Members Present: Members Absent:
Paul McLaughlin, Acting Chairperson None
Alicia Harshfield, Alternate
Bill Cookinham (arrived late)
Hal Lynde, Selectman Representative
A meeting of the Conservation Commission was held upstairs at the Town Hall in Pelham, NH on Wednesday, June 14, 2000 and called to order by Acting Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, at 7:23 p.m.
As Acting Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, explained that the former Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Pelham Conservation Commission had resigned, along with three other members. Having no current officers, an election was needed. Mr. McLaughlin inquired if there was a nomination for Chairperson.
Bob Yarmo nominated Paul McLaughlin for Chairperson of the Conservation
Commission. Nomination was seconded by Alicia Harshfield. One vote was cast
and Paul McLaughlin accepted the election.
Mr. McLaughlin asked the board if there were any nominations for Vice Chairperson.
Alicia Harshfield nominated Bill Cookinham as Vice Chairperson of the
Conservation Commission. Nomination was seconded by Bob Yarmo.
It was noted that Mr. Cookinham had, by telephone, agreed to accept the position.
The newly elected Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, asked Lisa Brown, to address the Commission.
Lisa Brown, a Pelham resident and President of the Pelham League of Women Voters, addressed the Commission and thanked them for their attention. Ms. Brown explained that the League of Women Voters was reestablished about a year ago, noting that their goal was to encourage residents to vote and participate in the community. She presented the members with a pamphlet on The Community Profile Project, a program of UNH Cooperative Extension, coordinated by Judith Bush.
Ms. Brown stated that this was a relevant project to encourage more people to be involved in their community, adding that she believed many people wished to be involved but perhaps did not know how. Lisa Brown spoke about the growth of the community and the many different ideas developing. She noted that this project offered a way for people to come together and had been completed by other area towns. The project would be presented by UNH and sponsored by the Pelham League of Women Voters at an approximate cost of $2,000. The League would be willing to do fundraising. Lisa Brown stated that other towns had received some funds from the town budget. She explained that the League was seeking the support of the Commission and asked if a member would attend the project meeting as a representative of Conservation, in the fall.
Alicia Harshfield asked if the goal of the project was to establish a common vision and Lisa Brown answered yes and added that out of the week-end meeting with Judith Bush would come actual work projects. People would share ideas on what to be done, prioritize and then develop specific projects. Bob Yarmo inquired as to what had been accomplished in other towns and Lisa Brown responded that she did not have specifics. Paul McLaughlin stated that this was a good question and suggested Lisa might contact other communities
to gather that information for the Board of Selectmen. Lisa Brown clarified that Judith Bush would present that information at the project meeting.
Bob Yarmo asked if the project was managed by UNH. Lisa Brown responded that the League of Women Voters would be trained and would sponsor the UNH presentation. Hal Lynde said it was his understanding that the project would be a forum for residents to brainstorm ideas and that the Conservation Commission might have specifics to tie in with what the town needs. Mr. Lynde asked how many towns had participated in this project and Lisa Brown answered 50. Bob Yarmo stated that if it gets more people involved, then it is a good thing. Mr. Lynde said that the Board of Selectmen supported the idea but were skittish about the cost.
The Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, summarized that the project had the general support of the Conservation Commission as it would expand the number of people actively engaged in town business to influence progress. Bob Yarmo asked how the League of Women Voters could be contacted and Lisa Brown answered they may do so through her at this time either by phone or email LBrown@excelonline.com. Bob Yarmo asked if the League of Women Voters had a political stand. Lisa Brown responded that the League was non partisan but that the national organization takes a stand for and against certain issues. Paul McLaughlin thanked Lisa Brown for her presentation, adding that the Commission would see her again in the fall. There being no further input from the public, Mr. McLaughlin moved to the next items on the agenda.
Yarde Metals, Atwood Road, WCD Crossing
Alicia Harshfield explained that Yarde Metals had withdrawn there presentation for this meeting and added that the Environmental Impact Assessment would be mailed. Pending receipt of that report, Yarde Metals would be scheduled for the next meeting on July 12, 2000.
Greenmeadow Estates, ML 1 - 161
Mark Jacobs of Wetland Preservation, Inc. in Plaistow, NH presented before the Commission regarding this proposed 9 lot subdivision and regarding consideration of mitigation for wetland crossing. Mr. Jacobs stated that at the last meeting before the Planning Board, he was directed to return to the Conservation Commission for additional discussion on mitigation v. conservation easement. Alicia Harshfield asked if this pertained to Phase I only of the subdivision and Mr. Jacobs answered yes. Mr. Jacobs explained that a site walk had previously been scheduled and while he had waited a few hours, the Commission members arrived after he had left. Alicia Harshfield stated that a small group had attended the site walk along with Dr. Richardson from the state Wetland Bureau. Dr. Richardson will be sending a letter next week but had questions and would be contacting Mr. Jacobs via telephone. Mr. Jacobs explained that the and Dr. Richardson had yet to connect but exchanged several messages via answering machines.
Mark Jacobs remarked that there was confusion over what occurred at the site walk, adding that Mr. Messina of the Planning Board had indicated he was uncertain whether Mr. Jacob’s presence was necessary at this evening’s meeting before Conservation. Mr. Jacobs inquired whether there was to be a vote as a result of the site walk and Alicia Harshfield answered that this was not her understanding as a quorum was not present for the walk. Paul McLaughlin asked about the letter to come from Dr. Richardson and Alicia explained that it would outline the state’s input on the dredge and fill application. The Chairperson then asked if they should reschedule this matter for the July 12 meeting, pending receipt of that letter. Mark Jacobs said this would present a problem as closure was needed previous to the Planning Board meeting the first Monday in July. Mr. Jacobs added that the voice mail message he received from Dr. Richardson indicated approval and no mitigation. A conservation easement would be proposed and offered.
Hal Lynde stated that his recollection of an earlier meeting involved discussion about an extended cul-de-sac, which proposal went to Planning Board and had been rejected. Mr. Lynde stated that he understood Planning wanted a connecting road and asked Mr. Jacobs what action he needed Conservation to take at this time. Mark Jacobs stated that one remaining element of possible mitigation alternatives was to be discussed with Conservation as Planning had directed a through road connection. Mr. Lynde clarified that this discussion was to determine what Conservation would ask regarding an easement should the State accept the wetland crossing. Alicia Harshfield stated that she had the impression the State would approve, having spoken to Dr. Richardson also and added that if the State said no, it would revert back to Planning. The Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, asked Mr. Jacobs to present his proposal.
Mark Jacobs stated that the mitigation proposal is for a conservation easement of varying widths on three sides of the project, from 25 to 200 feet, and posted a map on the board to allow the board to view the proposed easement. Mr. Jacobs explained that this easement was proposed to compensate for unavoidable impact to wetlands. Paul McLaughlin inquired about a map or description being available for the board. Mark Jacobs responded that the technical description will be submitted upon approval by Planning and that it would be worded as the Commission dictated.
Alicia Harshfield asked why the easement was only 25 feet on the eastern boundary. Mark Jacobs explained that it was due to the shape of Lot 8. Hal Lynde asked if the easement subtracted from the lot area and Mr. Jacobs answered he did not believe so. Mr. Jacobs said he would like to incorporate the easement in the record with Conservation approval by the next Planning Board meeting of July 6. Alicia Harshfield stated that 15,000 square feet of wetlands was being affected and asked what was the total area of easement? Mark Jacobs said it was approximately 30,000 square feet. Ms. Harshfield asked if the straight edges made sense, noting that the idea was to protect the wetland area being affected. Mr. Jacobs explained this was for purposes of description and added that matching easements might be obtained along three sides when the adjacent land is developed. He explained that the area of easement was more of an oak tree farm and at the low end of the habitat scale.
Bill Cookinham arrived late at 8:10 p.m. and Paul McLaughlin congratulated him on his newly elected position as Vice Chairperson.
Bob Yarmo asked whether the wording of a conservation easement needed to include future access at the top of the proposed subdivision plan. Mark Jacobs said they looked at creating wetlands but in his opinion as a wetland scientist, this would not be a viable alternative as the areas do not lend themselves to that option. Bob Yarmo asked Mr. Jacobs to explain how a wetland would be created. Hal Lynde asked what kind of vegetation was found on the upland island and Mr. Jacobs responded it was a diverse community of varying trees and plants. Hal Lynde pointed out the upland island area on the map which should be included in the conservation easement.
Mark Jacobs stated that Dr. Richardson’s messages have yet to mention mitigation and that the current policy is that mitigation is not required where there is unavoidable wetland impact. Bob Yarmo stated that Planning had sent Mr. Jacobs back to Conservation, however, to discuss mitigation. Mr. Jacobs answered yes and stated that his professional opinion was that a Conservation Easement is the solution. He added that there was no choice in impacting wetlands as Planning had directed a through road so that this was not a gratuitous crossing. Hal Lynde asked about the soil being removed and Mr. Jacobs said care was taken so it would not be placed in wetlands. Mark Jacobs added that he and his client would be happy to return and revisit the Conservation Easement with Phase II of the subdivision.
Hal Lynde suggests that the Conservation Easement take in all of the wetland area. It needed to be expanded in Lot 1 to affect this. Mark Jacobs stated that his client is agreeable. Alicia Harshfield clarified that the discussion tonight was one of conservation easement v. mitigation and Mr. Jacobs said yes, adding that mitigation often fails and the conservation easement is a known entity. Bob Yarmo asked how often
Mr. Jacobs recommended mitigation on wetland crossings and Mr. Jacobs answered about 50% of the time. Bill Cookinham stated that it was important to leave a canopy on the upland area. Everyone agreed.
The Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, again clarified that this discussion was to determine acceptance of conservation easement v. mitigation. Mark Jacobs stated that the proposed plan can be revised to include the upland island on Lot 1 as discussed. A revised plan would be remitted as soon as possible. Mr. Jacobs asked the Commission to put together the conditions of the conservation easement and offered that he could furnish a list for review. Bob Yarmo responded this was a good idea and Mark Jacobs asked if a draft of the easement could be faxed to him. Alicia Harshfield said that a copy of the wording needed to be obtained. Paul McLaughlin asked Mr. Jacobs if the area had been checked for endangered species and Mr. Jacobs responded affirmatively. The Chairperson asked for a motion.
A Motion was made by Alicia Harshfield to recommend that Planning proceed
with the Conservation Easement as indicated on Sheet 1 of 19, Greenmeadow
Estates proposed subdivision map, last revised on 1-27-00, with the revision to
expand the easement on Lot 1 to include upland island area. Bob Yarmo
seconds the motion. A vote was had. All in favor: Bob Yarmo, Alicia
Harshfield, Bill Cookinham, Paul McLaughlin. None opposed. None
abstained. Vote: 4-0-0. The motion passes.
A Motion was made by Bill Cookinham that the conditions of the proposed
Conservation Easement will be determined prior to the next Planning Board
meeting by consultations between Wetland Preservations, Inc. and the
Conservation Commission. Alicia Harshfield seconds the motion. A vote was
had. All in favor: Bill Cookinham, Bob Yarmo, Paul McLaughlin, Alicia
Harshfield. None opposed. None abstained. Vote: 4-0-0. The motion passes.
Mark Jacobs states that he will get the revised plan to the Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, as soon as possible and will wait for the draft of the conservation easement from the board. Paul McLaughlin thanked Mr. Jacobs for his presentation.
KDS Properties, Elderly Housing, Atwood Road
Alicia Harshfield addressed a status update on KDS Properties proposed elderly housing construction on Atwood Road, ML 7-44-1. Ms. Harshfield explained that Dr. Richardson from the state Wetlands Bureau, having completed a site walk of the property, will rule that there is not an adjacency issue. A formal letter from the state will be forthcoming. It is suggested and recommended that the forest area be studied to preserve the hardwood in that area. Alicia Harshfield stated that the final approval from Planning was to be made on July 6, 2000 at their next meeting. Planning has requested modifications to the proposed plan. The Commission discusses sending a letter to Planning regarding concerns about the construction of a gravel road in close proximity to the Prime wetland area.
Alicia Harshfield suggests to the board that their meetings be held twice a month, the second meeting being used as a work session if there were no hearings. Paul McLaughlin states that the board will agree not to begin any new hearings after 10:00 p.m.. Bill Cookinham suggests that meeting twice a month may be needed in the busier months. Paul McLaughlin suggests scheduling the normal meeting on the second Wednesday of the month and blocking out time for the fourth Wednesday in the event it was needed. After
some discussion, it was determined that the Chairperson will schedule both Wednesdays in a given month as needed. The board agreed.
The Chairperson, Paul McLaughlin, suggests that a letter be sent to James Pitts, Town Administrator, Board of Selectmen and Planning regarding the election of new officers to the Conservation Commission. The board agrees. Hal Lynde adds that the Board of Selectmen would like to see new Conservation members apply and instructs that anyone may do this by submitting a letter for a request to be appointed to the Board of Selectmen, c/o Pelham Town Hall. The appointment would be placed on the Board’s agenda thereafter. Paul McLaughlin states that the board would like to thank all past members who have served the Commission.
Bob Yarmo states that it is a sad event to have Alicia Hennessey and Debbie Waters resign and recommends that the reasons for recent resignations be reviewed in an effort to help future boards be more effective without the frustration. Hal Lynde adds that Rick Cummings, recently resigned, indicated his willingness to assist with the water research grant. Paul McLaughlin remarks that thanks be offered to everyone involved in the passing of Article 21. Mr. Lynde agrees, noting that four other articles had also passed which he believes is an indication of the town’s support.
The Commission discussed approving the minutes for the May meeting and directed a few corrections or changes be made. Bill Cookinham had not had time to review the minutes as yet and it was agreed that the board would review and approve minutes at the next meeting.
A Motion was made by Bill Cookinham to adjourn. Bob Yarmo
seconded the motion. All in favor: Alicia Harshfield, Paul McLaughlin,
Bob Yarmo, Bill Cookinham. Vote: 4-0-0. The motion passes.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
Kathleen A. Carr
Recording Secretary APPROVED: November 29, 2000