Agritourism…Convention Center, Restaurants, Mini-bike Tracks…OH MY!

FEAR (Copy) Apparently, the proposed zoning amendments placed on the on the 2018 ballot by a Citizen’s Petition  has brought out the fear mongers. Warning you that large conventions centers, restaurants, homes being able to change into a  farm over night so you can construct some chicken coops and have a paid admissions minibike tracks!

Oddly enough, those same individuals who are warning you bout the mini-mike track are the ones who supported opening up half the town to OHRV trails. And now show disdain for those residents who are bothered by this intrusion and have complained about the noise and property destruction and vandalism.

The reason for the Citizen’s Petition is quite simple. The definitions of ‘Agriculture’ and ‘Agritourism’ in the Henniker Zoning Ordinances are unclear and confusing.  The definitions of ‘Agriculture’ and “Agritourism’ do not incorporate many of the current elements of farming and agriculture necessary for our Agricultural Community to be economically viable in the 21st Century. (read here: 133-3 and 133-20 A) Be sure to read all the footnotes attached to these cumbersome definitions.

Here is the full text version of the Citizen’s Petition. (Citizen’s Petition ) You will be asked to adopt these new definitions

  1. Agriculture – Agriculture and farming shall mean and refer to all operations of a farm including, but not limited to:  the terms ‘farm,’ ‘agriculture,’ ‘farming,’ roadside farm stands, farmer’s markets, orchards, nurseries, tree farms, Christmas tree farms, dairy farms, livestock, poultry, maple syrup operations, and all other commercial agricultural activities on a farm that are intended or designed to attract visitors to a farm, which includes ‘Agritourism’.
  2. Agritourism – ‘Agritourism’ is defined as interactive or passive activities carried out, with or without payment to a farmer, on a farm, ranch, or agricultural operation. ‘Agritourism’ is intended to promote rural tourism and rural economic development and strengthen our ‘Farm, Agriculture and Farming Community’. ‘Agritourism’ shall specifically include, but not be limited to, farm-to-table events, overnight stays, corn mazes, agricultural-based educational activities, fairs, on-farm weddings, civil unions and similar cultural events, hay rides, petting zoos, pick-your own produce operations, agriculture tours, nature walks, outdoor sporting activities, snowmobile, ATV trails, bike trails, hiking, snowshoeing, x-country skiing, horse trails, camping, bird watching, historical and agricultural. (sure sounds like activities are geared toward enjoying the farm environment)
  3. Amend Article II Definitions, Chapter 133-3 Terms Defined, by adding the following definition/title: Add ‘Agriculture’ as defined, which includes ‘Agritourism’ as defined, and amend the title “Agriculture” to read “Farm, Agriculture, Farming, Agritourism.”
  4.  No. 4: Amend Article IV: General Provisions, Chapter 133-20A Conditional Use Permits: Agritourism Uses, to read as follows: Subject to the provisions of RSA 674:21, the Planning Board is hereby authorized to issue Conditional Use Permits for Agritourism events where the host has reason to believe the Agritourism event will attract 300 or more persons at any one time on Agriculture lands. The issuance of the Conditional Use Permit will be subjected to the process and criteria currently outlined in Chapter 203 Site Plan Review Regulations.

As one can clearly see all definitions refer to a FARM. The primary use of the property must be a farm. Currently, Residential Property is permitted to engage in agricultural activities in all zones.

However, their primary use is Residential and not a farm. If those Residential properties wish to change their use to a farm, they would have to follow the policies  for a Change of Use outlined in Henniker’s Site Plan Review Regulations found in  Chapter 203.

The Citizen’s petition DOES NOT change or amend any portion of Chopter 203.

Important to note, Chapter 203-3 C-2 reads as follows:

C. Exceptions: These regulations do not apply to, and Site Plan Review is not required for, the following:

  1. Any development or expansion of a single family or two family dwelling or home business professional (as defined in 203-4 of these regulations) or of any use or building accessory to such uses.
  2. Any permitted change from another land use to a single family or two family dwelling, or to a home business professional.
Clearly, any permitted commercial property wishing to change to Residential DOES NOT have to undergo site plan review…but all Residential Property wishing to change to Commercial does need to follow abide by the provisions of  Chapter 203.
With simple language like this it makes one wonder why is there so much misinformation???
I thought Henniker promotes tourism…ALL tourism…apparently not.

 

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

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Henniker Energy Committee: Solar Energy Report…

SOLAR POWER (Copy)Before one can truly appreciate how governmental decisions are made, one must first understand the committee system and the vital role that committees play. The ‘committee’ should be at the center of all local government decisions.

Committees offer the opportunity for group problem solving and should be a forum for presenting multiple points of view. Committees are also the training ground for future leadership and an arena where emerging leaders can test and refine their skills and abilities.

Effective committees must be carefully planned and constructed to have a balanced representation of members, a clearly defined mission or objective, a well-defined work plan and dedicated members working toward accomplishing their  mission.

The Henniker Energy Committee was re-established in September 2017. I am extremely proud to have been elected by my fellow committee members to Chairman this committee.

Our immediate task was to evaluate a solar energy proposal that was received by the Board of Selectmen in July 2017. The committee began meeting in September and forged ahead by research and discussing the current concepts in solar energy.

On January 26, 2018 the Energy Committee finalized our report; SOLAR ENERGY A REPORT FINAL , which was emailed to the Board of Selectmen.

The committee members hope our efforts will help them make informed decisions during the developing of our town’s solar energy policy.

I would like to personally thank committee members; Selectmen Peter Flynn, Bill Marko, Mike French, Mark Mitch and Dan Goodenough for their work on this report.

Bruce J. Trivellini

Chairman Henniker Energy Committee

 

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

Quaker Street Relocation…One very simple question……

ZBA PUZZLEPlease grant OHB some poetic   license while I borrow from Edgar Allan Poe’s; The Raven:

 Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten Henniker lore,
 While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my study’s door.
‘Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my study’s door –

So I rose, stumbled and opened my study’s door,

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only whispered words that were spoken, were from the Davison’s of yore.

With those Davison stories on paper still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining,  one question burned into my bosom’s core;
  

Why now and not before…..Only this, and nothing more.’

 

The sanctity of the Davison’s Conservation Covenant meant to be for evermore should not be dismissed. The town should have recognized any safety issues long ago and moved to correct those issues before the Conservation Covenant was completed.

Vote no to the Quaker Street Relocation Plan

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

 

 

Budget Advisory Committee recommendation: 2018 proposed Operational Budget for the town be reduced by $300,000!

propertyt ax-relief-iconThe Budget Advisory Committee (BAC)  began our work on the 2018 budget last fall faced with the latest property tax rate increase. Our property tax rate has increase $.61 to $33.94/$1000.

The BAC report, “A Road Map to Tax Reduction” , addresses one very important issue. Over the last 10 years the amount of revenue raised by property taxes has increased by 49%.

The details of the budget reductions, gives a clear picture of how the town should approach budget needs in the coming years.

Myself and the rest of the committee members encourage you to read the report and study the details of  our recommendations for 2018 budget.

We ask you to support these findings.  Please write to the selectboard members and encourage them to adopt the committee’s recommendations.

Thank you.

Dr. Bruce J. Trivellini

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

Planning Board Prepares Zoning Amendment Warrant Article To Permit High Density Housing in All Zones…

HENNIKER BILL PAYING At the November 8, 2017 Planning Board (PB) meeting, the PB okayed the writing of several amendments to Chapter 133 Henniker Zoning Regulations.

Two of these amendments will have significant impact;

I.) The Planning Board has authorized the part time planning consultant to construct a warrant article that will amend the Older Person Housing Ordinance so higher density development will be allowed, ‘basically everywhere.’ (see video below)

In 2016, Henniker approved higher density development in the Commercial Village and Residential Village Proper Districts only:

HIGH DENSITY HOUSING ZONING MAP

 

The amendment  as adopted in 2016 ((133-20 B) includes several standards that ‘shall be allowed in the RV or CV Zoning Districts’. Most importantly are the following:
  1. Dwelling unit density shall not exceed 8  units per acre.
  2. Adequate on-site off-street parking shall be provided of at least 1.5 spaces per unit. In addition, municipal water, and sewage shall be provided.
  3. The minimum lot area shall be1 and the lot shall have at least 75
    feet of Frontage on a public road.
  4. No more than seventy (70%) percent of the tract may be covered by impermeable
    surfaces; 30% of the lot shall be open space not including wetlands or slopes over 25%.

Increased density housing does make sense in the downtown zoning districts. Close proximity to emergency services (short emergency response times),  paved road access with good street lighting and sewer and water line hook-ups are all primary selling points for such projects.

However, what is very concerning to OnlyHennikerBruce (OHB) is the lack of questioning by the Planning Board members of statements being made by the town’s planning consultant?

Planning consultant, Mr. Fougere actually mentions (see video above @1:20) that the greatest impact is increased ambulance calls. The Rural Residential and Residential Neighborhood Zoning districts are not in close proximity to emergency services. In fact the increased emergency response times in these two zones have been a consideration in other proposed projects.

Many of the access roads in these two districts are not paved. Will the roads in these two districts need to be up-graded to withstand the increased ambulance calls and the increased traffic created by high density housing?

Will we need improve our ambulance service and hire more full time paramedics if such a project comes to town?

The town’s planning consultant, Mr. Fougere, states (@ 0.58 to 1:17) that he works on these types of projects all over the state (he mentions one in Greenland, NH on the coast), they are ‘money makers’, they ‘sell like hot cakes’ and they are ‘all gravy’ to the towns… yet no one on the PB question a thing!

OHB researched Adult Living in New Hampshire and found the best new adult living projects are;

Best new New Hampshire Retirement Communities  

  • Amherst – Connor Court
  • Atkinson – Sawmill Ridge
  • Derry:  Bunker Estates
  • Durham:  Riverside Landing
  • Exeter: The Village at Sterling Hill
  • Kingston:  Kings Landings
  • Londonderry:  Hickory Woods
  • New in Brentwood:  River’s Edge

Most of these high density ‘adult living’ housing projects are South of Rte. 101 and East of Interstate 93. Most are not in a rural residential settings. Most are close to the Mass. border or near the sea coast.

None are in the rolling foothills sections of the state.

All have a higher Median Household Income than Henniker.

Furthermore, an additional amendment being prepared calls for downsizing the lot size requirement for sewer and water hook-up downtown.  Current zoning;

LOT SIZE REQUIREMENT 2017-11-13_8-08-32

Does this pave the way for future high density development in the downtown to be constructed on well and septic? Does the amendment have language that drops the required (see 133-B-2 above) that high density housing to be built on water and sewer as originally adopted??

The town’s planning consultant did not provide information to the Planning Board about the impact of decreasing the number of new sewer and water users. And, the Planning Board members never asked.

None of the Planning Board members in the room at the time of this discussion are on town sewer and water. Only the Select Board Representative, Tia Hooper, is on the system!

Water rates/bills went up substantially this past summer. A new sewer rate/bill was just approved by the Board of Selectman!

For all of us who are on the water and sewer system, it is extremely important that the requirement for connection to these two systems remains in place for all new downtown construction. Additional customers on these two systems will help mitigate the current and future increase in water and sewer rates!

OHB is encouraging everyone to please pay close attention to the final draft of the warrant and attend the Public Hearings regarding these matters.

Keep informed by visiting Henniker’s web page as often as possible.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

 

 

Western Ave Reconstruction Costs Continue to Escalate! Board of Selectmen Violate Right to Know Statute…Again!

Your_Right_to_KnowThe HBOS (Henniker Board of Selectmen) held a properly called and noticed meeting on Friday October 27, 2017. (Notice)

In compliance with RSA 91:A, ” “Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussion and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.” RSA 91-A:1,”  the Town of Henniker routinely posts all Public Meeting Notices on the town’s web page.

The only item of business on the posted Public Notice for the Public Meeting (Notice) was to authorize the purchase of a sidewalk tractor and attachments.

However, the HBOS took action on TWO items that were not on the Public Notice:

  1. In just over 5 weeks (Item 5a page 4) a SECOND Change Order was issued for the Western Ave. Reconstruction project; “Chairman Blomback moved, Selectman Flynn seconded to authorize the Town Administrator to sign a change order with Pike Industries for a cost increase for a winter binder. Motion passed 4-0.” The minutes reflect that a decision was made and action taken despite the fact that no such item was Noticed to the Public for action in the public meeting. Most importantly, the minutes reflect that no explanation, discussion or deliberations of the cost increases mentioned in bullet point #1 occurred. (minutes page 2) How much was this increase for?
  2. “Selectman Flynn moved, Selectman French seconded to appoint Stefanie Costello as Emergency Management Director for a three year term to expire on September 1, 2020. Motion passed 2-1-0,Chairman Blomback was opposed.”

    A properly called non-public session was  held on October 27th for the expressed purpose of  interviewing candidates for the Emergency Management Director’s position.  Item #8 Minutes from the October 17th HBOS meeting, “The closing date for the Emergency Management Director was October 6th, 2017. Interviews will be held on Friday, October 27th beginning at 9AM.” The minutes reflect that a decision was made and action taken despite the fact that no such item was Noticed to the Public for action in the public meeting. Most importantly, the minutes reflect that no explanation, discussion or deliberations as to the reasons why a NEW director was being hired. (minutes page 2) OHB will have a separate blog specifically detailing this decision.

Taking action on items that are NOT on the posted Public Meeting Notice, violates the Right to Know Law! This type of deception should not be tolerated.

Items of Public Interest, such as project cost overruns,  should always be discussed and deliberated in open public meetings. Failure to do so is poor Corporate Governance.

Why do we continue to tolerate being kept in the dark?

We place our Trust on our elected officials who SWEAR an OATH-a covenant-to make sure that we are fully informed…These kind of actions damage that covenant and weakens my trust.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

 

 

 

Your Vested Property Rights…Investment Backed Expectations…OHRV’s & ZONING!

PROPERTY RIGHTS AND THE COURT“Property” isn’t the land itself. It’s the bundle of rights that people forming social groups divvy among themselves when they agree not to fight over the use of that land (and form a government to enforce that agreement). It’s not what you keep behind your castle wall – it’s what keeps you from having to build a castle wall. (Waugh, B)

And that agreement in Henniker is known as The Town of Henniker Zoning Regulations Chapter 133. I would suggest everyone become intimately familiar with this document.

The Zoning Regulations define in words those bundle of property rights that our social group that we call the Town of Henniker have assigned to our property.

The basis for this agreement is the Investment Backed Expectation that each and everyone of us has assigned to the properties of Henniker and the Government that was established to enforce that agreement has pledged to uphold!

These rights have been challenged in the court system many times.  Each time the NH Supreme Court has rendered a decision that has clarified the definitions of those agreed upon rights as written in our Zoning Regulations Chapter 133.

The court has made it quite clear that the heart of the doctrine that defines our property rights is, “Justified investment-backed expectations.”

In 1986, Henniker’s legislative body voted in town wide zoning (page 9 & 21); 1986 ANNUAL REPORT ZONING AND CIVIC ASSOCIATION

Right now for the record, OHB is not a fan of Zoning! Why, because most people fail to review and amend Zoning Ordinances on a regular basis. In other words what was once good in the past can become very bad in the future!

And when review and amending does occur, it usually comes from a hand picked, self serving and controlling Planning Board who inadequately informs the pbulic of the liberties we are giving up.

That vote recorded by Town Clerk Janet Murdough, page 21 1986 ANNUAL REPORT codified our EXPECTATIONS of what kinds of activity can take place on our property.

We voted in a permissive zoning ordinance. Which means all activities are prohibited unless listed as permitted. Hence the document’s list of permitted uses in all zones.

Since the use permitted would be too long, the legislative body chose to adopt the plain wording of Primary Use and Use accessory to permitted use. Accessory uses are further defined in the ordinance as, “A building or use subordinate and customarily incidental to the main building or use on the same lot.”

Needless to say, many folks have varying definitions as to what is customarily incidental. So the NH Supreme Court was called in and has defined Henniker’s customarily and incidental clause for us;

         “Consistent with the common law, the Town’s ordinance defines an accessory use as   a “use subordinate and customarily incidental to the main . . .use on the same lot.”  The definition of accessory use in the ordinance involves several distinct elements.  See Becker v. Town of Hampton Falls, 117 N.H. 437,

440 (1977) (discussing ordinance that defined accessory uses as those that are “customarily incidental and subordina[te]” (quotation omitted)). “[I]ncidental” and “subordinate” incorporate the requirement that the accessory use be minor in relation to the primary use and that it bear a reasonable relationship to that use.  Id.; see Marchand v. Town of Hudson, 147 N.H. 380, 383 (2001).

“[C]ustomarily” imposes an additional requirement that the accessory use “has commonly, habitually and by long practice been established as reasonably associated with the primary . . . use” in the local area. Becker, 117 N.H. at 441 (referring to “local custom”); see Town of Windham v. Alfond, 129 N.H. 24, 29 (1986).  “While the strength or degree of the customary or habitual association does not lend itself to definition by formula, and while the combination need not occur in a majority of instances of the principal use, the uses must be associated with a frequency that is substantial enough to rise above rarity.” Alfond, 129 N.H. at 29 (citation omitted).” [emphasis added]

Which now brings us to our current problem of our High Impact Public Trails System that has been developed in our Rural Residential Zone for Off Highway Recreational Vehicles (OHRV) and the disturbances that it creates.

Considering that the Zoning Ordinance has been in effect for more than 30 years, the owners of property in the Rural Residential Zone have established reasonable investment-backed expectations!

It is clear that those expectations was not to have hundreds of OHRV’s/day passing-by their properties on roads (which are clearly designed and maintained in a condition for the primary permitted users only) turned into a High Impact Public Trail System.

It would appear that the doctrine of “customarily incidental” is being violated here. It would appear that the BOS are in direct contempt of the NH Supreme Court ruling regarding Henniker’s Zoning Ordinance’s Customarily Incidental clause.

OHB encourages the BOS to take time, before their next meeting, to understand their duty to enforce our Zoning Ordinance in light of the NH Supreme Court’s rulings on this very issue.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com