Raymond Community News


Conservation Commission Debates Flint Hill Warrant Article Response
by Jason Reuter     7-11-14

On June 9 the Raymond Board of Selectmen voted to give the Conservation Commission 60 days to propose a recommended course of action for the Flint Hill property. With over half of their time gone, the Conservation Commission has made little progress, and is refusing to take public input.

At the start of the discussion at the Commission’s July 9 meeting, former member Cheryl Killam asked for warrant article 28 to be read aloud. This was the warrant article passed five years ago by the voters, telling the town that they would like to place 145 of the 215 acres of the Flint Hill property in a conservation easement.

“No, this is for us to discuss, there is no public input on this, none,” said Chairman Ted Janusz, thus silencing all citizens in attendance.

The focus of the discussion was primarily on the interpretation of the language of article 28. The article states that an easement will be placed on the property to ensure that “the Town will have no future ability to use or develop any portion of Flint Hill, except for the aforementioned 70 acres,” which were to be held aside for future economic development.

See the full text of warrant article 28 below.

Janusz interpreted the clause to say that if a conservation easement were placed on the property, the town would not be able to cut trails or facilitate the recreational use of that area.

“I think you’re interpreting the whole thing wrong,” said Commission member Bernie Peer. “Whatever conservation easement we decide to settle on, we are able to set up the parameters.”

“That may be what is meant, but that is not what it says,” responded Janusz.

Janusz also referenced the clause in article 28 that stated the town would be able to use the Flint Hill property for pooled mitigation under the Expanded Pooled Mitigation Program.

This was added to the article in 2009 before the town learned the Expanded Pooled Mitigation Program would not be approved by the state. Janusz said that if he had known pooled mitigation would not be allowed on the Flint Hill property, he would never have voted for the article, and worries other voters may feel the same way.

Janusz also questioned whether Flint Hill had been surveyed and if the 70 developable acres have been determined. The 145 acre conservation land area survey was completed by Blaisdell Survey, LLC in December 2010, with modifications made in January 2012 to allow access to the 70 acres from Route 156.

At its meeting, the Conservation Commission formulated three possible recommendations to the Board of Selectmen.

Peer suggested the commission push the article through as is and advise the Board of Selectmen to begin work on a conservation easement.

Janusz and Commission member Lorrie O’Connor would like the Selectmen to rescind Article 28 and have the town vote on a new article in March. The new article would capture the current opinions of Raymond residents and dictate exactly what people want to do with this property, they claim. O’Connor’s husband, Peter Buckingham, a former selectman, brought the question of the status of the Flint Hill article to the Board of Selectmen on June 9, leading to the current discussion.

Finally, commission member Frank Bishop would like the Selectman to bring article 28 and New Hampshire statute Chapter 40, Section 40:4-e regarding the conduct of voting to court to question the legality of the article.

In 2010 he tried to stop the conservation easement on the Lillian Cassier Memorial Forest property by filing an Injunctive Relief petition with the court, requesting the article be put back before the voters at the next voting session. The court denied his request and stated the town needs to do what the voters want. Bishop’s lawsuit cost Raymond taxpayers $11,000 in legal fees.

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

 

In the interest of full disclosure, Cheryl Killam is the owner of Raymond Area News (www.raymondareanews.com).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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