Raymond Community News

A Second Try For Flint Hill Conservation Easement
by Jason Reuter     6-25-14

After a five-year delay, the Flint Hill conservation easement project is underway… again. During its June 9 meeting, the Raymond Board of Selectmen voted to allow the Conservation Commission to give a recommendation on the conservation easement the voters asked for in 2009.

Warrant article 28 was a citizen’s petition submitted by a group of citizens and town board members who collaborated on the wording, asking to place 145 acres of the parcel’s 215 acres into a conservation easement and reserving 70 acres for economic development. The article passed 601 yes to 352 no.

“It seems there was inactivity due to that it was tied into the Expanded Pooled Mitigation Program (EPMP),” said Town Manager Craig Wheeler, who was not working in Raymond at the time. “There was reluctance on behalf of the board of selectman to overlooking of that program.”

The EPMP was passed by the town in 2008 to help reduce the impact of development on wetlands. The initial goal of the program was to encourage development during the depressed economy. It allowed developers to fill in wetlands on their private property and pay the town a fee. The town would then use the funds collected by the program to protect wetland on town owned property. This action is known as wetland mitigation.

For the past five years the town wanted to be able to use Flint Hill conservation land as part of the mitigation program. But every time it went to move forward with the program, it hit the same roadblock - the EPMP is not a state approved program.

“No, the program was not approved,” said Lori Sommer, Mitigations Coordinator for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, who was contacted this month by Raymond Area News. “It doesn’t meet state and federal regulations.”

Originally, EPMP was intended to cover multiple properties, including the Dearborn property that was voted in 2006 to have a conservation easement, which also has yet to take place. The state would like to see the mitigation for one development project fully completed before a second project is begun.

Meanwhile, the board of selectmen is starting to feel uneasy about the long delay, as the vote on the article is not advisory per the New Hampshire Local Government Center.

“I get very concerned when we don’t follow through with what the voters told us to do,” said Selectman Jack Barnes. “We then sit and wonder why they don’t go vote. Maybe they think it doesn’t even matter.”

The board agreed to pass the project along to the Conservation Commission, allotting it 60 days to comment about the easement. Meeting attendees and the board seemed excited to once again start the process, and finally deliver what the voters asked for.

“We asked a question and they said yes,” said Selectman Greg Bemis. “We need to do it.  We can’t keep sitting on our hands. Let’s get this done.”




















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