Town of Pelham, NH
Pelham Conservation Commission
6 Main Street
Pelham, NH 03076-3723
MEETING OF AUGUST 7, 2002 APPROVED 10/9/2002
Bob Yarmo, Chairman
Marc J. Duquette
Deborah Waters, Open Space Committee Chairman (non-voting member)
Meeting brought to order by Chairman Bob Yarmo at 7:20 p.m. at the Town Hall who welcomed those in attendance.
The purpose of this meeting is to see if the Conservation Commission will recommend to the Board of Selectmen the use of Conservation funds to purchase a piece of land know as the Picard property.
A presentation was made by Paul Gagnon, 103 Dutton Road, representing a group of people who have named themselves “The Little Island Pond Watershed Association”. The objective of this Association is to do some land conservation. Mr. Gagnon introduced those present in the audience who are members of the Association (Bob Lamoreau, Shirley Wakefield, Julia Steed Mauson, Jerry and Noni Gravel, Sue and Steve Morin. (Absent from the group was Craig and Charlene Bouvier and Donald Crossley).
Mr. Gagnon explained what is being proposed for the use of the conservation funds. The land in question borders Dutton Road and South Shore Drive and is approximately 36 acres, owned by Maurice Picard. Currently there is a builder and developer who are trying to develop this parcel. Their initial plan was to build 17 homes, but later reduced to 14 homes was going to be erected considering that about 25% of the land was wetlands. Mr. Gagnon explains that the wetlands act as a filtering process that eventually goes into Little Island Pond. Members of the Association met with the builder and engineer and have come up with a compromise between the builder, the landowner, persons who abut the property and the Conservation Commission.
The compromise is to take the 23 acres out of the 36 acres and to purchase the 23 acres for conservation land for $250,000. Five (5) or six (6) homes are being planned for construction. The builder agrees to put in a cul-de-sac that would give access to the 23-acre conservation area. The public would have access to the conservation area that could include walking trails, etc. The $250,000 comes from two places: $150,000 from Conservation Funds and the remaining $1000,000 is being raised mainly by the Little Island Pond Watershed Association and other friends said Mr. Gagnon. Presently, the group has raised about $60,000. Fund-raisers are being planned for a later date. IF the project should fail, for any reason, the monies collected so far will be returned to the donors – it is presently in a bank account. Mr. Gagnon explained the benefits to the town should the town accept this proposal. Donors can take advantage of a tax deduction, it reduces tax impact, maintains open space, keeps the area in the rural setting, provide walking paths for the public and preserve the wildlife corridor. Also, the Master Plan recommends keeping this in its natural state.
Bob Lamoreau, Blueberry Circle, member of the Association, commented on several vernal pools that feed into the pond, how the critters operate in conjunction with the quality of the pond water. Bob expresses concern of the wildlife corridor that ultimately goes into Dracut, MA.
The Town of Pelham would be the holder of the deed for the purchase of this parcel.
Chairman Yarmo informs the public that the Conservation Commission has met with the developer a number of times, and there have been public hearings. He informed the public that testimony had been given and a report had been done where Mark West has identified the value of this property from an environmental standpoint. Chairman Yarmo has done a site walk with a Dr. Richardson of the Department of Environmental Services, Wetlands Board, who identified this parcel as being very critical to the water quality at Island Pond. He deems it to be a very special piece of property with its wetlands and the high and dry areas. Chairman Yarmo states that the biggest danger to Pelham’s water supply is through ground water.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FOR COMMENTS:
Shirley Wakefield, South Shore Drive concurs with everything that Mr. Gagnon has stated.
Julia Steed Mauson, 17 South Shore Drive, encourages the Conservation Commission to accept the concept of appropriating the money for the purchase of this land. She is concerned about the water quality of Island Pond and wants to maintain the integrity of the watershed. She believes that this purchase might be a model for the future.
Holly Saurman, Scenic View Drive questions the negotiation of the purchase of this land and asked if the developer will drop the pending law suit if the Town of Pelham purchases this land for $250,000.
Chairman Yarmo explained that both the Conservation Commission and the Board of Selectmen must approve these funds and that the lawsuit will be dropped – that is part of the arrangement.
Deborah Waters, Open Space Committee Chairperson said at the time the offer was negotiated the property had not been denied by the Planning Board and the lawsuit had not been filed. The offer did not include that contingency. As this purchase nears the end there will have to be more work done by town counsel and the developer’s attorney to bring it to fruition.
(Member Frank Culbert joins the meeting at 7:25 p.m.)
Ms. Saurman asked if the purpose of this public hearing was to state what was the nature of the lawsuit. She also asked if the negotiation by the Conservation Commission to purchase the land was prior to the lawsuit and what was the nature of the lawsuit? Answer: If the lawsuit were not withdrawn the transaction would be denied.
Mr. Gagnon said it was his understanding that the builder has contested the Planning Board’s denial of the 14 lots. If the builder chooses to sell 23 acres to the town, the builder can’t continue to contest the 14-lot denial. It becomes a moot point.
Ms. Saurman said she doesn’t understand the nature of the agreement and that is why she is here at the meeting. She further states she is the out-cast at this meeting, that she does have an interest as she is an abutter to this parcel of land. Ms. Saurman asks if the Planning Department knows how many cesspools are located on each individual parcel of land on the pond.
Mr. Yarmo responded that the question has nothing to do with the issue at hand and will not allow the question. Mr. Yarmo informs the public that the Little Island Pond Association does testing on the pond on a regular basis.
DISCUSSION BROUGHT BACK TO THE BOARD:
Mr. Yarmo consulted with Board members on how they felt about the transaction and asked if someone would like to make a motion.
MOTION: (Marc Duquette/Christopher Montminy): For the Conservation Commission to endorse the expenditure of Conservation Funds and to submit same to the Board of Selectmen and r4equest a public hearing for August 13, 2002 at 6:30 p.m.
VOTE: (5-0) Motion Approved.
There was discussion about maps of the Master Plan of NRPC that show the location(s) of resources. There are a number of locations in the town of special importance that have been identified. It’s a big job and time is limited says Chairman Yarmo.
Mr. Yarmo is going to set up a meeting with the new town planner and the new town manager to see if “we” can put a plan together and get that work done. The map, in some cases, shows parcels that are protected and they are not protected says Chairman Yarmo.
Marc Duquette advises that the water testing that he is involved in at the ponds in town has been entered into the computer onto spread- sheets. He reports that all the ponds look pretty good. He would like to see this information posted on a web site. Copies of the report have been given to Gumpus Pond Association and Little Island Pond Association. There were a couple of ponds that had elements in them that need to be watched. Acid rain is one of the problems and Gumpus Pond seems more susceptible to the acid rain impacts. There was one concern on Island Pond up near Woekle Circle where it appears there are metals and high iron in the water; it appears that there may be something buried and is leaching into the pond. Many of the inlets could not be tested due to the dryness of them. Mr. Duquette advises there will be one more testing done this summer – 3 rounds. It is planned for September 9th. The testing being done is under the cover of “VLAP” – (Voluntary Lake Assessment Programs). There is a rivers assessment program that is a much smaller division, has limited resources and the focus is on the bigger rivers. We can get some information about testing the rivers and what kinds of elements we can test for. Ponds do not purge themselves like rivers do. They are totally different programs.
Mr. Yarmo asked if this information, about the ponds, could be posted on a web site and a notation on the message board that would instruct persons to go to the web site if they are interested in the water quality of the ponds.
Christian Montminy will work with Marc to get this information available to the public, via a PTV web site. Persons may be able to view it on the site but would have to download it for future reference. Mr. Yarmo requests the language used in the reports are simplified for easy understanding. There will be a separate informational page that explains the various elements and should be easy to understand says Mr. Duquette. Mr. Kakkad offers assistance in developing the site.
Mr. Montminy understands that Conservation is under the Planning Board but requests that Conservation have their own link. He said in checking in the state, that is how it is done and questions if that was an issue. Mr. Yarmo sees no problem with it. Chris would also post the meeting minutes and update them on a regular basis. He suggested that Conservation might want to consider having a talk forum on environmental issues as well.
Mr. Yarmo explained the problem in answering persons. He said if someone says the Conservation made a statement it would have to be answered by your own email. It wouldn’t be the Conservation Commission responding. Also, you would have to give your personal email address. There’s the issue of whether it’s the Conservation Commission responding or an individual responding. It’s something we can consider for later.
Mr. Kakkad says it’s obvious that the Commission needs to be more visible and provide more information. Mr. Yarmo agrees and says there needs to be updates, and to include information on the natural resources. He reminds the public that the Commission is made up of volunteers.
Mr. Yarmo reports that Sandy Kupcho is working on the brochure and mailing that had been talked about.
Mr. Kakkad reports that he has an on-going spreadsheet with projects and ideas that the Commission needs to look at. He has items to add to it and will put in some sort of format for others to read, post it on the web and possibly do a mailing.
Mr. Yarmo expressed the need to approve (or correct) some meeting minutes. They had been sent to the members via email. There is still the question of the backlog of meeting minutes. Glenn reported that March of 2002 was done and also the Louise Gaudette case from November 2001 was completed. All Boards have been sent copies of the minutes, including the approved minutes of June 2002.
Mr. Yarmo says he should get the Natural Resources Inventory chapter from NRPC, hopefully by next week. This will be an on-going thing, a work in progress. Once these reports are received there will be a lot of work to do to put together a conservation plan. The Master Plan is available online now.
Mr. Yarmo asked members if there was any progress on preparing information for Old Home Day. Mr. Montminy questions if a book is available. Old Home Day is on September 7th. It would be nice to have the Master Plan, the Natural Resources Inventory and a couple of maps available and a general information sheet, such as how to take care of your septic system. Mr. Duquette is not available on September 7th. Glennie will make a call to reserve space for the Conservation Commission on Old Home Day.
Mr. Yarmo made reference to how the correspondence for the Conservation Commission has been handled in the past. Glennie has expressed that she would like to become the secretary for the Conservation Commission; the position would be compensated like her hourly compensation says Mr. Yarmo. There are hours of work involved, a lot of running around town and would like to add that scope of work to her current service and ask Board members if that is acceptable. It will relieve me from a lot of work and funds are in the budget says chairman Yarmo. The Board members endorsed Glennie to this position.
Meeting Adjourned at 8:15 p.m.