To The Daily Sun,
In the article printed Jan. 21 headlined "Timber Hill Creates Rift," Andy Howe, owner of Beans & Greens/Timber Hill said, "all of the property (on Timber Hill Farm) is in a conservation trust granted by the Society For Protection Of New Hampshire Forests."
Now, I'm familiar enough with conservation easement/trusts to know two things. The first is that there are generally tax advantages, and the second is that there are strict guidelines to what owners can and cannot do on their properties under easement.
So, I visited the Society For Protection Of New Hampshire Forests' web-site and found the following: "A conservation easement is a permanent legally binding agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization that restricts the use of the land to protect it's significant natural features. If you place a conservation easement on your land, you can manage it for agriculture, forestry, recreation, and wildlife habitat, but not for intensive uses like development, or commercial and industrial activities." Well ... there you go. In black and white, as they say.
Commercial activity — commercial wedding reception venue ... one in the same. That pretty much settles that, but it is not the real reason for my letter. The reason is, why hasn't a representative from the Society For Protection Of New Hampshire Forests given a voice to this? If the society is somehow granted through state/local governments the right to issue easements with the incentives of some form of tax relief and they neglect to oversee and enforce their restrictions, I believe they are undermining the very taxpayers who have to, so to speak, pick up the tab, and who support their organization. In my opinion then, this should have never become the town of Gilford's problem in the first place.
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