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Residents of Meredith’s Maple Ridge Road form village district

MEREDITH — At the request of eight of the 10 property owners on Maple Ridge Road, the Board of Selectmen this week delineated a village district to improve and main the road and scheduled its first meeting for Monday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m.

In New Hampshire, village districts may be formed upon petition by 10 or more voters to serve a variety of purposes, including constructing, improving and maintaining roads. Village districts have the authority to raise property taxes sufficient to accomplish their designated purposes and are governed by commissioners, akin to selectmen, chosen by voters at annual meetings.

Once a petition is presented, the Board of Selectmen is bound to define the boundaries of the village district and convene a meeting of the eligible voters to vote for or against establishing it.

Maple Ridge Road, a steep, winding graveled track about a half-mile long that ends some 750 feet above the western shore of Lake Winnisquam. The subdivision was approved in 1978, but until the Maple Ridge Association was formed two years ago, there was no collective effort to budget for the maintenance of the road.

The selectmen defined the village district to include all 10 lots on Maple Ridge Road, including those owned by the two property owners who declined to sign the petition. They and anyone who purchases a lot within the district will be liable to the property tax levied by the district for the upkeep of the road.

David Desmarais told the selectboard that forming a village district, with the sole purpose of maintaining the road and authority to raise and appropriate funds, would ensure sufficient resources "year in and year out" to plow, sand, grade, gravel and ditch the road. He said that the residents understood that an improved road would enhance the value of their property, as well as benefit the town by providing safe access for emergency vehicles. Moreover, village districts qualify for federal disaster assistance administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Although Maple Ridge Road has suffered several washouts, so far it has been spared a catastrophic event.

Desmarais estimated the cost of constructing the road to town standards at $135,000.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 12:40

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Following voters’ direction, Gilmanton selectboard agrees to hire 4th F-T firefighter

GILMANTON — It's back to the future for the Fire Department after selectmen agreed to allow the fire chief to advertize for a full-time firefighter.

Once hired and trained, the firefighter will satisfy the conditions of the Warrant Article 30 passed last week that states the department must be staffed by four full-time firefighters/EMT-I, including Chief Joe Hempel.

On March 11, voters decided by a 2-1 margin that four full-time firefighters was what they wanted.

The town had been filling a spot, made vacant about five months ago when one of their full-timers was hired by the Laconia Fire Department, with part-time firefighters. Selectmen had decided that as long as the part-timers were qualified as intermediate-level EMTs it would be a way to save the town about $30,000. The decision was appealed through a petitioned warrant article and was overwhelmingly supported by voters last week.

In response to that vote, on Monday night, selectmen said that all part-time shifts must be covered by firefighters who have reach a classification of EMT-I. They said there is one part-timer who is currently covering shifts that either must return to the call rosters or gain his or her EMT-I certification before taking part-time shifts.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello said yesterday that the schedule for the Fire Department will go back to what it was before selectmen tried to force Hempel to take two shifts a week as a regular rotation firefighter.

He said the department will likely be staffed on Sunday by two qualified, part-time firefighters.

In additional Gilmanton news, selectmen voted to add an additional $3,562 to the amount of money to given as raises to town employees, and as agreed to by voters at annual town meeting.

Capello explained that the additional money is because the board wanted each town employee, with the exception of elected full-time employees, like the road agent and the town clerk, to get a net — or after-tax — raise of $750.

The $21,200 that voters supported by a vote of 652-270 gave raises of $750 annually to each employee, but was calculated on a pre-tax basis.

Selectmen also agreed by consensus to advertize for a member for the Planning Board. Current member Marty Martindale no longer lives in Gilmanton and selectmen asked him to resign.

Capello said yesterday there are a number of board and commissions that are seeking volunteers, including the Planning Board that needs one member and alternates.

In their reorganization meeting, Selectman Brett Currier is chair of the new board and will serve as selectmen's representative to the Road Committee and the Historic District Committee. Selectman Don Guarino will serve as selectmen's representative to the Planning Board and newly-elected Selectman Steve McCormack will serve as the selectmen's representative to the Budget Committee.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 12:28

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Bear Island lots 'unmerged'

MEREDITH — Without discussion, the Board of Selectmen yesterday granted its first request to restore lots that were involuntarily merged in 1979.
The lot in question is a 6.3 acre parcel on the east side of Bear Island. Originally the property consisted of four lots, each with at least 100 feet of frontage on Lake Winnipesaukee, as part of a subdivision that was approved by the Planning Board in January 1974. Paul and Barbara Ylvisaker acquired the four lots, where they built a three-bedroom home in 1976.
In 1979, the town merged the four lots into one, following a policy that prescribed when two or more lots with the same owner and are contiguous, and one or more is nonconforming as to size, dimension or frontage, all contiguous, nonconforming lots would be merged with contiguous lots until they became conforming. At the time, the policy was commonplace throughout the state.

In January of this year, Mark Ylvisaker, on the strength of a law enacted in 2011, requested that the lots be restored, understanding that doing so will likely effect the assessed value and property taxes of the lots.
The statute (RSA 674:39aa) stipulates that lots involuntarily merged prior to August 18, 2010 shall be restored at the request of the owner so long as the request is submitted before
Ylvisaker submitted a sketch of the property indicating that that house and cabin had been built straddling the shared line between two lots, numbered 13 and 14 on the subdivision plan and a septic tank and field were located on lot 14. Consequently, Community Development Director John Edgar deemed lots 13 and 14 to have been voluntarily merged and recommended that only the remaining two lots, numbered 15 and 16 be restored. The effect would be to create one lot of approximately three acres, with about 210 feet of frontage on the lake, and two lots of about 1.5 acres, one with some 140 feet of frontage and another with about 115 feet of frontage.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 01:28

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Diplomacy called for in negotiations between selectmen & library board

MEREDITH — With a draft "Statement of Understanding" from the Library Board of Trustees in hand, the Board of Selectmen began the process of placing the relationship between the town and the library on an even keel at a workshop yesterday.

In a cover letter Rhetta Colon, who chairs the trustees of the library, expressed "hopes that the board will understand that this is the first step in a back-and-forth process in completing the final document."

The current relationship dates to February, 1993 when, at the recommendation of the town manager and financial officer, the trustees agreed to transfer payroll and bookkeeping services "for all monies generated by the town's tax revenue which were given to the library" to the town. The library director and trustees track all spending and approve all bills, including payroll, before submitting them to the town for payment. The trustees create a separate budget for expenditures from trust funds, private donations and fee income.

Town Manager Phil Warren noted that the trustees agree to be "guided" by the personnel policy of the town, but with the exceptions that the trustees, through the director, oversee the management of all library personnel and reserve the right to retain and adopt policies different from those of the town. Warren called this provision "problematic."

Selectmen Lou Kahn, who also serves as a Trustee of the Trust Funds, questioned the authority of library trustees manage trust funds and investments, referring to state statutes that provide that unless specified by the donor, the authority to manage such such is vested in the trustees of the trust funds.

Kahn was also troubled by an expectation that the town should "continue to fund the operating expenses of the library at a level consistent with the type and size of a public library appropriate to Meredith," which he found "really vague." Nor did he accept a presumption that the selectmen have agreed to set aside funds for the expansion or renovation of the library or that the board was bound to accept recommendations of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee to spend or reserve funds for maintenance of the library.

Calling the draft "long overdue," Selectman Peter Brothers reminded his colleagues that "this is a first draft." While he acknowledged "we can't be doing one thing for library employees and another thing for town employees," the differences and details would have to be resolved in "eyeball to eyeball meetings" between the library trustees and selectmen. He urged the board to "get off on a positive foot," but conceded "it's not going to be an easy road."

Former selectman Jim Hughes cautioned that agreement would require "diplomacy" and "give and take on both sides."

NOTES: When the Board of Selectmen met yesterday, Town Manager Phil Warren noted that all town roads have been posted and vehicles of more than six tons require a permit from the Department of Public Works. He again reminded residents and contractors not to plow, blow or shovel snow into the public right-of-way then proclaimed "there will be no more snow." . . . . . . Warren said that the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) intends to pave 4.8 miles of Rte. 25 from the junction with Rte. 3 in Meredith to the Center Harbor-Moultonborough town line and 1.7 miles of Winona Road from NH Route 14 north to Waukewan Road. However, he said that DOT has apparently abandoned Meredith Neck Road and Barnard Ridge Road, both unnumbered state roads since 1940s. Warren said that Chris Clement, the commissioner of DOT, has said that neither road belongs in the state highway system and the department will not improve roads not in the system. Warren noted that Meredith Neck Road "is getting to the point where it could be deemed hazardous" and urged the town not "back off" in pressing the DOT to undertake improvements.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 01:19

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