The house sold, but more needs to be done before Warner gets a new firehouse

Above: The residence on the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road will be moved in anticipation of a new stationhouse for the Warner Fire Department.

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The town’s Fire Station Building Review Committee has sold the house that currently sits on land where town officials hope to someday build a new stationhouse for the fire department.

Chairman Allen N. Brown announced at a meeting in the town hall last week that the board of selectmen recently agreed to sell the 50-year-old private residence on the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road to area resident Bob Irving for $337. The property was purchased by the town last year and no one is living in the house at this time.

Selectman Kimberley Edelmann confirmed on Saturday that Irving’s tentative plans call the structure to be moved soon to another location in town. “We didn’t want to tear it down,” she said, noting that the building is in relatively good shape.

Community leaders have been studying the idea of building a new facility for the fire department and emergency management operations for some time now. Officials say that the current station on Main Street is too small and inadequate for modern use.

The committee has been working with Anthony Mento, a Warner resident and project manager with Sherr, McCrystal, Palson (SMP) Architecture, Inc., of Concord, and North Branch Construction of Concord, on the proposed project.

Tentative plans would call for constructing a brick building that would be approximately 11,00-square feet and include offices and meeting space for emergency management and training, as well as fire department purposes. At last year’s annual town meeting, voters approved a $100,000 request to move the project forward with the goal of presenting a complete building proposal to residents for consideration at the 2018 March town meeting. Early estimates pegged the final price of the project at more than $2.5-million.

But exactly when the old residence will be moved is not yet clear, according to Ed Mical, the town’s emergency management director.

On Saturday, Mical said he’s planning to apply for a Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) grant that could help pay for some equipment (including computers, telephones, desks and chairs) for the proposed building’s emergency management operations. But the grant application stipulates that before new construction begins, there must be an environmental and historical evaluation of the current property. A certified historic expert has reviewed the land and building, he said, and now state officials must consider the findings and forward a recommendation to FEMA.

“Until we get their (FEMA’s) okay, we can’t touch the property,” explained Edelman.

Meanwhile, the town is scheduled to begin test borings on the site on August 2.

At last week’s meeting, the building committee agreed on several other important aspects of the proposed building project, according to Edelmann. One is the basic room design in the one-story building. Another insures that the garage space will have clear span throughout. And, finally, environmental issues have led to the group’s choice of an exterior concrete wall system that will be somewhat thicker than earlier proposals.

The group did not agree on a proposal from the town’s energy committee to hire an outside consultant to review the building plans with an eye towards insuring energy effectiveness. Mento of SMP said that his company supported the idea and agreed with the energy group’s recommendation. Several committee members said they chose the company specifically because they understood that the firm was able to provide energy-related expertise.

Mento said that SMP does have a good body of energy-related knowledge but acknowledge more specific issues could be addressed by an outside consultant.

Chairman Brown noted that the committee is working from a “bare bones” budget provided by the selectmen, and that there wasn’t money to hire an outside energy consultant right now.

After some discussion, the group agreed to review a list of possible consultants that the energy committee would supply before making a final decision soon.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., Tuesday, July 18, 2017. NOTE: The print edition, and an earlier version published here, incorrectly listed the price of the home. It is $337; the earlier, much larger, figure  reflected information provided by a town official. We apologize for the error. 

 

 

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A prize and new plans keep things happening in Warner

(Above:) Tentative plans for phase #3 of the development of the Jim Mitchell Community Park and Amphitheater in Warner calls for the creation of an educational “edible landscape” space.

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – In 2004, the nonprofit organization PlanNH came to town to hold a Community Planning and Design Charette. Katharine Nevins, the owner of Main Street BookEnds, recalled the free event as a special time where both community leaders and residents got together to discuss ways to make the town better.

“We talked about what we wanted to do with the exit 9 (off Interstate 89) area,” she recalled. “What did we see as our strengths? What did we want to do with the downtown, with access to the river, all those kinds of things.”

By that time, Nevins’ brother Jim Mitchell, who co-owned the store with his sister and her husband Neil Nevins, had already begun dreaming about a three-season community park adjacent to the store where the arts could be continually celebrated and advanced. “The charrette reinvigorated the idea, that this is what the town needed, what the community needed,” Nevins recalled. “It needed a focal point for things going on.”

Mitchell died suddenly in 2008, but his family and others associate with the MainStreet Warner nonprofit organization kept the idea alive. Today, the Jim Mitchell Community Park and Amphitheater is a local landmark, a spot for seasonal concerts, theatrical productions and various community events.

And now PlanNH has returned to the give a Merit Award for Excellence in Planning, Design, and Development to MainStreet Warner, Inc., for the creation of the park. The award also recognizes Pellettieri Associates of Warner for the design and construction of the project, which includes the post-and-beam stage designed and built by Peter Ladd, Robert Shoemaker and Charlie Betz.

‘It’s as if the late Jim Mitchell’s town slogan still hovers over the community: There’s something wonderful happening in Warner.’

“It means a great deal to us, to myself and the other (MainStreet Warner) board members to receive this award,” Nevins said. “PlanNH recognizes quality community development in towns and city in New Hampshire. It’s based on sustainability practices and giving back to the community, those kinds of things. For this group to come back and give us this award now, is very special.”

It’s been nine years since the park construction project began, converting an underutilized, slope-challenged, open space into a popular multi-use open park, she said.

And the work is still ongoing, Nevins explained.

“Where the (store’s) solar panels are there’s an asphalt driveway because the building used to be a bank and that was part of the drive-thru,” she said. “All of that asphalt – the plan is for that to come up this summer and that whole section next to the building, underneath the solar panels all the way out to Main Street, will be turned into an example of a living, edible landscape.”

When it’s finished, the area should include raised plant beds, rainwater irrigation, a composting area and educational resources. “Next year, we’ll involve the school and the whole community,” she added.

It’s as if the late Jim Mitchell’s town slogan still hovers over the community: “There’s something wonderful happening in Warner.”

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, Sutton, N.H., on July 11, 2017.

 

Warner’s shooting range project now entangled in court actions

(Above: Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the local high-tech business that employs almost 60 people, is fighting an effort to build a combination shooting range-gun retail store adjacent to his property on Warner Road.)

By Ray Carbone

CONCORD – The legal dispute between the town and Norman Carlson, founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., moved a step closer to resolution at a hearing in the Merrimack County Superior Court last week.

Carlson, who owns the local 20-year-old, $10-million-per-year high tech firm, wants the court to overturn the zoning board of adjustment’s decision to allow the construction of a $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot shooting range and retail gun store on property next to MadgeTech’s plant on Warner Road, by exit 7 off Interstate 93. Carlson says some of his 50-plus employees are concerned about their safety if the proposed high tech, 16-lane facility is built on the 2.9-acre lot adjacent to the Davisville State Forest.

‘When you’re raising your children, and right next door to you is a vacant lot and, if it’s developed, it will become a firearms facility with training, that’s a dramatic change.’ – Attorney Amy Manzelli

 

At the superior court hearing on Monday, June 26, Judge Richard McNamara reviewed several appeals that are related to the case.

The first is from Justin Carroll and Sarah Lansil, who live with their two children in a small building on MadgeTech’s property. Speaking on behalf of the couple, attorney Amy Manzelli said the town should have notified the couple about public hearings regarding the project, so the pair could make the town aware of their safety concerns.

But Michael Courtney, the town’s attorney, said that since Carrol and Lansil are month-to-month renters, and not property owners, the town was not obligated to notify them about the ZBA hearings.

Manzelli said that state regulations require towns to notify anyone who lives close to land where a significant usage change is being considered, regardless of their rental status. ”When you’re raising your children, and next door to you is a vacant lot and, if it’s developed, it will become a firearms facility with training, that’s a dramatic change,” she said.

Courtney later suggested that the couple had waited too long before making their concerns known to town officials. “We’re somewhat troubled by the timing,” the attorney told the judge, noting that public hearings began in April but Carroll and Lansil filed their request to be heard by the court just a few weeks ago.

In addition, the town counsel noted that the lot where developer Eric Miller wants to build his shooting range is in a commercially-zone part of town, so the family should have expected that a business enterprise could be constructed near their rented home.

In another action, the town requests that the judge instruct the zoning board of adjustment to rehear the original project proposal, but only as it relates to the question of whether the shooting range/retail store should be been considered of “regional importance.” A regional-importance designation would have allowed Hopkinton residents who have expressed caution about the location of the shooting range, just three miles from Hopkinton Middle High School, as well as representatives of the Central New Hampshire Planning Commission to address the ZBA.

Meanwhile, Paul Alfano and John F. Hayes, the lawyers representing Carlson’s businesses, asked that more than 200 pages of additional information about the project and the proposed site be added to the town’s official planning records. The materials contain data that was not provided to the ZBA before the group approved the plan, the attorneys argued.

A second filing asks the judge to have the town abandon all its previous actions related to the firearms proposal, and that it restart the entire planning over from the beginning.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Judge McNamara said that he would consider all the requests together, and announce his decisions soon.

Afterwards, if necessary, McNamara said he would rule on the larger question of how the town boards should proceed with the shooting range/retail store application.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on July 4, 2017.

 

 

 

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