Harrisville Conservation Commission
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Les LaMois, Winston Sims, Kathy Scott, Don Scott
Members absent:Andrea Polizos
Agenda Review / Meeting Minutes 11/2019
With the addition of an item to discuss creating an expenditure policy, all voted in favor to approve the agenda as prepared.
Meeting Minutes of November 2019
Following agreement that Winston Sims, at the end of the meeting, would share his comments about Community Development, which he had hoped would be included in the November meeting minutes, members unanimously voted to approve the November minutes as submitted.
HCC Town Budget for 2020 – Members briefly discussed the HCC’s anticipated budget needs for 2020, as the commission needs to submit its budget to the SB shortly. Mr. Wolhandleranticipates proposing a similar amount ($1,166.00) to the 2019 budget, but still needs to see the current balance remaining in the 2019 budget before finalizing. Kathy Scott then moved to propose a budget in line with 2019. All voted in favor.
Separately, regarding potential budgetary needs for educational opportunities, Ms. Scott suggested adding educational opportunities to the HCC’s agenda on a regular basis, similar to what the Planning Board does; for example, training or seminars offered by the NH Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) and NH Lakes, which benefit HCC members. The Chair agreed to do this. An upcoming DES seminar was mentioned by Don Scott, the topic of which is the state wetlands permitting process for lake and pond projects. It is scheduled for December 10, from 8:30-3:00 at the DES offices in Concord. Other educational resources mentioned in addition to DES, NH Lakes and NHACC were the Harris Center and New Hampshire Municipal Association.
Conservation Fund– Looking at incoming revenues from the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) to the Conservation Fund over the past several years, the HCC Chair suggested the HCC aim in the coming years for expenditures not to exceed the annual amount of LUCT funds over the past 10 years, so as to maintain the fund’s current level. Kathy Scott then moved that the HCC adopt a general policy of not spending more from the Conservation Fund than the past ten year average income in a given year. This policy is a general guideline and not an absolute restriction. Don Scott seconded. All voted in favor.
Land Conservation Capital Reserve Fund(LCCRF) – Mr. Wolhandler noted he would like to propose a warrant article with the goal of having the HCC reimbursed by LCCF for the $5,000 contribution the HCC made to the Harris Center’s purchase of the parcel along the rail trail. Mr. Wolhandler will draft the article for members’ consideration at the January meeting. Further discussion surrounded what amount of conservation makes sense and how to balance responsible development with preserving valuable land.
2020 Programs & Topics
Wetlands protection and stormwater management– Members discussed priority projects for 2020, including educational efforts in anticipation of, and as part of, a proposed ordinance amendment on wetlands setbacks at the March 2021 Town Meeting. The group also discussed the salamander brigade and vernal pool visit as priorities, with more advanced informational outreach, possibly beginning at Town Meeting, and a Common Threadsarticle. Mr. Wolhandler will reach out to Hannah Ellingwood, a local designer of wildlife stickers, about possibly producing a sticker.
The group then reviewed timelines and deadlines for Common Threadsand the desired timeframes for various topics, including wetlands, vernal pools, and weedwatcher training with the goal of having salamander/vernal pool/ roadside cleanup targeted for the April/May issue.
Winston Sims proposed that a subcommittee work on wetlands protection and stormwater management. Other noted that, should this happen, the subcommittee would have to be very focused on HCC’s role. Members generally agreed that fall was the logical timeframe for a Community Conversation and outreach on wetlands, followed by stormwater management. For the HCC booth at the 150th/Sesquicentennial Celebration in late July, members agreed wetlands, weedwatching and stormwater management should be the three topics highlighted. Signage for the Rain Garden project is anticipated for May/June timeframe. Additional discussion about 2020 priorities will continue at the January meeting.
Reports on actions of other town committees
Select Board/Recycling– Kathy Scott noted that the steps at the RC were redone. Mr. Wolhandler requested that the policy of helping those in need be revisited.
Planning Board– Mr. Wolhandler summarized the solar ordinance being proposed and noted that the second public hearing on proposed ordinance amendments was December 11.
Members moved and voted unanimously in favor for the HCC to reimburse both Mr. Wolhandler and Mr. Sims $60 each for the cost of attending the NHACC Conference last month.
Prior to adjourning, Winston Sims asked Mr. Wolhanlder why the Chair, following last Town Meeting, did not recommend to the Select Board that Mr. Sims’s appointment be renewed. Mr. Wolhandler responded that the issue was covered at last month’s meeting
Meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.