The Harrisville Conservation Commission met on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at the Town Offices on Chesham Road.
Present: Winston Sims, Andrea Polizos, Les LaMois, Doug Gline, Harry Wolhandler, Jay Jacobs, Jonathan Miner (from the Selectboard), Ned Hulbert (from the Planning Board), Sherry Sims (from the Planning Board)
Winston Sims opened the meeting at 7:00 pm.
Agenda items were discussed as follows:
Meeting Minutes of October 5
Les LaMois moved to approve the October 5th minutes. Andrea Polizos seconded. All voted in favor.
Ned Hulbert, Co-Chair of the Planning Board, provided an update for the Con Com on the Aquifer Protection Ordinance, a draft of which was created by the Planning Board and the Con Com (Noel Greiner, Winston Sims and Harry Wolhandler) roughly two years ago and subsequently proposed to the Planning Board. A subgroup of the Planning Board, in studying the ordinance and following a public conversation with some residents, laid out the objective of finalizing one of three recommendations by the spring of 2017: 1) drop it because it’s not relevant; 2) rewrite it, researching any similar initiatives undertaken by other NH towns; and 3) weigh the language that currently exists in Harrisville’s zoning ordinance and what exists for water protection in general in order to meet the needs, interests and concerns of residents and town boards. The current working group includes Pete Thayer of the Planning Board, who is the lead, as well as three non-Planning Board participants: Ray Bollerud, Erin Langille and Mike Kelly. The group will review the extensive documentation and comments and work to draft something realistic and credible based on what other towns are doing. The study group aims to have its first meeting by mid December and to seek input from people with a variety of perspectives and to learn about what other towns are doing with respect to aquifer protection.
It was proposed that the HCC might want to set up a group to give consideration to these issues. It was thought that participation in the Planning Board working group would be satisfactory.
In keeping with many of the recommendations that had been made following the public meeting in July 2015, there should be greater specification of aquifer locations.
It was suggested and agreed upon by the group that one or two representatives from the Con Com will participate in the working group.
Additional discussion surrounded the need to identify specifically where the aquifers are so as not cause undue burden on residents within those watersheds and also the desire to work off the existing ordinance as much as possible.
Mr. Hulbert invited the Con Com members to address Pete Thayer directly with any comments or concerns and welcomed a representative from the Con Com to join the working group. Later on in the meeting, Harry Wolhandler volunteered to participate.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
Sherry Sims, representing the Planning Board, outlined the Planning Board’s current thinking on the State’s new ADU law (which goes into effect June 1, 2017) and which would take precedence if the Town doesn’t adopt its own ADU ordinance. In describing the Planning Board’s thinking to date, (to be firmed up at the PB meeting next Wednesday, November 10, and followed by a public hearing on any proposed zoning amendments in December or January), Ms. Sims stated that the PB welcomes any comments or concerns from Con Com members during the drafting process. Ms. Sims then described the differences in what is and isn’t allowed in the new state law, in the existing town ordinance, and in what the PB expects to propose.
In summary, the Planning Board in its current draft recommends that ADUs be allowed By Right within the town’s Agricultural / Residential districts, as long as applicants comply with existing town ordinances regarding setbacks, septic, etc., and by Special Exception (through the ZBA) or Conditional Use Permit (through the PB) in the Lakeside and Village districts. As the new state law only deals with attached configurations, the PB expects to propose language addressing detached ADUs (e.g., conversion of an outbuilding or barn) that sets similar requirements.
When asked how the PB’s proposed ordinance is customized compared to the new state law on ADUs, Sherry Sims replied through the By Right option, through the language regarding detached ADUs, and that one of the units needs to be owner/occupied.
Also in terms of housing, Sherry Sims stated that the PB is proposing that duplex housing be permitted in the Residential and Agricultural districts with some specifications. The PB, Ms. Sims stated, is also working to consolidate the Conservation Subdivision ordinance, which, she stated, allows for clustering and simplifies the language (she cited Marlborough’s, though different, as a good example). Ms. Sims stated that any approval of revised ordinances would be done by ballot and will research when a Harrisville ordinance could take effect versus the State Law, which becomes effective June 1 of next year.
Addressing the possible timeline for moving forward, Sherry Sims stated she expects the PB to finalize its recommendations at next week’s PB meeting and that a public hearing would take place until January with changes possible based on feedback and any requested changes.
The Con Com expressed appreciation to Sherry Sims for the update and information.
Winston Sims asked if anyone on the Con Com wants to be involved in discussion of the housing issues and/or the redraft of Harrisville’s ordinance. Members of the Con Com stated their opinion that they didn’t feel, given that existing requirements would remain in place, that the draft ordinance as proposed concerns the focus of the Con Com. It was mentioned that it is not yet known whether a conditional use permit is analogous to a special exception and offered the same protections.
A significant redraft of the Conservation Subdivision Ordinance is underway with the aim of significantly simplifying the formula for proposals. It is hoped this would be ready for the 2017 Town Meeting.
Mr. Sims asked Mr. Jacobs if the recusals of Jane Meneghini, Anne Havill, Hal Grant and Sherry Sims had served the town. Jay Jacobs stated that this issue should not be pursued further.
Bill from DES for VLAP Studies
A bill for $180 had been submitted to the HCC from DES for VLAP tests in Child’s Bog and Chesham Ponds. The committee determined no action was necessary as they had already approved it.
Report on The Use of Warrant Article FundsDoug Gline reported that, with regard to expenses for kiosks, signage and brochures, Les LaMois and Doug Gline constructed one kiosk at Harrisville Pond and were reimbursed for their expenses in the amount of roughly $375. Mr. Gline stated he also was reimbursed for signposts at four of five bodies of water and installed brochures at Chesham Pond, Child’s Bog, Russell Reservoir and Lake Skatutakee. The time and labor of the HCC members was contributed for free. There was also no cost for the brochures and the signs. Doug Gline asked if surplus funds could be applied to expenses next year (e.g., for kiosks). Jay Jacobs replied that the Committee would have to review if the funds were voted as non-lapsing funds or not. Jay Jacobs noted this was an important aspect of support for the town’s functioning. It results in good lakes, good water, good property values and good taxes. Committee discussed that needed is greater attention to coverage by securing point persons, paid staff and volunteers.
Andrea Polizos asked if, given that Harrisville Pond would have its own Lake Host program next year, the Con Com wanted to do a Lake Host Program on Child’s Bog and Chesham Pond. No decision was made. Winston Sims asked if the committee should consider applying excess funds to the hiring of a Lake Host point person.
Winston Sims suggested a report should be prepared that outlines the work done by Doug Gline and Les LaMois and Doug Gline stated he would prepare a brief write-up for the Annual Report.
Meeting adjourned at 8:18 pm.