2019 Raymond Board of Selectmen Meetings

Raymond Selectmen Award Bid for Tax-Deeded Property
By Penny Williams   1-31-19

The Raymond Board of Selectmen reviewed bids for tax-deeded properties at their Jan. 28 meeting. Three properties – at 1 Bertha Drive, 11 Mary Lane, and a parcel off Scotland Drive – had been put out to bid. All bids were to include a $500 deposit.

The selectmen opened the four bids for the Scotland Drive property, which came in at $25,050, $26,500, $25,000 and the highest bid, from Gov.Deals, at $32,000.

Raymond Community Development Director Ernie Creveling discussed Gov.Deals and its bid process, and the selectmen decided that the bid coming from that source should be followed up. However, after hearing that the bidder planned to build a single-family dwelling on the lot, the selectmen approved the bid with follow-up.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley said the bid for the Bertha Drive property had a $1,000 minimum because the property contains a mobile home that has to be removed. One bid came in - at $2,300. No bid came in for Mary Lane.

Later Ilsley said that an issue with another piece of property has arisen. The owner of the property, Roscoe Blaisdell, brought it to the Town’s attention because he is trying to get a clear title and discovered an issue with the deeding of the property. The deeded parcel was taken from an unknown owner. He said the Town is acknowledging that an error was made, although it has no interest in or legal deed right to the property.

Selectman Wayne Welch said this is not a new issue but has been going on for a couple of years and was not fully addressed by the previous Town Manager. The board approved tabling the matter so it could be looked into further.

In other business:

• The board approved a two-month extension to the Comcast Cable contract to allow Comcast to come up with financial information regarding High Definition channels. The contract was to expire Feb. 27, and was extended to April 26,

• Town Moderator Kathleen Hoelzel spoke about the plans for the Deliberative Session on Saturday, Feb 9 at 10 a.m. The Town administration will prepare a warrant article packet. Hoelzel said all other handouts will be in the hallway.

• The board discussed the recent donation from a George A. Clarke Jr, whose estate sent a  $53,000 donation for the Dudley-Tucker Library and $53,000 for the Raymond Parks Department. Ilsley said they have not been able to find out who the donor was and what his connection to Raymond was, but the board acknowledged the gifts and voted to approve accepting them. Ilsley said he will continue to seek more information about the donor.

• The board discussed their choices for the dedication page of the Town Report. Several suggestions were made - Tim Louis and his wife, and Sandy Ellis among them, but the board settled on Stephen Goldthwaite, suggested by Selectmen George Plante and Welch. Chair Jack Barnes said that criteria should be established for deciding on such dedications and the board agreed to look into this.

• Ilsley said the Town has received correspondence from the Rockingham County Commissioners about a supplemental appropriation of $669,235 but noted that this would not have any tax impact on the communities. The selectmen were invited to attend the Commission meeting on Feb. 5, when the commissioners will vote on this measure.

• Ilsley said the Town received $62,000 in reimbursement for a snowstorm from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), with the money placed into the Unassigned Fund Balance.

• Ilsley reported receiving complaints about the poor quality of the Pay As You Throw trash bags. He has sought more durable bags but found only two vendors. He asked the board to allow him to bring samples to the board meeting for them to compare and make a decision on thereafter.

• Ilsley noted that he is using his “Joe with Joe” coffee time approach as an outreach to residents to discuss the warrant articles. He planned to be at the New Life Church on Jan. 30 and at the Raymond Baptist Church on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m., and said he will use his Joe with Joe at the Long Branch on Feb. 1 and 8 at 10 a.m. to discuss the warrant articles.

He said the warrant article packet the Town is preparing will note which articles are new and will provide information and discussion points about each article - how it developed and how it would work. He asked the board members to review the information and raise any questions or suggest additions. He also noted that the annual Raymond Voter Information Project (VIP) Voters Guide, prepared by volunteers, will be available shortly to assist voters with understanding the warrant articles.

• Selectman Scott Campbell said he will be talking with the town attorney regarding issues relating to Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) decisions. Selectman Greg Bemis attended the recent ZBA meeting as a selectmen’s representative.

 • Welch suggested that someone other than himself should attend the talks on the court decision involving utilities, as he is not running for reelection and will be no longer be on the board after the March election, and he thinks there should be consistency in the Town's involvement. Plante agreed to attend the Feb. 28 meeting and carry on as the selectmen’s liaison.

• The board approved a donation of $100 from the Pawtuckaway Pieces Quilters Guild and asked that a letter of thanks be sent.


Selectmen Send Message to Zoning Board to Rehear Peloquin Request
By Cheryl Killam    1-21-19

At the Jan. 14 Raymond Board of Selectman meeting, Chairman Jack Barnes explained that the selectmen have received concerns from residents about boards and commissions. Those concerns specifically address the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s (ZBA) handling of variances requested for a Freetown Road property owned by Timothy Peloquin. Barnes asked the board to make a motion to request a rehearing for the variances from the Dec. 19 ZBA meeting.

Selectman Greg Bemis made a motion to recommend the ZBA rehear the case; it was seconded by George Plante. The board voted unanimously in favor.
Town Manager Joe Ilsley said Town officials have met with lawyers regarding this issue and discussed to what extent the Board of Selectmen can control Town boards. He said the selectmen have limited legal authority in taking action against a board, but there are other options to help the boards perform their work and to get more residents involved.

One idea is to support the boards and make sure that the required seats are filled so work can be done. Ilsley said the Town is looking to create a staff facilitation program that would be responsible for establishing a training curriculum with the chair of each board. In addition, a roundtable meeting is planned to bring the boards together and re-express concerns by the community. “We hope to get all these boards moving together in the direction that the community wants them to move forward,” Ilsley said.

Selectman Wayne Welch said that while the decision to ask the ZBA to rehear the Freetown Road matter appears simple, it is not. He said the selectmen hired a lawyer to review the ZBA decision and advise the selectmen on their next steps. “If they agree that there are grounds there, then we will move forward,” Welch said. “We are not just rehearing this case. We are taking ourselves to court.  We heard you; we understand you and we are trying to figure this out so we can move forward with a solution that is best for this community.”

Janice Arsenault, a neighbor to the Peloquin property, said she had questions about changes to property that is zoned C1 (Commercial), but if a developer wants to put in multi-family housing, the parcel can become C2 if the lot is 5 acres. She said a zoning variance can be granted to allow a residence on a lot that is less than 2 acres.  

Patricia Bridgeo, a neighbor to the Peloquin property who filed a complaint with the selectmen against the ZBA on Oct. 26, asked for a point of order as she approached the table.  She said there is already going to be a huge problem with the date of Dec 19.   She explained Dec. 19 was the last meeting on the matter, and by then residents had retained a lawyer. At that meeting one variance was denied and the second variance was halved, with a 50/50 mix on what would be allowed. 

However, the problem stems from the Oct 24 ZBA meeting, the initial hearing on the property, when the board voted to change what is allowed on the parcel. “The problem is that it’s passed and we can’t go back and do the first two variances, which is the premise for the problem for that lot,” she said. 

The case concerns property for which Peloquin had in 2005 received permission for a site plan calling for development of a 22,000-square-foot office building with 78 parking spaces on 1.62 acres in a narrow strip of C1 sandwiched between C2 mixed and residential zones. He had tried to market the property unsuccessfully for 13 years, and recently decided to change to a mixed-use plan. The revised plan calls for building eight residential condominium units with a total of 16 bedrooms, along with a 4,000-square-foot commercial building.

ZBA member Paul McCoy had marketed the property under its previous proposal but no longer is involved with the parcel. He did not recuse himself from the October hearing on the new request but agreed to recuse himself from the Dec. 19 hearing.

The appeal period for the Dec. 19 meeting ended on Jan. 14, “so now we have to go to the Superior Court,” Bridgeo said.    

“If you are requesting a re-hearing, then it’s a re-hearing on what we wanted, which was to not allow the 16 bedrooms, which were denied,” Bridgeo said. “The second part was the setbacks, and they did keep the 75-foot setback from Old Fremont Road but did not use the 75-foot setback on Freetown Road/Route 102, they used the commercial setback of 25 feet instead. Now we go to the Planning Board with a C1 zone with houses on it. The zoning is the problem because we have a zone that does not exist.” 

Ilsley said the board’s request to rehear is the same as Bridgeo’s request to rehear. “There are other elements behind this request,” he said. “We will let the ZBA understand that there are equal concerns on how these were handled. This could be the Town suing the Town to resolve this, the same process a resident would have to take.”  

Bridgeo said they should have requested a change of C1 zone to C2 to put houses in but they skipped over the request. 

She asked what the next step would be at the Planning Board. “Do we get notified again? “ she asked. Barnes said the Planning Board should be able to answer that question.

State Rep. Kevin Pratt, R-Raymond asked whether it would be logical to postpone the Planning Board meeting if illegal things have happened. “If we try to make more decisions based on illegal things, it might not be a good thing,” he said. Ilsley responded that he did not think the board did anything illegal.
Ilsley said he would contact the lawyers involved and file a motion for the ZBA meeting this week.  Selectman Scott Campbell clarified that the rehearing is for the second set of variances on Dec 19 and volunteered to bring this request to the ZBA meeting. 

Arsenault asked for clarification about why, when residents usually vote on zoning changes every year, this was different and did not require a vote by the residents. Welch replied that this is what the ZBA is for, to adjust something for the good of the community. 

Bemis asked why there is no selectman’s representative on the ZBA, and Ilsley said that can happen, but the problem now is that the ZBA may not have a quorum necessary to do its work. He asked the selectmen if someone could attend the next meeting on Jan 24, and Bemis volunteered to do that temporarily.  Welch nominated Bemis to sit on the ZBA through April 2019, and the board voted to approve the motion unanimously.

Welch suggested filling the open seats on the ZBA and offered candidate Warren Barnes. Welch nominated Warren Barnes to the post until April 2019, and the board approved the motion 4-0-1, with Jack Barnes abstaining.

No ZBA members were in attendance at the meeting. 

In other business:

Jack Barnes responded that he hoped Wheeler could attend the deliberative session on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Editor’s Note: RSA 674:33,I(b) - The ZBA is empowered to act in four separate and distinct categories: appeals from administrative decision; approval of special exception; grant of variance; and grants of waivers of dimensional requirements.  A variance is a waiver or relaxation of particular requirements of an ordinance when strict enforcement would cause undue hardship because of circumstances unique to the property.  A variance is permission granted to use a specific piece of property in a more flexible manner than allowed by the ordinance; it does not change the current zoning on the property

Complaints Over Zoning Board Action to be Explored
By Penny Williams    1-10-19

During public comment at the Board of Selectmen’s Jan. 7 meeting, resident Patricia Bridgeo expressed her concerns with the behavior of Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) member Paul McCoy and the ZBA board in its hearings for variances sought on behalf of Timothy Peloquin for property he owns and wants to develop on Freetown Road.

Bridgeo detailed McCoy's behavior at the ZBA meetings and how it finally took a member of the ZBA board to say he should recuse himself. McCoy had represented for sale a previous and unsuccessful plan for the property.

Initially the plan was to build 10, two-bedroom condominium units and a 2,715-square-foot office building on the 1.62-acre property in the C1 (Commercial) zone. An amended site plan increased the size of the commercial building to 4,000 square feet and reduced the number of two-bedroom units to eight. The property exists in a narrow strip of C1 sandwiched between C2 mixed and residential zones.

Over the course of two meetings, the ZBA approved three variances and denied one; a fifth variance was withdrawn before consideration. McCoy did not recuse himself at the first meeting;  he did so at the second meeting after a ZBA member said he should do so.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings can be read at Zoning Board of Adjustment News

Bridgeo said the applicant's plan will now go to the Planning Board. She said there is no way that eight units and a commercial building should be allowed on the parcel in question.

Dennis Garnham spoke during public comment as well, expressing disbelief and concerns about the conduct of the ZBA board. He said he had written a letter to the ZBA detailing his concerns and noted that if the board were working the way it should be, he would not have had to write the letter. He stated the applicant’s request should not have been granted and the ZBA board needs serious mentorship, as it has migrated off track.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley said he is putting together a committee to look into the situation and to evaluate the Town's boards. Selectman Wayne Welch later in the meeting said the Board of Selectmen needs to do something about this situation and the issues that have been brought to the board's attention.

In other business:

• The selectmen discussed two parcels the Town is considering selling, and heard that true assessed value had not been determined. Conservation Commission Chair Jan Kent also told the board during public comment that she was disappointed the board had not given more attention to the letter the commission had provided regarding the parcels.

The board asked that she read the commission letter into the record at the outset of the land sale discussion, which she did. That letter detailed the wetlands and habitats that exist on the Fremont Road and 7 Hollywood Road parcels and the importance of those areas to the overall environment and to wetlands management. The Commission had recommended not using these parcels for development.

The board decided the true value of the parcels should be ascertained and that going forward, this should take place with each parcel considered for sale. The selectmen also approved involving the assessor and land use attorney in determining the value of the parcels, and said it was apparent that pricing on these parcels is not consistent with assessed value.

Welch said he did not think the Town should sell a parcel that has important, impactful wetlands, especially if that would have a negative impact if those wetlands were disturbed. He also said the assessor, the land use attorney and Ilsley should address the issues raised.

The board had previously approved the 7 Hollywood parcel for sale but on Monday evening decided to have it assessed, along with the Fremont parcel, before moving ahead with any decision regarding a sale.

• Ilsley reviewed the past year’s annual expenditures and revenue reports with the board, saying the projected revenue was $3,940,670 and the actual revenue was $4,729.391. Expenditures were expected to be $280,000 but turned out to be $375,000. He pointed out that revenue from business licenses and permits had increased, motor vehicle permits continue to increase, building permits have almost doubled from last year and income from departments had increased, largely due to corrections made with escrow accounts. Interest on investments has almost doubled and property taxes were up significantly, he added.

He explained that the escrow account money, where money is deposited when, for example, someone has work done on a driveway, was not used as the source of refunds. Instead, the refunds came from the operational account. Correcting this has provided $230,000 being returned to the general fund and possibly another $60,000, he said.

The actual revenues exceeded $788,721 over the previous year, he added.

He also presented a report saying the Town has excess revenue of $780,000 along with the $230,000 coming from the escrow account correction. This means the Town will be depositing between $900,000 and $1 million into the Fund Balance, a 34 percent increase after paying for all the warrant articles, if they are approved. Ilsley said he would be working with the board to determine how best these funds can be used to reduce the tax burden.

He said $62,000 is anticipated to come in from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) related to a snow storm, and asked where the best place would be to put that money, into lines in the operational budget or the fund balance.

All of the financial news has resulted in reducing the proposed municipal tax rate from $6.58 to $5.93, he said, but reminded the board that the overall tax rate will include county, local education and state education amounts. The municipal reduction would provide a reduction of 0.65 cent per $1,000 of assessed value.

• Ilsley noted that the late George A. Clark left a donation of $53,000 to the Town for recreation use, with a similar amount going to the Town’s Dudley-Tucker Library. Ilsley said the recreation money will first be used to purchase a plaque in honor of Clark's contribution to the community.

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer told the selectmen the Town has been approved for a $20,000 matching grant from the state and asked the board to vote to accept the grant. He said the money involved, totaling $40,000, would be used to inventory the Town water system; develop a list of assets and conduct a condition analysis of the assets; estimate the remaining life expectancy of each water system component; get a critical assessment of each component and the level of service of each; conduct a criticality analysis and rank in priority each component; produce a final, long-term financial plan of the overall program; and take a comprehensive look at the system over  50 years.

The Town will need to develop a water management plan and publish information for the public to understand the system, Brewer said, noting the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services will require such plans when Towns apply for grants and funding. Brewer said the grant in question offers a great opportunity and will help with his retaining an engineer to assist staff with the development of reports and plans. Staff time on such plans will count as in-kind service, he said, noting the work would take about six months.

The board voted unanimously to accept the grant.

• Brewer said he has received a resignation letter from Scott Keddy, who has been Water Supervisor since 2000 and has worked for the Town for 30 years. He will be leaving in April, Brewer said, adding that he has started the process of finding a replacement.

• The board discussed the Town Report with Executive Assistant Deborah Intonti, who said last year the Town ordered 860 Town Report books for a total of $8,758. Chair Jack Barnes said the Town Report from last year is an expensive-looking book and  there was no need to go quite that far.

Intonti said the Town has 250 Town Reports left over and thought it would make sense to order 430 this year. The company doing the book said 430 books with 130 pages would cost $3,640 and the same number with 195 pages would cost $4,758.

The board discussed what should be included other than what is required by law and suggested ordering 430 books at 130 pages. Welch was unhappy with this suggestion, saying all the information included in the book is valuable as part of history and to give information to people to know who is doing what for the Town.

Intonti said another vendor had proposed 425 books for $2,513.42 but she had never worked with that firm. She would like to see if the current vendor would meet that price to keep the business.

The board, after hearing Welch's comment, suggested that a full copy of the Town Report be put online, in conjunction with ordering the smaller number of pages of print copies. The board told Intonti to continue with her efforts.

• Ilsley noted a revision to the wording of Article 11, the Solid Waste/Pay As You Throw Program subsidy warrant article. That article asks residents to raise and appropriate $305,000 to continue to subsidize the program with taxes. If passed, the money will be used to continue to subsidize all curbside collection, disposal of household trash and allowed recyclables, and will be used in conjunction with the money in Fund 18 generated through the sale of trash bags and recycle bins and transfer station revenues to cover the program costs.

If the article is defeated, all program costs not covered through the sale of recycle bins and transfer station revenues would have to be fully funded by the user through bag sales, with an estimated bag sale price of 3.25 for small bags and $4.25 for large bags. Costs exceeding the projected amount during the transition year would come from the operational budget.

Ilsley then read the new Article 12, which asks voters to approve withdrawal of $772,000 from the Special Waste Disposal Reserve Fund, known as Fund 18.

He emphasized that if this article is defeated, the Town would not be able to continue the Pay As You Throw program in the absence of legislative authority to access funds to support the program. He said this new article was place on the warrant at the request of the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration, which said many towns make the same mistake in not putting the fund on the ballot each year, and this would correct it. The board voted to approve adding Article 12.

• The board also voted unanimously to accept Article 8, the collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) for 16 workers. The agreement, which is for five years, has a  $21,990 cost for the first year for an increase in salary and benefits at current staffing levels.

In successive years, the agreement would cost $28,043 in 2020, $28,654 in 2021, $29,432 in 2022, $30,327 in 2023; and $14,097 for 2024.












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