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Three Raymond Selectmen Ignore Voters on Flint Hill Easement 
By Cheryl Killam    11-19-14

On candidates night Friday, February 21, 2014 Jack Barnes was asked what he intended to do with the direction that was given in the Flint Hill warrant article to put a conservation easement on that property.

His response was, “ That is Peter Buckingham’s baby, if the citizens made a decision, that’s good enough for me. That’s why people go and vote.  I want to know  what’ s going on and why it hasn’t happened.  If the voters voted yes it’s OK by me.“

What the citizens of Raymond approved in the Flint Hill warrant article by a vote of 601-352 directs the Town to place all but 70 acres of the Flint Hill parcel into a conservation easement held by a recognized New Hampshire conservation easement holding entity.

However, at the board of selectmen’s meeting on Monday, Nov 17,  Barnes and two fellow selectmen voted for a conservation restricted deed instead.

Selectman Chairman Wayne Welch made the motion to “subdivide the Flint Hill property into two parcels, with the lower 70 acres for future development and the remaining 145 acres to be placed in a conservation restricted deed.  It’s pretty sensitive land and it has value for teaching and recreation.” 

Barnes, Welch and Bill Hoitt voted in favor of placing a conservation restricted deed on Flint Hill while  Greg Bemis  and Colleen West Coates voted no.

Welch said, “the warrant article was passed years ago, and this way we can accomplish the intent of the warrant article. It’s accomplishing everything that needs to be accomplished on this property.  A conservation easement deals with a lifespan but a community has no lifespan.  We don’t see Federal land or State land in a conservation easement held by a third party.” 

Hoitt agreed with what Welch recommended.

Bemis said, “ if the deed restriction were in perpetuity to protect it, fine, but the law says I have to follow my oath of office and I fear it can be undone. It needs to be protected so it can’t be undone and we can do what we need as a community. (The warrant article) said conservation easement, not restricted deed”.

“Public trust is of utmost importance, “ said Coates. “ And this is an issue of our oath of office and responsibilities. We need to act to place this property into a conservation easement as dictated by the vote of the people.“

Barnes said, “I don’t think we are going against the vote of the people. The rocks, dirt and animals are still there and nobody has complained about it. I am pretty close to being an abutter.“

He asked who would hold the easement.

Welch responded that there would be no easement and he repeated, “ It’s a conservation restricted deed that outlines the uses that can be written into it and protects it. The town holds it.  It accomplishes the intent of the warrant article and can do the same job.“

The conservation restricted deed that was set forth by Welch in his motion and approved 3-2, was presented to the board by Buckingham’s wife, Lorrie O’Connor, a member of the conservation commission.

Conservation Easements and  Deed Restrictions are similar in that they are both  legally binding restrictions on the use of the land in the form of a written contract  that affects the title to the land and is generally recorded at the Registry of Deeds.

A conservation easement, however,  is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows the landowner to continue to own and use the land and to sell it.

The land trust is responsible for enforcing the restrictions that the easement document spells out. Therefore, the land trust monitors the property on a regular basis -- typically once a year - to determine that the property remains in the condition prescribed by the easement document. The land trust maintains written records of the monitoring visits, which also provide the landowner a chance to keep in touch with the land trust.

In comparison, Deed Restrictions can be changed easily.  They do not have a third party that can be designated to monitor and enforce any restriction violations.

To read more on conservation easements visit  the  Land Trust Alliance website .

 

Warrant Article 28 From 2009 Annual Report

Shall the Town of Raymond vote to place all but 70 acres of the parcel located on tax Map 35 Lot 4, otherwise known as Flint Hill, into a conservation easement held by a recognized New Hampshire conservation easement holding entity (“The Entity”), with the 70 contiguous acres to be reserved located along the southern boundary of the parcel, for future economic development purposes, such purposes to include infrastructure improvements and non-residential commercial, light manufacturing and/or mixed use business park, any of which must conform with applicable zoning. 

The Conservation Easement will be achieved through a deed from the Town as Grantor to the Entity as Grantee, and easement monitoring fees to be paid by the Town from the Conservation Fund.  This will ensure that the Town will have no future ability to use or develop any portion of Flint Hill, except for the aforementioned 70 acres.

  Further, that the balance of the acreage within the Conservation Easement may be included as pooled mitigation land in accordance with the Town of Raymond Expandable Pooled Mitigation Plan (the EPMP), adopted in December of 2007. This is a petitioned warrant article.  

Yes 601      No 352

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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