Londonderry roads chief surprises board with intention to quit

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Road foreman Duane Hart tells the board of his intention to quit.

Road foreman Duane Hart, far right, tells the board of his intention to quit. Photos courtesy of GNAT-TV

Londonderry Road Foreman Duane Hart surprised the town’s Select Board at its Thursday, July 7 meeting by announcing that he would be stepping down from that position later this summer.

“It’s my intention to end my relationship with the town of Londonderry in September,” said Hart. “Londonderry is a tough town to work in … I have to go to work every day and end the day feeling good about what I do, and if I don’t feel good about what I do, there is no amount of money that can make that right in my mind … I enjoy what I do. And when I don’t enjoy what I do, you folks (the board) will be the first to know.”

Hart later told The Telegraph that part of his dissatisfaction comes from being caught between residents who want to save trees growing along roads in the town’s right of way and the board’s refusal to take a strong stand one way or the other.

Hart said that if he and his crew attempt to cut down a tree to allow for free passage along the road for town trucks and other vehicles, some residents will protest. Yet, board members may be upset at the cost of repair to vehicles when they do hit the trees in the course of their job, whether grading dirt roads or plowing snow. Hart said, “Life is too short” to spend time in a job that is not satisfying. Hart will discuss his decision in more detail with the board in an employee review meeting in August.

Board member Paul Gordon has been writing and proposing a number of policies for the board to adopt. July 7 was the first mention of a possible tree policy, especially in relation to road rights of way.

Board member Paul Gordon listens as Hart explains his decision

Duane Hart, left, explains his decision as board member Paul Gordon listens.

The issue of trees came up as the board approved an access permit to Peter Levy on Parson’s Lane. Hart had flagged seven trees to be cut down to allow the required line of sight from the proposed driveway. Conditions include the “stipulation that the property owner and the Town of Londonderry Road Foreman are in agreement regarding the trees to be removed in connection with the property access.” Levy wrote the board two emails in which he said that he is willing to cut down the trees in question, but residents of the area want most of the trees to stay to maintain the rural nature of the road.

Tax rates approved

The Board approved a 2016 total municipal tax rate and transition tax and local tax rates of $0.33513 to raise the total needed to raise in taxes an amount of $1.4 million. The municipal tax rate of $0.3091 is $.0489 higher than the 2015 rate of $0.2602, but the overall tax rate will be less due to lower state estimated education tax rates. Town treasurer Tina Labeau presented the board with the tax rate calculation. The overall tax rates will be $1.9013 for residential property (down from $1.9252 last year) and $1.8570 for non-residential property (down  from $1.8598 in 2015)

The board voted unanimously to accept Lister chairman Sandra Clark’s request that the town “waive the later filer penalty (for homesteader declarations) until tax bills go out. And when tax bills go out the penalty will be 3 percent.” This was done last year and “so far this year, they’ve been good,” said Clark.

Policing recyclables and roads

An email was distributed to town residents this week from transfer station coordinator Esther Fishman, reminding them that since Friday, July 1, state now bans leaf, yard and clean wood debris from landfills. The law mandating that recyclables be kept out of landfills went into effect in July 1, 2015.

Board member Gordon said Fishman was also asking, “Now that we’ve had some time to look at that, do we want to be the police?” Since there are at least three employees who attend to the trash compacter, Gordon would like a written reminder given to patrons who the attendant suspects are throwing recyclable materials into the trash bin. Fishman will be invited to the next board meeting to continue the discussion.

Gordon asked that state policing be added to the agenda so that town residents can be reminded that “we are posting the weekly summaries of the police activities for the 25 hours that we contracted with so those are there for people to see” on the town website. “And a clarification, on those reports, the reports reflect the VSP activity in Londonderry for both the 25 hours that were contracted with and the regular services that we get from the state police.” Many of the activities shown on the VSP posts, such as speed patrols are part of the regular VSP service, not the contracted time. Overall, Gordon says that “the Policing Committee has been very very pleased with the policing action.” In addition Steve Prouty said that Lt. Tim Oliver told him the town does receive a small percentage of any fees levied by the state police on town roads. Town Clerk Kelly Pajala said the town has received $45 so far.

Duane Hart reminded the board that it had instituted a townwide, year-round parking ordinance that is being violated in many areas. Hart thought that perhaps the state police could help enforce it. Gordon said he would send a copy of the ordinance to Oliver “and mention it to him.”

In other action

Pajala announced that polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the town office building on Tuesday, Aug. 9 for the state primary and that absentee ballots are already available.

In her role as a member of the Parks Board, Pajala said Family Fun Day will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 at Pingree Park. It will conclude with the screening of the Disney movie Zootopia at 8 p.m. Donations are requested.

Pajala also asked the Board on behalf of the Parks Board to “expand the boundary of Williams Park to incorporate the Genser property.” The property in question was the yellow house on the south side of Route 11 at the flashing light. The house was a FEMA buyout and must remain undeveloped. Pajala said it would remain a separate legal entity, but then “could be cared for as a part of the rest of the park. . . . There is money available to do whatever needs to be done” from the Riverside Park fund. Pajala agreed to “come up with some wording for next time.”

The board moved ahead with plans to build a salt shed on the Prouty land by asking that this plan be added to the agenda of the Planning Commission, which met on Monday, July 11 and the Development Review Board, which meetings on Wednesday, July 20. Steve Prouty will meet with Zoning Administrator Heather Makovec to develop an application for the DRB based on the general size and location of the proposed salt shed.

Since Kevin Beattie sold his haying equipment, the board agreed without a vote to have Town Administrator Stephanie Thompson write a request for a proposal for someone to cut, bail and remove the hay growing on the septage field near the transfer station. It is said to be the only one in the state and that the hay can only be used for mulch.

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