Harrisville Planning Board
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Meeting Minutes

The Harrisville Planning Board held a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at the town offices and via zoom.

Members present: Courtney Cox Co-Chair, Ryan Stone Co-Chair (by zoom), Pete Thayer, Don Scott, Ned Hulbert, Andrea Hodson Select Board Representative, Kate Neary

Absent: Jon Miner, Lisa Anderson
Attendees (by zoom): Mary Day Mordecai and Carol Ogilvie

The meeting was called to order at 7:02 pm.

Voting members – The voting members for the evening were named as follows: Courtney Cox, Pete Thayer, Andrea Hodson, Kate Neary and Don Scott.

Minutes of previous meeting, 1/11 – By roll call, all voted in favor to approve the January minutes.

Agenda – Members moved and voted in favor to approve the agenda.

Committee updates
Energy & Electric Aggregation Committee (EEAC) – Andrea Hodson shared news of the PUC’s approval of the town’s Community Power Plan. Next steps include contracting with CPCNH (Community Power Coalition of NH), currently a group of 20 towns and cities joining together to aggregate and purchase power for ratepayers at lower rates than the current default rate offered by Eversource. Harrisville has already signed the Cost Sharing Agreement.

Ms. Hodson noted that Eversource, Unitel and Liberty are in violation of the law requiring those companies to supply necessary information on ratepayer data and net metering and thus are holding up, and costing, the towns transitioning to Community Power.

CPCNH is shopping for power and rates. At the end of February, the CPCNH board will vote to select its vendor, after which a notice will go out to all ratepayers. The goal is to turn on Community Power in April. Forecasted rate savings is 15% over the next 3 years.

Separately, following the EEAC’s recommendation to the Select Board to install a rooftop solar array on the Highway barn, the SB has added an Article to the proposed Warrant for Town Meeting with an estimated appropriation of $155,000, anticipated to be paid back in energy savings over the next 5-6 years. The town will apply for a grant for the project. Ms. Hodson stated the array is estimated to cover about 75% of the municipality’s energy load and, after the payback period, the town will no longer incur charges for 75% of its energy supply. What remains to be resolved is how the balance of energy gets applied to the town’s account.  The solar equipment is expected to last 40 years.  The EEAC will address the proposal at the SB budget hearing and also at Town Meeting.

Transportation – Mary Day Mordecai reported that the school safety zone radar signs are up and operating. The beacon will flash from 45 minutes prior to the start of school until school opens, and for 45 minutes following the end of the school day, the periods when the speed limit is 20 mph. The funds for the signs came from a MAST grant. Next, the Transportation Committee is exploring opportunities that coincide with the Master Plan goals.

SWRPC – PB representative to the Southwest Region Planning Commission, Kate Neary, reported that the Tuesday, February 14, is the Commission’s annual meeting. Current projects and activities include a Transit Feasibility Study, a Branding Plan for the Monadnock Region, a February 15 brownbag lunch on broadband and housing, a housing conference on March 8, and an Office of Planning and Development (OPD) lunchtime webinar on navigating the Planning & Zoning handbook, February 16.

Ned Hulbert added the possibility of assistance from SWRPC for ordinance assessment, as towns’ zoning ordinances may affect housing opportunities. He asked Kate Neary to check on grant opportunities for small towns.

Master Plan – Carol Ogilvie met with a graphic designer about layout ideas for the synthesized Master Plan. No budget estimate is available yet. The chapters are still too lengthy, with the added challenge of the plan’s 14 sections. The board reviewed the status chart of subcommittee work. The steering committee will reach out to the subcommittees to check on completion dates for drafts. Ryan Stone noted he will talk to Lisa Anderson as well.

Application Forms/Checklists– Members reviewed the existing Voluntary Merger application form and sample forms from other towns. They also discussed the draft of an updated from created by Andrea Hodson and Lisa Anderson, intended to guide applicants through the various steps of the voluntary  merger process. Ned Hulbert suggested Courtney Cox and Jon Miner also share their recommendation for a revised application form.  All agreed. They will send out their draft prior to the next meeting so members can review and bring their feedback

Land Use Fees- Following discussion of the need for the town to cover its noticing and administrative costs for application processing, Courtney Cox moved to adjust application fees to $30 plus noticing and/or recording costs for a Conditional Use Permit, Voluntary Merger, Lot Line Adjustment and Site Plan. Andrea Hodson seconded. All voted in favor.  Fees for subdivision and earth excavation applications will remain as is. The SB will consider recommended fee increases at its Budget Hearing on February 9.

Budget for 2023
 – The board reviewed its 2022 expenditures and proposed budget for 2023. Ryan Stone noted the board came in under budget by roughly $1,700.  Following discussion to add budget for legal and professional services, as well as for publication of Master Plan materials, the board moved and voted in favor to submit to the Select Board a proposed 2023 budget of $7,732.00. Ryan Stone voiced opposition to the increase, believing the proposed amount for professional services was more than necessary. 

Annual Report – Members had no suggested changes to the draft PB report for the 2022 Town Report.

New business –  Members agreed that the ordinance review work should resume in 2023. Members also noted the Eastside Road property owner’s request to the town to consider stricter shoreland protection regulations to protect the 50’ vegetative buffer in lakeside district. Currently the town follows the state regulations. The ordinance review committee will consider the proposal.

Following meeting wrap up, members adjourned at 9:30 pm.