, Kathy Scott, Pegg Monahan

Attendees: Emergency Management Director Jeff Cady, Barbara Watkins, Ned Hulbert, Mary Day Mordecai, Earl Horn, Kate Neary, Scott Neary, Eric Masterson of the Harris Center, Alison Weber, Max Boyd and Connie Boyd

The meeting opened at 7:00 pm.

E-bike use in town and on trails
At 7:08 pm per RSA 91-A:3II(l), the SB moved and voted in favor to enter nonpublic session to discuss legal counsel’s input on regulation and classification of e-bikes. The board discussed advice on whether or not the town needs to adopt an ordinance given the state regulations already in place.

The questions at hand included: 1) Should there be a town ordinance on the use of e-bikes and why?; and 2) Why are e-bikes unwanted by property owners who have an easement agreement with the town allowing public use of the trail?

Following discussion, the board agreed to suspend for now consideration of an ordinance in order to hear more about the concerns of property owners and residents surrounding the use of e-bikes, particularly on trails in town.  At 7:34 pm, the board moved and voted in favor to  exit non-public session. Members of the public rejoined the meeting.

Barbara Watkins shared the philosophy behind Harrisville Trails and the longtime work of the volunteer group. She noted the history of working with landowners, without whose generosity the town’s trail network would not exist. The landowners and Trails Group have developed a trust and respect over time that has allowed for public access to such a special resource. Ms. Watkins urged patience to sustain this trust, adding that it took 10 years to gain the Eastview Trail easement.

Attendees revisited language in the easement agreement, which states that the easement is “for passive, non-motorized recreational purposes…” and excludes “motorized recreational equipment, including but not limited to motorcycles, snowmobiles, OHRVs, four wheel drive pickups, dirt bikes or other motor vehicles or other motorized forms of conveyance.”

Eric Masterson of the Harris Center spoke to the current posting by property owners prohibiting use of e-bikes along the trail easement, noting the Harris Center does not object. Mr. Masterson and Earl Horn also described the complex ownership boundaries along the trail, which makes disparate uses along different trail sections impractical and unmanageable.

Kate and Scott Neary expressed concern that allowing e-bikes assists a special interest group at the expense of the larger public, who walk, hike or horseback ride and seek tranquility along the trail. They feel the language in the easement isn’t intended to include e-bikes and feel more research should be done on potential risks before allowing them on trails.

There was some consensus about the risk of jeopardizing access to the trail by the larger population, while accommodating e-bike interests. Separately noted was the issue of how to enforce regulations surrounding e-bike use and the desire for input from the police department. Barbara Watkins explained the process used for enforcement along the town rail trail between Main Street and Brown Road. Allison Weber encouraged signage that offers riders direction to an alternate route. Max Boyd urged uniform posting for the entire trail length.

Attendees requested that the SB let discussion of the issue continue separately among the parties that initiated the conversation originally; that is, the property owners and Trails Group and Harris Center representatives. The goals will be next steps and possible solutions. The board agreed.

Kathy Scott noted the board’s concern is knowing how the state regulations on e-bikes affect the town, and understanding the town’s jurisdiction over use of e-bikes on town roads and town property, acknowledging that an ordinance would not pertain to an easement, which is a private agreement. The board will confer with legal counsel about the attorney correspondence from the trail property owner.  All agreed to reconvene on the issue sometime late February or March.

Transportation Committee
Representatives of the Transportation Committee revisited with the SB the Complete Streets Resolution (CSR). Complete Streets is a planning philosophy that guides transportation agencies and communities to incorporate safe access, not only for vehicles but for pedestrians, cyclists, and other modes of transportation, whenever feasible. The Select Board in 2018 signed a CSR with a five-year term and, in 2020, signed a revised CSR with no expiration.

Mary Day Mordecai, Chair of the Transportation Committee, reviewed highlights of the Complete Streets Resolution to remind the SB of its commitment to involve the Transportation Committee in roadwork projects. With the planned improvements to Church and School Streets in the coming years, the TC requested to participate from the start.

Kathy Scott explained that the Road Work Committee is in the preliminary stage of confirming sub-structural conditions, including ledge and existing drainage, before any road surface improvements are discussed, and that no plan is in place yet until the Road Work Committee ascertains what needs to be done. Because of this, she noted, it is premature for Transportation Committee involvement and the intention was to invite the TC once the survey was completed.

The Transportation Committee nevertheless requested to participate in all points of the process, as they feel this is part of the Complete Streets Resolution. Kathy Scott noted that the next Road Work Committee meeting is Tuesday, January 10, at 7:30 am at the highway garage, when estimates for pipes, catch basins, culverts and pavement will be discussed in preparation for a Warrant Article.  She will forward the invite to the committee chair.

Separately, the Transportation Committee noted that the school radar signs are functioning, and that the bulk of the work for the 2nd MAST grant is complete. They thanked the SB for making it work in the budget, given the cost overrun. The board also thanked the committee.

Voice over fiber (phone service at town facilities) – The board will review the two proposals submitted by Crexendo and make a decision at its next meeting.

Facilities and EMD update– Jeff Cady shared that the sign identifying town hall is up at the building entrance; the display and message options for the digital sign are in the test phase but feedback has been positive. Pegg Monahan will discuss the status with the ZBA to ensure the digital sign complies with the approval granted by the board; the water treatment installation at the Fire Dept. is scheduled for Monday; and participants in the Hazardous Mitigation Plan update are in place for the first meeting, Tuesday, January 17.

-Finance – Pegg Monahan shared the updated job description and resume information with colleagues. The board will review the areas of responsibility for a bookkeeper.

-Cleaning – Pegg Monahan noted that two proposals are anticipated next week.

-Police Chief – The board reviewed and agreed on the input from legal on the appointment letter. They agreed to sign and send it to the candidate tomorrow.

– The board signed the pay warrant in the amount of $16,255.35.
– Preliminary review of the 2023 Budget will be continued next week.

The meeting adjourned at 9:35 pm.