To The Daily Sun,
Next Tuesday, March 10, Belmont voters will be asked to consider two Conservation Commission ballot questions.
No. 24 requests authorization for the Conservation Commission to utilize funds dedicated to the Conservation Commission to purchase and preserve land outside the boundaries of the town.
In 2008, the commission with the approval of the selectmen, purchased the 168 acre Andrew Sanborn Farm conservation lot on Durrell Mountain Road. One contiguous lot was located across the Gilford and Gilmanton town lines with the existing road into the lot located in Gilford. At the time, the state law allowed this acquisition to be determined by the commission and the selectmen. That is no longer the case.
No. 25 requests authorization for the commission to utilize dedicated conservation funds for contributions to qualified organizations for the purchase of land that has local or regional importance. A recent example was the highly successful campaign "Everybody Hikes Mt. Major" which has preserved an important recreational area for Belmont residents.
Unless the voters vote yes to Nos. 24 and 25, a Town Meeting hearing would be required prior to the Conservation Commission and selectmen taking action on similar examples for the preservation of important properties.
I have served for 11 years on the Conservation Commission, whose mission is to support and facilitate land protection that maintains the rural character of our town. The commission is comprised of dedicated members who understand the economics and importance of open spaces, working farms and forests. "Cost of community services" studies show that land conservation saves towns money through avoided costs on infrastructure, municipal services likes roads, water supply, waste management, maintaining drinking water, schools, police and fire services. Land stewardship also sustains a desirable community and healthy environment for humans and wildlife for generations to come.
For further information or questions regarding these ballot questions, I encourage Belmont residents to review the Voter's Guide, available at the Town Hall or voting Day, March 10, at the Belmont High School. You can also go on line to www.belmontnh.org or call the Town office at 267-8300.
The commission welcomes new members and invites the public to attend our monthly meetings the first Wednesday of each month, 6:30 p.m. at the Corner Meeting House. Thank you and see you at the polls.
Denise L. Naiva, Member
Belmont Conservation Commission