Logging Complaints and New Hampshire Law

By David Blinn, Select Board Member

I read Donna Baker-Hartwell’s letter in last month’s Beacon pertaining to logging in Andover and wish to clarify several points.

There are no “special permits” issued by the Town. It is called “intent to cut” which indicates location and estimated quantity. The town receives “yield tax” compensation for the harvesting.

She further implies that some type of “special relationship” between Town officials and private enterprises could lead to favors, partiality, and compromise that undermine the rights of Andover citizens. This implication is troubling, as it questions the honesty and integrity of the Board. Though I do disagree on some issues with my fellow Board members and Town Administrator, I have yet to question their commitment to the town and its residents.

To the meat of the issue: In 1989, the State Legislature formally recognized the importance of proper forestry management by passing RSA 672:1, III c, which I will paraphrase here, but please Google for the full and accurate legislation and rationale. One might also Google “Guide to New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Laws” for additional information.

The RSA not only permits controlled logging / time frames, it provides a full conservation message and guideline for the RSA. It recognizes that the landowner and the environment benefit from controlled timber harvesting versus the outright sale of land to development/developers. 

New Hampshire taxes property, not income. By not allowing landowners a way to keep their land through proven environmental practices is simply not in the best interest of towns, the State, and the individual. Basically, the RSA clearly allows undeveloped land a better chance of remaining undeveloped if the landowners have options.

As far as the “quality of life” issue, Donna suggests “closing loopholes,” removing the word “temporary,” and shutting down logging in Andover through an amendment process. The ordinance certainly can be reviewed and changes made, however this would put Andover in direct conflict with State law and open to legal action by a logger or landowner, since Andover would be in violation of State law. 

Of course we can utilize tax dollars and have our Town attorney fight this in court, all the while the same Town attorney is telling Andover that we do not have a case. This was explained during a recent Board meeting with Donna Baker-Hartwell and others in attendance.
Yes, logging is loud, and yes, it is annoying. I can testify to that first hand. 

Conversely, it is temporary and, though 15 to 30 days seems to be a long time, I would much rather allow 15 to 30 days to assure forest and wildlife health than see a neighbor be forced to give up their land to an apartment complex, hotel resort, or mall development.

My “special relationship” is my commitment to the residents of Andover and the well-being of this town. To imply otherwise is not simply not true.

Dave Blinn
Select Board member