To The Daily Sun,
New England Patriots fans were treated to one of the greatest sports comebacks this Superbowl. Players, coachers, commentators and fans heralded preparation as the lynchpin behind this success.
I attended my first Town Meeting in years this March. All who attended were offered handouts which included a summary of the warrant articles that would be discussed. This "Deliberative Session" summary ordered each article, presented points to consider for each, stated if the article was recommended by the town selectmen by citing the selectmen's vote on the article, and provided relevant tables for data helpful in understanding and debating the article.
Specific background materials for articles thought to be contentious or land decisions were provided. There preparations paved the way for informed discussion and each individual who took to the mic to discuss an article advanced understanding of the article and made for more informed voting on the article.
In a world in which respectful, reasoned arbitration of the full community's needs is under duress it was a privilege to attend this meeting.
A local property issue brought me to attend my first Zoning Board meeting, the March 20 meeting of the Laconia Zoning Board.
The process and outcomes of these two public meetings were polar opposites. Preparation played a role.
At the latter the applicant is seeking a multi-tiered variance in property use. A circumstance an attorney for one of the abutters repeatedly reminded the board places a high burden of proof for why relief from present restrictions on land use should be granted.
As the discussion proceeded a full score of significant land use issues — with immediate and very long-term implications — were brought before the board (issues in traffic safety; occupancy; privacy; fire safety; pollutions — noise, light, sewage; wetlands degradation; wildlife management). The applicant was unprepared to provide specific information on any of these issues; so much so that the chairperson stated the board could not offer a "blank check of permissions" for the items under appeal.
Preparation is not solely the burden of the applicant. The board could be of more help here. At the close of this first hearing the board chairperson directly addressed the applicant.
The emphasis of this exchange seemed to be to inform that applicant that having to resubmit would not cause the application to suffer any manner of prolonged postponement. If the application could resubmitted for next month's meeting it may be possible to be considered then.
Having the benefit of all who represented views on the proposed land use changes and the degree to which vital information was absent from the project's representation this seems a poor use of this opportunity to improve knowledge. it is well within the chairperson's purview to advise the applicant that the involvement of profession expertise is highly recommended in redressing complex application deficiencies; for instance, a resubmitted plan will have to show consideration for the turning radius of 40-foot-long fifth-wheel trailers and show that entrance access and building set backs will provide sufficient space to clear vehicles from the road. Without making the case that detailed, code compliant, neighborhood specific information must be the essence of a resubmitted plan the doorway is left open for an applicant to commit multiple thousands of dollars on a second effort that remains inadequate to its intent. At this juncture there is increase pressure on all parties to make decisions that may not reflect careful stewardship of our common resources.
Paul Del Frari
- Category: Letters
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