2019 Raymond Board of Selectmen Meetings


Private Road Residents Hear Fees For Road Maintenance
By Penny Williams    9-18-19 

     The Raymond Board of Selectmen on Monday evening, September 16, resolved the difficult issue of how the Town can continue to provide maintenance on certain private roads legally.

      Town Attorney Keriann Roman, Drummond & Woodsum, laid out for the board what the law says and what the Town can legally engage in with respect to providing services for these private roads.  She made it clear that the Town has been in violation of State Law by providing Audette, Smith Pond and Depot roads with winter and summer maintenance. These three roads, she said, are clearly private roads as there is no data or record to the contrary. As such the Town must desist from plowing and grading the roads unless certain conditions can be met. She said the Town seeks not just to be legal but to provide assistance to those living on these roads.

     She went through the options available to the Town and recommended that the Town and the homeowners on these roads enter into a Road Maintenance Agreement that would include a Hold Harmless Agreement for the Town. This maintenance agreement would have the homeowners on each road appoint one of them to serve as the person  who would be responsible for collecting the contribution of the homeowners for the maintenance of the roads. The amount they would be required to pay would be reduced by any payments from town owned property that is an abutter.

   The board approved working out a Maintenance Agreement that includes a liability waiver (Hold Harmless Agreement) for each of the three private roads.

    Town Manager Joe Ilsley went over the agreements and the costs that would be paid by the homeowners on each of the private roads for winter and summer maintenance. The Town Attorney indicated a new NH law, effective as of August, would have made homeowners on these roads do this anyway starting this year. The cost will be determined annually for winter and summer maintenance agreement.

Winter maintenance cost proposed:

* Smith Pond Road - $2,322.11 that would result in a $159.34 annual cost per abutter; $13.29 monthly payment; $3.07 a week payment.

* Audette Road - $917.20 that would result in a $183.54 payment annually per abutter; $15.30 monthly payment; and, $3.53 weekly payment.

*  Depot Road with just one abutter/homeowner - $233.58 annual payment; $19.50 monthly payment; and, $4.48  a week payment.   

       For summer maintenance that would include grading two times per season at the contractor price which would be reduced if homeowners chose to have just one grading per season and also it would be reduced if the Town can use its own equipment.

Summer Maintenance cost proposed:

* Smith Pond Road - $1,918 that would  result in a yearly amount of $137 a year; $11.42 a month; and, $2.63 a week.

* Audette Road - $617.67 that would result annually in a cost of  $138.33; $11.52  a month; and, $2.66 a week.

       The board voted to consider this matter closed and said they would take no further public comment on it.

       Patrick Mohan, Melanson Heath Auditors went over the town's audit results and said the town had done very well: better than last year and is in a better position financially than last year. He indicated that there were no issues in the Management Letter this year and the two issues from the previous year had been resolved.

         Town Assessor Norm Pelletier went over his recommendation that the town provide an abatement of $40,124 to Shaw's concerning the land they had owned and sold on Fremont Road that is now part of a development there.

       Pelletier went over the details and the board discussed this.  Selectman Jack Barnes asked why Pelletier and Ilsley had not been to the State  Board of Tax and Land Appeals. Barnes said it is his opinion that this board would work with the town, set the rebate at a lower figure and allow it to be paid over a number of years.

     Pelletier disagreed saying he had never heard of that board working out such an agreement and he felt the town' s best interests lay in making the rebate payment now and putting the issue behind it.

     The board discussed this briefly and voted to table the issue until the next meeting when they would vote on a decision.

In other business:

* The board voted to approve the proposed $23,000 bond from Bruce Delle Chiaie for Overlook Drive, off of Langford Road. The roadway has been constructed to town requirements and the work has been completed through the first layer of pavement and he is requesting three years of winter maintenance on the roadway until the development is built out and the final wear coat applied. The board approved this.

* Police Chief Michael Labell asked the board to approve accepting $2,340 in grants from the state to allow additional patrols. The board approved this.

* There was a single bid for the LED light conversion from I.C. Reed, Raymond, for a total of $15,950. Public Works Director Steve Brewer said the town has the fixtures and there is money for to cover the bid. The contract would have the work completed by March of 2020. It was noted that this project will pay for itself in three years with a yearly net cost reduction of $10,500. The board approved accepting the bid.

* The board approved Ilsley returning an abatement of $9,312.15 to the property owners of a deeded property that has been in payment collection.

* New resident Richard Mulryan spoke in Public Comment issuing some suggestions about improving communication and it was later announced that he has been appointed to fill a full time vacancy on the Budget Committee.

* Kevin Pratt spoke in Public Comment making a reference to the roads, Smith Pond, Audette Road and Depot as being private roads.

* The next Selectmen's meeting is September 23 followed by a meeting on October 21.

 


New Citizen Work Group Proposed for 20 Year Plan
By Penny Williams   9-12-19

      On Monday night, September 9, Doug Vogel and Jonathan Wood introduced their idea for a Work Group to create a vision and a plan for the Town of Raymond for the next two decades.

     Vogel made it clear he wasn't looking to create a new board or committee but rather a Working Group that would have both town officials and resident contributors and the membership would be fluid.

     He said there needs to be a vision and a plan for what the people want Raymond to look like and what the Town of Raymond needs to have in place to be successful in twenty years. The plan the working group develops the town boards and committees could use as they form their agendas and responsibilities.

    Wood added that this would be a plan for the future that would be put together from brainstorming. He sees any information from the working group being funneled through Town Manager Joe Ilsley to the Board of Selectmen. And Wood said the focus will be on what the Town will need in 20 years - roads, infrastructure, water, police station and downtown.

    Wood indicated that with a lot increase in residential areas the Town will need to balance the revenue stream with what the Town will need to get done and provide. The plan should be a living document, able to change with the times and be about where we need to be as Town in 20 years with boundaries and benchmarks.

     They asked the board to sponsor and establish the working group for the betterment of the town.

     Selectman Kathy Hoelzel said she was overwhelmed by this and concerned about liabilities and legal issues associated with it. Selectman Jack Barnes asked what timeframe Vogel and Wood contemplated and Vogel said six months and then submit it to the public.

      Ilsley said there needs to be a vision and that it would make sense to allow this plan, as it is developed, to grow into the Master Plan. Barnes asked what role Vogel and Wood envisioned for the Selectmen.

    Vogel, Wood and Ilsley agreed that the Selectmen would review what Ilsley brought forward to them from the working group. Barnes offered to make a motion to go forward to develop a charter. However, Ilsley is concerned about the legality of a so-called working group and said he wanted to find out more about that issue in order to make sure that everything was clear and legal so no vote was taken.

    Ilsley also thought a good starting point for the proposed plan would be for the working group to look at the downtown and see what design it needs to be ready for the future. He said this would be a help in terms of economic development.

      The board considered the proposal to move an existing property line at 44 Sesame Street because the short-paved apron used by the Town to reverse direction was constructed on private property and not within the deeded pocket of land intended for this use. The retention of the existing turn around requires a Lot Line Adjustment to move the deeded pocket of land to the correct location. There had been two previous public hearings on this issue and no one from the public commented. The board voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

      The board and Ilsley discussed Social Services for 2019-2020. Ilsley asked the board if they wanted to break out all the Social Service requests by individual articles again this year. It was done that way last year in response to a resident who objected to the Social Service requests and being all in one article. The board after a brief discussion decided to return to the earlier format which had all the requests in one article. The only exception would be a new request not heard by the board previously and that would be in a separate article.

Ilsley recommended putting a not to exceed amount of $50,000 for Social Services in place and he and the board would distribute that amount among the social service requests. He suggested in doing this the town would save $24,000 that could be dedicated to the road project.

   After a prolonged discussion it was decided that Lamprey Health Care, which was turned down by voters last year, would not be included. This decision was based primarily on the fact that Lamprey Health Care gets a free pass on taxes that amounts to multiple thousands of dollars, Ilsley guestimated. It was pointed out that the Lamprey Health Care request was for funding was to cover the cost for the free transportation it provides residents to medical associated appointments and needs. The board approved the not to exceed $50,000, putting Social Services requests in one article except for any new requests, and not including Lamprey Health Center.

      Ilsley reported the Town had received a request from Alfano Law, PPLC, for a huge number of documents regarding Audette Road. He reviewed a few of the 17 areas where documents were requested covering Board of Selectmen minutes, correspondence, DPW plowing and maintenance records, budget documents; anything having anything to do with Audette Road, some going back as far as 1989 and many going back to June 2014 and including everything up to the present date.

    Ilsley told the board it would take the office a month to do this at a huge price because the people locating and coping these documents would be taken away from doing their normal duties. He said this would be a big cost to the tax payers but as requested under 91A the town had to comply.

In other business:
* Ilsley recommended and the board approved trying to keep the tax rate from growing more than 1,9 percent.

*  The board approved the Girl Scouts of Troop 10435 using Riverside Park in their Halloween project that the girls were using to earn their Silver award. The event with kids games and activities will be scheduled for October 19, from 4 to 6 p.m., and a haunted walk for families from 6 to 9 p.m. The Raymond Police Department will be one of the booths at the event providing information how on Trick or Treating can be done safely.

* Christina Vogel, Miss Raymond 2019 Aurora Paci-Burghardt, and 2019 Junior Miss Raymond Kiara Loman, told the board about their organization and about the next fundraiser, the Teddy Bear Picnic. This will be on September 21 on the Town Common. They presented the board with a plaque with all the Miss Raymond's names for the last 30 years.

*  The Raymond Historical Society is looking for anyone who was born before October 1919 for eligibility for the Boston Post Cane.

*  Buster Hammond told the board he believes Smith Road is private.

* Al Witham told the board about an easement he has provided from Shirkin Road to Fremont Road.


Town Manager Joe Ilsley Reviewed Fixed Budget Expenses
By Penny Williams     9-4-19

Town Manager Joe Ilsley reviewed the Budget fixed costs for the board, on Monday September 2nd. He noted that the way things were broken down last year on fixed costs allowed him to do a cost analysis of the budget at this point in time.    

Community Development saw a reduction of $7,266 but with the addition of the Circuit Rider, a temporary community development staff at $14,000, there will be an increase of  $6,734.     

The Town and Cemeteries had a net reduction of $13,915 but he added to the legal budget due to ongoing issues making the final reduction $6,066.

The Department of Public Works had a reduction of $96,180 but $22,898 was reallocated to road construction leaving a reduction of $73,282.

Welfare had a reduction of $688; Tax and Elections had a reduction of $1,827, but with the increased number of elections $12,896 was added leaving an impact of $11,069. The Police Department had an increase of $5,262 driven almost entirely by fuel costs. Dispatch had a reduction of $7,289, Fire Department a reduction of $4.023. Emergency management a reduction of $858 and Recreation an increase of $395.

This brought the savings down roughly $87,000, he said noting there would be only marginal growth in the overall Operational. He said his intent is to try and keep any tax increase from exceeding  the CIP increase of 1.9 percent.

Ilsley said the Capital Improvements analysis needs to be addressed, and he wants that committee to look at this area carefully. The need is for funding for roadways because that is going to be the biggest tax burden in the future so shortfalls need to be addressed.

Ilsley wants to change how things are done. For example vehicles would be addressed as one Town area regardless of what department the vehicle is for thus removing department competition and having a more accurate estimate of need and cost. He said that the estimates of replacements for example need to have the rate of inflation going forward included in the predictions.

He recommends developing a Capital Reserve Fund for Town Vehicles. Right now the town has 18 different Capital Reserve Funds and he wants to readjust these and reduce the number to 7. These Capital Reserve Funds would be: Vehicles, Equipment, Facilities, Road Construction, Administration, Technology, and, Park, Cemeteries and Recreation.

He said the Town is facing a revaluation in 2020 which will cost $60,000 and the amount of funding put aside is $2,900. This expense needs to be planned for. Another issue is the need for siding for the Town Hall when insulating the town hall, which would be a better use of the funds.    

There will have to be Warrant Articles to make these changes.

For vehicles alone the total need is around $1.5 million and there are proposed $930,000 in funding and this must be addressed. The roads and facilities are not now adequately funded when you realize there is a bridge replacement that must take place in the near future at a cost of $5 million today and no funding put away to address the need when it has to be taken care of.

There needs to be a public discussion regarding these recommended changes and the public made to understand that the deferment of the funding to address these needs is crippling the town. He believes the funding for future needs to be at 9.2 percent each year for the next five years. Many dollars that are now put into the unassigned fund balance can be put toward funding these issues, he pointed out.

Selectman Jack Barnes said it will be necessary to somehow inform and educate the public about these issues and recommended solutions. There was a discussion about how this could be accomplished and how to get more people in the town involved. There needs to be an emphasis on putting funds where they are needed and not just putting the money into the Unreserved Fund which doesn't need to be grown any more at this time.

Ilsley said that the Town must restrict capital spending for things that are not life or safety issues. The Town spending needs to be very restrictive for the next five years except for addressing, improving and bringing up to standard the town's roadways. At the end of the day the need is to address Capital Improvements and investments.

The board discussed getting the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) up and running after this committee and effort has been largely ignored for years. The discussion ranged over what method of informing the public would work and it was decided that something should be committed to paper that could be handed out at town events, at churches, the library and town meetings. Ilsley noted that the School District would be a good partner and the handout should definitely get to the schools to be sent home with students.

Carol Watjus spoke up suggesting the suggested flyer be distributed at every town event in order to reach a diverse public such as getting it ready to be handed out at the Town Fair. Just one mailing or hitting one event will not get to enough people, she said.

There was a discussion of possibly using email or a U.S. Postal mailing with the comment that the senior community is the hardest to reach. The decision was made to develop an informational document that could be emailed to those addresses the town has available, to look into having a RCTV special program, and have the handout available to be handed out to every possible location and organization and event. Ilsley said he could do the informational flyer.

In other business:

•  Ilsley said the trash and recycling issue could become a definite problem if the bag sales don't raise enough money to cover the cost of the program. And, he said, expenditures in this area are driven higher than resources by people's use and misuse and global recycling costs and issues.

Raising the bag price won't solve the problem in the long run so a way to control the program needs to be found and that raises the question, he said,  is the present system the right model. He isn't convinced that the current model is the right model. Next year concerns him. If costs are greater than resources there are no dollars available in the budget to address the possible shortfall. It is something that needs to be looked into.

•   The board of selectmen learned that the state is working to help market Raymond for economic development. Ilsley said there are several potential commercial developments out there being considered.

•   Wayne Watjus, Solid Waste Committee Chair told the board there is an opportunity to  learn more about the changing conditions in the solid waste and recycling industry and there are efforts being made in Concord to come up with ways to address the situation. He would be glad to address the board down the road with what he learns about what is out there and the board thought that would be a good idea.

•    No one appeared for the Public Hearing held by the Raymond Board of Selectmen about the proposal to move an existing property line at 44 Sesame Street. The short-paved apron used by the Town to reverse direction was constructed on private property and not within the deeded pocket of land intended for this use. The retention of the existing turn around requires a Lot Line Adjustment to move the deeded pocket of land to the correct location.

No public comments where made at the first two hearings on this, held on Monday, August 19 and September 2nd. The third and final hearing will be held on Monday, September 9, when the board will make a decision on the proposal.

 


Threats, Claims of Past Town Action Aired at Raymond Private Road Hearing
By Penny Williams     8-19-19

A public hearing to receive comment on the Town's continuation of maintenance for private roads, specifically Smith Pond Road, Audette Road, and a portion of Depot Street, took up most of the Raymond Board of Selectmen’s Aug. 19 meeting.

The response began with a statement by William Hutchinson during public comment, as he said he could not stay for the public hearing. Hutchinson gave a history of Smith Pond Road and Hutchinson Road, and claimed Hutchinson Road had been accepted as a Town road in 2003 or 2004 and Smith Pond Road had been accepted as a Town road by a previous Board of Selectmen.

Residents said Depot Road has been a part of Raymond for over 100 years as an access to the railroad, the train depot and a single residence, all of which had parking associated with them. Several commenters asserted the Town owns Depot Street and has maintained and plowed it for years.

Audette Road residents gave a history of their road and its maintenance by the Town as well. They said the Town has maintained it for years and it was listed as a Class V road for years; as such, it would be a Town-owned road. Thomas Wood said he has a video of the meeting in which the Town claimed ownership of Audette Road,

Former Fire Chief Kevin Pratt spoke at length about Smith Pond Road, where he lives. He said Buster Hammond in 1982 said the Town had plowed the road for the last 30 or 35 years as a Town road, as well as patching and fixing it.

Pratt added that a number of years ago, a layout of Smith Pond Road was done but it never resulted in anything; he maintained that a completed layout design exists.

Bolstering the argument that it is a public, Town-owned road, it was noted that driveway permits have been issued to homeowners on Smith Pond Road, which cannot happen on a private road.  Pratt said research had not turned up a single deed of ownership of the road. An Audette Road resident noted he too had received a Town driveway permit, which he claimed makes it obvious that Audette Road is a Town-owned road.

Paul McCoy spoke of the history of Audette Road, starting with a 1982 subdivision. He said that as the Town has taken care of Audette for 50 years, it is a public road. It was noted that the State statutes say a road maintained by a municipality for five continuous years makes it a Town-owned road.

The same was said for Smith Pond Road, which has been maintained continuously for 25 years, according to residents. Resident Bob Gagnon stated that Smith Pond Road has been maintained year round.

Gary Brown, who does not live on a private road, said that stories about history were nice but were just that - stories. He posed a series of questions regarding the legal issue of road maintenance and classification, and said he was opposed to the notion that the three private roads in question are Town owned. He added that the driveway permits provided to homeowners on those roads were illegal, as only the State can provide driveway permits. And he told the board it is time to stop illegal acts that have been going on for 30 to 50 years.

Brown claimed that homeowners except for one on Smith Pond Road pay lower taxes than other taxpayers in Raymond and said the roads in question are not maintained year round, only seasonally. He also asked why there is a green street sign on the end of Smith Pond Road; he was told such signs are authorized by the Fire Department.

"And who lives at the end of Smith Pond Road?" he asked. "The former fire chief."

He went on to add that all the stories about ice houses and theaters make "nice bedtime stories but have no merit."

Resident Carol Watjus said she does not approve of any funds being used for private road maintenance. That should not have happened, she said, adding it needs to be straightened out. She questioned why the residents on those roads are considered special, and said Raymond should not have to pay for their road maintenance. She suggested that the people who previously called those roads Town roads were not in a position to do so and therefore the action was not legal and should be corrected to be fair to all taxpayers.

A letter from Anthony Dickerson, who does not live on a private road, was read into the record. In his letter, he asked the board to find a way to maintain the three roads.

Brown also told the selectmen he thinks the Town will be sued. "If you do make this (Smith Pond Road) a public road, I'm going to tell all the people living on private roads to file a class action lawsuit against the Town of Raymond to make their roads public too...You're going to get sued by 11 people or by a class action suit by all the other people in Raymond living on private roads who you have run over," he said.

The board at that point shut down the public hearing and took the matter under advisement, and then moved forward with the rest of the agenda.

In other business:

• The selectmen held a public hearing on a proposal to move an existing property line at 44 Sesame St. No one spoke on the Sesame matter, and a second public hearing on the topic was scheduled for Aug. 29, with a third and final meeting on the issue Sept. 9, at which time the selectmen will vote on the matter.

The property line adjustment is proposed because the short-paved apron used by the Town to reverse direction was constructed on private property and not within the deeded pocket of land intended for this use. The retention of the existing turnaround requires a lot line adjustment to move the deeded pocket of land to the correct location.

• Resident Wayne Watjus said he finds it sad that people only come out when an issue impacts them. He said he wants people to participate and volunteer. Selectman Jack Barnes suggested he start a committee to work on getting volunteers.

• The board signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Lamprey River Advisory Committee Wild and Scenic Subcommittee for a grant of $6,000 to help pay for the Conservation Commission and Planning Board wetlands identification inventory, paid for by Conservation Commission funds at a cost of $30,378. The grant money would reduce the Conservation Commission fund payment.

• Resident Gretchen Gott asked the selectmen to consider hiring a planner or a community development director. She said the expertise of such a hire is needed. She was told the Town has contracted with a circuit rider who will be attending Planning Board meetings and acting on behalf of Raymond.

• Town Manager Joe Ilsley discussed water tower infrastructure, saying the State is more aggressively demanding the repainting of the water towers on Route 156 and on Orchard Street. He and the board discussed whether it would be more economically feasible to scrape and repaint the towers or to move ahead with research regarding erecting a new, larger-capacity water tower.

The cost of repainting is approximately $800,000, while creating a bigger and better tower would cost a little more than $1.4 million, Ilsley noted. The board asked about bonding this and Ilsley said he opposes bonds because they cost the taxpayers more money. He suggested the money could come from the unassigned fund balance, with the water fund paying it back over time. The board will continue to explore the matter.

 


Raymond Selectmen OK Release of Capital Reserve Money to Repair Lane Road Culverts
By Penny Williams     7-29-19

The Raymond Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved a request to release money from the Bridge and Culvert Capital Reserve Fund for two deteriorated culverts – at Sherman Drive and at Saddlepath Road - on Lane Road.

At their July 25 meeting, the selectmen also opened two bids for paving, then handed them over to Public Works Director Steve Brewer for a recommendation.

A bid from Brox of Dracut, Mass., came in for $925,790.05 for general work on Lakeview, a section of Lane Road, a section of Langford Road and a section of Scribner Road, along with the replacement of the Lane Road culverts. The bid did not include a bid on an alternate plan that included replacement of the culvert at the intersection of Lane and Saddlepath with a box culvert.

Also submitting a bid was Pike Industries of Belmont, which provided a general bid as well as a bid on the alternate plan. Its bid was $897,135 for general paving and culvert replacement with pipes, with an alternate bid of for $924,645 for a box culvert for the Lane Road and Saddlepath culvert replacement.

In order to address the replacement of the two deteriorated culverts on Lane Road, Brewer said the intent is to fund replacement culvert design, permitting and construction from the available road money and to release from the Bridge and Culvert Capital Reserve Fund up to $100,000. If the selectmen had not approved the withdrawal, the road reconstruction funding would have been borne by the Shim and Overlay Account, with Public Works having had to redirect nearly $400,000 from road reconstruction to culvert replacement activities.

Lane Road would have had to be closed if the culverts failed. The project is intended to replace t he culverts prior to winter.

"Our intended road program this year suggested that we would spend $143,000 plus or minus to place the final wearing course of pavement on the roads that were reconstructed last year - a portion of Harriman Hill Road, Ham Road, Cross Road, and Prospect Street - and $425,000 to reconstruct several troubled sections of Lakeview Road, Langford Road, Lane Road and Scribner Road," Brewer explained at the meeting.

Brewer said he will review the two bids and added that with the addition of the Bridge and Culvert funds, there should be no spike in the tax rate. He noted that the selectmen’s approval of the use of money from the culvert fund is consistent with the exact purposes for which the taxpayer money was intended.

Selectman Jack Barnes invited residents to offer suggestions on how the town could fund $564,926 in road reconstruction.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley noted that the Town has no reserve fund to address infrastructure emergencies and no money set aside for bridge replacement, something he said  is going to be necessary in the future.

To address this situation he suggested creating a Capital Reserve Fund for infrastructure failures and/or emergency projects, such as the current culvert issues. He noted that revenues that are currently being put into the unassigned fund balance might better be placed in the Capital Reserve Fund he is suggesting. Ilsley said he thinks he can reduce the tax impact of these types of emergencies by establishing such a fund, and the selectmen said the idea is worth considering.

 Brewer told the board he has met with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which agreed to provide a temporary emergency wetlands permit in connection with the culvert replacement projects so the Town could get started on the work. Public Works would file a permanent permit application while the repairs are in progress.

In other business:

• Ilsley said the tax repayment program has made 62 contracts, and 80 percent of those contract holders are paying back taxes. Of those paying their tax debt, 18 percent are missing only one or two payments, and 2 percent are in default of less than 50 percent. He said there has been $127,000 of new tax revenue and $176,000 in back taxes collected, which has put the Town about $38,000 ahead of where he thought it would be. He added that he favors putting any revenue beyond the $127,000 into the Capital Reserve Fund he suggested earlier in the meeting.

• Ilsley said the Town has received a donation of property on Juanita Avenue that will be helpful in meeting the drainage requirements of the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System). The property is unbuildable and produces $200 in taxes annually.

• The clean-up on three properties in Green Hills has been completed and he has heard favorable comments from abutters. He said the Town can now move forward with selling the 11 Mary Ave., parcel, and there will be no tax impact from the clean-up, as the sale of the land covers clean-up costs.

•  The board approved the appointment of new Police Officer David Parrott. He is expected to start training July 29. Both the police department vacancies have now been filled.

• An opening remains for an alternate on the Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, as N. Astrew has withdrawn from consideration. The Solid Waste and Recycling Committee is expected to bring proposed changes in the codes connected to solid waste and recycling to the selectmen at their Aug. 19 meeting.



Raymond Selectmen Face Hard Decisions on Culverts, Private Roads
By Penny Williams    7-18-19

More than 20 minutes of the July 15 Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting were taken up by listening to resident Jane Bailey during public comment, and almost 50 minutes were spent listening to her daughter, resident June Dickerson, with both women repeating requests they had made – and in many cases that were answered – at the selectmen meeting on June 17.

But the heart of the meeting was an agenda item discussion about Public Works funds being spent on private roads and on culverts, presented by Public Works Director Steve Brewer and Town Manager Joe Ilsley.

Brewer started the discussion about the Town’s spending its money on private roads, something Ilsley said legal counsel had told him must stop immediately.

The discussion involved three roads - Audette off Long Hill, Smith Pond Road, and a section of Depot Street off Main Street to the Quintal property. Brewer said the town would have to purchase a new grader if it were to continue to plow and grade those private roads, which he and Ilsley admitted the Town has done for many years.

Ilsley said he had been directed by the selectmen to find out what things the Town was doing that it should not be doing and to correct those activities; using Town equipment and staff to care for private roads is one such item. The matter was placed on the agenda so residents could hear the impact on those living on the private roads if they were no longer plowed and graded by the Town. He emphasized that in order to continue those services, there has to be a clear and definitive decision made by the selectmen to do so, and at present, no such decision has ever been determined.

One resident said the town has not used its grader for years on the gravel Smith Pond Road but instead used a front-end loader. Brewer agreed, pointing out the grader has not been functional for several years.

Former Fire Chief Kevin Pratt, a Smith Pond Road resident, documented much of the history of Smith Pond Road and how long the Town has provided plowing and grading service there. The road has 11 residents as well as three parcels owned by the Town. He detailed the hardships he claimed residents would face, were Town services stopped, such as difficulties with mortgages, rising insurance costs and decreased property values.

Smith Pond Road resident Paul Brown said homeowners could own the road and it could be considered a public road “by prescription.” Pratt echoed Brown’s comment about “prescribed use” - if something consistently takes place for five to seven years, it would meet the applicable criteria.

A couple of the private road residents wanted to know what their taxes would be used for if the Town stopped providing snowplowing and grading services. Several said when they bought their property, then-Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy told them the Town would service the road.

Ilsley said the current Board of Selectmen needs to decide whether the road is private or public definitively, so he can know what he can spend funds on.

Selectman Scott Campbell suggested that the roads are being serviced as a result of favors given to people in the past and said the current board is trying to straighten out things that were done in the wrong way.

Resident Kathy McDonald, who does not live on one of the roads in question, asked the board whether the roads would have to be brought up to current road standards if the Town decides to consider them public.

Resident Carol Watjus, who does not live on one of the roads in question, asked what would happen to the other private roads in Raymond if these three were granted services or made public. She said the Town needs to follow the rules and doing something for 40 years does not make it ethical or right.

Pratt noted that a previous board had gone so far as to have a road layout done, which would have determined the roads to be public, but the proposal was never approved.

A decision on the matter will be discussed at the next regular selectmen’s meeting.

Regarding culverts, Ilsley said that while he and Brewer had prioritized the roads that need to be fixed, money from priority one roads at this time must be diverted to fixing two culverts that are close to complete collapse, leading to road failure and closure.

The culverts in question are on Lane Road, one at the intersection with Saddle Path Road and the other at Sherman Drive. To fix them the way the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) wants them fixed so they could handle a 100-year storm would cost more than a million dollars. "We don't have that money," Brewer said.

He recommended fixing the culverts to a lesser standard, but one that would still hold up for many years. It would allow water to top the roadway in a bad storm. He described what emergency repairs would involve and said the two culverts could be fixed that way for between $180,000 and $200,000. Doing the less expensive emergency repair would keep Lane Road open. If the work is not done, Lane Road will be closed.

Selectman Jack Barnes suggested a bond for the amount needed to do the repairs according to the NHDOT plan. Ilsley responded that he was reluctant to cause taxpayers to pay for a bond when there is money available that can be used to effect the emergency repair. That repair would also last for enough years to save the needed money in a Capital Reserve Fund to cover the cost of the proposed NHDOT repair.

Brewer said that the paving bids for Harriman Hill Road will be in and there may be some money there, as the Town will not be doing as many road repairs as previously planned. There is also money in the Capital Reserve Bridge and Culvert Fund, he noted. The Board will meet to open the bids on Thursday, July 25, at 6 p.m., and a decision on the culvert work is expected at that time.

In other business:

• Ilsley was sworn in to another term as Town Manager through June 11, 2023.

• In his report, Ilsley said there is a plan is to get any recommendations from the Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Committee to the selectmen and then to legal counsel before holding a public hearing on them. The selectmen approved the charter for the advisory committee.

He also noted that the well the state had required to be dug for testing of PFOAs (Perfluorooctanoic acid) at the former tannery site on Wight Street cost the Town $10,000. He said the Town should hear from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services soon regarding the results.

• Concerning the cost of yellow garbage bags, Ilsley said he thinks things are going OK and he does not recommend making any changes until April, when he will have more information. He said the tipping fee for recycling has risen and may increase again, given the global recycling market issues.

• June Dickerson, under resident concerns on the agenda, asked the board what their decisions were on the action requests she had given to them previously. Her list of 12 items included obtaining personal email or telephone numbers for selectmen and making minutes available on the Town website. The board said they are working on those requests.

She then gave the selectmen copies of the current RSA 91-A right-to-know law, which includes changes passed in January, and suggested they familiarize themselves with it. She wants board minutes posted at the fire station or outside town hall, and wants the selectmen to meet more than once a month. Barnes and Chair George Plante said that was not necessary.

• She also wanted the three-minute time limit allotted to public comment to be extended; Ilsley, however, said holding everyone to the same time standard was in place to protect the Town from potential liability issues. That time limit did not occur with Bailey’s comments.

And Dickerson sought to have the rules and procedures and bylaws for each board and committee posted on line. The selectmen said this can probably be done.

Dickerson also asked the board to do due diligence before making decisions and wants to see anything that would raise taxes put before the voters. The selectmen informed her that already happens with the Budget Committee and warrant articles.

Dickerson also said she wants the Town to use its previous volunteer form rather than the new one approved by the selectmen, but Plante advised her the new form was developed by the selectmen with legal counsel’s input to protect the Town, and will remain in place.

She also asked to have the Town-wide survey put back on the website, wants agendas posted two working days before a meeting, which Ilsley said is being worked on, and wants the Town Code Ordinances on the website for all boards. Barnes noted the selectmen have no control over the other boards.

Dickerson’s mother, Jane Bailey, noted the new volunteer form does not say “Raymond Resident” on it, but Selectman Kathy Hoelzel explained there are times when it is a benefit to be able to take advantage of the expertise of someone from another town.

Bailey read a letter from Anthony Dickerson, June’s son and Bailey’s grandson, asking the board not to make any decision regarding Onway Lake Resort. Onway Lake residents had appeared at the June selectmen’s meeting to ask the selectmen to change the covenants for the resort so residents could live at the resort 12 months a year. At the June meeting, Ilsley was directed to get a legal opinion and determine what the board could and should do.

Bailey then went on to reiterate the requests she had made at the previous meeting regarding placement of mailboxes, asking that Raymond use the U.S. Postal Service requirement for placement rather than Raymond’s. She was told that as the postal service has not raised any issue with the siting of mailboxes, their placement will follow Raymond regulations.

Bailey also asked if the board would have the information missing from the Town Report provided as hard copies, and Ilsley said that came under "waste of staff time." He said that to do so would mean the staff would not be doing their job duties, and reiterated that everything legally required to be in the Town Report was included in the paper document, at a 75 percent reduced cost. She was told where she could get the voting results she wanted. In all, her requests, repeated from the June meeting, took up over 50 minutes.
   


Raymond Selectmen Deny Granite Meadows Abatement Request
By Penny Williams     7-10-19

The Raymond Board of Selectmen voted June 27 to turn down a requested abatement sought by Granite Meadows.

Granite Meadows had requested the abatement, saying the development had loaned the Town $240,000 for environmental impact surveys and studies when the plan included developing a wastewater treatment plant, with the Town to repay that amount through abatements. However, the Town Attorney said this could not legally be done, and the Board voted to turn down the requested abatement per legal advice.

Granite Meadows, as yet undeveloped, is at Exit 4 of Route 101 and has been discussed for many years.

During public comment, resident June Dickerson requested that the Granite Meadows abatement request, as well as an abatement request for Shaw’s on a parcel near McDonald’s, be moved to the next selectmen’s meeting and be opened to public hearing so residents could comment. The selectmen told her there would be no public hearings for abatement requests, and as both items were on the agenda for this meeting, the board planned to vote on them during the meeting.

Shaw's request for a tax abatement concerns property Shaw’s sold for $700,000, although the Town had appraised it at $1,241,000. Shaw’s asked for an abatement for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 for a total amount of $40,124.

The Town's assessor recommended paying the three years of tax abatement requests but the selectmen were not inclined to do so. Shaw's had not provided the town with the sale price until after the sale was concluded and the request is currently before the State Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA).

After a brief discussion, the board asked Town Manager Joe Ilsley and the assessor to go to the NH BTLA hearing to see if the amount can be reduced or eliminated. The board approved a motion not to approve the tax abatement request as presented.

In other business:

• The selectmen authorized the expenditure of Capital Reserve Funds for the purchase and installation of software updates required by the newly updated server system. The database support system cannot run without the software updates and the board approved the request.

 The amount of this expenditure is $2,678.99. added after resident Carol Watjus in public comment requested the amount be specified.

• A second request related to tax-deeded properties was for the Brownfield site on Wight Street. Ilsley said the state has ordered the Town to dig two new well test pits at the Brownfield site, a former tannery, at an approximate cost of $10,000; the rest of the work associated with this will cost a total of $82,787. Ilsley said he did not wish to expend more money than the Town has taken in by selling reclaimed properties, approximately $82,000, but this project would finish up the work at the Brownfield and he recommended the selectmen approve the expenditure, which they did.

• The selectmen were asked to sign a warrant for dog forfeiture fines. Chair George Plante read the relevant state statute to let residents know that dog owners were responsible for the fines as well as registration fees, and that by law, unlicensed dogs after 20 days would be removed and held until owners registered them. If that did not happen during the allotted time span, the dogs would be removed from their present ownership. The board signed the warrant.

• The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will hold a horseshoe tournament on Saturday, July 13, at 7 p.m. and will serve liquor. The VFW had State permission to do so but that permission requires approval from the selectmen as well. The board gave its approval. The VFW also requested permission for its annual car show, slated for Aug. 3. Plante asked that this decision be postponed until the July 15 meeting.

• Ilsley said he and Selectman Kathleen Hoelzel have been meeting with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation regarding state-owned property in Raymond that they say is having a negative impact on the Town. One area is property at the Route 27 and Main Street intersection that the Town would like to buy in order to address safety issues there. The other is a State-owned garage the Town wants the State either to sell to the Town or to a developer, so it can be taken down.

• Ilsley said he and Public Works Director Steve Brewer have addressed the issue raised at the previous meeting regarding drainage problems on Diaz Drive impacting Angel Diaz’s property. Ilsley said a swale will be created to divert the water and resolve the problem.

• Dickerson asked why the Correspondence agenda item was eliminated from the agenda and requested it be replaced.

• Resident Jane Bailey, who is Dickerson’s mother, requested during public comment that the Town remove its regulation for mailbox placement and replace it with the Post Office guideline. The board said they thought the Town should be in compliance with the requirement and Ilsley said they would look into it.

• Bailey also wanted information not included in the Town Report to be placed at Town Hall and the library in hard copy form. The board had no problem with that request.

• Bailey asked that the cost of copying a page at Town Hall be reduced from 50 cents to 15 cents. The board disagreed and tried to explain that the price covers the Town's cost of taking an employee from his or her normal job to do requested copying.

• The selectmen accepted the donation of gift cards for the Fourth of July Raffle.


Raymond Seeks to Create Enforceable Dumpster Ordinance
By Penny Williams   6-21-19

The Raymond Board of Selectmen learned at its June 17 meeting that its ordinance regarding Dumpsters was not enforceable, in spite of problems experienced by residents.

Victoria McLaughlin, a 30-year Raymond resident, implored the board to take action regarding a Dumpster her neighbors have placed adjacent to her property on Jenco Way; that placement means the Dumpster renters do not have to look at the Dumpster from their home, which is on an adjacent street. In addition, the Dumpster is a 4-yard size, not the allowed 2-yard size, and McLaughlin said it is not dumped weekly as required.

McLaughlin said she has been trying for a long time to get the Town to do something about this issue. Town Manager Joe Ilsley said he sympathized with her and had taken what action he could, but noted the Town ordinance regarding Dumpsters is at the root of the problem. He said that because of the way it is written, the Dumpster company is responsible, and can charge the resident for any actions required. Ilsley noted, however, that the Town can't regulate the Dumpster company, and that is where things have stalled.

McLaughlin expressed frustration at the lack of action on the Town's part and complained that not only does the Dumpster smell and serve as an eyesore but it leaks water onto her property. Ilsley responded that until the ordinance is changed, the Town can't do more than it is doing now, which is trying to get the Dumpster company to cooperate.

Ilsley said the newly appointed Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Committee has been asked to pursue this matter as its top priority. McLaughlin asked for a time frame for action, which Ilsley could not give her.

The selectmen took the issue under advisement and encouraged Ilsley to continue pursuing the matter and to take any legal action available. He said as soon as the committee meets and amends or writes a new ordinance that is approved by legal counsel, he will bring it to the selectmen for approval and for any action the Town can then take. Until then, he said he is helpless to aid McLaughlin, as the current ordinance, dating back to 1984, cannot be enforced.

The selectmen also heard that the Town has approximately 200 Dumpsters on private property, which will be looked at once the ordinance is corrected.

In a related matter, following a non-public session, the selectmen appointed Wayne Watjus, Kevin Woods, Kathy Pouliot, Jennifer Dube and Selectman Kathy Hoelzel to the Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Committee, and appointed Neva Cole and Selectman Chris Long as alternates.

Woods, who created the committee, complained that the selectmen had appointed a four-person board, the first of its kind in Town and one that could not break a tie. He further complained that the board had not addressed the issue of the new committee’s being asked to report to the Town Manager, to which he objected.

On the issue of reporting to the Town Manager, Ilsley agreed with Woods and said the committee should report to the governing body – the selectmen - as other boards and committees do. After a brief discussion, the selectmen agreed with this view.

Concerning the four members, the selectmen pointed out that Hoelzel would be a full voting member of the new committee, therefore making it a five-person board. Woods was not happy and asked that anyone who had been nominated for appointment to the board but not appointed be allowed to ask why and receive an answer in public forum.

The members of the committee were sworn in and none of those who were not appointed asked why they had not been chosen.

In other business:

• Woods told the selectmen that the Cable Committee had received a new cable franchise agreement from Comcast, the third since cable came to Raymond. He said the committee had chosen a five-year contract rather than the proposed 10-year term because they have applied for a High Definition Channel for Raymond and expect to have this within three years. He added that they stayed with 2 percent subscriber payments and thought it was neither appropriate nor needed to increase that amount, although they could seek as much as 5 percent. He said the contract has gone to the Town Manager and to legal counsel.

Ilsley asked that the selectmen not vote on the contract until legal counsel has fully reviewed and possibly amended it. He said legal counsel has issues with the contract’s not being entirely favorable to the town.

Resident Carol Watjus asked why there was not more oversight of this committee and the franchise agreement. She complained that it was unfair that the volunteers on the Cable Advisory Committee were paid a stipend while no other volunteer committee members received stipends, and was upset that the committee had voted itself a raise in March 2018. She also questioned why the Town needs two cable channels, noting that getting rid of one might reduce the costs to the Town and subscribers.

Woods later explained, however, that Cable Advisory Committee members do not get a stipend. Cable volunteers, some of whom are Cable Committee members, who cover Board of Selectmen and committee meetings, receive a stipend for working those meetings. In addition, according to Comcast, there would be no reduction in cost to the Town or subscribers if there were only one cable channel.

The selectmen took her comments under advisement and said they would not vote on the franchise contract until legal counsel makes a recommendation.

• At public comment, the selectmen allowed resident Jane Bailey to go over a lengthy list of concerns regarding procedures, infrastructure, and maintenance issues. She said only allowing three minutes for public comment does not work and that when there are discrepancies, there is liability.

She pointed to the town's requirement for placing mailboxes 36 inches from the edge of the road and the conflicting post office requirement that they be within 6 to 8 inches of the road. Following the Town requirements causes the mail truck to go off the pavement, damaging the edge of the roadways and the right-of-way area, she claimed.

She said the town also needs to maintain and paint its water tanks, and asked why rubber sealant is no longer used to fix cracks in the roads.

Bailey also said the Town Report failed to include information items that other town reports include and that Raymond town reports had always included. She alleged the report was full of wasted space and unnecessary pictures.

And she asked for more than one selectmen’s meeting per month and sought email and phone numbers for selectmen. Currently, all selectmen have an email address listed on the Town website, and Town or personal phone numbers are also listed.

Ilsley responded to the Town Report issue by saying the document included everything required by law and noted that items not included were available on the Town website. He said the changes were made because the 2017 Town Report cost $10,000 and the majority of those documents were thrown away.

• Residents of Onway Lake Family Resort appeared before the board to seek the legal right to live there 12 months a year. John Tracy said they were looking to have the selectmen change the covenants for the resort.

The covenants currently require owners/renters of the cabins to vacate them for two months of the year; they also do not allow the owners to register their cars with that address. Tracy said some residents have been staying for the full year but want the covenants changed so they can do so legally. He said the resort is required to plow and maintain the roadways during the months when people are not supposed to be living there.

Paul McCoy of Raymond, who is helping the resort with its marketing strategy, said they want to make it a four-season community.

 Ilsley said there are violations regarding the resort users from years back. He said the board can change the covenants and the resort association is in favor of having changes made, but the issue may need to go before the Planning Board.

The board asked Ilsley to get a legal opinion and determine what the board can and should do, and return with that information.

• Ilsley told the board that a legal recommendation has been handed down that the Town should stop using Town vehicles to maintain private roads. This may be a problem for some residents who have been receiving this service for 30 years but the board will need to make a decision after a public hearing.

For the Town to bring private roads up to public road standards would be a huge expense, Ilsley said. He added that he needs to identify and notify everyone who will be impacted and get their responses.

• During Public Comment, resident June Dickerson asked the board to announce meeting dates more than two days in advance. She also complained that three minutes are not enough time for a comment; the board took that under advisement. It was noted that the 3-minute requirement was imposed on her but not on the others who spoke in Public Comment.

• Ilsley reviewed recently accepted bids: demolition of Town-deeded properties and clean-up, EnviroVantage, $47,250; hazardous waste, ACV Environmental, $14,974; and pavement markings, Highway Safety Systems/Rockland, $26,100.

• Ilsley told the board that the Town Code Book needs to be updated, and proposed looking at the most urgent items first. He said he plans to create a fee table to accompany the codes.

• Fire Chief Paul Hammond introduced newly hired firefighter Michael Kilrain and said his hiring allows the coverage schedules to be improved, providing more coverage for the town. New Police Officer AJ Newman was also introduced.

• Work on correcting a drainage situation on Diaz Road that was slated for completion by May 31 is in progress. Ilsley said he did not realize the work could not be done until school was out and apologized for the delay.

• Unanticipated revenue coming from donations was approved by the selectmen, with money to support Recreation, the July 4th Parade and the Welfare Department, as follows: Raymond Coalition for Youth, $400 for Grad Night; School Administrative Unit, $400 for Grad Night; Tuckaway Tavern, $50 for Fourth of July; IC Reed, $1,250 for Fourth of July, Severino, $250 for Fourth of July; Hampshire Family Dental, $100 for Fourth of July, $500 from a resident for Fourth of July; S&S Gallos, Inc., $50 for Fourth of July; Raymond Animal Hospital, $250 for Fourth of July; Ben Franklin, $50 for Fourth of July; Raymond Area Rotary, $1,000 for Fourth of July; Access Sports Medicine, $250 for Fourth of July; and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, $500 for Fourth of July; and Walmart Distribution Center, $100 for Welfare.

Selectman Jack Barnes said next year's Fourth of July parade will need someone new to organize and run it. He said it is an enormous job and has been done voluntarily by the minister of New Life Church, who is stepping down after this year. He added that most of the volunteers who work on the parade are the church’s members and may not be as active in the future.

• The board will meet in a work session Thursday, June 27, with the next regularly scheduled meeting Monday, July 15. A brief workshop was held June 10 that primarily was spent in non-public session. The selectmen signed a series of abatements. No business was conducted.

 


Raymond Group to Plan Infrastructure Improvements for Next 10 to 20 Years
By Penny Williams     5-23-19

Planning Board chairman Jonathan Wood discussed coming up with 10- to 20-year plan for infrastructure improvements within the Town of Raymond at the May 20 Board of Selectmen meeting.

He said the plan would become part of the Master Plan and would be the product of a working group to include the Superintendent of Schools, a School Board member, the Town Manager and a Selectman, as well as a couple of citizen volunteers. The group would look at issues relating to roads, the police station, schools, town offices, a proposed community center and beach access, as well as access to the Town's conservation land, and would include creating a Town map with the help of the Planning Board.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley said the proposal would be helpful to him for strategic planning, and recommended the board appoint Wood to set up the group. The board approved Wood’s moving ahead with the proposed plan.

In other business:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer discussed paving projects and said that after reviewing a road study the Town had a third party conduct a few years ago, he and Ilsley drove all the Raymond roads and determined where the worst issues exist. They then developed a priority list for roadwork.

The two roads that have critical issues of failed infrastructure and would be the top priority and dealt with this year are failed culverts and sections of Prescott Road and Langford Road.

The second priority would include heavily traveled road sections that have critical degradation or deterioration, with the work to be done within three years. Priority #3 would be areas of serious degradation and deterioration on heavily traveled roads, to be addressed within five years. In that group they included Main Street, which Ilsley said ought to show Raymond in the best light.

Priority #4 would be road sections and roads lightly traveled that show critical degradation but because of low volume and slower traffic speeds, have less serious safety considerations. Those areas would receive overlay in five years. Priority #5 would be roads with crack and seal and drainage issues, and Priority #6 would be repairs.

They anticipate having the road issues under control in five years, and the worst of the failed or about to fail areas addressed within three to five years. While the work is probably more expensive when done in this way, the safety component dictates the need to address the issues in this fashion, they said.

Dealing with the two failed culverts and the immediate roadway sections in priority #1 would use the full budget for this year, but they think the work can be done without incurring an increased tax impact by using unassigned fund money if needed, along with anticipated increases in appropriations and revenues.

The plan for this year includes finishing Ham Road and the sections of Harriman Hill, Cross and Prospect roads that were all started last year; they will receive overlay this year. In addition, Lakeview will have to be reconstructed and reclaimed, as will a section of Langford Road.

He described in detail the proposed work on three sections of Langford Road that need attention as well as sections of Lane Road. These are both highly traveled roads and therefore a safety concern and thus need to be addressed, despite the fact the work will cause commuter discomfort.

• Henry Hyder and Mike Harrington told the board that the Granite Meadows development at Exit 4 of Route 101 has been reactivated, with a five-acre lot out of the total 39 acres now on a contract. A purchase and sale agreement is in the works, and they expect it to go before the Planning Board shortly. They noted that the original residential proposal for the site has been drastically reduced and most of the acreage is now being marketed as mixed use.

• Ilsley also addressed economic development in general and the legacy of the Granite Meadows development, which has not moved forward. He said the current plan is to get it going and noted that originally the developers had fronted the subdivision with $240,000 to the Town as a no-interest loan, and he thinks a tax credit is due those investors, as the original idea of a waste water treatment facility never took place. He recommended this be done by a tax credit to the investors, once the information about the contract and the money fronted to the Town is validated and after legal review. The tax credit would be for 2019 and would amount to $34,800. The selectmen agreed and asked Ilsley to address this with the Town attorney.

Ilsley also acknowledged the departure of Community Development Director Ernie Creveling, who has accepted a job as Town Administrator in Milton. Ilsley said for now he will assume Creveling’s duties, while the Planning Director and Economic Development Director jobs done by Creveling are reviewed.

• Resident Kevin Woods explained his reasons for creating a citizen-based Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Committee and briefly interviewed the residents who were interested in serving on that committee.

Woods said the committee would research and gather information and help with the load of the Solid Waste and Recycling issues that Brewer has to address. Woods said the committee would be able to offer support and information and make recommendations, and given the changes in the recycling markets across the globe, would provide information on how and where things are headed.

The selectmen discussed whether the committee should have five or seven members, in addition to liaisons from the Selectmen and School Board and two alternates. Selectman Jack Barnes wanted the committee to report directly to the Town Manager.

The board interviewed committee applicants Kathy Masso, Mark Desrochers, Kathy McDonald, Jennifer Dube, and Jonathan Wood; applicant Kathy Pouliot was not present. They also interviewed alternate candidates Neva Austrew-Cole and Wayne Watjus. Woods said he preferred seven members but Barnes said that might be too many. given the liaisons and alternates. The selectmen will discuss the matter in non-public session.

• The selectmen heard that calls from residents have been received regarding Dumpsters in their neighborhoods. Some residents have decided not to use the Pay As You Throw program and have brought in Dumpsters instead.

• The Collection and Disposal Article, 170-1, which was previously put in place but quickly died, was re-introduced, and Ilsley asked the board to decide whether it needs to be put back on the books. The selectmen approved Ilsley's recommendation to have the new solid waste committee review the article and make a recommendation.

• Ilsley presented Board of Selectmen Rules of Procedure that specify one 15-minute public input session each meeting, with time divided equally among those wishing to speak, and with no one allowed to speak for more than three minutes. The selectmen unanimously approved the new rules.

 • Ilsley said that four Town-owned parcels have been readied for sale, three in Green Hills and one at Governor's Lake. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) with a deadline of May 31 have been sent out for environmental abatement and demolition for the properties at 38 Regina. 4 Berry, 11 Mary, and 7 Hollywood, to get them ready for sale.

• Fire Chief Paul Hammond promoted Captain Jason Grant to Deputy Chief, and he was sworn in with his family and several members of the Fire Department present.

• Two bids for Household Hazardous Waste Cleanup were opened and given to Brewer to decide on - Tradebe Environmental of Newington at $2,625 and ACD Environmental of Norfolk, Mass., at  $1,200. The ACD bid included additional fees, which might mean it would be the more expensive bid.

• Ilsley said Police Chief Michael Labell has completed a cell phone study, and his recommendations could save the town $2,000.

• The Tax Collector’s Office will adjust its hours for the next four months, starting June 12, and will open at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays, Ilsley said. The purpose is to determine peak hours and make adjustments to reduce long lines and long wait periods.

• Diane Debruyckere was sworn in as a member of the Historic District Commission.

• Funds donated to the Recreation Programs in the amount of $3,850 were accepted.

 

 


Raymond Selectmen Hear Tax Repayment Plan, Property Clean-Up Working Well
By Penny Williams    4-24-19

Raymond Town Manager Joe Ilsley told the Board of Selectmen at its April 22 meeting that his tax repayment plan for those behind in their taxes is paying off, not only for the Town but for the people having difficulty with their property tax burden.

Ilsley said the Town now has 72 tax repayment contracts in place and 93 percent of those are in good standing. He noted that $740,166.83 in back taxes are owed, and under the new approach to repayment, $204,657 is under contract. Ilsley added that with this kind of progress, he plans to contact the Town’s auditors to see if that would reverse an identified weakness. More than $17, 000 was collected last month, and Ilsley cited $224,588 in new payments of back taxes.

Ilsley also addressed the clean-up of tax-deeded properties in Raymond. He said the Town will be looking first at five Green Hills properties: at 1 Bertha, 11 Mary, 38 Regina, 71 Prescott, and 7 Hollywood. An environmental study is being conducted for these properties, along with a water assessment on 7 Hollywood to look at wetland on that parcel. He said he expects to spend $5,500 on the study and assessment, which will come from the $225,000 Deeded Property Reserve Fund. The Town will get revenue from the sale of parcels that are cleaned up and made ready for sale, he noted.

In other business:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer informed the board that the purchase of a new truck approved by the voters for $183,000 for chassis, dump and sander equipment was bought at $170,854, thus saving $12,146.

• Finance Manager Julie Jenks reviewed the Expenditure and Revenue reports and noted an increase in revenues received from the Land Use Change Tax, which is driven primarily by the sale of deeded properties. The overall revenue has increased 9.2 percent, with $32,353 coming from the sale of the deeded properties. Turning to the Expense Report, she said it is on track, as are the Trust Funds, and everything is trending in a positive way. She asked the board if members wanted monthly or quarterly financial reviews and after a discussion the board opted for quarterly reviews, with the exception of budget season, when they may require monthly updates.

• Jenks said impact fees from 2018 amounted to $98,901, to which she added $3,600 that she found had not been transferred in previous years, for a total of $102,401 to be transferred to the School District. The board approved the transfer.

• Resident Christopher Brodeur, after introducing himself and referring to his landlord in a derogatory manner, told the selectmen about an alleged confrontation about closing hours that he had at the Dudley-Tucker Library, claiming the staffer was rude to Brodeur because of Brodeur’s manner of dress and hairstyle. He was stopped in his presentation by the selectmen’s three-minute rule for public comment but did not cease talking, and claimed the Town Manager had broken “a whole bunch” of federal laws. He also pointed his finger at Ilsley, referring to “criminals like him.”

After his time was up, Brodeur was admonished by the selectmen to be quiet but he ignored their request.

Ilsley said in response to Brodeur’s comments, “the reason why this issue is an issue is that Town employees and the public are not here to be abused. This individual has abused our Town employees, referring to them as pedophiles and Nazis and threatening to chase them out of their houses, jobs and community, and creating a situation of fear and intimidation.”

Ilsley said Brodeur had sent a note to the Board of Selectmen and told the Town Manager that if he did not release the temporary ban against his using the library, he would show the Town how Ilsley allegedly committed criminal activity.

Ilsley said as a result, he was contacting an attorney to find out what can be done to protect Town employees from abuse and intimidation.

• Ilsley presented a Priorities of Work document that is to be added to contract negotiations and to the Personnel Policy. As it relates to road strategy, the plan is to identify and prioritize the worst areas of town roads and fix them. Some are as small as a few feet, while others are bigger patches.

Selectman Jack Barnes said more money should be dedicated to the roads and that he plans to say this again during budget session. He asked who makes the determination of which are the worst patches and roadways; Ilsley said he and Brewer would make those decisions.

Ilsley also said he was developing a 10-year road strategy and planned to see about implementing impact fees. Presently the Town does not have impact fees – the School District does - because previously it was found to be too difficult to determine how to spend the impact fees. He said he would be bringing the impact fee issue to the board.

• Ilsley noted an issue with gravel roads, saying Raymond has 2 miles of gravel roads and the Town owns two-thirds of them, with the remainder being private roads. As the Town grader is broken and cannot be fixed, the Town has a problem with grading the gravel roads and the 58,000 square feet of gravel parking areas, of which the Town also owns two-thirds.

He said he has been trying to determine whether it would be possible to borrow or rent a neighboring town's grader or put the job out to a third party, and said the cost to do the spring grading would be about $6,000. The total year's cost would be between $20,000 and $24,000.

Ilsley noted that for 30 or more years, the Town has been grading and plowing the one-third of existing gravel roads and parking lots that are private property, and he cannot see suddenly saying the Town will not do so any longer. He said he needs time to research whether it is legal to use Town funds for taking care of private property and how the issue can be resolved, perhaps by regionalizing the purchase of the needed equipment.

• Kevin Woods presented the board with a request to approve the creation of a Solid Waste  & Recycling Advisory Committee. He said he recommended five members and two alternates, and had interested parties for those seats. Discussion followed, and the selectmen decided the board would only consider approving creation of the committee at this time. Selectman Kathy Hoelzel said other residents interested should have an opportunity to apply for a seat on the committee. The board approved the creation of the committee and decided that they would discuss appointing committee members at its next meeting.

Under public comment, resident Wayne Watjus brought up the Facebook page that the new committee has set up. Hoelzel noted a problem with its having the potential to run afoul of the Right to Know law if a thread includes all members and therefore becomes a meeting. Administration said this will be addressed in Right to Know law training for boards and committees.

Barnes pointed out that 20 percent of the townspeople don't have access to Facebook and should not be left out.

• Resident Carolyn Matthews gave the board a report on the Lamprey River Advisory Committee. She also indicated that her term as Raymond’s representative would be ending next year and said the Town can have up to four members on the committee. She said the town has no representatives on the Exeter River Advisory Committee but it should have.

She also noted that the Lamprey River Advisory Committee (LRAC) has funding available for small grants and that the Conservation Commission would be applying for one. She added that in the past the LRAC had awarded a grant for the establishment of an eco-park at Lamprey River Elementary School.

• The board accepted and approved a Household Hazardous Waste Grant of $3,191 from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and accepted and approved donations made to the Recreation Committee as unanticipated revenue.

• Kathy McDonald from the Supervisors of the Checklist said the supervisors have formally approved Wayne Welch as the new Town Moderator. He replaces Kathy Hoelzel, who was elected selectman in March.

• The board appointed David Hoelzel to the Historic District Commission, Debra Moore to the Raymond Community Television Committee, Janice Arsenault as the School Board member on the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Committee, and Deborah McNelly to the Conservation Commission.


Raymond Selectmen Will Not Pursue Legal Action Against Zoning Board
By Penny Williams     4-17-19

Following a non-public session at its April 15 meeting, the Raymond Board of Selectmen returned to public session and chairman George Plante announced that after discussion with attorneys, the board has decided not to pursue any legal action against the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) in the BenAsh Holdings matter.

The selectmen had asked the ZBA to hold a rehearing regarding the ZBA’s Oct. 24, 2018 and Dec. 19, 2018 decisions to grant a total of three variances to BenAsh Holdings regarding a proposed mixed use development of property owned by Timothy Peloquin on Freetown Road. The rehearing requests, dated Jan. 17, 2019, were unanimously denied by the ZBA, which said at a March 27 meeting that they saw no new evidence provided and the time in which to appeal a decision had long since passed for the variances granted at the October meeting.

The Peloquin proposal is for eight, two-bedroom condominium units and a 4,000-square-foot commercial building on 1.62 acres in a C1 (Commercial) zone. During the hearings an issue arose regarding ZBA member Paul McCoy, with some saying he should have recused himself from the first meeting because he had previously represented Peloquin in an attempt to sell the property. He recused himself from the second meeting.

Abutters brought their complaints about the granting of variances to the Board of Selectmen, which requested a rehearing, submitted by Attorneys Keriann Roman for the  Board of Selectmen and Laura Hartz on behalf of the abutters.

In other business:

• The selectmen reviewed and approved an updated appointment procedure and application for Capital Improvement Program Committee appointees. Absent from the meeting were selectmen Scott Campbell and Chris Long.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley said the main point is that anyone put forward for membership to that committee must be appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The town is re-establishing the CIP Committee, with its goal to provide the Board of Selectmen and the Raymond School Board with recommendations on what should be included in the plan and how much should be funded each year.

Membership on the committee will consist of two members of the Board of Selectmen, two members of the School Board, two Budget Committee members, two Planning Board members and three citizens at large. The citizens at large will be appointed for three-year terms, while all the committee and board members will be considered for reappointment annually. Any changes to this procedure must be made by a vote of Town Meeting.
 
Board Chair George Plante then read the new updated appointment application for board or committee membership. The applicant must attend three meetings of the group in question, and must meet recommended ethical and behavior expectations that emphasize respect, openness, fairness and equal opportunity, while seeking what is best for the town. After a brief discussion, the board approved the new application form unanimously.

• The board opened bids for cemetery mowing, catch basin cleaning, and pavement markings.

Two bids came in for cemetery mowing - one from the current vendor, Blue Sky of Deerfield, and another from ASAP Landscaping and Design of Bow. Both bids were for three years, but Public Works Director Steve Brewer noted he thought there was a mistake in one of the bids that he would check out.

Catch basin cleaning and inspection also drew two bids. Brewer said the town has 304 catch basins, and while they all get inspected, not all need to be cleaned. Eastern Pipe Service of Bow bid $40 for inspecting and cleaning, $20 for inspecting but not cleaning, and an hourly rate of $150. Also bidding was Hartigan Wastewater Services of Middlesex, Vt., which bid $39.78 for inspection and cleaning; $19.89 for inspection only; and a $165.75 hourly rate.

Three bids in eight categories came in for pavement markings. The bidders are Industrial Traffic Line of Londonderry at $40,415.25; Hi-Way Safety Systems of Rockland, Mass., the current vendor, at $26,864; and Markings, Inc., of Pembroke, Mass., at $49,241.25. Brewer said he would check any bids with discrepancies.

Selectwoman Kathleen Hoelzel asked if the board would be informed which company is chosen for each bid, and was told that did not happen currently. The board discussed this briefly and decided to have the board told who was the chosen bidder. The board also asked Ilsley to amend the Town's Purchase Policy to include notification to the selectmen and the general public about which bidders are selected and why,

• The board signed a Branch Road communication agreement wherein the builder has agreed to install conduit for the communication system for new house construction and Eversource has signed off on the agreement. The board also signed pole licensing permits.

 


Selectmen Note Tax Decrease, New Procedures for Garbage Collection
By Penny Williams    3-21-19

At its March 18 meeting, the Raymond Board of Selectmen discussed the tax impact of the recent election. The estimated tax will be $5.81 per $1,000, a 77-cent reduction, Town Manager Joe Ilsley said.

With the defeat of Pay As You Throw tax-funded garbage service and its $311,000 cost, the tax burden was reduced by 33 cents, Ilsley said. As a result, the Town tax will be $5.48 per $1,000, down $1.10, for a total 17 percent reduction.

Ilsley outlined what will happen as the Town transitions to a fee-based garbage collection system. The sale of new yellow bags at $4.25 per large bag and $3.25 per small bag will start April 1, dependent upon the vendors having the bags in place. There will be a two-week period when both the old green and new yellow bags will be picked up. This should last until April 15, with the date dependent on arrival of the yellow bags. A 30-day period will follow from day one, in which residents can exchange leftover green bags for yellow bags, along with any money owed based on the bag price. After April 30, the new program will be fully on line and only yellow bags will be picked up.

Ilsley said the Town will monitor the cost of the program and revenue raised by the bags at the currently set price to determine if that price is sufficient to cover costs. If after the first year it appears bags are overpriced or underpriced, the rates will be adjusted.

He recommended people not hoard the green bags because after 30 days, they will not be picked up. He noted that recycling will help keep down the cost of the trash pick-up and disposal but he added that if people do not participate in the Pay As You Throw program, they can't participate in the recycling program because Pay As You Throw is paying for recycling.

Ilsley said he thought the best way forward was to allow him to adjust bag prices if needed without having to go through the board. Regarding residents’ concerns about people dumping garbage illegally, he said the Town plans to go after anyone doing that to the full extent of the law.

In other business:

• Ilsley said he and department heads met and reviewed the legacy of issues awaiting action and identified the long-term issues to be looked at over the next two years. They decided to focus on the parameters of needs assessment audits to facilitate strategic planning to enhance stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and to evaluate employees, identifying how to attract and retain employees. He said they identified other Town Hall issues as well, and the plan is to work on them until they are brought to closure. They prioritized the issues and applied them to a two-year work cycle.

He said they had identified 98 items, and 46 of them will require analysis to determine the scope of the work required to address them. He indicated that the Town's Master Plan and Economic Development Plan are dependent on the other 40-plus actions they decided on, and when they had a completed report, it would be given to the board for input and changes or additions, after which it would be put up on the Town’s website.

• Regarding the deeded property article that passed by voters, Ilsley said the town will start cleaning up Green Hills.

• Ilsley advised the board that school impact fees resulted in unexpected revenue of $98,800, which exceeds historical revenue amounts by 300 to 400 percent. He also said it was discovered that the Town has shorted the School District in this area and that sum, added to the $98,800, resulted in revenue of $101,600. The Town will work with the School District relative to receiving these funds and a full report will come to the board at its next meeting, as releasing these funds will require the board's approval.

• The selectmen reorganized following the March election, with George Plante voted in as chairman and Scott Campbell as vice chair.

• The newly elected selectmen, Kathleen Hoelzel and Chris “Turtle” Long, were sworn in.

• The board named committee liaisons as follows: Budget, Jack Barnes; Cable, Long; Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Plante; Historic District, Hoelzel; Highway Safety, Plante; Planning, Plante; Recreation Advisory, Hoelzel; Rapid Response Economic Development Team, Campbell; Scholarships, Hoelzel; and Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), Campbell. A back-up was also named for each committee.

• The board received a tentative list of future meetings, and will try to limit meetings to once a month, starting with the April 22 meeting. A second monthly meeting was suggested for November and December if needed for budget preparation. Meetings will be held on May 13, June 17, July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, (Nov. 4 if needed), and Dec. 2,  (with Dec. 16 if needed).

• Ilsley explained the Board of Tax and Land Appeals’ New Hampshire Electric Cooperative settlement agreement with the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) and Raymond.

The Town assessed NHEC from 2014 through 2018 for the taxable poles and property it owns in Raymond, and NHEC appealed the assessments. To resolve the issue and to address future assessments for 2018-2020, NHEC will receive a refund of $200,750, to be paid in two yearly payments of $33,458 in the form of a credit for taxes imposed on the poles and properties for 2018 through 2022. The assessment numbers were also set for the years 2018 through 2020.

Ilsley said other lawsuits are pending but he recommended the board agree to this proposal and sign it. This will reduce the liability to taxpayers and save the town $450,000, he said, adding that the agreement stabilizes the tax rate.

The board agreed with his recommendation and signed the contract.

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer presented a Branch Road petition for utility pole or conduit. Branch Road is a Class 6 road and a new house has been built on a parcel approved by the board. Eversource offered three options for getting power to the house - overhead, underground with a meter at the home, or underground with a meter at the new pole next to the existing pole on the Page property.

That third option, underground with the meter pedestal and underground to the house, would mean the items would be owned and would be the responsibility of the homeowner.  In the second option, with the underground to the house and the meter at the house, the items would be owned by and be the responsibility of Eversource.

Ilsley said he and Brewer had both checked out the issue. Brewer said there are some deficiencies in the permit application that need to be corrected but he recommended that the second option - underground with meter at the home - be approved, subject to the conditions that the application for the permit meets the new permit process, construction details are obtained, and the agreement is signed by the homeowner, Kevin Cole, and by Eversource. Also, Cole must agree to the Branch Road maintenance agreement among the residents and the Sportsmen's Club. If the board agrees to this, Ilsley and Brewer can work out the details, they said.

Barnes said the Sportsmen's Club has some problems with the permit application and he asked for an explanation.

Norman Pinard, Sportsmen’s Club president, said the club had not been informed before the home was built, and the road has been a mess during construction. He said the club did not want the lines brought in overhead but was OK with the second option - bringing the line in underground and approving the requirement that Cole become part of the road maintenance agreement. He said after the line is put in underground, he wants assurance the road will be returned to the condition it is supposed to be.

The board voted to approve the permit with the proposed conditions and asked Ilsley to work out the details.

• Brewer then entered into a discussion with the board as they opened the two bids for street sweeping. The bids are: Immaculate Power Sweeping of Pelham, $127 per hour for 170 hours, $21,590; and FB Hale Inc., of Hudson, $110 per hour for 160 to 200 hours,  $17,600 to $22,000.

Brewer said Immaculate has been the town's vendor but Hale's proposed $110 rate per hour was a better option, and he recommended selecting Hale.

• The board approved donations for the July 4th Parade, as follows: Tuckaway Tavern, $50; Frances Barnes, $500; C. Reed, $1,250; Severino, $250; Hampshire Family Dental,  $100; S and S Gallos, Inc., $50; and Raymond Animal Hospital, $250.

• Hoelzel reported on the election, saying election day started with 7,435 registered voters, with 28 new voters added at the polls and 12 eliminated who had either died, moved or registered in another town, meaning Raymond had 7,451 registered voters, with 1,424 voting.

She said the Supervisors of the Checklist have appointed Wayne Welch as the new Town Moderator. Hoelzel had been Town Moderator but had to resign when she was elected to the Board of Selectmen.

 


Raymond Saves Money on Loan for New Wells
By Penny Williams    2-28-19

Raymond’s selectmen were pleased to get the news from Town Manager Joe Ilsley and Public Works Director Steve Brewer that the Town's Special Revenue Fund water loan has been significantly forgiven.

At the Feb. 25 selectmen’s meeting, Brewer said the Town was authorized to borrow $3,3151,000; the total cost for both wells came to $2,940,860.80. Brewer said they had budgeted $235,191 for the principal and interest payment but because they received a 20 percent principal forgiveness amount of $588,136, this reduced the loan principal and interest payment to $151,485.

This translates to a surplus in the water budget, which Brewer said would be used to cover unexpected water treatment plant repair expenses and to defray some of things in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), such as making sure an Assessment Management Study is done so the Town will know what repairs are needed and what the cost of those repairs will be.

Getting the Assessment Management Study done will also lead to being able to apply for other grants. Brewer said those initiatives would use $83,707.36 of the surplus.

Ilsley said the board and the public should know that Brewer has brought $700,000 to Raymond in the past year.

In other business:

• The board discussed the cost to be charged when citizens request minutes and records for inspection. The costs the board approved are now in place as follows: tax cards, 8-1/2x11 inches, $1 per page; 11x17-inch copies, $1 per page; 8-1/2-x14-inch (legal size) copies, 50 cents per page; and 8-1/2x11-inch general copies, 25 cents per page.

Ilsley said charging for and tracking previous citizen requests for copies has been basically hit or miss. Now a new request form will be placed on the Town website at raymondnh.gov and residents need to use that request form when seeking information. The form can be obtained at the Town Offices as well. Electronic responses are free but redacted copies that must be printed out have a charge.

At present, citizen requests must be submitted in writing, based on policy and procedure in place since 1991 that governs the request and provision of information requested, whether it is Town information or sought under the Right to Know law.

Requests will be entered into a database, allowing for them to be tracked, a process in the past that Ilsley said also was hit or miss.

The board approved the costs and procedures. Ilsley said a new RSA 91-A Right to Know policy for Raymond will be rolled out within the next 90 days.

• Ilsley said work on back taxes of deeded property is almost complete. He said the Town now has $683,000 in back taxes signed up under contract and $178,000 being paid off, providing a revenue figure of $219,000 that includes both new and old back taxes. People who are in default of their taxes should meet with the Town Clerk and get on a repayment program that Ilsley said would save them money in the long run.

• Ilsley said a lot of places in town need to be cleaned up, with people dumping things where they should not be doing so. The Town is partnering with the Raymond Coalition For Youth for Operation Clean-Up, an event set for April 22, when residents and Town staff will be participating in cleaning up Main Street to the Rails to Trails.

• Ilsley said he has been working with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) regarding impacted waters in Raymond and wants to form a committee to develop a long-term policy for Raymond water quality, focusing on the Town's lakes and rivers. He suggested partnering with colleges to do environmental studies related to this and is seeking volunteers to work on the project.

• Ilsley said he is working with Town staff to bring efficiency to the Tax Collector’s office. They are implementing procedures to streamline procedures, with a view to increasing efficiency as well as shortening waiting lines. He said that to accomplish this, the office will shut down for an hour or 90 minutes on specific days but not more than seven hours a month. He anticipates the change will take about six months to complete.

• Ilsley said the Town will be receiving more durable trash bags, regardless of how the townspeople vote March 12 on the ballot articles relating to trash and recycling. The new bags will be yellow.

• The board opened backflow testing bids. Brewer said several commercial and residential buildings have backflow valves and are considered a high hazard. They have to be tested twice a year; those considered low hazard are tested once a year,

Three bids came in: NE Backflow of Auburn, $9,730; Weston Sampson of Portsmouth,  $8,325.50; and DSG of Manchester, $9,112. Brewer will review the bids, check references and get back to the board with his recommendation.

Greg Bemis and Wayne Welch's terms expire March 2019. There will be 2 open seats on the Board of Selectmen.


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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Develop an attitude of Gratitude !!
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~