Ashland looking at ordinance to stop Northern Pass


ASHLAND — With some questions remaining as to the legitimacy of such actions, the Ashland Board of Selectmen has voted to pursue a rights-based ordinance, or RBO, in an effort to stop Eversource from bringing its Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission lines through the town.

Selectman Tejasinha Sivalingam made the motion during this week’s selectmen’s meeting, saying it is a good step to take for addressing both current issues and future ones.

“It empowers the community, protects the health of individuals, and advocates for a greater sense of local, democratic control,” he said.

Chairman Fran Newton acknowledged that Ashland voters have twice said they did not want Northern Pass in Ashland, but she noted that the town has filed as intervenors before the state Site Evaluation Committee, which has the authority to rule on the plan to bring direct-current transmission lines through the state.

“I haven’t seen the specific wording of the rights-based ordinance,” Newton said. “When we get it, we can certainly discuss it.”

Sivalingam said, with the possibility that the SEC will rule in favor of Northern Pass in February, it is important to get the ordinance in place. Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria, representing the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, has offered to help the town draft an ordinance that reflects Ashland’s specific needs and concerns.

“There are several steps, and we’re coming to this late in the game,” Sivalingam said. “Tonight, we really have to consider the largest steps possible.”

The discussion came at the request of Grafton County District 9 Rep. Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater, who is urging all of the towns he represents to hold RBO workshops so residents and town officials are familiar with the option.

“I am not asking anyone to adopt an RBO,” he said.

Migliore has co-sponsored legislation seeking a community rights constitutional amendment, CACR19. Currently, rights-based ordinances have no legal standing, and an amendment would embed those rights in the New Hampshire Constitution.

To make the case for that bill, Migliore said, it would be helpful to be able to say that his constituent towns had adopted rights-based ordinances.

His own town, Bridgewater, has agreed to hold a workshop, but did not yet set a date.

Ashland Selectman Harold Lamos said they owe it to the town to move forward with such an ordinance. He said he owns land in Danbury and was seeing his property values declining in the face of a proposal from Iberdrola to build wind towers.

“Days after they passed an RBO, Iberdrola withdrew, and now property values have gone back up,” he said.

Sanborn told the selectmen that 11 communities in New Hampshire have adopted rights-based ordinances, and no one has challenged them.

Addressing worries about the potential legal costs, Sanborn said the only potential cost is if an entity views the ordinance as an obstacle and challenges it. The community then has the option of not enforcing the ordinance if it wants to avoid litigation.

“We can draft into the ordinance the potential to challenge it legally,” she said. “Then the RBO takes the conversation out of zoning and land use and into a less expensive argument.”

Sivalingam said there are members of the community interested in supporting a rights-based ordinance and his motion to seek the free legal help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund also included working with citizens.

The motion passed unanimously, after which the selectmen also passed a motion to hold an RBO workshop on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 1 p.m., at a location to be determined.


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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Belknap County complex getting new roof


LACONIA — Work to replace the asphalt shingles on the roof of the 97,000-square-foot Belknap County Complex is nearly one-quarter complete, according to Dustin Muzzey, head of maintenance for the county.

Muzzey said contractors supervised by Bauen Construction of Meredith, construction manager for the recently completed Community Corrections Center, are doing the work.

He said the work is proceeding on a section-by-section basis so differences in the roof's original construction can be identified and dealt with, and the work will continue as long as weather conditions permit.

“They’re making good progress. As long as the weather holds and there’s no significant snow, they’re going to keep working,” said Muzzey.

The $540,000 project is being paid for with funds left over from the $8 million bond to build the center. The Belknap County Delegation last month approved using $605,000 from the bond issue to put a new roof on the Belknap County Complex and replace windows at the Belknap County Courthouse. The windows project will cost $65,000.

Architectural asphalt shingles, the same as used at the Community Corrections building, are being used for the new roof. Muzzey said the cost of a steel roof, which would have been built over the existing roof, was nearly double that of the shingled roof.

He said that, shortly after he assumed his position with the county in 2011, he was asked to see if the county could recover costs from the contractor who had installed the original roof, as it was evident that there was a problem. In 2012, the county received a $16,850 settlement of its claim, which Muzzey said amounted to pennies on the dollar.

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Workers remove old shingles from the roof of the Belknap County complex.-The 97,000-square-foot building is getting a new shingled roof, a  $540,000  project that uses funds left over from the $8 million bond for a Community Corrections Center. (Roger Amsden/The Laconia Daily Sun)

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  • Written by Roger Amsden
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Man charged with stealing U-Haul found in Bristol


BRISTOL — A Massachusetts man faces several local charges as well as pending charges from his home state after allegedly stealing a U-Haul van from Boston.

Bristol police apprehended Kenneth Armstrong, 46, of Roslindale, Massachusetts, on Tuesday after the van struck a curb, partially disabling the vehicle. Armstrong was able to get through Central Square and onto North Main St. before the van came to a stop, allowing police to arrest him without incident.

The local police were alerted by Franklin Police Dispatch about 8 p.m. Tuesday that a stolen van was northbound on Route 3-A. Massachusetts State Police had pursued the vehicle on Interstate 93 as far as the state line.

Bristol officers spotted and attempted to stop the van on South Main Street, but Armstrong continued into Central Square where the van struck a curb. He attempted to continue driving but the damage to the van was too great to allow him to go far, according to police.

Armstrong faces charges of receiving stolen property worth more than $1,500, a Class A felony; disobeying a police officer and unauthorized use of a propelled vehicle, Class A misdemeanors; wrongful conduct after an accident and operating after his license had been revoked, Class B misdemeanors; and reckless operation, a violation.

He also faces potential charges from the Massachusetts State Police and Boston Police.

Armstrong is being held in lieu of $10,000 cash bail at the Grafton County Department of Corrections jail.


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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