Solar Village infrastructure grant up for hearing on Monday

BELMONT —A $500,000 grant to improve infrastructure at the Solar Village neighborhood will be discussed at a public hearing Monday.

The selectmen's hearing takes place at 5:15 p.m. at the Corner Meeting House on a proposed application to the Community Development Finance Authority for up to $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for infrastructure upgrades at Solar Village, a neighborhood of 48 homes located off of Ladd Hill Road.
The town will retain up to $25,000 for administrative expenses and the remainder will be used toward the upgrades. The majority of the residences are low- and moderate-income households, which meets the criteria that all such projects must primarily benefit low- and moderate-income persons.
Up to $500,000 annually is available through the Community Development Finance Authority on a competitive basis for economic development, and public facility and housing projects, up to $350,000 in emergency activities and up to $12,000 is available for feasibility study grants.
There will also be public hearings following on the Residential Anti-displacement and Relocation Assistance Plan and progress of the Solar Village Planning Study. Pathways Consulting performed a study of the existing infrastructure to determine necessary upgrades and cost estimates for those improvements.

Comment Monday on next year’s budget

LACONIA —Belknap County commissioners are expecting to hold the tax rate steady for next year, even with plans for a new jail, but the public is invited to give their thoughts about the budget next Monday.

The Belknap County Convention's public hearing will start at 7 p.m. at the Belknap County complex on the proposed 2016 budget.
County commissioners have proposed a 2016 budget of $35,235,571 which includes $8 million for a new community corrections facility.
Commission Chairman David DeVoy said that although the total spending proposal for 2016 is up more than 31 percent, the amount to be raised by taxes is the same as this year, $13,387,714.
The commissioners will also discuss their plans for financing the $8 million bond for the new community corrections facility.
Commissioners are looking to structure the bond issue with an eye to keeping payments lower, especially during the early years while the county is still paying off $1.4 million in other debts.
DeVoy favors a bond anticipation note which would allow the county to borrow only the amount it needs, when it needs it, not the entire $8 million.
After approving the bond issue on Nov. 2, the county convention passed a nonbinding resolution to use the county's unreserved fund balance to pay off the county's current $1.4 million debt obligation over the next three years, saving $1 million in interest charges. The resolution, proposed by Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) and passed by a 12-3 vote, recommends a 20-year bond issue with level payments of $530,000 per year over the life of the bond.
Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) opposed the nonbinding recommendation, saying he favors a 25-year bond spreading the cost of the new jail over a longer period so taxpayers who would benefit from the new facility would be paying a larger share.
Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) recently reminded the commission of the convention's overwhelming vote in favor of Gallagher's recommendation.

Bestway gets OK to expand - Tilton, Northfield residents worried Belmont transfer station might poison aquifer business sits on but state puts strict water monitoring plan in place

BELMONT — Despite worries over possible contamination of drinking water, approval was granted Friday to Casella Waste Management/Bestway Disposal Services to accept municipal solid waste and to increase its total capacity from 153 to 503 tons per day.
The state Department of Environmental Services approval includes a modification to the initial request that requires Casella to construct and maintain a containment pad for temporarily staging leaking vehicles and for containing and extinguishing hot loads or those that are smoking or on fire.
In addition, the state will require Casella to monitor groundwater at the site because it is located over an aquifer used for drinking water for the communities of Tilton and Northfield. The company will also be required to produce and present a plan that identifies procedures for waste water and to assure that it won’t overflow.
As it stands right now, the Casella facility accepts only construction debris and recyclables at the site. That material is packed together and brought to Massachusetts for sorting and final disposal.
The new proposal, which has tacit approval from the Belmont Planning Board should all of the conditions of the DES be met, will allow household waste to be brought there by haulers, loaded into trucks and taken to one of Casella’s facilities in Berlin or Allenstown.
The proposal to accept municipal solid waste at the plant on Industrial Drive met with strong opposition from residents of Tilton and Northfield, whose interests were represented by the Tilton-Northfield Water District.
Their primary concern was permanent damage to the aquifer from spillage or fires. To address this, the water district said it plans on asking for the highest classification of groundwater monitoring and the state said it would support its request.
The Department of Environmental Services addressed other concerns submitted by residents in its order, including one addressing the above-ground fuel storage tank, which the agency said is permitted and up to standards, and leachate, which the agency said is not relevant to the proposed expansion.Editor’s note: The author has a financial interest in Casella Waste Management.