Derry board expected to OK work-around for Genser buyout

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board received an email from the Vermont Department of Transportation stating that the “training wall” on property owned by Bette and Walter Genser at the corner of Routes 100 and 11 must stay to protect the Route 100 bridge over the West River and both routes from flooding.


Kevin Beattie and Bette Genser update the board on the buyout of the Genser property. Photos by Bruce Frauman.

Former Town Administrator Kevin Beattie, who continues to work on the project for the town, said at the special Select Board meeting  on Sept. 14  “that effectively puts the FEMA buy-out off the table.” The Federal Emergency Management Administration had insisted that the wall be removed for the buy-out of the property to proceed.

Instead, Beattie will pursue an alternate funding source to buy the property from the Gensers. The Community Development Block Grant, a federal program administered through the state will pay to the Gensers 75 percent of the approximately $170,000 assessed value as of Aug. 28, 2011, or about $127,500.

Bette Genser agreed to the terms saying that she would have to be happy about it, “because otherwise what choice do we have?” The site will become town property, the wall will remain and Beattie will ask if any other restrictions will apply. The FEMA buy-out came with a long list of restrictions including no permanent structures.

Beattie said, “We have nine months to complete the project, including demolition … The demolition and other costs of the project will be paid for 100 percent …The offer through FEMA was $170,000” although 25 percent that was through CDBG. Beattie will ask Kevin Geiger of the Two Rivers Regional Planning Commission, which administers the CDBG, “to lay it all out in writing and get it to” the Select Board so it can vote to proceed with the plan.

“The state went about it the wrong way,” said Genser. Since the state of Vermont wanted the wall, she said, the state “should have bought that property from us, put the wall up, and nobody would have been in this position at the moment. They just took it, put it in, and we’re just stuck.”


Board member Bill Wylie and Helen Hamman and Mark Wright of the Conservation Committeee look at plans for a new salt shed on the Prouty property on Route 100

Mark B. Wright and Helen Hamman of the Conservation Commission, addressed the board on its decision to build a salt shed on the Prouty property.  “We were concerned that it is one of the really nice pieces of property that the town does own, and hate to see it used for a salt shed.”

Board chair Steve Prouty said that many residents had asked the board to place the shed on the Prouty land instead of buying property near the transfer station. Board member Bill Wiley noted that the shed would be located behind a hill, so would not be seen from Route 100.

“There’s acres there,” member Paul Gordon stated. Prouty said the Prouty land was “supposed to be for infrastructure for the town of Londonderry.” Hamman suggested that, “if we’re coming up with a plan for the town, part of the plan might be that our aesthetic byways be kept aesthetic byways.”

But Wright said, “I think the property has more value than being used as a salt shed.”

Gordon agreed: “I don’t think that there is anything about the siting of this building that precludes this property from being used for other purposes down the road.”

Wright added, “It sounds like its pretty much a done deal and it’s not a major thing,”  and suggested that the Select Board “be in better communication with the Conservation Commission.”

Prouty, in turn, asked the Conservation Commission to periodically report to the Select Board about “all the conservation projects on the property” and in town.


Planning Commission member Dick Dale, left, with DRB member George Mora speak in favor of Jim Mullen as new zoning administrator.

The board also discussed the appointment of a new zoning administrator, only identified as Jim during the meeting, but confirmed to The Telegraph by Development Review Board member George Mora as being Jim Mullen.  “We were unanimous, vigorously unanimous that he be hired,” said Planning Commission member Dick Dale.

Mora said she is very impressed. “I think he is eminently qualified in ways we couldn’t even imagine …  including knowledge of flood plain and water way issues … contacts with various organizations in the state and compliance issues. He has a well developed strategy. . . Instead of targeting any one individual, he makes a trip up the road so everyone feels included,” said Mora.

The board was expected to vote on the appointment at its Sept. 19 meeting.

Bids for a proposed three-year project to trim the tree canopy up to 60 feet over paved roads ranged from a total of $118,000 to $195,000. Road Foreman Duane Hart proposed the project as a maintenance plan to allow free access of vehicles and, as Prouty mentioned, to help the sun get to the roads in winter months to help melt snow and ice. The board will discuss this further when it develops the budget.

Requests for proposals for roadside mowing, parks lawn care and line striping and marking were all approved by the board. Prouty and Gordon both noted that the demands on the highway department have increased with no increase in staffing. Both Prouty and Gordon mentioned possibly reorganizing the highway into a Public Works Department that would include adding a fourth employee for mowing and other tasks. The mowing bids will help determine the cost of subbing out the work while the board looks into the expense of purchasing equipment such as a tractor and roadside mower and adding an employee.

Dick Dale noted that a meeting of the Northshire Merger Committee will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at the Manchester Elementary-Middle School. The committee will discuss “whether or not we should have a RED district or our own supervisory union with lots of economic data put into that.” The proposed school district merger is a direct result of Act 46.

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