HARRISVILLE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Meeting Location: Harrisville Town Offices
Meeting Opened: 7:15 pm; Meeting Adjourned: 9:05 pm
Present: Winston Sims, Jay Jacobs, Les LaMois, Doug Gline, Andrea Polizos, Harry Wolhandler, Jonathan Miner
Minutes for September 2016
Revisions to September 7 meeting minutes were discussed. Group agreed minutes should be more concise and reflect actions taken and decisions made by the board, focusing on what is relevant to those decisions and actions.
Motion made to accept September 7 Meeting Minutes. Seconded. All in favor.
Future issues for the Conservation Commission.
Winston Sims asked for the board’s input on what they see as short and long term issues. Andrea Polizos and others asked if there is an existing mission statement or document that describes the specific role of the Harrisville Con Com, something separate from the broader RSA and Association of Conservation Commissions guidelines and all agreed it would be helpful to have one. Les LaMois volunteered to research its existence, stating that it’s essential and should be a top priority to the group’s definition, functioning, and moving forward with a streamlined process.
Doug Gline stated he would like to see the board more involved with decisions regarding the permitting process and permitting activity and would like the board to be more proactive in developing a conservation plan for the town that goes further than water protection issues that the group has been involved in this year. Andrea Polizos added terrestrial invasives to the list of relevant issues for the board.
Winston Sims asked how the Con Com’s mission statement should differ from RSA 36-A and if the board felt there were issues that should be included in the Con Com’s mission statement that aren’t in 36A. Les LaMois offered that it should be within the bounds of the RSA and Association missions but specific to Harrisville and the Harrisville Con Com to enhance the Con Com’s working relationship with the other boards in town, and to lay out how the Con Com can best and most efficiently serve the town.
Jay Jacobs added that, regarding the mission statement and RSA 36-A, the HCC can only frame it within the guidelines that the State lays out and commissioned towns to do. Regarding Doug Gline’s point about the HCC’s involvement in the permitting process, Jay Jacobs stated that the HCC is not a regulatory board and has no voting power, that it is advisory and that the boards, within the scope of their rules of procedure and application process guidelines, determine how to proceed and whom to ask for help and involvement.
The question of the approval of the new barn in Chesham was raised and discussed and Jay Jacobs responded that the application went through due process and that the DES had tested the soil and determined that it was not wetlands.
Winston Sims stated that one of his concerns is the long-term survival of the Con Com and asked the last time an application was forwarded to the Con Comm.
Regarding construction on Hancock Road, Winston Sims asked Jay Jacobs who reviewed the request and whether it was the Select Board or the Building Inspector. Jay Jacobs responded that the Building Inspector has the authority to issue permits and that the Select Board has asked recently to be more involved in cases with sensitive issues. Concerning questions about the construction on Hancock Road, Jay Jacobs stated that it was well vetted by DES over a two-year application process.
Winston Sims added his concern is to ensure the mission of the Con Com is taken into account and that local ordinances are supported in the process. Jay Jacobs reiterated that the ConCom does not have a role in the permitting process and added that in town government we try to maintain a level of trust of its officials.
When Andrea Polizos asked if the Con Com has an advisory role with the Planning Board, Jay Jacobs responded that the option to advise is there but added his concern that the commission is going beyond advisory role and looking for issues. Harry Wolhandler discussed his concern that at times the Con Com has overstepped its bounds rather than offering opinions or declarative statements limited to the protection of the town’s natural resources. Les LaMois and Andrea Polizos agreed. After discussion of decisions and approvals that had already been issued at the state or local level and continued exploration of these decisions by the Con Com, Winston Sims stated his belief that it’s a question of accountability.
Harry Wolhandler suggested that the Con Com first identify and specify its own goals and internal guidelines as a commission before approaching other boards about involvement in the permitting process.
Discussion ensued about when and how the Con Com does or could become aware of and advise on specific applications involving shoreline, steep slopes, lakeside district, wetlands and water-related issues.
Role of the Chair/Governance
Winston Sims asked what the group saw as the role of the Chair of the Con Com and Harry Wolhandler stated he believed it was to set the agenda and to notify board members of issues relevant to the board. He added that keeping discussions moving and focused on what can be achieved is important.
Further discussion involved the role of the chair in relation to other boards in town and how the chair should represent and report back to the Con Com. Jay Jacobs mentioned the importance of the chair’s representing the views and will of the board as well as the need to keep priorities and not have unrealistic expectations about what it can accomplish.
Winston Sims touched on water protection and the impact of the drought. Andrea Polizos pulled up the DES recommendations for residents and offered to create a one-page document to be posted around town.
Andrea Polizos moved to adjourn. All voted in favor.
Meeting adjourned at 9:05 pm.