Andover Conservation Commission Final Minutes, November 13, 2019

By Lee Wells, Secretary

Members Present: Mary Anne Broshek Jerry Hersey, Tina Cotton, Nancy Robart, Jesse Schust, Lee Wells, Jenny Bodwell, Wood Sutton

Guest: Barbara Richter

Concern about Eversource Activities in Andover:

Wood Sutton expressed his concern about extensive Eversource work in East Andover. Lydia Morton (rep from Eversource) said that they were doing routine maintenance.  Wood says that they are putting in an access road and he suspects that they are doing this without regard to wetlands and streams. Jesse requested and received the map outlining the scope of work and will contact Lydia Morton to discuss and schedule a site visit.  Eversource should be going out and talking with Wood about concerns. In the past Eversource has been very proactive about contacting the ACC and sending letters to abutters. Lydia should do a site visit for the ACC, check in with Wood and do an article for the Beacon to explain what they are doing.  The Conservation Commission has not seen any of the permits. The road is for their equipment. Eversource has detailed maps they work from. When they worked by Kearsarge Mountain Road in the past, they put down special mats to protect wetlands.

Barbara Richter, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions, was invited to talk about Conservation Commissions and give us some tips and suggestions for future work.  Handout: Effective Conservation Commissions. She wanted to know what we think a successful conservation commission is: (responses from Andover Conservation Commissioners):

A Successful Conservation Commission:

•gets information to residents: articles in Beacon inform Andover residents and let them know what we do.
•oversight: looks out for possible regulation violations that members of this community might be making without the CC or the town being aware of  until notified by someone.

  • is an advisory commission and not a regulatory board.
    •has a good natural resources inventory.
  • has a good conservation plan that is part of the master plan.
    •educates residents about conservation easements and helps with costs associated with conservation easements.
    •has a good working relationship with ASLPT and the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. 
    •monitors conservation easements held by the town of Andover. We have a commission member who is a good monitor (Derek Mansell).

    Andover Conservation Commission goals:

    •develop better relationships with other town boards. We would like to encourage a member of the planning board to attend our meetings, so both boards can be better informed. We would like to be better informed on building permits.  Some towns have it written into their ordinances that the Conservation Commission can have input in the building permitting process. The NRI (Natural Resources Inventory) should be consulted and reviewed when a new project is started. We would like to be helpful with this.
    • we have a co-occurance map updated in 2010, we would like to update and put it on QGIS.

    Comments/responses/suggestions from Barbara Richter:

    • there is a lot we can do on the ground.  We are not expected to be wetland experts or engineers, but we can make suggestions on avoidance and minimization. An advisory role can be very important.
    •there are towns that have 50 – 60%  of their land under conservation easements.  Andover is at approximately 17 %.
    •Barbara can help with many issues when the ACC does not have sufficient expertise.  Call her for help.
    •Barbara sends a monthly e-news for conservation commissioners, who are in her database.

    As we transition to a new Chair of the Conservation Commission:
    • If money were donated to purchase land with the purpose of it being conservation land, then it cannot be sold. Mary Anne has a copy of every warrant article about conservation issues in a book/binder.
    •We do not have bylaws or written procedures – Barbara can get us by-law samples.   Mary Anne is in the process of writing up procedures for minutes, advertising for events, the budget process (including monitoring for current use penalty funds) and a yearly calendar.
    •Some commissions have a chair as a contact person, but ask a different person to set the agenda and run the meeting every month. 
    •Having a supportive, sympathetic legislator can be important. 
    •Current use can be a hot topic. Commissions need to be comfortable talking about it.
                    -the more land that is in current use, the less need there is for town  services
    -residential area: for every dollar paid in taxes, $1.25 – $1.50 spent on services
    -current use/open space: for every dollar paid in taxes $.50 – $.75 spent on services
    -forested properties filter water, clean the air, are resilient against climate change
    -commercial development does more for the town’s tax base, but at an increased pollution  
    -development in a compact area rather than sprawl can be a way of balancing 
    growth with protected areas
    -don’t want to be anti-growth, but want to protect our natural resources
    •There are trails we can make the public aware of even if we don’t own them

      Class VI roads

       SRK trails

        the rail trail

         and the Proctor trails, which are open to the public.

 If we do get into trails, Fish and Game has good information.  They recommend creating an “ambassador trail” a less sensitive area for heavier public use, and keep more sensitive trails less public.
•Anytime we switch our focus, Barbara can give us materials, so we should reach out to her.  She is a good resource for us.
•Commissions are limited as to how many members they can have, but may have numerous alternates and may create sub-committees whose members are not members of the commission but have a regular member in charge of that committee.

Invitation to ASPLT holiday cocktail party.
Great Bay Discovery Center: trails for people and wildlife.

Minutes: Motion by Jenny to approve regular meeting minutes 8/10/19 as amended by Mary Anne and Tina and move approval of the wetlands ordinance meeting minutes of 11/06/19 to next month. Seconded by Jerry, all in favor.

Budget: Mary Anne handed out budget report as of 11/13. We will return the $300 designated for monitoring the Verizon forest easement buffer to the town, but request it for 2020.

The following motions were made regarding new expenditures:

Tina made a motion that those who attended the annual NH Association of Conservation Commission meeting be reimbursed with the caveat that Nancy will be reimbursed after she attends 2 ACC meetings.  Seconded by Jesse, all in favor.

Jerry made a motion that we purchase a new larger bulletin board for up to $50. Seconded by Jenny, all in favor.

Jenny looked into tools for removing invasive weeds and provided a spread-sheet of various tools totaling in the $853 – $1106 range.  We could write a grant for them, or purchase them over time. If we only purchase one tool, Jenny recommends the Pullerbear Pro as it does a good job of uprooting invasive species.

Jenny made a motion to buy Pullerbear for up to $160. The tool will be available for loan to all people in Andover.  Motion was seconded by Lee, all in favor.

Jesse suggested that Belletetes might be able to help with purchasing tools in the future.

Lee will check with the Springfield Library as to how to they keep loaned tools clean to avoid spreading invasives.

For 2020 budget Jerry made a motion to request $1300 ($300 for monitoring forest easement buffer easement), seconded by Jenny, all in favor.

Monitoring: Derek monitored Newman property boundary, Fenvale and many of the town easement properties.  Jerry, Jenny, and Lee monitored the house lot area on October 20th. Jerry checked with Jim McKenna about things identified as needed on the property: blazes, gate.  Jim is willing to pay for much of this, but we need to get this in writing. Action item: Jerry will get Jim’s agreement in writing.

Hopkins Pond: cyanobacteria problem.  Larry gave Amanda McQuaide (Public Beach Program Coordinator NH Department of Environmental Services), a list of questions.  She has answered, and Larry will turn her answers into an article for the Beacon. Geoff Lizotte from the Lake Sunapee Protective Association, who lives in Wilmot, is very interested.  He’d like to learn more and be a support. They believe this is caused by more rain (more nutrients) and higher temperatures from climate change. The Lake Sunapee Protective Association is willing to give a talk.  That would be a good outreach for the spring. Action item: Lee will look into this.

Eversource: Jesse will get back to Wood Sutton regarding his concerns and will also schedule a site visit with Eversource representatives.

Wetlands ordinance: Mary Anne did not present the possible ordinance to the Planning Board this month.

Paul Currier has volunteered to review the ordinance.

Question for Barbara Richter from Jenny: has anyone mapped high quality wetlands in Andover as a result of the legislation that was proposed in 2019? Action item: Mary Anne will check with Barbara to see what mapping was done in relation to 2019 proposed legislation of buffers for high quality wetlands.

Alan did work at Fenvale with Proctor students. They put in a bridge and cleared downed trees.

Co-Occurance map work: has been scheduled for this spring.
Alan and Jesse will work with Harvey Pine to update and transfer to QGIS.

Quick reports from NHACC conference:
Mary Anne distributed information on new state rules on wetlands, and what the conservation commission’s role will be in the permitting process.

Nancy: impressed by quality of speakers

Lee: two take-aways from 2 wetland workshops: 1. Commissions need to choose battles wisely, not all wetlands can be saved/protected, and commissions must decide which ones are worth the effort it will take to protect them and 2. Logging operations can undo much of the best wetland conservation practices.  Mary Anne noted that RSA 674:1J. VI limits planning boards from regulating logging operations.

Mary Anne: has brochures on stone wall mapping in NH to be handed out at town meeting and posted on our bulletin board.

Bog Pond: an abutter is interested in easements. We are trying to get conservation easements all around.  Waiting to hear back from Elizabeth Harper from Wilmont on mapping.

Town Report: Tina will write the Conservation Commission section for the town report.

White Oak: We will wait until the sale becomes final to mark the wetlands on the White Oak property.  Earle Chase is on board to do marking and we have earmarked funds for this. Earle said it is most important to mark the buffer. The Selectboard has granted a 50 foot buffer for both Bog Pond and White Oak.

Gravel Excavation: Jesse will speak with Nancy Teach to see if the commission’s letter is being considered.                 

Mary Anne’s retirement: Mary Anne is organizing information for us and will write up areas of expertise for each member.   Responsibilities need to fit into our schedules, and we should all aim for 5 hours per month.

December Meeting: We will meet in the library.  Jesse will demonstrate GRANIT.
The new DES wetland permit mapping software can show every permit.

Vote on New Member: Motion by Mary Anne to have Nancy Robart become a regular member when Mary Anne leaves, effective January 1, 2020, seconded by Jesse, all in favor.

Motion to adjourn; seconded by Jesse, all in favor 9:11 PM.