Adjoining towns, regional planning commission, will be heard about proposed gun facility

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The zoning board of adjustment has decided to invite residents and officials of Hopkinton and Webster, as well as representatives of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission, to its next public meeting so they can offer input into a proposed $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot shooting range and retail gun store on Warner Road.

The ZBA approved the idea at its town hall meeting last Wednesday, October 11, after the members began their second review of a zoning variance request from Eric Miller, the Sutton resident who wants to build the facility. The request for the allowable variance was originally approved back by the ZBA in March but a court ruled in July that the board erred when it did not notify several abutters about its original hearing, nor did it consider whether the project could be considered to have “regional impact.” (The latter designation obligates town boards to notify neighboring communities and the planning commission about a proposed project and public hearings about it.)

‘Twenty years ago there was a shooting range right across from the high school and nobody said anything about it.’

– Howard Kirchner,  ZBA member 

The gun store/shooting range proposal has been controversial ever since Miller announced his intentions nearly 10 months ago. Some area residents like the idea, saying there are many gun enthusiasts in the region and the facility will give them a safe place to learn how to improve their skills. Opponents say that the location, roughly three miles from Hopkinton Middle High School, is a poor choice, and that noise and environmental issues could make the operation problematic for the neighborhood.

Most of the legal opposition has come from Norman Carlson, who is founder and CEO of the town’s largest high-tech employer, MadgeTech, Inc.. He has threatened to move his 60-employee plant, adjacent to the Miller’s land, out of town if the project is completed and his Carlson’s business entities have legally challenged almost every aspect of the project, including approvals Miller has won from the ZBA and the planning board. State officials say that Carlson missed out an opportunity to purchase the property, which is adjacent to his plant, during a public bid earlier in the year, and that he inadvertently created the 2.9-acre lot when he mistakenly okayed a tree clearance on the electric company for the land when it was still part of the Davisville State Forest.

At last week’s hearing, Rick Davies, chairman of the ZBA, asked the board’s voting members the question they did not consider at their original hearing in March: Does the proposed facility have a “regional impact?”

Barbara Marty said that it was probably a good idea to let the other communities comment on the project. “I think, being good neighbors, we owe them that,” she said.

“I’m torn,” countered member Howard Kirchner. While he understood people’s concerns, he said that “20 years ago there was a shooting range right across from the high school and nobody said anything about it. This is much safer and much farther away than that.”

Davies pointed out that the question before the board was not on the overall merits of the project but simply whether it could be seen to have regional impact, and therefore trigger invitations to the neighboring towns and the planning commission.

After a brief discussion, the members voted unanimously to support the idea. (The two towns and the commission will have no legal authority at the upcoming meeting to approve or disapprove Warner’s planning decisions.)

The members then adjourned the public hearing with the intention of reconvening it at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 8, at 7 pm in the town hall. The ZBA will also hold a site review of the Warner Road property this Thursday (Oct. 19) at 5:30 p.m. but no pubic input will be taken at that time.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

Advertisements

Gov. Sununu appoints new Sunapee boat access group; locals want court to overturn his decision to ditch Wild Goose plan

By Ray Carbone

NEWBURY – Several local sportsmen associations and at least two residents have mounted a legal challenge to Gov. Chris Sununu’s plan to ditch a long-delayed proposal for building a public access boat launch on Lake Sunapee’s southeast shore.

The governor is moving forward with seeking an alternative to the local site.

Sununu signed an executive order recently that establishes the Lake Sunapee Public Access Development Commission. The group will research and evaluate “alternative opportunities for expansion of boat access at Lakes Sunapee,” according to a press statement issued by his office. It will also consider other uses for the three-acre Wild Goose site that the state purchased for a possible boat ramp in 1990.

The new executive order says that the state’s original plan to build a boat ramp on the 3.3-acre land off Birth Grove Road has “met with significant public opposition, including extensive litigation involving multiple appeals to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.” At a result, according to the order, “it is necessary to assemble a variety of perspectives” before moving forward with both a new lake access plan that will be supported by a majority of the public as well as a new development goal for the Wild Goose property.

“The (F&G) letter charged that ‘a few wealthy individuals’… want to keep the lake ‘as their own private domain.’

The 15-member commission will include two members of the state legislature as well as representatives from the NH Public Water Access Advisory Board, the NH Fish and Game Department, the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES), the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and residents of New London, Newbury and Sunapee (appointed by those town’s boards of selectmen). Residents and/or shoreline property owners from the same three towns would be chosen by the governor.

On Friday, Ben Vihstadt, the Sununu’s press representative, said the governor has not yet announced members of the commission, but that the group will meet at least once a month with the goal of issuing a report by March 2018.

The idea of developing the Wild Goose site has been debated for decades.

While the state is legally obligated to provide pubic access to Sunapee, many area residents, including both Newbury town officials and the Lake Sunapee Protective Association, have long opposed the local project. The opponents argue that there already is adequate public (although not state-owned/operated) access to the lake, and that the local site off Rte. 103 could create significant traffic and environmental issues.

Supporters of the Wild Goose plan say state officials have already approved the Wild Goose site and that the current ramp access points are inadequate.

The state’s courts have twice sided with the supporters, defeating legal challenges to the proposed ramp. However, Sununu may handed the opponents a victory when he decided last month to not seek an annual renewal of the DES wetland permit needed to build a ramp on the site.

“Trying to salvage a flawed and controversial idea that has not gone anywhere in over 20 years and that was left without funding by the legislature is not a viable plan to increase public access on Lake Sunapee,” Sununu said. “My priority remains bringing forward a real proposal that will actually allow Granite Staters greater access to our Lake Sunapee.”

Shortly after the announcement, the fish and game commission took the unusual step of publically asking Sununu to reconsider his decision. The letter charged that the Newbury project was delayed because it’s opposed by “a few wealthy individuals” who own shoreline property near the Wild Goose land and want to keep the lake “as their own private domain.”

Now, the Sullivan County Sportsman Club, the NH Bass Federation and others have petitioned the Sullivan County Superior Court to reverse Sununu’s decision, saying that only the DES has the authority to decide on the status of a wetlands permit.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper of Sutton, New Hampshire on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.

 

Sunapee election fraud charges postponed until November; alleged accomplice could testify against Sunapee man

By Ray Carbone

NEWPORT – A criminal trial that could send a Manchester man to jail for his role in an alleged case of election fraud in a 2016 Sunapee school board race has been postponed.

Adam Gaw, 36, was arrested in March after authorities accused him of doctoring someone else’s email in order to make some school board candidates look bad days just before town elections. A scheduling conference was set to take place in Newport District Court last Tuesday, but Brian W. Buonamano, an assistant attorney general, joined with Lauren Breda, a public defender representing Gaw, asking that Judge Bruce Cardello postpone Gaw’s trial until at least November.

“Adam Gaw is tied up in this (Joseph) Furlong matter,”  his attorney told the judge. “We’re looking at him hopefully as a cooperative witness.”

“Adam Gaw is tied up in this Furlong matter,” Buonamano told the judge. “We’re looking at him hopefully as a cooperative witness.”

Joseph Furlong, 40, of Sunapee was charged at the same time as Gaw. Authorities say the two men worked together to change an email originally sent out by another person in order to sway the school board election in favor of Furlong’s wife, Heather Furlong. (Heather Furlong won a school board seat in March 2016 but she resigned shortly after her husband was arrested in March 2017.)

in The two men were originally arrested and charged in March 2017 but, in July the attorney general’s office set the original charges set aside and instituted several new ones: two counts of illegally altering an email with the aim of influencing the results of an election (Class A misdemeanor) and one count of forgery (a Class B misdemeanor).

Last month, a judge dismissed all charges against Furlong, ruling that the state had made several legal errors regarding the new charges, including missing the legal statue of limitations for the crimes. (The AG has filed a request to have the judge reconsider his decision and Furlong’s attorney recently submitted an objection to the AG’s reconsideration request.)

At last weeks’ hearing, Breda indicated that if the dismissal of Furlong’s charges is allowed to stand, Gaw could ask the court to dismiss all charges against him based on the same legal arguments.

Gaw entered a not-guilty plea to all charges in July, but authorities say that he’s already accepted full responsibility for the altered messages twice – once, in an email to the police department and once in a signed statement given at the Sunapee police station.

Judge Cardello set a new status hearing on Gaw’s charges for November 14.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.

 

Superior Court Judge tosses out request for restraining order against Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill

By Ray Carbone

NEWPORT – A local reality TV producer and his wife have lost their fight to win a restraining order and a stalking order of protection against Dave Cahill, the chief of Sunapee police department.

In a decision handed down on Friday, Judge Brian Tucker of the Sullivan County Superior Court here ruled that Joseph and Heather Furlong of Sunapee “presented no instance of unwarranted contact (with the chief) – direct or indirect, real or threatened – that justifies a restraining order.”

The judge recognized the anxiety the couple has had regarding the chief over the last six months, but he said that “the subjective views of the Fulongs are not enough to support issuing the (restraining) order.”

During the hearing held Thursday in the superior court, several witnesses – including the Furlongs – indicated that the chief only had, at most, four incidents in the last 18 months where he’d interacted with either of the Furlongs, and Heather Furlong initiated two.

(The judge also dismissed the request for a stalking order, noting that such actions are taken in the Newport District Court.)

During Thursday’s hearing, it was apparent that the Furlongs were extremely anxious confronting the chief. Heather Furlong, the first witness, broke down in tears not long after she took the stand.

“I’m very concerned about a pattern that Mr. Cahill has demonstrated with myself and my husband,” she told the judge. “(He) has been malicious, which has resulted in substantial pain and suffering for my family.”

Joseph Furlong, who wiped tears from his eyes as his wife wept, said later that he had similar emotional problems. “I can’t sleep at night,” he testified. “(Cahill) is out to get me, to get vengeance… I want protection until I can pack up and move my family out of town.”

‘Heather Furlong, the first witness, broke down in tears not long after she took the stand… Joseph Furlong, who wiped tears from his eyes as his wife wept, said that he had similar emotional problems. “I can’t sleep at night,” he testified.’

 

Cahill, who has been in law enforcement for 30 years and Sunapee’s chief for the last 15 years, denied that he ever acted in an intimidating or threatening towards the couple. In fact, he testified that he’s had regular friendly small town-type encounters with the Furlongs for some time, particularly since his youngsters are the same age as their children.

Things began changing in 2016 after Joseph Furlong was investigated for allegedly doctoring an email with the apparent goal of swaying the election of a school board seat in his wife’s favor.

Cahill spoke with several people, including Furlong, after learning about the possible election fraud. Furlong was arrested in March 2017 following a yearlong investigation under the supervision of the New Hampshire attorney general’s office. He was charged with six counts related to forgery and making a false statement to the police.

Furlong denied the charges, and indicated that a 36-year-old construction contractor named Adam Gaw from Manchester, who was apparently working on the Furlong house, may have been responsible for the altered email message.

Shortly before Joseph Furlong was scheduled to go on trail last month, the attorney general withdrew the original charges and filed new ones, both related to actions taken during the alleged email doctoring.

A district court judge ruled that the new charges were filed after the statute of limitation had run out. He dismissed all charges against Joseph Furlong. (The AG has filed a request to have the judge reconsider his decision.)

At last week’s court hearing, the Furlongs told Judge Tucker that Cahill had friendly relationships with other residents who are their political opponents, and that the chief also harbors ill will against them because he mishandled the email investigation.

The judge listened to more than three hours of testimony, much of it related to the email investigation and the Furlongs’ reactions to Cahill and other Sunapee residents, but he made it clear that he was focused on the restraining order request.

‘I’m interested in the facts (relating to) whether I should issue an order restraining (Cahill) from seeing you, not the politics,” he told Heather Furlong at one point.

“Whether it was a bad or a good investigation really has noting to do with whether I should issue an order that Chief Cahill should stay away from you,” he said later to Joseph Furlong.

In related news, police report that Adam Gaw has twice taken full responsibility for doctoring the email messages but he recently plead “not guilty” to all related charges in district court. A hearing regarding his case is scheduled for this week.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on September 12, 2017.

 

 

 

Warner selectboard hears about beer at annual fall festival, and land use issues related to shooting range plan

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – At a busy meeting of the board of selectmen last week, the town leaders learned about plans to add a beer tent to the Warner Fall Foliage Festival next month and discussed how the recent resignation of the land use secretary could impact legal proceedings regarding the proposed gun store/shooting range.

At the meeting held Monday, August 29, in the town hall, Ray Martin, president of the WFFF’s board of directors, told the three-member town board that the festival has entered into an agreement with SweetFire BBQ of Claremont to operate a beer tent at the 70th annual festival, which runs Friday, Oct. 6 to Sunday, Oct. 8. (The beer tent will not be in operation on Friday, the first night of the downtown event.)

The new vendor will be located on the parking lot behind the New Hampshire Telephone Museum off Depot Street and across from the Pillsbury Free Library. SweetFire will also serve barbecued food, Martin said. “The vendor provides all ID checking (and) there’s a limit of two beers per person,” he noted.

The WFFF board has researched the company and is satisfied that it will manage the beer tent responsibly, the president said. It has its own insurance, which will be backed up by both the telephone museum’s and the festival’s.

The (land use resignation) is especially sensitive at this time because the town is locked in a legal dispute with Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer (regarding the shooting range plan).

 

SweetFire has done “a lot of” similar events in the area, Martin explained, adding that the company has been at the last two Hopkinton State Fairs and at several public events in Claremont.

Because the state liquor commission issues the company’s license, the selectmen did not need to take any action, Martin concluded. He simply wanted them to have giving official notification.

“We’re just looking at this as a rental space,” he told the selectmen. “It could be another $1,300 or $1,400 profit for the Warner Fall Foliage Festival.”

Later in the meeting, the selectmen discussed the recent resignation of Lois Lord, who has served as the town’s land use secretary for the last few years. The position is especially sensitive at this time because the town is locked in a legal dispute with Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer. Carlson’s business operations have recently won a court decision overturning the zoning board of adjustment’s approval of a plan to build a $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot high-tech shooting range and retail gun facility on land adjacent to his MadgeTech plant on Warner Road. (The ZBA is scheduled to reconsider the application from Eric Miller of Sutton next Wednesday, Sept. 13.)

Town Manager Jim Bingham told the selectmen that the land use secretary’s job has seen some changes recently and he suggested that the board may want to review aspects of the position before hiring someone to take Lord’s place. “My suggestion is that we hire someone on an interim basis,” Bingham said.

Both Rick Davis, chairman of the ZBA, and Ben Frost, chairman of the planning board, told the that their boards do need help in the immediate future – “The gnarlier issues are with the zoning board,” said Frost – but they did not opposed the town administrator’s suggestion.

The selectmen suggested that the town manager begin looking to other communities in the area to find a qualified person to assume the duties on an interim basis.

“I’m going to begin working on that vigorously tomorrow,” Bingham said.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

Unusual agreement seals Odd Fellows building sale to local contractor

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – It took some creativity, but the town finally sold its historic Odd Fellows building to a local contractor who hopes to renovate and restore the structure.

On Aug. 1, the selectmen signed a purchase-and-sales agreement with Nate Burrington. The Warner native and the owner of Burlington Builders and Maintenance will purchase the 125-year-old wooden village building for $10. Burrington wants to convert the 72’-by-42’, three-story landmark into a combination workshop and office for his business, and rent space for office and/or residential apartments.

‘Selectboard Chairman John Dabuliewicz admitted that the town has lost some legal leverage in the agreement.’

 

Burrington first approached the selectmen about taking over the former fraternal meeting place more than six months ago. The town bought the building in 1999 for $50,000 with hopes that it could renovate it into commercial space, or repurpose it for elderly or workforce housing. After none of several such proposals worked out (and environmental issues were discovered on the property) residents were enthusiastic about Burrington’s unusual offer to take over the project and restore it at his own costs.

The idea was addressed at the annual town meeting in March and the selectmen indicated that they expected an agreement would be forthcoming.

Kimberley Edelmann, selectman, said negotiations became complicated. “Whenever you deal with a board, it takes a while because we can’t decide anything except when we’re in an (official) meeting,” she explained.

The selectman wanted some assurance that important restoration work, which includes structural and environmental remediation, would be done in a timely manner. They created a schedule of improvements with deadlines stretching out two years as part of the agreement. If Burrington didn’t comply, the town could retake the building – something it did not really want to do.

(The board was also interested in safeguarding the town’s investment in the property, which has grown to $80,000 as it handled various problems associated with the land since 1999.)

For his part, Burrington was hesitant to commit to a schedule, said Edelmann. If significant complications arose, from personal to international economic challenges, he would lose his initial investment when the town took the building back, she explained.

Finally, Edelmann suggested that the board change the schedule from one that was required to something Burrington would aspire to complete. In addition, a clause stipulates that if Burrington sells or passes on the landmark, the town will receive $80,000.

Edelmann said the agreement is somewhat unusual but seems to satisfy most of the concerns of both sides.

Chairman John Dabuliewicz admitted at a recent selectmen’s meeting that the town has lost some legal leverage in the agreement, but Edelmann pointed out that the Odd Fellows building would no longer be a municipal obligation.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

 

MadgeTech wins legal fight; firing range decision will be reviewed by ZBA

Some Hopkinton residents are concerned about having a firing range near the Hopkinton Middle High School. They may be able to address the Warner zoning board of adjustment about the issue next month. (Ray Carbone/photo)

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The founder and president of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer, has won a significant legal victory in his efforts to derail the construction of a proposed indoor shooting range on land adjacent to his plant’s property in the Davisville area.

In a decision handed down last month, Judge Richard McNamara of the Merrimack Superior Court ruled that the town’s zoning board of adjustment acted improperly in March when it OK’ed a variance to its zoning regulations that would allow for the construction of the gun facility. The ruling, which was made in response to a legal request from Norman Carlson of MadgeTech, means that the approval is invalid and the ZBA will have to hold a new hearing to reconsider the proposal.

The ZBA’s next scheduled meeting is September 13. No agenda has yet been posted but Chairman Rick Davies has indicated that the plans for the $1.4-million shooting range and gun retail store will be reconsidered at that time.

The ruling does not mean that Hopkinton neighbors will be able to address the ZBA… (only) that the board must consider the question of whether (the project) has regional impact…

The court decision is a setback for both Eric Miller of Sutton, who hopes to build Dragonfly Ranges on a 2.9-acre lot adjacent to MadgeTech’s plant, and for the town, which opposes Carlson’s efforts to derail the plan. Carlson claims his employees have safety concerns about the facility, and said he’ll move his company out of town if the shooting range is built at the currently proposed site.

The court’s action came after Carlson’s lawyers argued that the ZBA should have considered whether Dragonfly’s project would have a regional impact, and therefore allowed both local Hopkinton residents and representatives of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission to address their concerns before making its March decision.

In addition, the board should have notified all abutters – including the state’s Department of Transportation and its Division of Forests and Lands – before the hearing to allow representatives of the two organizations to express concerns to the board.

(In a separate action, a couple that rents a small home on the MadgeTech’s land argued that they also should have been notified about the March ZBA hearing and allowed to discuss their concerns about the project.)

The town objected, saying that while no official notification was given to the state agencies, they were aware of the building proposal and had offered no objections. In fact, when the town’s planning board considered Dragonfly’s proposal in June, it invited input from both agencies, and neither indicated that it had any concerns about the project.

The judge’s ruling does not mean that Hopkinton neighbors or the commission representatives will be able to address the ZBA. It simply means that the board must consider the question of whether the project is of regional interest and, if so, allow others to speak at a public hearing.

The decision will also require that the renters be notified in advance of the next hearing and that the two state agencies that own land next to the proposed gun range be notified beforehand.

It’s unclear how the court ruling impacts the planning board’s June approval. If the ZBA reaffirms its March decision on the same grounds, it’s likely that the planners’ decision would stand. But if the case moves in another direction – that is, if information about the possibility of excessive noise or potential pollution concerns are reviewed – then town officials may recommend that the planning board rehear Dragonfly’s application after a ZBA approval.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.

 

Construction begins on Warner shooting range project

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – Eric Miller, the Sutton resident who wants to build a $1.4-million, 11,800 square-foot shooting range and retail gun store on Warner Road attended a hearing in the Merrimack County Superior Court several weeks ago. Afterwards, he said he would wait until Judge Richard McNamara had ruled on several appeals from Miller’s abutters before moving ahead with any construction plans. But the entrepreneur had a change of heart.

Miller recently completed the purchase of the 2.9-acre property adjacent to MadgTech, Inc., near exit 7 off Interstate 89, and construction work has already begun on the land.

“If (town officials) are making that kind of commitment, then I need to make an equal amount of commitment to the project.”

– Eric Miller, owner of planed retail gun store/shooting range

 

“I spent a lot of time analyzing all the potential (legal) outcomes and realized that there isn’t really a scenario where I can’t hopefully be able to build,” he said late last week. “I’ve looked at this from every angleand decided that this is worth making this investment… So I pulled the trigger.”

The recent court actions involved appeals from Norman Carlson, the founder and CEO of MadgeTech, Inc., the town’s largest high-tech employer, to halt Miller’s project. Carlson says his employees feel the business will pose a danger to their safety, and he’s threatened to move his 50-plus-workers plant out of town if the project is constructed next to the company land. (In recent weeks, Carlson has been unavailable for comment.)

Earlier this year, both the planning board and the zoning board of adjustment approved Miller’s building proposal. Now, town officials are opposing Carlson’s efforts to have the judge toss out those decisions.

In the Concord superior court last month, Carlson and a couple that rents out a small house on his property asked the court to legally halt Miller’s project. Attorneys argued that the couple was not properly notified by the town about the two land boards’ hearings, and that other legal requirements had not been met. Both Miller’s attorney and the town’s refuted the claims.

However the town officials did ask the judge to order that the ZBA reconvene its public hearing, although only to specifically consider the question of whether the shooting range/gun store facility could be considered to have a regional impact. If it does, some Hopkinton residents who have expressed concerns about the location of the facility, just three miles from Hopkinton Middle High School, as well as representatives of the Central New Hampshire Planning Commission would be allowed to address the zoning board.

The Hopkinton residents (and other people with ties to the area) say they’re concerned about noise from the gallery and the possibility that lead from firearms and ammunition could somehow find its way into the local water supply. Representatives of the planning commission raised concerns about traffic in the neighborhood. Those concerns were discussed at the planning board hearing, but the board members decided that Miller’s plans were sufficient.

On Friday, Miller said that he completed his purchase of the 2.7-acre lot adjacent the Davisville State Forest on Monday, July 17, and that he hired a company to begin preparing the land for construction later that week. He had signed a purchase-and-sales agreement with Richard M. George of Webster earlier this year after Webster outbid Carlson for the land, which was formerly part of the forest.

Miller said that he was especially motivated to move forward with his construction plans after receiving a recent email from Warner officials indicating that they intended to continue their vigorous defense of the two land boards’ rulings.

“So, I thought, if they’re making that kind of commitment, then I needed to make an equal amount of commitment to the project,” Miller said.

Miller said that he’s spent more than $10,000 on legal fees related to the dispute so far, and he expects to spend more in the future.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017

 

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. 

 

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑