Friday, October 2, 2009

Superior Court Judge Rules Against Sharra

In his ruling of the lawsuit filed by abutters to the Van Dyke condo project, judge Tucker ruled that Margaret Sharra did have ex-parte' communications with DES and that because of this unlawful conduct she disqualified herself from her participation and ruling on an abutters request for a reconsideration on the Planning Board's decision to over turn their denial of Van Dyke's application and that the board's decision be vacated and Sharra to be recused from the new hearing coming before the board this Monday night, Oct 5th at 6:00pm in the Town Hall auditorium. Word has it that Sharra is still meddling with the board and has appointed Dean Beaman to sit in as chair in her absence even though board member Larry Hill is the vice-chair and that she has appointed Ellen Cole to record the minutes over Princess Blodget; the board's secretary. She is also attempting to close the public hearing. How is attempting to stack the deck being fair to the public and how can these abutters hope to get a fair hearing based on evidence and facts?

quoting from the judge's decision:

"There is a problem with Sharra's decision to independently seek out evidence from the Division of Environmental Services in order to rebut the abutter's representations in his request for reconsideration, as well as her decision to present evidence to the Board without allowing the abutter to respond. No member of a planning board may participate in deciding or sit upon the hearing of any question which the Board is to decide in a judicial capacity if that member would be disqualified for any cause to act as a juror upon the trial of the same matter in any action of law. RSA 673:14, I (2008 supp.) If a juror sought information out-of-court on a case on which the juror was sitting, it would be cayse to dismiss the juror. See State v Sullivan, 157 N.H. 124.139 ( 2008 ) ( citing Kalianov v. Darland, 252.N.W.2nd 732,737 ( Iowa 1977 ) ). Here, Sharra's separate inquiry to DES disqualified her from participating in the board's discussion of the abutter's motion for reconsideration. Her involvement invalidates the Board's action on the motion. Winslow v. Holderness Planning Board 125 N.H. 262, 268 (1984 ).
The court finds and rules that the Planning Board's decision on the abutter's request for reconsideration must be vacated and the matter remanded to the board for a new determination on that motion."

This isn't the first time she has done this throughout these hearings, many times the abutter's attorney, Silas Little asked her to recuse herself for ex-parte' communications with other State Dept.s and the board, in it's ignorance voted her actions were okay and not unlawful when asked.
Our question here would also be, isn't the rest of the board tainted because of her participation in the beginning? Because they have heard evidence and made a previous decision based on this evidence, how can these abutters expect this board not to take that evidence into consideration when they make their decision? Can they be fair and just and base their decisions on this new hearing, or should they all be disqualified as other members of a jury would ? What's your opinion?


Paul said...

In my opinion they all need to go. This won't be a fair hearing if they are allowed to sit on the board. How can they be expected to go against a decision they have already voted on? They have already proved their ignorance of the law by not heeding the complaints of a board certified attorney. Are any of them lawyers or have a background in law? Seems Sharra is making sure she gets her way, just who is she working for anyways? Doesn't look like it is the town from what I'm reading.

seeing hope in the future said...

Finally she's been caught and by a judge too. No matter how many times in the past people have complained about her conduct in these meetings going back years, she has always gotten away with it. The selectman never act, in fact Ken Berthuaine thinks shes been doing an excellent job. Maybe he needs to be replaced too for supporting her conduct all along. Maybe people will wake up and see her supporters are just what they are and vote her out this March.

Anonymous said...

It's about time she's been found out. Now they'll have no excuse when a complaint is filed about her conduct, they'll have to act or have egg on their faces. Course this is an arrogant bunch that sticks together and covers for each other. We should recall her and vote her out.

Anonymous said...

I thought that this was an appointed position. I do not have my town report handy to look up the information.
Thanks for the help.

the Winchester Informer said...

Planning board members are elected by town voters, alternates to the board are appointed ( chosen )by the board chairperson; none other than Ms. Sharra. To show you how Ms. Sharra controls this board, Kim Gordon who received the 3rd highest total of votes at last years election was appointed to the board by the BOS as an alternate. An alternate, who was chosen by Ms. Sharra was appointed a full time member by her to take Clifford's place when he resigned instead of Ms. Gordon who should have filled the seat when he could not because of health reasons. How does this promote a fair an unbiased board when the chair wields so much power?

one of the Richmond 12 said...

You are absolutely right informer, the board members are ethically obligated to recuse themselves as they did here in Richmond. There is no way they can say that they haven't been swayed or influenced by this woman. Those abutters need to ask them all to step down and your selectmen should appoint a new panel to hear this matter. Do do otherwise would be a travesty and would most likely lead to another lawsuit filed against your town

Fair Question said...

Looks like the Sharra vehicle that's been at the town hall most of the day 10/2. Is she overworked or trying to cover her butt? If it is her what is she trying to prove?

Anonymous said...

Well with all the boards and committees she's on she needs to come in and actually do some work once in awhile. She has her hand in so many pies she's fallen behind in the duties she is actually getting paid to do. From what we have heard she spends most of her time at work researching grants and applying for them. The selectmen have okay'd her coming in on a Friday to get her work caught up. It's in their minutes.

Anonymous said...

Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, has your time finally come to an end, can you hear that clock ticking away.Someone has finally stood up to you, refused to take your crap and has you back on your heels. tick -tock, tick-tock.

Anonymous said...

Why pay 60 cents for the Sentinel, all the news is here ! We've long heard stories going around in town about how this woman is so two faced you have to watch your back when dealing with her. Looks like these abutter people are prepared to give her a run for her money, bet she hates that. What's she going to say now that a judge has found her guilty of committing a crime? The bigger question is how long are our town selectmen going to keep shelling out money in her defense, how much has it cost us now in taxpayer monies for this lawsuit? You can bet if they had to pay for their own legal expenses things would be done on the up and up in town. Maybe we can submit a warrant article in that regards, that when the town gets sued for something, if a judge finds a member of a board has acted improperly or illegally then he or she should foot the bill not the town. Might make them follow the rules and pay attention to what they're doing at these meetings.

Anonymous said...

well well so life go on ????? i know that when there is a new meeting that Sharra tells every one that she is a volinter and does not get paid for being on the board. then she goes on the explane the rules on how we have to respect her and the boad but never sAYS ANY THING ABOUT OUR RIGHT I FIND THIS ODD.ANY HOW SHE BROKE THE LAW AND SHOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS AND I THINK IT SHOULD COME OUT OF HER POCKETS.........i do not think its right for the towns people to pay for her to brake the law and get away with it..she has a tenditcee to inter up others when givinf testtaqmony. but if vandke gets up or one of his people she does not interup them but does tell other to be quite. i hope to god that we can get all the badness out of the town and get real people in that will do the jobs right ,fair,and honest

town official on the outside looking in said...

You people in Winchester surely do have your hands full, what a mess you have with crooked cops, underacting select people and now a board chairperson violating not only the law but the civil rights of people who under her job description is suppose to look out for. I'm glad these people are all running your town and not ours. Not that I don't feel for you folks; but you did vote in these problems yourself. Guess you all know what you have to do. Take your lead from this blog and those who are willing to fight and get your butts to your polls when they open and throw these folks out on their collective arses and don't let them back in again.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

TERMINATE FOR UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR? From the Selectmen? I think we need to get them a DICTIONARY first, it's apparent they don't know the meaning of the word UNETHICAL.

shaking my head in disgust said...

The dragon-lady finally gets her comeuppance and from a superior court judge non the less, about time someone put this woman in her place. Ask Brian Moser about her fairness and how her personal feelings affect her meetings. Yes, HER meetings, she controls that board from beginning to end and always has her way, Ask Bob Davis about how rude she can be when she doesn't like you. It is no wonder that one of these abutters has been treated in the manner this blog has reported. And the above poster is right, our select board, having never once reprimanded her for past complaints surely will keep their track record intact and ignore this serious unethical conduct without so much as a word. Ken Berthune should be ashamed of himself, he and Ken Cole are much wiser than this and should have spoken up in numerous instances. At the very least this woman should be removed as chair of this town board immediately; but we all know that won't happen unless this case goes back to court and these abutters can provide more instances to the judge; perhaps then will justice be served and she removed from her position of authority which her conduct bears she does not deserve.

Carol from Winchester said...

What is wrong with the rest of these board members letting things like this go on? Just who did we elect. a bunch of spineless pansies who follow blindly like sheep? I say remove them all, they have proven they are just as biased to treating people wrongly as she has by sitting by and supporting her every decision and allowing her to trample on people's rights to a fair hearing before the board. Our selectmen need to act to show us they are working diligently for us to provide us a fair and just town government. I call to them to do what's right and to act immediately on this matter which I am sure they are all aware of before this next hearing to insure these people get treated fairly and with the respect they deserve. To do otherwise will be a grave injustice and show the rest of us just how indifferent they feel towards us all.

Someone who was once a friend said...

Margaret has become somewhat of a bully. She parades around like someone of great importance and has distanced herself from people who see her as she truly is. She will use what little authority she has and her position as chairperson of the planning board to make herself seem like an important town official in every facet of what obviously must be a very shallow life. She has brought this misery upon herself with her actions and words towards others and I too can only hope that our select people come to their senses and admonish her for what she has done. Once you violate a position of trust, can you ever be trusted again? Too many people have commented on her past behavior, it's obvious she will never change her ways nor will she ever be able to separate her personal feelings from her duties towards others she dislikes. This is not an isolated case, nor is it a case of accidentally reaching beyond her position. This is a flagrant offense directed at citizens just like the rest of us who have a valid complaint about her conduct. What happens next time when it is either you or me or one of your own? Do we as a town continue to just look the other way or say that this is okay because these people got on her bad side? Enough is enough, it is time for Margaret to step down for the good of the town and the citizens of the community.

Conflicting testimony said...

Board of Selectmen Work Session Minutes 09/23/2009
Printer-Friendly Version

MINUTES of the
September 23, 2009


Margaret explains that her wages include an additional two hours per week for a total of up to 32 hours, and explains her daily duties as Land Use Assistant.

Margaret’s daily office hours as the assistant are 8:30AM-4:00PM, Monday-Thursday, and sometimes she needs to come in on Fridays to catch up on work.

Margaret explains land use laws change often, and it’s important for her to be knowledgeable of the new statutes and accurately interpret those laws to make accurate decisions for the Town and public.

Margaret attends training and gets updates for land use and zoning to follow those procedures of law. Selectman Berthiaume commends Margaret for a very good job.

Wow - This is from last week. I thinks this says it all.

Margaret gets congratulated for a job well done by Ken Berthiaume and a judge rules her behavior inconsistant with the laws?

Has Ken been sleeping this whole time or looking the other way?

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why the selectpeople would allow Ms. Sharra to work in the building on Friday when no one else is there? The judge has said that she must recuse herself from a specific job so I am wondering what is going on with the documentation that relates to this specific issue. I would assume that it is safely locked up so that if the court needs the documentation it is available.I would think that for her protection from the "gossip" she would get her work done in a timely fashion and not have to put in ot when no one is around to verify that she is working.
Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Plain and simple, Margaret is a bully.

She is great at blind siding people and leaving them speechless, because her actions come completely out of left field.

She HATES an audience. It only means more witnesses to the fact that her minutes (note: she takes the minutes...not the secretary) do NOT reflect the meeting.

So, take the HINT, and show up Monday night OCTOBER 5 at 6 PM as witnesses to her behavior. And if anyone can get a police officer to attend, that would be helpful.

As a town, we can be guaranteed another lawsuit in action if she participates in this meeting. She can not contain her contempt and anger - leaving the rest of the board speechless in regards to her behavior. Which of course is NOT professional by any stretch of the imagination or lady like.

Her idea of recusing herself is to sit at the head of the table and direct the meeting.

Oh, and BTW - didn't we not change the town hall hours to save on utility costs? How is someone coming in on Fridays helping that? ALSO, can anyone prove that it has saved any money for the town? Perhaps it is time to rethink the town hall hours....

Bobbie said...

I guess everyone in town unanimously agrees that Ms. Sharra has done a grave injustice to these abutters and the one in particular that she has singled out to abuse. Unlike the blog on Roberta, no one has come to the aid of Ms. Sharra, guess she really isn't well liked by anyone or we'd have heard from them by now. I guess it's really hard to defend the actions of someone when a Superior Court Judge has just ruled against her conduct and because of her willingness to use her position in an attempt to gain the upper hand to undermine a fair hearing. Shame on you Ms. Sharra, I too feel you should either remove yourself from this board or be removed immediately by our selectmen. There is no defense for putting your personal feelings above your duty to your fellow board members. Because of you their reputations are now being questioned too. How can anyone have faith in the decisions this board will make from now on? Has this conduct affected other applicants and abutters in the past?


I don't know anything about the Sharra problem, but the 4 day work week is a joke. Study after study shows you get more work done in 5 days and its more convenient for the town residents. Its plain to see that most of the selectmen don't give a Dan if the taxpayers of Winchester get what they pay for.This town has turned into a real joke a i don't think its funny.

questioning mind said...

Of course Margaret would appoint Dean to the vice-chair, after all she still works for Cathy Beaman and Beamon's realty. I also remember from reading the lawsuit that Dean was named along with Margaret for pandering to Van Dyke and endorsing this Van Dyke project from the beginning. Remember when he went around talking about how this would be the crown jewel for our town and how this would put Winchester on the map above other surrounding towns? Doesn't this pose a conflict having them participate in hearings when they are involved as defendants in a lawsuit? As for that snippet from the board of selectmen's minutes, if Margaret has to come in on Friday to finish up her work, instead of commending her for a job well done, I'd be asking why she can't get her work done on time and if her performance has to do with all of her outside activities instead of an overload of work. Something is not right here and deserves more scrutiny, the more I read the more I can understand that we have serious issues we need to address as a town.

Looking For Work? said...

DISCUSSED I couldn't agree more. If you are employed buy a town its puts you in the service industry whether you like it or not. Back in the days before welfare and subsidized housing when most people worked, the town hall was open Saturday morning. When our TD BANK is open 7 days and the town clerk is on 4 days, who knows the meaning of service? Most people can't even emagin making a living only working 4 days, and ill bet we don't get any more work done in 10 hours then we did in 8. Is there anyone out there that needs a good job that thinks they can provide service and save the town money, it may be the time to apply for a town job or run for a town office.

almost an abutter said...

I have spent the better part of the evening yesterday and a couple of hours this morning reading the blogs regarding this Van Dyke project and planning board hearings and I have to say I am very concerned in regards to the legality of what has been transpiring and have several questions I hope someone will provide answers for. It would be very informative if a member of the planning board, Ms. Sharra or one of the abutters involved would provide the answers.
1) why has the board accepted this application when it appears even after 2 years it is still incomplete and the man still needs state approvals and other permits to continue? How can the board give him an approval if these conditions and regulations were not met?
2) why would someone have to ask for and receive so many variances from our planning board if his project was on the up and up and why has the board over looked the concerns of the abutters in granting so many waivers of our subdivision rules and regulations?
3) after being named in a lawsuit why haven't Sharra and Beamon been recused from these meetings and allowed to sit on the board and continue giving input, especially after being asked by an attorney to step down?
4) where are our selectmen in all of this, Berthiaune sits on the board and reports to the rest of them. Do they really think what has been going on is fair and lawful?
5) how can these people expect to get a fair hearing with board members who are obviously so for this project that they have overlooked the rules and regulations they are suppose to uphold?
6) what happens if they are asked to step down and they refuse, will this result in another lawsuit that we taxpayers will end up paying for?
7) have the abutters filed an appeal of this judge's decision or any other legal challenge or is this the end of the suit?
8) what happens if an abutters property gets damaged by run off or they lose their water, do they have to sue the contractor or the town to recover any damages?
I wish I had attended some of these meetings so I wouldn't have to ask so many questions; but I didn't and have to admit after reading all the information provided by this blog and the town's own website I have a funny suspicion that this whole situation isn't right.

the Winchester Informer said...

To the above poster in regards to your questions, I'll answer what I can for you.

I am an abutter and part of the lawsuit filed against the board.

1) Good question; however someone from the board would have to answer for themselves. The rules are very clear and yet they have made a decision contrary to the regulations.
2) In the beginning his own engineers said that the land would only support 17 units. Mr Van Dyke was not satisfied and seeks to maximize his profits at the expense of the abutters, the land and the town.
3)One of them will have to answer this for you.
4)One or all of them will have to answer for themselves.
5)We don't really feel we can or that it is going to make any difference. Nothing we or our previous attorney have expressed to the board has made any difference to them. They have ignored their duties, bent the rules and regulations to help Mr. Van Dyke maximize his profits and in the words of one member dropped the ball on numerous occasions.
6)Exactly what I am going to request at the hearing. I do not expect to be treated fairly, nor get a fair hearing by a board already swayed by the board's chairperson. I have been prevented from giving testimony at the last two meetings, rudely interrupted by Ms. Sharra and told to sit down and shut up. I was threatened with arrest at the last meeting, to wit the written minutes leave out the true facts of what transpired. Yes, I will seek relief through the courts once again if the need be.
7)An appeal of the Superior Court's decision has been filed with and accepted by the State Supreme Court .. case number 2009-0713. Litigation is still ongoing.
8)We would have to file a Civil lawsuit against Mr. Van Dyke to recover any damages. The town will provide us with no protection nor will they accept any responsibility for their actions. Both I and another abutter have legal deeded water rights to this property and the town refuses to accept them though in the minutes of an earlier meeting they said no approvals would be granted until a resolution regarding these rights were reached, they have since backtracked on their word and gone forward giving him approvals. This matter too is going to be headed to court. So much for their sworn duty to protect the citizens of town. Perhaps now some people will realize that we are not just a bunch on NIMBYs, that we actually have legitimate concerns on how this situation has been handled and how it is going to affect our lives, our properties and our health if this project is allowed to be built.

We would be glad to answer any other questions any one else may have. Hopefully you'll get answers to your other questions we could not answer.

FYI said...

Just thought everyone would like to know. Winchester is famous. The Winchester Informer is on the internet. If you do a Google name search using the names mentioned in the blog( Margaret Sharra, Gary Phillips, Chris Roberts , Nate Jette,Dean Beaman Warren, Breau, Dan Reppucci, Paul Mccoomb) at you will see the Winchester Informer and the related articles.

just asking said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't the town clerk run on a platform of service on Saturday?In the past we had part time people so we could provide service nights and weekends.

Under the big top! said...

This town hall plays like a one ring circus, the Master of Ceremonies is none other than Sherman Tedford, the clowns are Gus Ruth, Roberta Fraser, Ken Gardner and Ken Berthiame. You the tax payers are not mad enough yet to do anything themselves let the other guy do it……If you didn’t vote don’t wine......…pass me some more peanuts please.

Trying to understand said...

What is the obligation of the selectmen of the town of winchester and it's people? What role are they supposed to play? What are they legally responsible for? What are their job descriptions when they run for office and then when they win? I'm trying to unravel this mess as I'm sure other people are too so we can get more involved.

Anonymous said...

Trying to understand, I believe the main purpose of the Board is to protect the essence of what Winchester is as well as enforce and/or consider variances to current regulations. However from what I see the Board is looking more to increase tax base rather than look into how considered multi dwelling developments may impact the town. For example, has the board even remotely looked into cost effect that would result from all the new school-going aged residents that would result from this development. It's one thing to grant a variance where land that has been owned by someone for years needs a setback change, it's a totally different ballgame when an investor purchases a tract of land that he knowingly acquired being fully aware that it does NOT conform to what is needed for the number of units he wishes to build there. The inability to make a profit should not be the sole basis for granting a variance.

Anonymous said...

To the citizens of Winchester. Here are some more facts which can verified by Victor Mlavet, Fred Zeigler, Eric Ammann, Dan Reppucci, Kyle Hodgeman and Chief Phillips who were all present for the physical testing on the first Saturday in June. These facts are an example of inconsistencies, making exceptions for the chosen few and violating police department policy. First of all, here is a little background information on Kenny Smith. Smith, by his own admission took and failed the required physical testing eleven times before Hurley was hired in 2007 which Smith also failed making this his twelth time. Last January Smith was hired without taking the physical test which, by the way, Chief Phillips is allowing Smith to take in December. Smith applied for the full-time position in June on the first Saturday in June he again failed the physical testing along with Eric Ammann. (Warren Breau was not required to take the physical testing because he passed his requirements in April at Police Standards and Training He also passed again on June 30th when he applied in Swanzey. Also, Breau had to pass his run,situps and pushups before he was allowed to process any further in 2006). At the time of Smith's testing in June Smith was 49, but because he was turning 50 in August he asked if he could be tested under the 50 year old standard which would allow him more time to complete the run, let alone the other requirements. The mere fact Smith even asked for an acception is a serious integrity issue. If he was testing in Concord, Police Standards & Training would have sent Smith home and notified his chief about his embarrasing request. Many applicants have been failed by standards and training and sent home because they missed their run by a few seconds. Eric,Warren and and John Melia can attest to this. The fact Smith asked for an acception speaks volumes about his integrity. It seems he does not want to play by the rules. Keep in mind folks Nate Jette did Smith's background and later trained Smith. This is another example of Chief Phillips's double standard hiring practice and rule bending which can also be validated by Royce Pelkey who was extremely frustrated with Phillip's during Smith's and Hurley's physical testing process. Did the selectmen know about Smith not doing the physical testing before he was hired? Phillip's will argue that Smith was not required to take the test until December. Phillips's rule bending and making exceptions is in direct violation of the department's own policy manual which he wrote. Yes folks,there is a physical standard requirement in the ploicy manual which was also in effect when Robert's was hired but he was not required to do. I guess you could say Robert's was hired in violation of department policy. Don't worry folks, Chief Phillips will write a new policy replacing the old. I'll bet a few old policies are still" floating around".

SITG said...

Dan Reppucci was fired because he disclosed information to a civilian. What did he disclose? Was it information pertaining to an ongoing investigation? No. Was it information pertaining to an internal investigation? No. Was it information of a highly sensitive and embarrassing nature? No. What Dan Reppucci did was to file a grievance letter to Gary Phillips outlining why he felt Chris Robert’s was not qualified to be Lieutenant and information allegedly was “leaked to a civilian”.
How interesting. Reppucci gets fired for “leaking” information to a civilian. Chris Roberts gets “caught” driving an uninspected police vehicle and submits a deceptive donation letter to the BOS duping them into accepting a conference table. Does he get fired or reprimanded? No. He get’s promoted. Jette admits to taking a bike, washer fluid and destroying evidence without telling a supervisor or documenting the destruction of that evidence, follows a female for several miles in his personal vehicle with his son in the passenger’s seat to her residence only to tell her she committed a traffic violation. Certainly if this woman’s driving was so egregious Jette would have obtained a warrant and arrested her especially since the violation happened in his presence in Richmond where has jurisdiction and powers of arrest. Does he get fired? No. He gets promoted to Master Patrolman and sent to several schools. Phillips violates his own off duty employment and worse yet he was aware of his officer’s performance and failed to take appropriate disciplinary measures towards Jette and Roberts. Does Phillips get reprimanded? No. He gets a new cruiser and a bonus for his officers.
I ask you folks, did Reppucci commit egregious infractions that equate to that of what Phillips, Roberts and Jette committed? No he did not. I also ask you folks, which officer’s actions warrant termination? If Reppucci was terminated for releasing information about three officers to a civilian why wasn’t Chief Phillips terminated for releasing internal investigation information to Brian Jordan who is also a civilian?
These issues are not based on speculation or a byproduct of small town gossip. It is information admitted to by officers and confirmed by written policy and various letters. This is clearly a double standard method of managing which is buying the silence and false loyalty of corrupt police officers.
Many larger cities have Citizen’s Review Board that oversees the practices of their government. Maybe Winchester should establish their own Citizen’s Review Committee to curtail its corruption and mismanagement from within.