Progress on Derry energy plan Traffic panel clarifies advisory position with board

By Bruce Frauman
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman told the Londonderry Select Board on Monday, Aug. 6 that the Enhanced Energy portion of the Town Plan is moving through the pipeline toward a vote by town residents.

Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman explains the procedure for adopting an energy chapter for the town plan. Photos by Bruce Frauman

The document, written by the Londonderry Energy Committee with the help of the Windham Regional Commission, helps guide the town toward the state goal of having 90 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2050. According to Crossman adding the energy plan to the Town Plan improves the prospect for grant funding opportunities and allows the town input when developers seek state approval for energy projects. The Planning Commission was to hold a public hearing on Monday, Aug. 13 and, barring any substantial changes, vote to send the plan to the Select Board, which would hold a public hearing before a vote.

Crossman also said the Planning Commission will apply for a municipal planning grant to help cover the costs of rewriting the zoning bylaws.

The town’s Traffic Committee appeared at the meeting in reponse to board member George Mora’s request to discuss the committee’s role in dealing with road problems after one committee member suggested that, to solve a parking problem along Route 11, the Second Congregational Church remove part of its hill.

Mora had received an email from new committee member Kelly Capen, who had spoken with Pastor Laurie Kross of the church and offered the suggestion.

Kelly Capen tells the board that she understands that speaking as a member of a committee is not the same as speaking as an individual

Traffic Committee chair Dick Dale said that, from the beginning, the goal of the committee was to “explore local roads” using data, mostly gathered from the Windham Regional Commission, to determine if the perceptions of some people were correct concerning problems along local roads.  Dale said that “as of today” all members understand that this is just an information gathering group, and that he will act as its spokesman.

Mora said she was concerned with the specificity of Capen’s contact with Kross.  Capen said before she was on the Traffic Committee, she felt free to make suggestions as a private citizen, but now understands that as a committee member it is important to follow procedures.

Ameden agreed to ask the state to move, and perhaps change, a Dead End sign on Under the Mountain Road near Jamaica State Park. Resident Toby Fitch said the sign is too far along the road for many vehicles to be able to turn around. Some even need tow trucks to get back to the main road. Fitch said he sees as many as 15 cars a day of people he doesn’t know passing by his house. Dale suggested the sign say “No Outlet” instead.

Flood mitigation project at old Post Office; zoning enforcement eyed

Town Administrator Robert Nied said the state is interested in moving ahead on one of Tom and Judith Platt’s flood mitigation projects: the elevation of the old Post Office on Route 100. The Platts own the Garden Cafe, Gallery and Market complex as well as the Post Office building.

Planning Commission and DRB member Dwight Johnson explains the state’s pilot program for working on flood mitigation on individual properties.

Although the project will be funded by private money and state grants, the funding must go through the town. Nied said town responsibilities include quarterly reports and oversight, requiring a project manager. He said the town’s reimbursement is limited to $75,000.

Dwight Johnson, who sits on both the Planning Commission and Development Review Board, said this is a pilot program to discover how a town can work with an individual on flood mitigation. Ameden said the only way for the town to participate is if there is no cost to the town. Nied agreed to draft a memorandum of understanding for the Select Board’s approval.

After a long discussion in which he said the town attorney recommended going to the Environmental Court in zoning cases that could not be resolved, Nied said progress was being made on removal of two damaged buildings, one on Middletown Road  and  one on the corner of Route 100. In one, the owner has promised to remove the burned out building by Oct. 15. In the other, more material will be removed.

Nied said the only way to make progress in the four or five cases that cannot be resolved is to have repercussions when the rules are not followed. Crossman said the zoning bylaws will be completely rewritten. Nied added that zoning must be consistent with the Town Plan, and that the town needs to be willing to enforce the zoning laws.

Johnson said especially signage ordinances have been largely ignored by the business community and should be reassessed during the rewriting.

Mora stressed that the town talk with property owners to try to resolve non-compliance issues and even help find funding for the owners. Nied said he has talked with owners for months and months, though legally he can go to the Environmental Court in 7 days after a letter has been sent with no response.

Crossman was offered the position of Assistant Town Administrator for 15 hours a week at $20 per hour.

The board approved $3,400 to fill tires of the backhoe at the Transfer Station with foam. The foam will help prevent blowouts from nails and other sharp objects.

Solid waste coordinator Esther Fishman asks the board to approve a three year contract for waste and recycling pickup

On the recommendation of Solid Waste Coordinator Esther Fishman, the board approved a three-year contract with TAM for waste and recycling pick up. The cost of waste removal has gone up $9 per ton because many landfills are closing.

Though state law S285 now allows solid waste entities to charge for recycling, the board chose to wait before taking such an action. Fishman said that in 2012, the income from recycling was $11,000. In 2016, recycling cost the five towns in the solid waste district $36,000. The expense dropped to $26,000 in 2017 and is on track to be even lower in 2018.

Nied said that Ed Brown, owner of the Mill Tavern, had agreed to participate in a diversion process for painting over a mural on the wall at the corner of Routes 11 and 100 in September of last year.

The mural had been designed by Flood Brook students. Nied said the details of the process are confidential. But he added that Brown acknowledged what he did was illegal and that the town’s request for restitution was not part of the agreement. Brown has 90 days to fully comply at which time the case will be closed.

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