Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Planning Board Notice of Public Hearing 4-6-15

Town of Winchester
Planning Board
Notice of Public Hearing
4-6-15
 
 
The Winchester Planning Board will be meeting on 4-6-15 at 7pm on the Main Floor of the Town Hall, 1 Richmond Road for the following hearing:

The board will review an application for Earth Excavation Permit Renewal, which includes a request to excavate to a lower elevation, submitted by Mitchell Sand & Gravel. The property is located on Payne Road, Winchester map 15, lot 51. If the application is accepted as complete, the board will move into a hearing on the matter.

Should a decision not be reached, the hearing will stay on the Planning Board agenda until it is either approved or denied. The files are available for review at the Land Use Office during regular business hours.

Respectfully,
Margaret Sharra, Land Use
 
Surprised this even made public on the board's agenda. Notice that the fact he wants to dig down another 80 feet wasn't mentioned; nor the fact that once he has finished looting all the material he can ship down to Mass. he'll simply walk away, leaving a huge hole in the ground to be filled up by rain water and that will eventually become a hazard to all living in the area. This is unacceptable.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mitchell Attempting To Expand Pit .. More Blasting

For those of you sick of the blasting and noise from Mitchell's Quarry, there's an important meeting coming up at the Swanzey Town Hall , March 26 at 6 pm. He's looking to get his permit renewed, which expires on November 15th, 2015 and permission to blast down 80' lower right on top of our aquifer. This place was once a brown zone and was never cleaned up. Can you imagine what could happen should they hit a vein and release long buried toxic chemicals? Though this will effect the Swanzey part of the pit, it will affect everyone down river should something happen. Plus, who wants a lake there once he walks away. What a hazard for children in the area who will be drawn to it and think about what a breeding ground for mosquitoes this will be. The meeting will be open to the public no matter where you are from. Come and let your voices be heard.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Keene is best place for Winchester students

This letter is in reference to the recent vote in Winchester regarding a petitioned article asking the voters if it is in the best interest to send the students to Keene High School.
The voters said that it was not in the best interest to send the kids to Keene. That is the 374 voters who voted in the affirmative, out of the 4,100 residents in Winchester. This article is purely advisory. I believe the article stated the tuition increase being charged to Winchester from Keene and that certainly influenced the vote.
I recently contacted Monadnock, and the tuition to send a student there is $16,400, and if that student is special ed, it will cost $25,000 plus; if the IEP requires a paraprofessional, that would be an additional cost.
The cost Keene is charging is right in line with Monadnock. The article in the paper cited poor communication and lack of information about the Winchester students. If the Winchester School Board members would like information from Keene, they should ask specific questions and allow the time to receive the information.
As far as lack of information on the students, ask the questions. It has been my experience so far this year that my communication with Keene has been great. I have been in contact with the guidance counselor, his administrative assistant and a number of teachers. They emailed or spoke to me with the accurate information in a timely manner with results.
I have found the teachers to be willing to help, caring and very knowledgeable. The classes my child is taking are challenging. I already had one child graduate from Keene High School, one to graduate in 2018 and I have one child in the Winchester School. I am very happy with the Winchester School and Keene High School. I do not want to see the students go to another school. Allow the parents and the students to voice their opinions and concerns, if any, before there are any decisions made.
The majority of the voters, 374, said it is not in the best interest, but that is not the majority of the town of Winchester. Sending the students to Keene is in the best interest of the town of Winchester.

Laura Aivaliotis
.Winchester

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vote is bad for Winchester, by Robert Davis

It is another sad day in Winchester.

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. The article on Winchester abolishing the budget committee (Sentinel, March 12) stated the warrant article was not straightforward, which prompted local officials to seek advice from the town’s attorney.
The town’s attorney had full oversight Feb. 10 at the deliberative session; was this time to address the controversial language that should have never been allowed, causing this unclear, controversial article to be accepted as rewritten and presented to the town moderator to be read out loud and allowed for arguments.
Then the rewritten article was amended and voted to be placed on the warrant. When people’s questions arose, we the taxpayers then paid the town’s attorney for a second opinion, which looks like a ploy for covering up their mistakes. Something is not right here, unless you’re one of the supporters conspiring with the selectmen. In the town’s history, this was not the first warrant article that was purposely written to confuse the voters in a manner that would ensure the desired outcome.
Being a past budget committee member and one of the selectmen’s so-called “villains” of the budget committee, I was vehemently offended with the contemptuous underhanded lies the selectmen spilled out of the town hall in their attempt to abolish the budget committee for their own interest, not the voters.
In the past, the selectmen wanted a free hand to set the budget without any cuts, to be what they, the selectmen, determined it should be, without the oversight of the budget committee. Several years ago, the selectmen intentionally delayed the budget committee process, delaying members from getting the department budgets on time. It was a know fact the selectmen deliberately dragged their feet in preparing the budget, causing us, the budget committee to be delayed in getting started.
The final budget was submitted as required by law, but selectmen objected to our budget cuts. Then the selectmen threw a fit by taking the budget committee to court to have the selectmen’s higher budget restored. I have the budget committee minutes proving it was the selectmen that were delaying the budgets and not giving us the true facts, which caused bickering over the budgets.
I will predict the low voter turnout at the polls, with the confusing language on the Warrant Article 15, stating, “To see if the town will vote to continue honoring the provisions of RSA 32 adopted by the town at regular town meeting in 1935,” led to the passage.
Who knows what NH RSA 32 is about in 1935? J believe abolishing the budget committee will be detrimental to the town’s tax rate and the checks and balances. By allowing a few to decide how to spend your tax dollars for the majority is totally insane. Can anyone remember how our town manager was caught with corruption charges and the selectmen supported him all the way and tried not to fire him? If you think you’re the fourth-highest taxes in the state, just wait. If you think you can trust our selectmen to do the right thing, think again. Please voice your opinion and have the vote on Article 15 invalidated.

by Robert Davis

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Winchester voters officially abolish budget committee

You people were warned to pay attention and get out and vote .. You have now handed the keys to the vault over to the BOS to do whatever they want with no checks and balances. Of course the warrant was changed to confuse everyone from the original wording; but don't count on Barton Mayer to come clean, he works to put money in his pockets.

I  foresee another trip to District Court in the making..

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

 
WINCHESTER — It’s official: The Winchester Budget Committee is no more.
Selectmen Chairwoman Roberta A. Fraser said Wednesday that officials heard back from the town’s attorney, who confirmed that residents abolished the budget committee at town meeting on Tuesday.
By a vote of 299-248, residents decided against keeping the committee, which was established at town meeting in 1935.
However, the wording of the warrant article wasn’t straightforward, and that prompted local officials to seek advice from the town’s attorney first thing Wednesday morning. Until his confirmation, town officials were not ready to announce that the budget committee was officially gone.
The budget committee’s job has been to set the proposed town operating budget that comes before voters each year.
The task now falls to the selectmen.
The budget committee warrant article was amended at the town’s deliberative session last month. It originally asked voters whether they wanted to abolish the committee, rather than whether they wanted to keep it. That wording was reversed by voters at the session.
At the February meeting, some residents argued the committee is needed as part of the checks-and-balances oversight of town government. Selectmen, on the other hand, said the committee wasn’t doing its job and some members weren’t making decisions in the best interest of the town.
Fraser said this morning that the new board of selectmen will be in place by next Wednesday’s meeting; at that point she expects members will discuss how they want to proceed.
Voters elected Jack Marsh Jr. and Ken Berthiaume to the five-member board Tuesday, ousting incumbents Sherman Tedford and Bill McGrath.

Fraser said her recommendation is for the selectmen to appoint a finance advisory committee.
Yeah right, Roberta, We're going to trust the group that wanted to do away with "elected people" who disagreed with you to appoint unbiased folks to fill their positions .. sure thing.
“We do have to have the checks and balances,” she said.
Really, so why submit a warrant to abolish the group that provided those checks and balances?

While the selectmen had recommended the original warrant article to abolish the budget committee, Fraser said she is surprised the amended version that appeared before voters Tuesday passed.
“It has been on the warrant before, and it didn’t pass.”
Based on that history, selectmen hadn’t thought much about what would happen if the warrant article was successful, she said.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Get Out and VOTE !!

Voting is Tuesday 
March 10, 2015 
at Town Hall from 
8:00 am – 7:00 pm 
 A sample ballot can be seen here: http://www.winchester-nh.gov/pages/WinchesterNH_WebDocs/Sample%20Ballot%202015.pdf

ARTICLE:  15   To see if the town will vote to continue honoring the provisions of RSA 32 as adopted by the town of Winchester in 1935 at the regular town meeting ..

Sneaky wording by the BOS to trick you into voting to get rid of the Budget Committee and put the 5 foxes in complete control of the Towns purse strings to appropriate whatever they want with no checks and balances by the people.


CHAPTER 32
MUNICIPAL BUDGET LAW

Section 32:1

    32:1 Statement of Purpose. – The purpose of this chapter is to clarify the law as it existed under former RSA 32. A town or district may establish a municipal budget committee to assist its voters in the prudent appropriation of public funds. The budget committee, in those municipalities which establish one, is intended to have budgetary authority analogous to that of a legislative appropriations committee. It is the legislature's further purpose to establish uniformity in the manner of appropriating and spending public funds in all municipal subdivisions to which this chapter applies, including those towns, school districts and village districts which do not operate with budget committees, and have not before had much statutory guidance. 
 
A YES vote will ensure we continue to have a Budget Committee, a NO gives the BOS the power to do whatever it wants.
 
 
ARTICLE 16:  Shall the Town vote to adopt a Housing Standard Ordinance in accordance with RSA 48.

The State has already set minimum standards by which every landlord who rents must follow by law, whether a municipality has an ordnance or not. We don't need to establish another paying full time position to have someone enforce what is already on the books.
 
We don't need another unnecessary full time paying position , nor do we need our underqualified, untrained code enforcement officer poking her nose where it don't belong.


 
 


Sunday, March 1, 2015

As pipeline project moves forward, residents opposing it continue to mobilize

By Ella Nilsen Sentinel Staff


JAFFREY — The main room in the Jaffrey VFW was silent at the start of Saturday’s community meeting on the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline.
More than 100 area residents sat in rows of chairs and watched a photo slideshow of area lakes, meadows and mountains with somber piano music in the background.
It felt like being at a memorial service for the natural environment that opponents of the pipeline plan fear could be altered if the 36-inch wide pipeline cut through the local towns of Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester .
Though the mood in the room was somber, it wasn’t one of defeat.
“Our water, our land, our way of life,” the last slide read. “Stop N.E.D.”
The acronym refers to the Northeast Energy Direct project, another name for the pipeline. If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the pipeline will traverse approximately 70 miles of southern New Hampshire.
If the project continues on schedule, the Houston-based pipeline company will file its formal application with federal regulators at the end of this year.
Since the first announcement that Kinder Morgan moved its preferred route from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, concerned residents have jumped into action, forming groups against the project, including Rindge Pipeline Awareness.
On Saturday, that group’s main message to local residents was: Say no, and say it often.
Rindge resident and group member Maryanne Harper said she hopes everyone in the room would write to their legislators, town officials and FERC commissioners protesting the route through New Hampshire, no matter if their land is affected or not.
“No one can be silent on this,” Harper said. “The more of us that work together, the more effective we can be.”
Harper also had the numbers of properties affected by the project, which she got from Jim Hartman of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a Kinder Morgan subsidiary.
Rindge has the highest number of potentially affected properties, with 73. Fitzwilliam has 40; Winchester, 32; Richmond, 21, and Troy, 15.
Rindge property owner Joseph Desruisseaux is one of those property owners. Although his house isn’t right on the pipeline route, he estimates it’s about 1,000 feet away. He hasn’t had Tennessee Gas Pipeline surveyors knocking on his door, but his neighbors have.
Still, Desruisseaux is afraid of what being so close to the pipeline could do to his property value.
When asked if he’s thought of trying to sell his house and move away, he said, “The thought has crossed our minds, but what are we going to get for our properties? It’s a serious impact.”
Besides property values, Harper also discussed the safety record of Kinder Morgan pipelines as well as the question of whether the project would bring jobs to the region.
“This is all union work,” Harper said, adding that she had spoken about this with a Laborers’ International Union of North America representative at a recent Kinder Morgan open house in Winchester.
“Many of these jobs are not just out of town, but out of state,” she said.
Other presenters talked about natural gas being exported to foreign countries and questioned whether the new natural gas pipeline is needed to supply energy to New England residents.
Presenter Stephen Wicks of Plainfield, Mass., showed a short video he made about natural gas compressor stations. Wicks traveled to a compressor station in Nassau, N.Y. He said the noisy compressor station runs 24 hours per day and sits on 40 acres.
The meeting was attended by local state representatives, including Susan Emerson, R-Rindge, Jim W. McConnell, R-Swanzey, Carol R. Roberts, D-Wilton, and Christopher R. Adams, R-Brookline.
Emerson and Roberts said they were heartened by N.H. House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan’s recent letter asking federal regulators to deny the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Flanagan, who represents two towns on the route, wrote a letter to FERC in which he favored another pipeline project in Massachusetts by Spectra Energy, which seeks to expand an existing line.
Roberts said she hopes Flanagan’s comments will also change the mind of Gov. Maggie Hassan, who has not explicitly come out for or against the pipeline.
In her 2014 state of the state address though, Hassan mentioned the New England governors’ energy infrastructure collaboration “that prioritizes natural gas capacity.”
“This effort has already made progress, and the regional grid operator, along with our utilities and pipeline owners, are working on how to put additional natural gas in our region as quickly as possible,” Hassan said in that speech.
After Kinder Morgan announced its plans, Hassan’s spokesman William Hinkle said she will “continue to urge the company to listen to communities, take steps to reduce impacts, and ensure local benefits.”
The local residents and representatives who will be affected said they hope Hassan and New Hampshire’s delegation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will take more of a stand against the project.
“If they really listen to (the residents), then we have a chance,” Roberts said.
Ella Nilsen can be reached at enilsen@keenesentinel.com or 352-1234, extension 1409. Follow her on Twitter @ENilsenKS.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kinder Morgan pipeline accidents since 2003

A review of accidents on Kinder Morgan pipelines across the country shows more than 20 since 2003 that were serious enough to be reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Here are some examples:

August 2003: Kinder Morgan 26-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded in a farming area in Caddo County, Okla., throwing a 54-foot long section of pipe 30 feet from the ditch.

May 2005: Kinder Morgan 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded near Marshall, Texas, sending a giant fireball into the sky and hurling a 160-foot section of pipe onto the grounds of an electric power generating plant. Two people were hurt, 40 evacuated.

July 2006: Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas pipeline exploded near Campbellsville, Ky., blowing a 25-foot chunk of pipe out of the ground and sending it 200 feet away.

September 2008: Kinder Morgan gas pipeline manifold exploded and burned for more than 10 hours in Pasadena, Texas, injuring one employee. The Houston Chronicle reported the blaze "could be seen for miles."

August 2011: A flash fire at a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline south of Herscher, Ill., sent five employees to the hospital.

November 2011: A weld failed on a 36-inch diameter Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline near Glouster, Ohio, leading to an explosion that caused a blast crater 30 feet across and 15 feet deep. Three homes were destroyed by the fire.

June 2012: A 26-inch Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline failed in Gray County, Texas, blowing a crater 30 feet in diameter, burning two acres of agricultural land and closing State Highway 152 for several hours.

June 2013: in Louisiana, a 30-inch diameter Kinder Morgan pipeline ruptured and exploded in a rural area of Washington Parish. No one was seriously hurt, but 55 homes were evacuated.

- See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20150208/NEWS05/150209202/1010/NEWS0606#sthash.IMMKgaKA.dpuf
A review of accidents on Kinder Morgan pipelines across the country shows more than 20 since 2003 that were serious enough to be reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Here are some examples:

August 2003: Kinder Morgan 26-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded in a farming area in Caddo County, Okla., throwing a 54-foot long section of pipe 30 feet from the ditch.

May 2005: Kinder Morgan 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded near Marshall, Texas, sending a giant fireball into the sky and hurling a 160-foot section of pipe onto the grounds of an electric power generating plant. Two people were hurt, 40 evacuated.

July 2006: Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas pipeline exploded near Campbellsville, Ky., blowing a 25-foot chunk of pipe out of the ground and sending it 200 feet away.

September 2008: Kinder Morgan gas pipeline manifold exploded and burned for more than 10 hours in Pasadena, Texas, injuring one employee. The Houston Chronicle reported the blaze "could be seen for miles."

August 2011: A flash fire at a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline south of Herscher, Ill., sent five employees to the hospital.

November 2011: A weld failed on a 36-inch diameter Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline near Glouster, Ohio, leading to an explosion that caused a blast crater 30 feet across and 15 feet deep. Three homes were destroyed by the fire.

June 2012: A 26-inch Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline failed in Gray County, Texas, blowing a crater 30 feet in diameter, burning two acres of agricultural land and closing State Highway 152 for several hours.

June 2013: in Louisiana, a 30-inch diameter Kinder Morgan pipeline ruptured and exploded in a rural area of Washington Parish. No one was seriously hurt, but 55 homes were evacuated.
- See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20150208/NEWS05/150209202/1010/NEWS0606#sthash.IMMKgaKA.dpuf
A review of accidents on Kinder Morgan pipelines across the country shows more than 20 since 2003 that were serious enough to be reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Here are some examples:

August 2003: Kinder Morgan 26-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded in a farming area in Caddo County, Okla., throwing a 54-foot long section of pipe 30 feet from the ditch.

May 2005: Kinder Morgan 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded near Marshall, Texas, sending a giant fireball into the sky and hurling a 160-foot section of pipe onto the grounds of an electric power generating plant. Two people were hurt, 40 evacuated.

July 2006: Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas pipeline exploded near Campbellsville, Ky., blowing a 25-foot chunk of pipe out of the ground and sending it 200 feet away.

September 2008: Kinder Morgan gas pipeline manifold exploded and burned for more than 10 hours in Pasadena, Texas, injuring one employee. The Houston Chronicle reported the blaze "could be seen for miles."

August 2011: A flash fire at a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline south of Herscher, Ill., sent five employees to the hospital.

November 2011: A weld failed on a 36-inch diameter Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline near Glouster, Ohio, leading to an explosion that caused a blast crater 30 feet across and 15 feet deep. Three homes were destroyed by the fire.

June 2012: A 26-inch Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline failed in Gray County, Texas, blowing a crater 30 feet in diameter, burning two acres of agricultural land and closing State Highway 152 for several hours.

June 2013: in Louisiana, a 30-inch diameter Kinder Morgan pipeline ruptured and exploded in a rural area of Washington Parish. No one was seriously hurt, but 55 homes were evacuated.
- See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20150208/NEWS05/150209202/1010/NEWS0606#sthash.IMMKgaKA.dpuf
A review of accidents on Kinder Morgan pipelines across the country shows more than 20 since 2003 that were serious enough to be reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Here are some examples:

August 2003: Kinder Morgan 26-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded in a farming area in Caddo County, Okla., throwing a 54-foot long section of pipe 30 feet from the ditch.

May 2005: Kinder Morgan 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded near Marshall, Texas, sending a giant fireball into the sky and hurling a 160-foot section of pipe onto the grounds of an electric power generating plant. Two people were hurt, 40 evacuated.

July 2006: Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas pipeline exploded near Campbellsville, Ky., blowing a 25-foot chunk of pipe out of the ground and sending it 200 feet away.

September 2008: Kinder Morgan gas pipeline manifold exploded and burned for more than 10 hours in Pasadena, Texas, injuring one employee. The Houston Chronicle reported the blaze "could be seen for miles."

August 2011: A flash fire at a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline south of Herscher, Ill., sent five employees to the hospital.

November 2011: A weld failed on a 36-inch diameter Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline near Glouster, Ohio, leading to an explosion that caused a blast crater 30 feet across and 15 feet deep. Three homes were destroyed by the fire.

June 2012: A 26-inch Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline failed in Gray County, Texas, blowing a crater 30 feet in diameter, burning two acres of agricultural land and closing State Highway 152 for several hours.

June 2013: in Louisiana, a 30-inch diameter Kinder Morgan pipeline ruptured and exploded in a rural area of Washington Parish. No one was seriously hurt, but 55 homes were evacuated.
- See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20150208/NEWS05/150209202/1010/NEWS0606#sthash.IMMKgaKA.dpuf

Wall Street Worries About Kinder Morgan’s Safety Record

BC pipeline operator slashes and defers maintenance spending. 
 
Kinder Morgan is a titan in the North American energy sector and a major player in Northwest fossil fuel shipments. The firm was the author of a failed scheme to export huge volumes of coal on the Columbia River in Oregon, and it is lobbying heavily to triple its oil pipeline through British Columbia in a bid to move more tar sands oil to Washington refineries and Asian markets.
It is also, as Sightline has documented, a dangerous and irresponsible company with a clear history of law breaking, deceit, and pollution.
Last week, a financial research firm, Hedgeye, released a scathing report on Kinder Morgan that supports many of Sightline’s conclusions. Aptly titled Is Kinder Morgan Maintaining its Stock Prices Instead of its Assets? (no longer available online), the report is mainly concerned with Kinder Morgan’s books, but it includes a few bombshells that should worry the public.
Consider just this sampling from the summary section:
We believe that Kinder Morgan’s high-level business strategy is to starve its pipelines and related infrastructure of routine maintenance spending in order to maximize Distributable Cash Flow…
And:

A broader, and more important concern is the reliability and safety of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline’s. In 2012, Kinder Morgan acquired El Paso, then the largest natural gas pipeline company in the US, in a +$30B deal; Kinder Morgan has already cut maintenance expenses by 70-99% and maintenance [capital expenditures] by ~60% on most of those assets. In our view, it is alarming that Kinder Morgan supporters believe that this is a sound business practice.
The report goes on to detail specific maintenance spending deferrals, and it enumerates a few of the mishaps—some of them deadly—that Kinder Morgan’s pipelines have suffered in recent years.

 The Hedgeye analysis made waves in the investment community. It also came in for a bit of a drubbing from company boosters (here’s some of the back and forth) and I’m certainly in no position to weigh in on the accuracy of the report’s assertions about finance. Yet we do know that the report is consistent with Kinder Morgan’s well-documented track record of law-breaking, pollution, and cover-ups.

You can find more Sightline research on Kinder Morgan here:

With limited power, local conservation commissions weigh in on pipeline plan

By Martha Shanahan Sentinel Staff


As plans progress for a Kinder Morgan-owned natural gas pipeline that would pass through southern New Hampshire, local conservation organizations are weighing their options.
At its regular meeting Monday night, members of the Fitzwilliam Conservation Commission reviewed a draft of a letter they plan to submit to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the government agency charged with reviewing Kinder Morgan’s proposal.
“The mission of the Fitzwilliam Conservation Commission is to protect the natural resources of the Town of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire,” the letter begins.
The commission’s members bent their heads around the letter and read through it again. The letter detailed the Fitzwilliam conservation land, lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands that the proposed pipeline would pass through.
The route proposed outlined in a November proposal from Kinder Morgan shows the pipeline crossing Fitzwilliam though some areas of conserved land and wetlands, including Scott Pond and Little Monadnock Mountain.
In addition to thousands of miles from Pennsylvania to Dracut, Mass., the project would cross a total of 6.75 miles in Fitzwilliam, 6.14 in Richmond, 8.9 in Rindge, 1.59 in Troy and 5.57 in Winchester.
The commission’s letter voices local concerns — how drilling and placing the pipeline could affect the town’s drinking water sources, and global ones — how extending New Hampshire’s dependence on fossil fuels like natural gas could contribute to climate change.
“I think it’s good,” commission member Barbara Green said.
The others agreed, and briefly discussed small changes they could make to the wording or order of the letter’s points.
They voted unanimously to send it to FERC using its online commenting system. There, it will join letters from residents of places all along the pipeline’s route opposing the plan for the project.
But even as the environmental advocate for the town, the conservation commission’s options for entering the pipeline conversation are fairly limited.
“Our primary focus is on the environmental interests of Fitzwilliam,” Fitzwilliam Conservation Commission Chairman Paul M. Kotila told The Sentinel Monday. “Where is this pipeline going to go, what kind of impact will it have? ... Our assignment as a conservation commission is to monitor and plan for those kinds of situations.”
It can be hard to monitor or plan, though, when most of the information the commission has comes from its own research.
Kinder Morgan, a Houston-based energy company that owns pipelines all over the country, has not gained much trust among the residents of the towns on the proposed route.
It has offered some information to town officials and has already sent representatives to meet with property owners whose land would be affected. But most people, conservation commission members alike, feel they’re in the dark about the possible extent of the pipeline’s effects.
“They’re being nebulous as to what they’re doing,” Fitzwilliam commission member Hiel Lindquist said.
The commission’s members have been forced to do their own research, investigating other pipelines the company has built and listening to the hefty coalition of New Hampshire and Massachusetts residents who have dedicated their lives this year to studying and opposing Kinder Morgan’s foray into New England.
“I don’t know what the alternative is, because (the information) is not being provided by Kinder Morgan,” Fitzwilliam coalition member Barbara Green said.
While conservation commissions in Massachusetts towns have legal standing, New Hampshire commissions act only in an advisory role to their towns and lawmakers.
William C. Preston, vice chairman of the Rindge Conservation Commission, said members of that group feel similarly limited in their powers to stand up against the pipeline plan.
“It doesn’t seem as though we have the power to do much,” Preston said.
He said the Rindge commission also has concerns that range from global warming to the composition of Rindge’s wetlands.
The Rindge commission has written a similar statement of opposition and submitted it to the FERC website.
More information about Kinder Morgan’s plans might set their minds at ease, Preston said, but he thinks that is unlikely.
“We sent a letter to them that our practice, if someone wants to do something … is to have them come to us and explain what they want to do,” Preston said. “We haven’t had any response.”
As best as it can, Lindquist said, the commissions are trying to follow their own mission statements.
“We try to reflect what the town feels about these issues,” he said.
But without an assurance from Kinder Morgan or FERC, conservation officials in the towns are left to imagine the worst.
“The specifics are the thing that are uncertain,” Kotila said.
If the pipeline runs under Scott Pond, for instance, the commission members have heard that construction would involve constructing several new roads.
At that suggestion, the members spent several minutes discussing the mess that could create.
Conservation organizations such as the Monadnock Conservancy are also participating in the pipeline conversation, with somewhat more ease than the town commissions.
Because the Conservancy actually owns holds the easements for the land that could be affected by the pipeline, its staff are in direct contact with Kinder Morgan officials.
These parcels, both in Rindge, include Converse Meadow, a town-owned property on which the conservancy owns an easement, and Town Hill Farm, which is privately owned.
Executive Director Ryan Owens said he hopes the conservancy can convince Kinder Morgan to at least build around those properties.
“We are sharing with Kinder Morgan officials the maps ... that overlay the route with state conservation lands,” he said. “We’re indicating that our expectation is that they will find ways to avoid those properties.”
“It’s too early to say, but I’m hopeful,” he added.
The members of public conservation commissions remain determined to show they deserve a voice.

The New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions has organized a meeting next week where members of local commissions will discuss how they can be involved with the pipeline plans.
The Fitzwilliam commission members realized at their meeting Monday that the association’s meeting would conflict with a Kinder Morgan open house, one of several open houses that Kinder Morgan has scheduled in the area.
Fitzwilliam Selectmen Chairwoman Susan S. Silverman urged the commission members to go to the association meeting. She reminded the members that Kinder Morgan had pushed much of its original pipeline route north out of Massachusetts, partly in the face of opposition from Bay State residents.
“There was a reason for that, and the reason was people like you guys,” she said.

Martha Shanahan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1434, or mshanahan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MShanahanKS.

Court action becomes less likely in Winchester budget disagreement

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff


WINCHESTER — Legal wrangling feared by selectmen because the budget committee didn’t take a side on the water and sewer budgets may not happen, according to a state official.
Under state law, the budget committee is required to present a proposed operating budget to voters. Usually, such a budget would include water and sewer department expenses, if the town has them. In Winchester, the water and sewer budgets are separated from the operating budget, and set by the selectmen. But they still need budget committee support.
Since it appears the committee technically didn’t set budgets for the water and sewer departments this year, state law would allow the selectmen’s budget to move forward, said Stephan W. Hamilton, director of the municipal and property division of the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration.
That wasn’t true three years ago, when the budget committee recommended against the water and sewer department budgets, and state officials translated that to mean it funded both items at $0. And that sent the matter to the courts.
The only glitch this time is that, according to state law, there must be a notarized statement included with the budget saying in the absence of the budget committee’s recommendation, the number comes from selectmen, Hamilton said.
Hamilton doesn’t believe such a letter was included with the Winchester water and sewer budgets, and at some point, state and town officials may have to meet about it.
At next month’s town meeting, voters will consider three budget warrant articles.
The first is the proposed $3,410,489 operating budget for 2015-16, which voters amended from the original amount of $3,384,489. The second article is the proposed $337,942 sewer department budget, and the third is the proposed $250,203 water department budget. The water and sewer department budgets are supported by user fees, and not taxes.
While the budget committee made the roughly $3.3 million recommendation for the operating budget, it made no recommendations on the water and sewer portions of the budget.
Budget committee Chairman Brian Moser said Monday the committee voted on the warrant articles for the water and sewer department this year, and it was a tie vote, which meant no recommendation.
The selectmen set the water and sewer budgets, and for the past three or four years, have put them on the warrant as articles separate from the operating budget, he said.
“We’d like to see them back in the actual town budget,” he said.
At the town’s deliberative session on Feb. 7, Selectmen Chairwoman Roberta A. Fraser said the budget committee’s inaction on the water and sewer department budgets would likely result in the town having to settle the matter in court.
Her prediction was based on what happened in 2012, when the budget committee decided not to recommend money for the water and sewer budgets, but changed its mind during the deliberative session.
However, the state department of revenue administration used the budget proposal made before the deliberative session to calculate the town’s spending limit, and that invalidated the money that was added for water and sewer departments — even though voters had approved it.
According to state law, voters can’t increase a budget by more than 10 percent of the budget committee’s recommendation.
Selectmen petitioned Cheshire County Superior Court to be allowed to exceed the spending limit, saying the budget committee failed to provide proper funding for the water and sewer departments.
The court ruled in the selectmen’s favor in June 2012, allowing Winchester’s spending limit to be increased, which added back the money invalidated by the state.

Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or mfoley@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winchester School Board takes stance against proposed natural gas pipeline

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff




WINCHESTER — The school board has taken a stance against Kinder Morgan’s proposed natural gas pipeline, saying the project would put the safety of the town’s students at risk.
School board members explained their opposition to the project in a Feb. 7 letter to residents and members of town boards, saying they “feel this project is a safety concern to our children and our citizens as it has the possibility of contaminating our drinking water.
“In addition, our school buses will be crossing the pipeline several times throughout the day. We feel this puts our children at an unnecessary risk,” they said.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a Kinder Morgan company, is proposing construction of a 36-inch-wide pipeline to carry natural gas from shale gas fields in Pennsylvania through upstate New York, part of northern Massachusetts and into southern New Hampshire before going to a distribution hub in eastern Massachusetts.
Monadnock Region communities in the path of the proposed pipeline are Fitzwilliam, Richmond, Rindge, Troy and Winchester.
The letter, which was signed by all five members of the Winchester School Board, said the pipeline is proposed to pass about a mile from Winchester School, which is also an emergency shelter for the town.
“Due to the fact we are also a shelter for our community, we do not feel we are prepared for a possible disaster that can and has occurred with similar pipeline projects,” the letter says.
School board members are also concerned about the pipeline’s proposed path through the town’s largest aquifer, according to the letter.
Besides Winchester, other area districts with schools within 5 miles of the path of the pipeline include Monadnock Regional, with Emerson Elementary School in Fitzwilliam and Troy Elementary School, and Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative, with Rindge Memorial School.
F. Barrett Faulkner of Swanzey, chairman of the Monadnock school board, said Friday his board hasn’t taken a position on the project, and board members have declined in the past to weigh in on issues that aren’t directly related to providing education.
However, he doesn’t know what the board will do, if anything, about the proposed pipeline, he said.
The Jaffrey-Rindge board hasn’t taken a position on the project, according to board meeting minutes.
The proposed pipeline is expected to travel through 17 towns in New Hampshire.
Outside of the Monadnock Region, other public schools near the proposed pipeline path include Amherst Middle School, Litchfield Middle School and Souhegan High School in Amherst, according to mapping expert and Greenville resident Jim Giddings.
Giddings, who is with the anti-pipeline activist group NH Pipeline Awareness, said Friday Souhegan High School is partially within the 900-foot “incineration zone” around the pipeline if it were to detonate.
The Winchester letter ends with school board members asking other town boards to join them in keeping the town safe.
School board Chairman Rick Horton said Thursday that when board members heard about the proposed pipeline, they began seeking information about it.
As elected officials responsible for the roughly 700 students enrolled in the school district, board members believe they need to be informed on this matter, he said.
“The priority of the school board is not only to educate local children, but also make sure they’re safe,” he said.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winchester officials looking for voters to pass housing ordinance

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff
WINCHESTER — Local officials want the rental properties in their town to be safe for residents, and they’re supporting a proposed ordinance they say would help them accomplish this.
Several residents who weighed in on the proposal at the town’s deliberative session on Feb. 7 said they agree the welfare of their neighbors is important. However, one man also said he was concerned the cost of regularly inspecting more than 500 rental properties would be greater than town officials are projecting.
“I just can’t see how this is not going to result in at least another full-time employee,” resident and property owner Kenneth A. Cole told The Sentinel Monday, adding to his remarks from the Feb. 7 session.
Town officials have undertaken a worthy effort to establish and enact the ordinance, he said, but he’s “pretty sure” it’s going to be more costly to the town than the selectmen and planning board members believe.
Officials say it would require more hours for a part-time inspector, but those would be offset by new inspection fees.
The ordinance, if passed, allows for town officials to inspect rental properties biannually to make sure they’re in compliance, and requires landlords to fix any problems. If a building or apartment unit doesn’t pass the initial inspection, another one would be required a year later until the problems are fixed, according to the proposed ordinance.
After the initial inspection cycle, no landlord could rent a property without the town issuing a permit saying the dwelling is in compliance, said Margaret A. Sharra, the town’s land use administrator and code enforcement officer.
Landlords would be required to pay $35 for the inspection of one unit, and $50 for a house, according to the ordinance. Inspection of each additional dwelling unit would cost $20.
Re-inspection fees would start at $15 per unit for the first time, $35 per unit for the second time and increase for each additional inspection after that, Sharra said.
At present, town officials enter a rental property only if they’re allowed to by the tenant or landlord, and it’s usually after the tenant or the landlord asks them to come out to the property to check something, she said.
Town policy also allows for local officials to inspect a dwelling if the person or family living there is receiving assistance from the town, she said.
To accommodate the additional inspections, an inspector position would be increased from 16 to 32 hours a week, she said. The newly generated inspection fees would pay for those added hours, she said.
Sharra said Saturday there is a need for the ordinance based on what she, the building inspector, health officer, fire chief, police chief and welfare officer have seen while inspecting houses and apartments being rented.
What they’ve spotted are illegal heating setups, undisclosed lead paint, leaking roofs, substandard plumbing, stairwells in poor condition and a lack of fire and carbon monoxide alarms, she said.
“We find that most tenants and landlords don’t realize what a code-compliant property is,” she said. “We have to make sure people are living in decent housing.”
At its root, this is a code enforcement issue, Sharra said, but the goal, if the ordinance goes into effect, would be to educate landlords and tenants.
“Right now the town of Winchester has over 542 rental units in town, that we know of,” she said. “That’s over 31 percent of the housing stock.”
Most of those buildings were constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and have one or more life-safety code violations, Sharra said.
If the new ordinance passes, town officials would still need permission from landlords and tenants to enter properties to inspect them, according to Sharra, who is also a local landlord.
If they refuse, town officials could enter the site only after getting an administrative order to do so from the court, she said.
“In the worst-case scenario, a landlord may deny access or disagree with the town. We could end up in court, but I don’t see that as the norm by any means,” she said.
Despite resident Cole’s concerns, the proposed ordinance has already garnered support among townspeople.
The Winchester Board of Selectmen has unanimously recommended voters approve the ordinance at town meeting on March 10.
The ordinance gets people thinking, and raises awareness about the health and safety issues many of the town’s residents face, Selectman Sherman Tedford said at the deliberative session.
Resident Barry Montgomery, a real estate developer, also spoke in favor of the ordinance, saying “inspectors are us builders’ friends.”
Sharra said Monday she had been working on drafting the ordinance for more than a year and a half, and its content is a combination of housing standards already in place in New Hampshire communities including Keene, Claremont, Durham, Manchester and Pittsfield. Pittsfield’s ordinance has been in place since 1966, she said.
Besides striving to provide safe living quarters for tenants, the ordinance would also benefit landlords, she said.
The permit gives landlords documentation of their properties being in compliance, she said, and that can be helpful if tenants dispute the dwelling units’ conditions.
If voters at town meeting pass the ordinance, it wouldn’t go into effect until Sept. 1, she said. This would give landlords and tenants time to get their properties in compliance, she said.
If passed, a copy of the ordinance and list of what inspectors will be looking for would be included in the June tax bills, she said.


Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or mfoley@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.

Guess it must be time to hire another Sharra.
The town doesn't need an ordinance, it's already documented who rents property and tenants and landlords should already know about their rights under the law. . If not then here's link that's available to all for free ...

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/overview-landlord-tenant-laws-new-hampshire.html


The Land Use Administrator/Code Enforcement Officer could simply make sure all landlords and tenants know about the their rights under the law by simply providing them this link. We don't need another full time position/employee, it's totally unnecessary 





Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Not in anyone's backyard, by Jeanne Sable


I’d like to add to Susan Wessels’ “Reasons to Oppose Pipeline” (Feb. 5).
The Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline plan to construct a 36-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline parallel to electrical transmission lines through seventeen New Hampshire communities might be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.

We are called the “Granite State” for a reason. Workers would have to blast through nearly 80 miles of granite boulders and ledge to bury this oversized pipeline. The toxic chemicals used in blasting could easily contaminate the many lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and wetlands it traverses, and pollute the precious aquifers that provide drinking water for the vast majority of residents in these small New Hampshire towns. Herbicides to remove vegetation along the corridor would have similar impact.
The co-location of high-pressure pipelines adjacent to high voltage electric transmission lines is an even greater recipe for disaster. Ruptures occur even at pressures much lower than the roughly 1,500 PSI anticipated for this North East Direct (NED) pipeline. Numerous explosions, documented by the gas industry itself, have resulted in human fatalities, injuries, structure fires and acres of charred land up to 950 feet from ruptures — the area ominously referred to as the “incineration zone.”
In the densely populated Northeast, countless more citizens would be subjected to such hazards. How much time and money would local towns need to prepare volunteer fire departments and emergency personnel for a disaster of such magnitude?
Even without explosions, the “fracked” gas slated to pass through our communities presents a significant threat. Hydro fracking literally shatters the barriers between the Earth’s strata, releasing a cocktail of unknown substances that had rested deep underground, isolated from one another — and us — for eons. Pipeline leaks are common and allowed below certain levels. And the routine venting of natural gas at noisy compressor stations and other appurtenances releases methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — and other pollutants into the air, endangering health and increasing global warming.
Analysts cite ample evidence that the gas from NED is largely for export, though we would be paying for it through tariffs on New Hampshire electric bills. It’s like getting stuck with the bill for constructing a major highway through our woods, wetlands and rural neighborhoods, with no on- or off-ramps for local traffic.
But this is more than a New Hampshire issue. A growing network of citizens has been mobilizing to fight NED wherever it rears its ugly head. As we join forces across town and state lines, it occurs to me that WE are a pipeline — of people conveying truth in order to preserve our future.
We reject a private corporation’s scheme to make us pay for an obsolete infrastructure carrying dirty fossil fuel to foreign shores while the world cries out for clean air and water. We oppose riddling the countryside with dangerous natural gas pipelines, not because we are NIMBYs.
Call us NIABYs — Not In Anyone’s Backyard.
Let’s bury this pipeline proposal once and for all — by pronouncing NED dead.
Jeanne Sable
P.O. Box 712
Fitzwilliam

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winchester deliberative session - 2015

Pickle Festival saved; racetrack regulations   are disqualified at our Town Meeting

WINCHESTER — Residents aren’t ready to sour on a popular town festival, or willing at this time to take steps to add restrictions, such as turning down the volume, at three racetracks.

A volunteer group, Winchester Proud, has made it possible for the Pickle Festival to survive another year, announcing at the town’s deliberative session Saturday morning it would take on the event. In the meantime, two petition warrant articles to further regulate Monadnock Speedway, Winchester Motorsports and Winchester Speedpark were disqualified during the five-plus hour meeting.

Roughly 80 people piled into Winchester Town Hall, including a small but forceful out-of-town pro-racetrack contingent. The town has about 2,480 registered voters.

Thirty-five warrant articles came before voters, including abolishing the Winchester Budget Committee (it was amended), and approving a town budget of more than $3 million (it was moved along, but not before a $26,000 increase).

Three other petition warrant articles, if passed, would direct town officials to take certain actions opposing the proposed construction of a pipeline by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, which is a Kinder Morgan Company.

The articles were moved to the warrant, but not before lengthy debate between those for and against the project.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is proposing construction of a 36-inch pipeline to carry natural gas from shale gas fields in Pennsylvania through upstate New York, part of Northern Massachusetts and into Southern New Hampshire before going to a distribution hub in Eastern Massachusetts.
The Monadnock Region communities in the path of the pipeline include Winchester, Richmond, Fitzwilliam, Troy and Rindge.

“This is our chance let a multiple-billion-dollar company know this is our town not their town,” Resident Rick Horton said.
Resident Richard Whittemore, a self-described “filthy capitalist,” said there is a shortage of power plants feeding the electric grid, and he’d like to be able to hook into a cheaper energy source.
He added that when the region loses electricity because there aren’t enough power plants, those opposing the pipeline are going to be “the biggest cry babies of all.”
Horton disagreed, saying New Hampshire produces more electricity than it uses, and as the project is being presented there are no provisions to deliver natural gas to Winchester or any towns in the path of the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the town’s Pickle Festival was in doubt after the event’s committee chairwoman, Roberta A. Fraser, also selectmen chairwoman, stepped down earlier. When no person or group stepped up, the selectmen dropped recommended funding for the festival from $4,000, a traditional amount, to $1.
But Horton and the group Winchester Proud offered to take on the work. An amendment by Fraser to restore funding to $4,000 passed, moving the article on to the warrant.
Horton, chairman of the Winchester School Board, said he’d “hate to see it go away.” He said he started Winchester Proud last summer as a Facebook page; the group’s mission is to better the community and make it a place people can be proud of, he said.

Resident Robert E. Davis, spokesman for the Winchester Noise Coalition, proposed two warrant articles seeking to enact further regulations on the racetracks. One warrant article asked voters to require selectmen to adopt bylaws for the regulation of racetracks that address hours and days of operation, limiting the number of race practice days to one four-hour slot per week, limiting the number of event days per year, and developing permit requirements for operators of the tracks.
A second warrant article sought voter approval to activate temporary regulations that would be valid until the next annual town meeting.
Those regulations would include requiring racetrack owners to install sound-engineered noise barriers and ensure every participating vehicle has a muffler that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s specifications to reduce exhaust and engine noise.

Town Moderator Denis V. Murphy 2rd read a letter from town counsel saying the first warrant article was “void, illegal and unenforceable” because town meeting can’t force the selectmen to enact bylaws that state laws give them the ability to adopt at the board’s discretion.

Davis defended the warrant articles saying that he and the coalition’s 131 members aren’t trying to put the racetracks out of business, but make them better neighbors.
“All we want to do is have one day a weekend of enjoyment of our homes,” he said. “I ask when you vote to remember there are several coalition members with horror stories of their children crying in pain because of the noise.”
His remarks were interrupted by boos, moans and hisses from some in the audience.
Undeterred, Davis continued speaking for several more minutes, until Murphy asked him to stop — twice. Davis continued, and Murphy called Police Chief Gary A. Phillips to escort Davis from the microphone. Davis kept talking as Phillips approached and Murphy called a recess. Davis then stopped talking and sat down.

Discussion continued with several pro-racetrack speakers drawing applause for their comments.
Horton said the benefits of having clean, functional racetracks in Winchester far outweigh the negative effects.
“We are proud to have racing in this town; it’s what Winchester is known for,” he said.

Resident Margaret A. Sharra, town code enforcement officer and land-use administrator, said the racetracks are regulated by the selectmen through the permitting process, but two of the tracks were established in the 1950s and ‘60s before zoning laws.
The combined property assessment for the tracks is $1.7 million, and the businesses pay more than $48,000 in taxes a year, she said, noting that they’re also involved in the community.

The majority of voters changed both articles before placing them on the warrant.
The first article was amended to include the language “not enforceable by law.” The second article was replaced to read, “To see if the town would vote to continue operating motor vehicle race tracks in town as currently in effect.”

A sparring match between selectmen, former and current budget committee members and residents marked debate over the issue of whether to abolish the budget committee. While many residents argued the committee is needed as part of check-and-balance oversight of town government, selectmen said they weren’t doing their job and some members weren’t making decisions in the best interest of the town.
As an example, Fraser said, the budget committee voted not to make recommendations on the proposed budgets for the town water and sewer departments, which is likely going to result in litigation costs.
Budget Committee member Kenneth Cole tried to defend his board’s actions, but Fraser and Selectman Theresa G. Sepe had strong words for him and other committee members.
“Right now, we spend more on litigation than anything else,” Sepe said. “Is that truly how you want a committee to run? It’s adversarial, and it’s not good for me, you or the community.”
The article was amended to see if the town will continue the budget committee, instead of abolishing it, before being moved to the warrant.

In other business, voters sent the town’s proposed 2015-16 operating budget to the warrant after adding $26,000 at the selectmen’s request. The proposed budget is now $3,410,489, an increase of $111,872, or about 3.4 percent, from the 2014-15 operating budget of $3,298,617 that voters approved last year.
As an official-ballot town, Winchester residents are allowed to discuss and amend town meeting warrant articles during the deliberative session. Residents vote by ballot on the warrant articles March 10.


Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or mfoley@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.