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02/21/2024 CC Minutes

2155 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH 03574

Bethlehem Conservation Commission Minutes Feb. 21, 2024

Attendance: Betsey Phillips, Rachelle Lyons, Cheryl Jensen, Ivan Ash, Margaret Gale, Vivian Winterhoff and Chris Jensen (alternate).

Guests: Becky Webb and Melinda Platt

Minutes taken by Chris Jensen


Ms. Lyons called opened the meeting at 5 p.m.


The minutes for Jan. 12, 2024 were reviewed. Ms. Jensen made a motion to approve and the motion was seconded by Ms. Phillips. All were in favor.


The minutes for January 11, 2024 were reviewed. Several members indicated a grammatical fondness for hyphens, particularly where Adopt-A-Spot is concerned. Ms. Lyons made a motion to approve the minutes as amended. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ash. All were in favor.


Ms. Gale gave the treasurer’s report. She said $370 has been spent for dues for the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions and the purchase of NHACC manuals for members who never got one. Ms. Gale said the commission has $19,404 (and 24 cents) in its savings account.


Eversource U199 Project


There was then a discussion regarding the Eversource Transmission Line Rebuild Project U199 and its Standard Dredge and Fill Wetland Permit Application.


The commission made several changes to a letter it will send to the Wetlands Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. The letter is based on observations and recommendations by Elise Lawson, a wetlands specialist, hired by the commission.


Concerns included the impact on wetlands; erosion; unclear mapping of access roads and re-seeding of access roads. The letter also asks for more information on the road-access plans; that the commission be included in all the monitoring reports and that Eversource be required to fund an independent wetlands specialist to monitor the project.


Ms. Lyons made a motion to send the letter. It was seconded by Ms. Gale and all were in favor.


Granite State Landfill


Ms. Jensen noted that Douglas Drive, which will provide access to the proposed Dalton landfill, is in Bethlehem. So, she said, it would be appropriate for the commission to provide comments on environmental impacts to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.


The commission accepted Ms. Jensen’s offer to draft a letter using the findings of experts hired by the Dalton Conservation Commission. That letter will be reviewed by the Bethlehem Conservation Commission at a special meeting scheduled for Feb. 28th.  The deadline for submitting comments is March 3rd.


Eversource X178


The commission discussed a report from wetland specialist Elise Lawson regarding Eversource’s Standard Dredge and Fill Wetland Permit Application for its Eversource Transmission Line Rebuild Project X178.


Ms. Lawson’s report had wide-ranging concerns ranging from the impact on wetlands to construction access roads allowing later allowing the right-of-way to be accessed by ATVs, which would damage the environment.


She also recommended the commission ask state officials to require Eversource to allow the commission to visit the project at least once during construction and at least once after the project is over and the area is restored.


Commission members agreed to write a cover letter and send Ms. Lawson’s report to the Wetlands Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services as well as Eversource. Ms. Winterhoff made a motion to do that and it was seconded by Ms. Jensen. Mr. Jensen offered to write the cover letter, although it appeared Ms. Lyons had her heart set on it.



Natural Resources Inventory Update


There was a discussion about a map provided by consultant Elise Lawson showing areas of interest for fieldwork for the Natural Resources Inventory of Bethlehem. In a note, Ms. Lawson offered to meet with the commission to discuss those areas in more detail. The commission agreed that would be a good idea.


New Business


  • Commission members expressed dismay that some letters from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services were either late, sent to the wrong town or not sent. Commission members noted that this is a problem because sometimes those letters include information about a deadline for making comments and making a deadline is challenging if one doesn’t know about it.


  • Lyons said Plymouth State has informed her that it will not be paying for lunches for students coming to attend the April 17th Intergenerational Climate Change Conversation. She said Bethlehem Elementary School may be looking for help covering the cost of lunch for those students. Ms. Lyons said she would be meeting with Plymouth State officials in two weeks and would have more information about the cost and how the commission might be able to help.


Public Input


Ms. Platt asked to what degree does the commission communicate with the town and other conservation commissions on issues such as the landfill. Ms. Jensen said there is communication and sharing of information. Ms. Gale said the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions now has an information-sharing email system and she is touch with some other commissions. It was also noted that select board chair Veronica Morris is a liaison with the conservation commission and typically reports back to the select board at its meetings.


Ms. Platt also asked if the town has taken a position on the Granite State Landfill. Ms. Winterhoff said the commission can’t speak for the town. But Ms. Jensen noted that the conservation commission sent comments to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services expressing concern and disapproval.


Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for 4:30 on February 28th at town hall.



The End

At 6:41, Ms. Lyons made a motion to adjourn, which was seconded by Ms. Jensen. It passed unanimously.