BETHLEHEM CONSERVATION COMMISSION
August 8, 2019
PRESENT: Chair Lindsay Webb, Linda Moore, Nicole McGrath, Cheryl Jensen, Margaret Gale
ABSENT: Jeanne Robillard, Alternate Marilyn Johnson
GUESTS: Christopher Jensen, Vivian Winterhoff
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 pm.
The meeting minutes of May 23rd and June 27th were reviewed. There was a brief discussion on if the meeting minutes from May could be approved as only two people present had attended the May meeting. It was determined that the minutes could be approved. Lindsay motioned to approve the May 23rd minutes. Cheryl seconded; motion passed unanimously.
Linda moved we approve the June 27th meeting minutes. Lindsay seconded; motion passed unanimously.
WETLAND RULE CHANGES UPDATE:
The NH DES has updated and changed a large number of their wetlands’ rules. The new rules will go into effect December 15, 2019. Lindsay is looking for more information on exactly what the changes are and how they will affect us as a commission. There are some up coming presentations addressing the rule changes on the DES website but non listed are geared towards conservation commissions. She does know that they have increased their number of categories beyond just minor and major impacts and that more projects will now be eligible to participate in permit by notification. There will also be reduced time to comment. She is hoping they will put out a compiled list of changes or other resource that we will be able to refer to soon. If they do not, she will contact Joe Schmidl, DES contact, to see if we can get a summary of the changes. Cheryl suggested checking with NHACC to see if they are compiling a list of the changes.
These rule changes are different then the proposed prime wetlands rules. There was a proposed changed to the prime wetlands law which would include the fingers on the prime wetlands but the law was vetoed. Prime wetlands will continue to have additional protection. However, there is a lengthy process to designate a wetland as a prime wetland. Bethlehem does not have any prime wetlands designated.
BAKER BROOK SHORELAND COMPLAINT:
There was a brief discussion on how complaints are handled when they come to the BCC. Nicole asked if there should there be a policy in place where the owner of the property is notified of the complaint, notified that the complaint is on the agenda and that the BCC will be discussing it and give the owner the option of coming to the meeting or submitting written comment for discussion. The other members of the BCC felt that as long as no action was taken and the BCC only stated that there was a complaint and stated the facts than notifying the property owner was unnecessary. However, if more information was need or action was going to be taken then the BCC would either designate someone from the commission to contact the owner and get more information or we could schedule a future meeting and notify the property owner at that time.
The BCC reviewed the complaint that was received. The complaint was concerned that work was taking place close to the lake. They were also questioning if anyone had conducted a site visits to the development. And concern for the number and the size of the cabins. The BCC reviewed email correspondence between Dave Wiley, Code Officer, Matt Stasalovich, Eckman Engineering, and the BCC members. Dave Wiley and the NH DES had both visited the site during the development. The project had been before the Bethlehem Planning Board and had received approval for 23 cabins, 4 motels, a synagogue and a store. Cheryl also noted that silt fence had been in place when they were working on the clearing by the lake.
Review of the emails did indicate that the developer was able to replace the septic system with out a shoreland permit. And the BCC was unclear as to why DES said in their response letter that they were unable to find any record of the project when the Town has received copies of DES approval for the septic system at this location. Further review of the planning board minutes indicated that the proposed store by the pond was anticipated to take the longest because of shoreland protection. But it appears that the cabins may have been grandfathered.
Linda called the NH DES to speak to Jeffrey Blecharczyk, Compliance Supervisor. Mr. Blecharczyk was no longer the compliance supervisor and she was referred to the new Compliance Supervisor, Amy Hudnor. Ms. Hudnor was not able to find a shoreland permit for this development on file. Linda asked if it was possible that a shoreland permit was not needed as they were replacing the cabins in kind, Ms. Hudnor said that a shoreland permit would still be required. Linda called Matt Stasalovich, from Eckman Engineering, to inquire about the shoreland permit. Mr. Stasalovich told Linda that the development did not require a shoreland permit. She told him that she had spoken to Ms. Hudnor at DES and she felt a permit was required. Mr. Stasalovich took Ms. Hudnor number and said he would contact her to sort it all out. Linda followed up with an email to Ms. Hudnor and asked they she please keep the BCC in the loop.
Margaret said that she once had to replace an existing dock that was damaged during a storm and it required a shoreland permit and she does not understand how a development like this could possible not require a permit. There was brief discussion on RSA 483-B:11 which addresses non-conforming structures within the shoreland protection area.
There was a brief discussion on what steps should be taken next. The developers engineering and the compliance supervisor will get in touch with one another and if an application for a shoreland permit is required then the developer will have to apply for one. If Linda hears anything back from Ms. Hudnor or if Nicole hears anything about the development from the office, then they will let he rest of the BCC know.
Margaret gave the treasure’s report: As of the end of July, the Town Account has $869.91 remaining due to a redeposit of $500 to the BES. The July savings account has $17,452.70, that includes the $4,000.00 that was received from the grant.
The BCC had received two bills for advertising for the RFP for the survey of the town forest. One bill was from the Cal-Rec and was for $100 and one was from the Salmon Press (Littleton Currier) for $560. There was discussion on if the money should come from the savings and grant money or if it should come from the town account. The BCC decided to wait until after the survey bids were opened to determine which account to pay the bills from.
TOWN FOREST SURVEY PROPOSAL:
The BCC received two proposals for the survey of the Town Forest. The BCC opened the bids for the survey. One was from Gardener Kellogg from Kellogg Surveying & Mapping, Inc. for $3,400 and one was from DuBios & King for $19,500. The BCC reviewed the bids, Linda moved to hire Kellogg Surveying and Mapping, Margaret seconded, there was a brief discussion and the motion passed unanimously.
Lindsay will send a letter to DuBois & King letting them know that the bid was awarded to another firm. She will also send a letter to Kellogg awarding him the bid, and then Linda will follow up with a phone call. When speaking to Kellogg, Linda will find out what our next step need to be and also ask for a time line for the survey of the town forest.
Lindsay motioned to have Margaret pay the two advertisement bills from the savings account. Cheryl seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Chris suggested sending a letter to the Grunman fund to let them know that the BCC has award the bid for a survey of the Town Forest and to let them know that between the advertisement of the RFP and the anticipated cost of the survey we have allocated all the grants funds.
There was a brief discussion on medallions for the marking of the Town Forest. Cheryl will check to see if she has and more. If not, she will look into where more can be obtained more and let us know.
TOWN RECREATION TRAIL MAP PROJECT
Nicole has started compiling a list of public trails that are available in Bethlehem. She has also contacted the Bethlehem Trails Association (BTA) and the Forest Society to ask permission to add the trails listed on their websites. The BTA has responded and said that the BCC is welcome to take any information about trails from their website to include in our trails brochure. She has not heard back from the Forest Society but will try reaching out again. A list of possible trails to include are: Bretzfelder Trails, Rocks Estate Trails, Sleeping Astronomer, BTA Trails, Trails on Lewis Hill, Profile Recreation Trail, and Town Forest Future Trails, Mt. Agassiz. Linda will contact the Forest Service to see about including some of their trails as well. The BCC will have to make sure that if we are including any trails on private property that we have land owner permission.
OLD FILES AND STORAGE:
Cheryl looked into the retention requirement for some of the BCC records particularly the maps that the BCC has received. Many of the documents and maps that we received are supplied to the Town in duplicate or triplicate. Often times the cover letter will indicate what other departments have received a copy. The Town Clerk or the Planning Board often have their own copies and are required to retain their copies. She is suggesting that going forward the BCC not retain copies of maps and other bulky items if duplicate copies are available through the Town Clerk or Planning and Zoning Department, especially if it was a project that the BCC did not comment on. The BCC may decide to retain some maps if they are of particular interest or are controversial and we think we may want to refer back to them. Cheryl motioned to recommend in general that the BCC not keep maps when the Town Clerk or Planning Board have received a copy. Margaret seconded, vote passed unanimously.
The BCC reviewed the mailbag items. There was a mailing from the Grafton County Conservation District and a letter from ACT gifting a one year membership to the BCC from an anonymous donor.
Lindsay asked Vivian if now that she has attended a few BCC meetings, is she still interested in becoming a BCC member and also asked Vivian to say a little bit about herself. Vivian has lived in Bethlehem a few years now. Her family is originally from here and conservation is very important to her. She has recently received her masters in Ecological Design Thinking which is community learning focused and she learned about the BCC after attending a New Hampshire Coverts weekend. She is also very interested in permaculture. She did let the BCC know that is very busy right now and will not be available for a couple of months.
Lindsay motioned that the BCC recommend to the Select Board that Vivian become a member of the Conservation Commission, Margaret seconded, motion passed unanimously. Linda will bring the nomination to the Select Board for approval and then Vivian will be notified so that she can be sworn in with the Town Clerk.
Cheryl has some roadside clean up supplies that Linda has volunteered to take and store. There was also discussion about donating unneeded items like paper plates and cups to the community soup supper. Everyone agreed that this was an excellent idea.
The next few meetings will be September 26th, October 24th and November 21st at 6:00pm. Margaret will check to see if the Library is available.
Margaret motioned we adjourn the meeting at 7:41pm, Linda seconded. Motion passed unanimously. Meeting adjourned.
Nicole McGrath, Secretary