To The Daily Sun,
The contentious Bears Nest Trail Planning Board hearing and consequences have been divisive and distracting for the residents of Moultonborough and it's various boards. The hearing was rift with mistakes and an embarrassment for all involved, myself included, as a Planning Board member. Airing our dirty laundry in public is one way to don clean cloths and let's not forget that many people have viewed the episode via video recording, with most recognizing the irregularities and wanting to see remedies implemented.
The selectboard, in my opinion, is legally correct and duty bound to call the scheduled the public hearings for some of those irregularities. That being said, it appears that the better alternative would have been for the selectmen to challenge the planning board in the Superior Court. Noting that there is no element of corruption or fraud involved, I hope that the selectboard, in their power and wisdom, do not choose to seek the removal of Ms. Ryerson and Mr. Bartlett.
There was a definite lack of guidance and significant confusion at the hearing. Was the conditional use permit hearing appropriate given the fact that the ZBA granted a slope variance? Is a tie vote a yes vote? Should the board have had their own legal counsel present? Can a member change their vote? Can a member cheat an applicant or the public by sitting for a hearing and then abstaining from a vote? Can a member vote for an approval if they have found that all of the criteria have not been met? Can members ignore state statues by not considering the application as "before the fact" rather then with an illegally built structure and clear-cut on over 35 percent slope?
Lost in the brouhaha are the initial reasons that the various boards and departments were required to become involved. I believe Bob and Cathy Williams and Sky's Carpentry share the burden of quilt for setting the stage for our embarrassing predicament. Unfortunately, the ZBA and Planning Boards rewarded the applicants and their agents for a host of illegal actions with after the fact approvals. These actions compromise our quality of life and need attention.
The public hearings considering the removal of board members can be considered a wake-up call for all of us on all of the municipal boards and can be the impetus to confront the issues in a collegial effort involving all affected boards and departments. Each of us can learn from this. Lets grasp this as a starting point for change and betterment for us as elected officials and municipal employees. I would not be pleased to see this uncomfortable and trying process conclude without a positive postscript for the record.