Members Present: Members Absent:
Alicia Hennessey, Chairperson
Debbie Waters, Alternate
Hal Lynde, Selectman
A special meeting of the Conservation Commission was held upstairs at the Pelham Town Hall on Wednesday, April 19, 2000 for a reconsideration of vote concerning the permit application on Area A wetlands at Green Meadow Drive.
The meeting was called to order at 8:53 p.m. by Alicia Hennessey, Chairperson.
Green Meadow Estates, Tax Map 33, Lot 161
Alicia Hennessey explained that at the last Conservation meeting held on April 12, 2000 there had been some confusion regarding the vote on a Dredge and Fill permit on impact Area A, a 13,049 square foot wetland area at Green Meadow Drive. She felt it was appropriate to ask for a reconsideration of vote.
A motion was made by Don Paquin to reconsider the Dredge and Fill permit for Green Meadow Drive at Area A voted upon at last meeting, given the lateness of the hour and further input from residents. The motion was seconded by Rick Cummings. All in favor: Alicia Hennessey, Alicia Harshfield, Rick Cummings, Bob Yarmo, Don Paquin. None opposed. Paul McLaughlin and Bill Cookinham abstained. Vote is 5-0-2. The motion is passed.
A vote was not taken from Debbie Waters as an alternate since all other board members were present.
The chairperson, Alicia Hennessey, opened the reconsideration meeting for discussion. Attorney Bernard Campbell of Salem, NH appeared as counsel for the developer. Mr. Campbell requested a copy of the minutes from the last meeting and was told they were not completed. He wanted it on the record that the time period had passed for the minutes to be available. This did not allow him a copy for review, nor his client. The Commission stated that a videotaping of the meeting had been done which was the permanent record of that meeting.
Attorney Campbell asked the Chairperson how this reconsideration was prompted; had there been a telephone call to the Chairperson for this request. Hal Lynde stated that the Chairperson had been advised, by a phone call, that a member wanted the opportunity to reconsider this vote and Mr. Campbell agreed that this was allowed under general rules of procedure. Mr. Lynde added that the board had decided to post tonight’s meeting and Attorney Campbell stated he or his client had been notified by phone. Mr. Campbell asked if the board needed to post for General Hearing or what the rules of procedure were in this regard. Debbie Waters said that the State bureau would receive the pending permit along with a letter of Conservation’s recommendations. The zoning ordinance says that special permits are granted if there is a favorable recommendation from Conservation. Alicia Harshfield read the zoning ordinance 307-40 under Article 7. Hal Lynde stated that since a vote was had for reconsideration, a public hearing was not needed.
Bernard Campbell agreed but stated that his client did know the boards’ concerns and asked if someone could explain. Bob Yarmo offered that he had abstained from the vote taken last week given the lateness of the hour and length of that particular meeting. He felt the matter had not been considered enough and had since been on a site walk of the property as last week had been his first meeting as a new member. Alicia Hennessey stated that Mark Jacobs had come before this board last December so some members had input from that meeting and were present tonight.
Attorney Campbell asked if there was something specific the board needed to have addressed in this matter. Alicia Harshfield stated that she had been on the site walk, had attended the meeting last December but was not present at the April 12th meeting. Mr. Campbell asked if Ms. Harshfield had viewed the videotape from last week’s meeting and she replied no. Attorney Campbell stated that he would like to be sure everyone knew what had been presented at that last meeting. At this point, Hal Lynde asked Attorney Campbell if another hearing was needed and Mr. Campbell allowed that the hearing had been held last week but asked what questions a member had at this point.
Alicia Hennessey stated that member Don Paquin felt there was much confusion over the vote taken at the last meeting. Hal Lynde reiterated that the hour was very late, after midnight, and that there was confusion. Attorney Campbell stated that neither he nor his client were here to make further presentation but rather to address and answer concerns of the Commission.
Don Paquin asked if there was any other access to parcel without crossing a wetland area. Bernard Campbell responded that the Planning Board had dictated where the access could be. Don asked how long the road would be without teacup and Mark Jacobs, engineer, answered 800 feet or more. Alicia Harshfield stated that the jurisdiction of this Commission was to rule on environmental impact which Deb Waters then reiterated. Ms. Harshfield spoke to the issue of levels of impact. Mark Jacobs said the wetlands are protected because they act as filters. Hal Lynde stated he believed the basic problem is that initially the property was to include an extended cul-de-sac and Planning Board required it be looped. He added that the Conservation Commission was now faced with having to look at the largest wetland crossing they had encountered to date. Attorney Campbell stated that the issue then becomes whether the applicant has minimized the wetland impact and asked if applicant did the best they could with presentation at the last meeting. Mark Jacobs says he understands it is a large impact area for members to consider but that the permit should not be denied based on it being the largest they had encountered.
Alicia Harshfield states that she believes there are alternatives such as ending the cul-de-sac. Mark Jacobs responds that this is not a viable option based on socio-economical issues. Alicia Harshfield asks why the developer could not go around the wetland area in question. Mr. Jacobs explains that the right of way was established from an earlier development about 20 years ago and not the fault of his client. He says that this option is viable if you consider environmental impact only. Attorney Campbell interjects that his client did what was required by the town’s Planning Board and added that the Conservation Commission and Planning Board needed to come together on this issue. Hal Lynde comments that this board considers conservation issues only but Mr. Jacobs instructs that zoning regulations say you need to consider issues other than solely conservation.
Alicia Hennessey offers that the question of access to the whole area should have been addressed by Planning. Mr. Jacobs comments that having Wyndridge Circle (a/k/a Green Meadow Drive) connect to Scenic View Drive would have been a good solution. He added that perhaps the best planning was not accomplished but that it was not the fault of the applicant. Mark Jacobs read the regulation and stated that Conservation Commission has to approve under the same regulation standards as the State. Attorney Campbell added that the Commission was in the position to weigh applicant’s permit application beyond just the wetland impact. Debbie Waters says she would argue that an alternative is a cul-de-sac. Alicia Harshfield states that yet another alternative would be bridging and Rick Cummings agrees, adding elevated causeway as well. Hal Lynde suggests that everyone agree to differ rather than debate and says that it was not the board’s intent to make applicant go back and forth between Planning and Conservation. Mr. Lynde
adds that this Commission is legitimately concerned with the wetlands issue and that a difference of opinion exists. Mr. Lynde believes it would be reasonable to review the State regulations. He adds that the board respects all the work that went into the presentation by Mr. Jacobs and others at the last meeting. Mr. Lynde stated that an issue was Planning Board wanting no cul-de-sac and Conservation seeing it as alternative. He is not sure what would be gained from further debate. Mark Jacobs states that they have been to the Planning Board twice on this matter and that Planning is not eager to repeat past mistakes.
Bob Yarmo queried whether this whole neighborhood is one whole road and Mr. Campbell responds with a yes, explaining that there is a single connection off Mammoth Road. He adds that this plan connects a loop in the area. Bob Yarmo concludes that the result is just a bigger road and Mr. Campbell agrees. Mark Jacobs addresses the conservation easement and question of resulting increase in value to property. He repeats that his client is willing to revisit this prior to Phase II with Conservation. Hal Lynde questions whether this project would be better with cluster zoning and Mark Jacobs responds that it would still be an access issue. He adds that the Planning Board may require a connecting road later if the next area is developed.
A motion is made by Rick Cummings that the Commission accept wetland crossing in Area A with conditions outlined at the April 12, 2000 meeting. Bill Cookinham seconds the motion.
Mark Jacobs seeks to clarify that this vote is regarding Area A only and further questions the erosion control condition. Alicia Harshfield asks if this vote is to approve the crossing to which the Chairperson responds affirmatively.
A vote was had. All in favor: Bill Cookinham. All opposed: Alicia Hennessey, Alicia Harshfield, Don Paquin, Rick Cummings, Bob Yarmo. Paul McLaughlin abstains. Vote is 1-5-1. The motion does not pass.
Alicia Hennessey explains that a letter will be sent to Planning Board and NH Wetlands Bureau stating the Commission does not approve or recommend the Dredge and Fill permit for Area A, with rationale given, such as the alternative options the members suggested. Bill Cookinham asks if the Commission can send a letter to Planning Board asking for a cul-de-sac. Alicia Harshfield states that she understands the safety concerns of the Planning Board but believes the environmental impact is greater. Hal Lynde offers that the Conservation Commission wishes to avoid wetland impact.
Vincent Messina, Planning Board Director, explains that at this time Bowley Road is the only access but there are plans for two more in the future. Bob Yarmo states that he heard no mention that the Planning Board was aware of the wetland but Mr. Messina assured him that they were aware of it and had been on a site walk of the property. Hal Lynde states that access from the north or the west may be sought in the future and that he believes poor planning created old and possible future problems. Mr. Messina spoke as to how these decisions are made. Attorney Campbell states that his client will pursue the State application and do what Planning requires. Alicia Hennessey offered that the board understood the difficult situation. Attorney Campbell says he wishes there had been a more favorable recommendation and added that he would like the minutes of this meeting and the April 12th meeting as soon as possible.
Bob Yarmo brings up the two plans recently reviewed and what the intervening process might be. Hal Lynde suggests the board use the twenty question guideline the State utilizes. Alicia Harshfield states that it can be obtained from the Dredge and Fill permit application; each member has a copy.
Bill Cookinham advises that there will be a public hearing on April 26, 2000 with Tennessee Gas Pipeline at Pelham High School beginning at 7:00 p.m. and that TGP will be before the Board of Selectmen on April 25, 2000.
Paul McLaughlin would like to request that the Board of Selectmen take the proper action to have a recording secretary present for taking of minutes at the Conservation meetings. Hal Lynde states that the Commission should themselves secure a secretary. Alicia Hennessey explained that there had been a miscommunication about this issue. Mr. McLaughlin added that the meeting began with Attorney Campbell requesting a copy of the minutes and they should have been available to him. Hal Lynde explained that even though there should be typed minutes, the videotape of the meeting was the permanent record.
Bob Yarmo said he would like to comment on the Route 38 site and stated that he had not seen a better cause for a cease and desist order given the erosion control situation there. Planning Director Vincent Messina responded that the situation had recently been much improved with no ciltation present now. The purpose of curbing for erosion control on the road was discussed. Bob Yarmo says that the erosion control he saw did not correct the problem and Mr. Messina states that what counts is the condition of the area today. He suggested any member could visit the site and the improvements would be very visible. Mr. Messina added that an onsite manager and DES would be at the site once a week to insure no further wetland impact occurs.
The Planning Director stated that while Planning was sensitive to wetland areas, there was not an adequate staff (2 full-time and 1 part-time presently in Planning Dept.) to police every development. Mr. Messina had been in this position for approximately eight months and urged Conservation to allow him the time to make changes and improvements and to acknowledge that this was being undertaken now. Paul McLaughlin said that Conservation would want to prevent problems rather than have to address them later. He added that the board was getting frustrated with promises made versus end results and that he felt this had gone on long enough. Mr. McLaughlin emphasized that Pelham has to stand together and not put up with wrongdoings. He felt that Planning, Board of Selectmen and Conservation should work together.
Vincent Messina suggested that CLD should present a new checklist outlining the monitoring and review processes. He added that the design process has undergone changes in the past six months. The Planning Department website contained all the requirements, could identify cases and how they had been handled. Mr. Messina emphasized that subdivisions will be built to plan, including permanent water treatment. He said that it was not in place today but the current situation was temporary. Alicia Hennessey observed that some 50 year old trees had already been cut in the Route 38 development mentioned. Vincent Messina stated that the WCD was not being encroached. He added that the Planning Department does monitor this. Mr. Messina said that he can assure the board that the design presented will equal the end result of construction on future developments. A discussion was had regarding bonds. Bob Yarmo stated that he would like to see developing done responsibly. Mr. Messina agreed but added that the Planning Department had to look at the total impact to the town.
Hal Lynde suggested that Planning and Conservation get together to look at how future developments are being handled to avoid potential problems in future years and Mr. Messina agreed. Some discussion was had on the master plan and open space zoning ordinance development. Alicia Hennessey stated she would like to encourage the public to join the Open Space Committee. Paul McLaughlin said he wondered about the devotion to community with some people who appear before the Conservation Commission. Hal Lynde stated his belief that Conservation had a great board and could look forward to a positive future.
A motion was made by Paul McLaughlin to adjourn. Alicia Harshfield seconded the motion. All in favor: Alicia Hennessey, Alicia Harshfield, Don Paquin, Paul McLaughlin, Bill Cookinham, Rick Cummings, Bob Yarmo. Vote 7-0-0. The motion is passed.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 p.m.
Minutes transcribed by,
Kathleen A. Carr,
Recording Secretary Approved: May 10, 2000