Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Attendees: Harry Wolhandler, Winston Sims, Les LaMois, Andrea Polizos, Don Scott, Jay Jacobs Select Board Alternate Representative
Members of the public: Peter Desrochers, Richard Lavatori
Members approved the agenda, agreeing to move item #4 up.
Meeting Minutes of July 3, 2019.
Members voted to approve the minutes as written. Andrea Polizos abstained due to absence.
Skatutakee Lake Association – Request for Support for Dam Repair
Pete Desrochers, representing the Skatutakee Lake Association, explained the need for the association to raise $50-60,000 in funds for repairs to the cement pedestal of the privately- owned dam which, in its current condition, does not meet state regulations. The association recently funded repairs of roughly $68,000 to the wing walls in 2017 to comply with state requirements but the August 2018 storm significantly damaged the dam gate and pedestal. Mr. Desrochers reviewed the history of work done, engineering assessments and recommendations, donations of association members, and current fundraising efforts, including grant applications to several local and state organizations and foundations. He noted that the work must be done within the next two years. Mr. Desrochers, on behalf of George Lowrey, submitted to the HCC a written history of the dam, as well as a copy of the engineering report specifying the current needs. Overall the dam is in good condition, according to the report, but the need to anchor the gate and pedestal area, which control water flow, are a critical issue.
HCC members asked about the engineering work proposed. They also discussed estimated taxes paid by lakefront property owners and whether or not such an amount, and public use of the lake, justifies assistance from the town. Members raised what constitutes responsible stewardship of HCC funds. Jay Jacobs suggested the HCC lobby Concord to change regulations and fees surrounding permit costs for lake associations of $6-8K, given that the state owns the water. All agreed that was a good idea but a longer term solution.
Winston Sims described the idea of establishing a village district around the lake, possible under NH RSAs, wherein separate taxation for district residents could be established and channeled to dam or lake-related purposes. Mr. Desrochers and Mr. Lavatori noted that, while they did not want to speak for Lake Association members on this, they did not believe this was a desirable or attainable solution.
After further discussion, Mr. Wolhandler noted that no decision would be made at this meeting but that a public hearing would be held on any proposal to spend HCC funds. The HCC will further consider the matter at its September meeting. Lake Association representatives expressed great gratitude to the HCC no matter what the outcome.
Rain Garden Update
Don Scott shared with the HCC estimated costs, roughly $5,000, of commercial gravel and construction for a rain garden and channel drain adjacent to the Harrisville Pond boat ramp. An estimated cost if the town were to provide the gravel and were to do the work in conjunction with culvert repair on Prospect Street was not immediately known. Mr. Sims asked about a perc test and Don Scott noted groundwater was hit at 34 inches, which is one inch higher than the lake. The rain garden design calls for a 2-foot excavation, so the elevation of the bottom of the rain garden will be about 10” over the lake. The excavated portion, roughly 1262 square feet, would be filled in with three levels of varying size gravel and stone, to serve as a pervious parking area. Vegetation would remain. The purpose is to redirect the surface water and prevent it from flowing directly into the pond. Les LaMois and others expressed great concern about parking, especially the parking of trailers, who already have trouble maneuvering. Adequate parking in the village is already a challenge. Mr. Wolhandler did not believe parking space would be compromised but expressed the importance of the overall education effort to help residents understand stormwater management and steps all homeowners can take to mitigate it. He noted the Soak Up the Rain quote that “90% of all pollution is caused by or contributed to by stormwater runoff.” Winston Sims added the importance of working with homeowners upstream. All agreed but that this was a separate and additional issue.
Members further discussed if it were possible for the Road Agent and Highway Department to do the work. Mr. Scott emphasized that this was on town-owned property, and a point of entry into the pond, which offers a good opportunity to act. Jay Jacobs asked if there was definitive data that the stormwater entering the lake was polluted and, if public money is going to be spent, there should be actual data about more than just silt. Other members noted that water quality testing is currently being done by the granite mill and that testing is done regularly. Mr. Jacobs wondered if the road could be reengineered slightly to serve the same purpose. Andrea Polizos offered to look for the VLAP data.
Winston Sims further discussed education efforts. All agreed the rain garden project is a demonstration education project.
Harry Wolhandler noted he would adjust estimated costs of the rain garden project based on the Road Agent’s input. Jay Jacobs noted this was not included in the original budget so any contribution from the town would be based on submission of details but he noted he is passionate about the property issue.
Rainwater Retention Education
Regarding timing for education efforts, most members agreed spring makes sense.
Aquatic Invasive Prevention
As Judson Dexter was not in attendance, this topic was tabled until a future meeting.
New Shoreland permit PBNs and applications
It was noted that the barn at 93 Nelson Road was approved for a Shoreland application, that it meets setback and impervious cover requirements.
Ordinance Review Update
Harry Wolhandler updated members that the ORC will soon discuss local wetlands and the possibility of adding setback requirements as currently our ordinance only requires setbacks or septic. The state does not have wetland setbacks as determinations are town by town. Issues include questions of delineation, wetland sizes, and enforcement of any new regulations. Mr. Wolhandler asked what the HCC might want to recommend to the ORC; for example, a minimum disturbance area.
Ice Cream Social
Members asked if this should be an annual thank you gathering. More publicity was suggested.
Meeting adjourned at 9:05 pm.