Henniker’s Master Plan… a blueprint for the Official Budget Committee.

ZBA PUZZLEHenniker’s Master Plan calls for encouraging public involvement, participation and input on the various Town Departments. Thus Henniker needs more active committees.

The Master Plan’s goal is to ensure that all community services and facilities meet the current and anticipated needs of the service area in an effective and efficient manner.

Henniker’s Master Plan recognizes that the financing of municipal services can be difficult to accomplish in small communities with limited resources. The Master Plan puts forth two very important recommendations;

  1. Henniker should research all available funding options for maintenance and improvements.
  2. Henniker should work to prepare a comprehensive plan that includes funding availability for the desired projects and programs.

 Effective and efficient operations of town facilities and projects will reduce cost of current projects and free up capital that can be re-allocated to future expenditures and expansion of services.

I think the Master Plan has indeed created the mission statement for an Official Budget Committee. Vote Yes… for an Official Budget Committee.

Thank you,

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.”

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Official Budget Committee,Understanding the Process!

BUDGET COMMITTEE (Copy) (Copy)  I think that we all agree the operating budget is probably a municipality and a school district’s most important work product. A budget that is approved by the legislative body, is the legal document that gives our governing body officials the authority to incur obligations and pay expenses. It allocates resources among departments, reflecting the legislative body’s priorities and policies, and controls how much each department may spend.

A budget must be more than just financial data. A budget needs to include mission statements, goals, and objectives which clearly convey how budget decisions relate to a wider vision for the future of our town. And, all of these elements must be continuously reviewed so positive and/or negative results can be identified.

It is a complex process, that requires many levels of understanding and extensive review.

An Official Budget Committee provides assistance in that extensive review process. The Official Budget Committee (OBC) is formed only if the Legislative Body (registered voters) of a town adopts RSA 32:14. Once adopted, the responsibility for budgeting has been delegated from the Governing Body to the official budget committee. In addition to the three to twelve members-at-large, an official budget committee must have one governing body ex officio member, and one village district and/or school board member ex officio, if there is a village district and/or school district that lies wholly within the town. RSA 32:15.

With an Official Budget Committee, the budget process should work as follows:

  1. All officers and departments submit statements of estimated expenses and receipts to the governing body (Board of Selectmen or School Board).
  2. The governing body submits its own recommendations to the OBC,  including all pertinent information regarding appropriations and the details of all anticipated revenue.
  3. Review of the Governing body’s recommendation and Prepare the budget. “It is the budget committee’s operating budget that is submitted to the Department of Revenue and presented to the voters for adoption at the annual meeting. That being said, the governing body, not the budget committee, [emphasis added] has the authority to propose other appropriations (i.e., separate warrant articles containing appropriations). When a village district or school district lies wholly within a town with a budget committee, the town budget committee also prepares the proposed budget for that village district and/or school district. In addition, in SB 2 towns, the budget committee prepares the default budget as well as the proposed operating budget if the voters previously delegated that responsibility to the budget committee. RSA 40:14-b; RSA 40:13, IX(b).” (link #1)
  4. “RSA 32:16 and RSA 32:17 (link #2) also make it clear that the budget committee has the authority to request information directly from department heads and other officials. While necessary, requested information should be provided to the budget committee, the committee must remember that it has no authority to direct municipal staff work duties.” (see link #1)
  5. Hold Public budget Hearings: By statute, the OBC must hold at least one public budget hearing where all appropriations and the purpose of those appropriations must be disclosed and thoroughly discussed. Note: Preparing the budget is just one of the duties of the OBC. Periodic review the current and past year’s budget performances is another requirement. “In conjunction with budget committee’s responsibility to prepare the budget, the committee also has the authority to review current expenditures by acquiring a “comparative statement of all appropriations and all expenditures by them made in such detail as the budget committee may require.” RSA 32:22. In fact, RSA 32:22 says that the budget committee “shall meet periodically to review such statements.” (Link #1)
  6. Once the public hearings have been completed, the OBC proposed budget and its recommendations on special warrant articles must be submitted to the the Tow Clerk’s office, the two corresponding Governing Bodies and Department of Revenue Administration.
  7.   Presentation to the voters for adoption at the annual meeting.

Clearly, the adoption of an OBC will enhance the budget review process….

 

 

 

 

 

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

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