OHB’s phone rings off hook…Cordell Johnston Lectures NH Library Trustees Association on Right-to Know…tells how Henniker’s Planning Board improperly used non-public sessions…

phone-ringing Hat tip to Henniker resident and lawyer extraordinaire Cordell Johnston who gave a wonderful talk to the NH Library Trustees Association on Tuesday May, 23, 2017. Within minutes of the completion of his talk OHB’s office phone began ringing off the hook.

You see there were about 15 bloggers in the room analyzing everything Mr. Johnston had to say.

Mr. Johnston gave the Trustees sound legal advice on Right-to-Know and how to run proper meetings.

He told the story how 20 years ago as a corporate lawyer,  when he first joined Henniker’s Planning Board, the board would  go into a non public session whenever it wanted to discuss things they didn’t want everyone in town to know about. Clearly an improper use of a non-public session.

OHB contacted Mr. Johnston by phone, he told me how he went to an Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) training session, realized right away that the town was improperly using the non-public sessions and promptly set the town straight.

Thanks Cordell!

However, OHB has clearly shown that the town officials has failed to keep up with the times and continues to violate the law regarding the use of emails, text messages and the use of private cell phones…all things that were of little concern back in 1997.

Cordell, OHB challenges you to give your 1 hours talk to the current Henniker officials and all of us in the public. I PERSONALLY WILL PAY YOU FOR YOUR 1 HOUR OF TIME!

Clearly  this town needs your help!

 

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

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Select Women Hooper blatantly misstates facts about Hillside Drive Variance…BOS oblivious to ZBA granting the variance in violation of RSA 674:33!

TRUTH (Copy) On May 16, 2017 the BOS was asked to review the decision of the Henniker ZBA in Case 2017-001; NOTICE OF DECISION ZBA 4-19-2017

In that decision Lot A-17 was granted a variance for road frontage from 105 feet to just 70.96 feet. A 30 foot reduction form the required 100 feet.

RSA 674:33 requires the following 5 criteria confirmed before granting a variance:

  • (1) The variance will not be contrary to the public interest;
  • (2) The spirit of the ordinance is observed;
  • (3) Substantial justice is done;
  • (4) The values of surrounding properties are not diminished;
  • (5) Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship. (A) For purposes of this subparagraph, “unnecessary hardship” means that, owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area: (i) No fair and substantial relationship exists between the general public purposes of the ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property; and (ii) The proposed use is a reasonable one. (B) If the criteria in subparagraph (A) are not established, an unnecessary hardship will be deemed to exist if, and only if, owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, the property cannot be reasonably used in strict conformance with the ordinance, and a variance is therefore necessary to enable a reasonable use of it.

#5 (A) requires that the subject property has a special condition that distinguishes the  property fro all other property in the area. This is the primary condition for Hardship to be established.

Hillside Drive’s applicants failed to establish that the property had any special conditions what so ever.

What was granted was not a variance but a total evisceration of the road frontage minimum requirement ordinance.

Now comes Select Board member Hooper who gives the following explanation of the application and decision:

She states four things that are contrary to the notice of decision linked above and rthe plat of subdivision recorded 39 years ago:

  1. No change in size of the parcels- INCORRECT: notice of decision calls for one property’s frontage to be reduced from 105 feet to 70.96 feet while the adjacent property gains 30 feet and goes from 120 feet to 155 feet of frontage.
  2. The parcels have been evenly divided- INCORRECT: see point #1
  3. To allow appropriate access- INCORRECT: as we have seen in a previous post this is an adverse possession-trespass problem. Access has noting to do with this application Hillside Drive trespass
  4. A lot of engineering has been done in Hillside Drive and sadly some of those property lines weren’t done as clean as they should have been-INCORRECT: property lines were platted and recorded in 1978 over 39 year years ago. Many mortgages have been issued on the subject properties and no legal authority has claimed that the lot lines were incorrect. HILLSIDE DRIVE RECORDED PLAN MAP Lot A-17 and A-18 page 2

The fact that the ZBA violated Henniker Zoning Chapter 133-69 went right by the entire BOS. (page 45 of 88)

There is no excuse for not knowing the facts (RSA and Town Ordinance) about issues brought to the BOS’ attention, especially when you Ms. Hooper choose to speak about it.

Once board members misstate facts…the board has lost all credibility and that is why this BOS is so dysfunctional.

The BOS is our last resort for the inappropriate actions taken by appointed committees.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT a BOS that is dysfunctional and cannot assure us that the process is not being corrupted?

It is unconscionable that the BOS refused to even examine and deliberate the facts of the unlawful awarding of a variance on Hillside Drive.

 

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

‘Henniker Selectmen Ignore Bidding Policy-Award Four Contracts’…What do we do when the puzzle pieces no longer fit?

ZBA PUZZLEThe Messenger’s Headline says it all. (page 9)

Like the proverbial slap on the backside with the wet towel, every tax payer in Henniker should be feeling the sting from the recent actions taken by the Board of Selectmen (BOS) on May 2, 2017.

Over $400,000 of our taxes was let out to contractors in a very unorthodox fashion. OHB understands that the town is at the 11th hour and needed to set these contracts in order to get Western Ave. rebuilt during this construction season.

However, doing business in this fashion does not bode well for the town’s future projects. When the BOS and the town act ineptly, contractors take notice and we get fewer qualified bidders.

In the past, we  have been told that this will not happen again. Yet here we are repeating the same old story.

In addition to the failure of the bidding process, two winning quotes were past their validation date.

First, Michie Corp’s quote was dated January 4, 2017 and transmitted to the town on January 31st. The BOS had no idea at the meeting if those quoted prices were still valid. (note: only page 1 of 3 was placed in the online packet it was unclear if the BOS had all three pages of the quote) (page 38)

While Central NH Concrete’s (Henniker) bid is undated and Phoenix Precast Products (Concord) quote is dated April 24th, both appear to be afterthoughts.  (page 39 & 40).

And secondly,  GWS Fence & Guardrail quote for, $107,018.15, was valid only “thru April 2017”! (page 42)

We tax payers rely on the BOS’ bidding policies to prevent these types of late hour, no choice decisions! Note to BOS…YOU FAILED US!

What happened to the oversight that assures US that all the puzzle pieces are in place and our tax dollars are being spent wisely?

And, what do WE do when we realize all the puzzle pieces no longer fit?

All of us work hard to earn a living….WE tax payers deserve better!

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

 

Planning Board stifles participation…fear of change has destroyed the committee’s growth and development!

DIVERSITY (Copy)Wednesday April 26, 2017 was a sad day for Henniker. The Planning Board refused to appoint two entirely new individuals to its committee. Myself who, according to Mr. Leigh Bosse of The Messenger Newspaper, the board knew too much about and Mr. Mathew Grimes whom the board new too little.

It is obvious that both of us are eminently qualified to preform the duties of a Planning Board member. Clearly the board’s fear of being reigned in and being held accountable through deliberation and participation was the primary reason, for some, to  reject my request.

Reports from all over the world indicate that citizen participation at all levels of government has been fading. Those reports also emphasize that the remit of all local government systems is to deliver a wide range of services to the community that it serves. However it is increasingly recognized that development is a multi-dimensional process incorporating quality of life objectives can only be successfully delivered through direct participation, good corporate governance and diverse partnerships.

The refusal to appoint myself and Mr. Grimes, in light of Mr, Bosse’s assessment as to the reasons why, did nothing more than prove exactly what so many folks here in Henniker believe, are too fearful to say publicly and  local politicians go out of their way trying to convince everyone that the process is not broken, when it is so easy to see that it is.

Change is difficult but it is necessary for our survival…citizen participation in local development is the key to the equality, inclusiveness and sustainability of development.

Otherwise we will continue on with dysfunctional boards and the governmental process  will continue to suffer. The Planning Board is not hurting me…the Planning Board is hurting the community

THUS…WE ALL SUFFER!

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

Henniker Planning Board member makes misleading statements…Henniker ZBA painted into corner…Henniker owes us some answers!

CORNER RESIZED Henniker Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) minutes from Wednesday April 19, 2017 indicate some very interesting and contradictory statements were made by Mr. Dan Higginson, a Planning Board member and agent for the homeowners on Hillside Drive who petitioned the ZBA for a Variance;

  • “Dan Higginson explains the lot line and the plan that he planned for the applicant. Stated that both land owners agree on this and instead of having to bring this to court and spend there time and money, they are hoping the ZBA approves variance for there application.Nothing will change within landscape or adjustment of houses. Everything will stay as is,just the lot line will change. The land owners are asking to do this because in the future if they plan to sell the house the bank wont [sic] grant remortage [sic] due to trespassing over 20 years. Banks will do title search and deny the land owner.”[emphasis added] (read here)

Yet on Monday April 17, 2017, just two days before Mr. Higginson’s mortgage comments, the owners of the Hillside Drive property (Exhibit A: Lot A-17 on Plan #5575 as recorded on December 12, 1978) recorded  a Mortgage Lien in the Merrimack County Recorders Office. HILLSIDE DRIVE 142 A-17 2017 MORTGAGE

Merrimack County Savings Bank  granted a mortgage on February 17, 2017, using the property’s description as recorded from 1978: Exhibit A and without the variance. Thus  rendering Mr. Higginson’s claims about bank mortgages false.

Why did the ZBA grant a variance for a lot line adjustment that actually cure a trespass? NH RSA 674:33 I sets forth the 5 criteria necessary for granting a variance. (read here)

In this case the primary element for RSA 674:33 I (b) 5 A-B were never met. (read here)

The people of Henniker deserve better. All officials, whether elected or appointed, take an oath to uphold certain standards of conduct and the law. Should this type of behavior be tolerated?

OHB feels that the Henniker ZBA owes us an explanation!

What say you?

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henniker ZBA members confused… defy RSA 674:33, I (b)…grant variance without proving hardship…Low cost tress pass correction…no sweat…line forms on the left!

GavelOHB is pretty sure that the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) has no authority to grant a variance for the purpose of correcting a property owner induced tress-pass.

On April 19, 2017, the ZBA held a public meeting regarding an application for a variance to reduce one property’s frontage to 70 feet…30 feet below the minimum for the sole purpose of correcting a tress-pass. The agent for the property owners and presenter of the application was Planning Board Member Dan Higginson:

RSA 674:33, I (b) (5) defines unnecessary hardship pretty clearly, (read here)

  • (5) Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship.
                 (A) For purposes of this subparagraph, “unnecessary hardship” means that, owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area….            

The first class I ever took in “ZBA School”  upon being appointed to the ZBA here in Henniker…drilled the UNNECESSARY HARDSHIP DOCTRINE into your brain until you felt like you had a nail in your skull! And, I was given a wonderful training manual which was authored by none other than…Henniker Resident (and variance king) Cordell Johnston. (read here)

I read it over and over again and became pretty proficient in understanding the legal requirements by which ZBA’s can grant variances.

Big question: WHY IS IT THAT OUR CURRENT ZBA MEMBERS STILL LACK PROFICIENCY IN UNDERSTANDING THIS?

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

 

 

 

Town Administrator Trovato confirms to press…Blomback knowingly violated RSA 41:8 & 91-A:2!

down with zoningIn the April 21, 2017 edition of the Villager, Town Administrator Christine Trovato, in an attempt to minimize Chairman Blomback’s RSA 41:8 violation, made the following remark (page three) :

“Kris [Blomback] sent the emails individually, not one on one, no group discussion  whatever.”

New Hampshire RSA 41:8 reads as follows (read here):

  • 41:8 Election and Duties. – Every town, at the annual meeting, shall choose, by ballot, one selectman to hold office for 3 years. The selectmen shall manage the prudential affairs of the town and perform the duties by law prescribed. A majority of the selectmen shall be competent in all cases.

According to lawyers at the NH Municipal Association, the last sentence REQUIRING,  “A MAJORITY OF THE SELECTMEN TO BE COMPETENT IN ALL CASES” [emphasis added] means the following see question #2 and answer #2;

  • “Two major statutes guide the board in everything it does. The first is RSA 41:8, which says “[a] majority of the selectmen shall be competent in all cases.” In other words, a board of selectmen may take action only by majority vote. As is often said, a single selectman has no authority. The second critical statute is RSA Chapter 91-A, New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law. It requires the board to conduct any official business at a properly held meeting. RSA 91-A:2.” [emphasis added]

The statues are clear, the Select Board cannot conduct any business outside of a duly called meeting!

Villager reporter Michael Pond writes the following;

“But when Trovato spoke to Mayer [Town Counsel] in a phone conversation, she pointed out that the emails had been sent separately. She said Mayer responded, “You’re on the right track.”

This completely contradicts the record. Trovato specifically writes to Attorney Mayer in an email (no phone conversation was ever logged nor was it divulged in the town’s response to Only Henniker Bruce’s Right to Know Request) about the status of the violation on Saturday March 18, 2017 @ 9:34 am page 25of 25, NEC Community Support

  • From: ChrisTrovato [mailto:Chris.Trovato@tds.net]
  • Sent: Saturday, March 18, 20179:34 AM
  • To: Barton L. Mayer
  • Subject: FW: Town support
  • Importance:  High
  • Bart,
  • Kris sent the attached email to each Selectboard [sic] member individually.  Assuming the Board agreed via email, the intent was to put the item on the consent agenda with emails attached for official approval at the next Select Board meeting.
  • Ben Fortner is challenging this.  As this is not a committing the Town of Henniker to anything, do you see any reason why we cannot proceed this way?

Town Counsel Mayer’s follow up email on Monday March 20,2017 @ 7:49 am fails to mention or confirm any phone conversation with Trovato;

  • Barton L. Mayer <bmayer@uptonhatfield.com> Monday, March 20, 2017 7:49 AM
  • ‘Chris Trovato’
  • RE:Town support
  • Chris-
  • Your question is at two levels.
  • First, you must be concerned with the Right-to-Know law. If Kris sent this email to all of the selectmen, it would represent a “meeting” within the meaning of the RTK. To cure that violation, the emails and a discussion and vote, “ratifying”  Kris’ signature on the community support document should resolve that problem. So you are on the right track.
  • If the question focuses on the authority of the board to approve the document, I am persuaded the selectmen have the authority, as they are the elected representatives of the town.
  • Does that address your question(s)? Bart
  • Barton L. Mayer
  • Upton & Hatfield, LLP

Trovato’s email clearly states what the board plans to do next…place the item on the consent agenda with emails attached for official approval at the next Select Board meeting.

Consent Agenda are not discussed and the vote is by signature! The public would have never heard one word of deliberation and discussion if Mr. Fortner has not pulled this item off the consent agenda on the night of march 21, 2017…thus continuing to keep the public in the dark.

Town Administrator Trovato also misrepresents Town Counsel Mayer’s response to her Saturday email;

  • If Kris sent this email to all of the selectmen, it would represent a “meeting” within the meaning of the RTK. To cure that violation, the emails and a discussion and vote, “ratifying”  Kris’ signature on the community support document should resolve that problem.

Clearly Town Counsel states in what order events need to occur in order to cure the violation. The emails need to be placed in the record, a discussion should take place and then a vote .

However, it is clear by placing this on the consent agenda,  Trovato and Blomback had no intentions of putting this up for discussion and the public would be left in the dark.

The deception promulgated in this Villager Article is appalling!

Furthermore, we all should be a bit skeptical of our Select Board Chairman’s competence if Town Counsel has to direct the board on how to solve their violations of the Open meeting requirements!

OHB believes that the blatant disregard for public disclosure, transparency and accountability clearly demonstrates  maleficence and incompetence on behalf of Chairman Blomback and Town Administrator Trovato.

Both should be removed from office immediately.

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

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com