Saturday, August 6, 2016

Winchester's quality of life is at stake

Two public hearings in Winchester Town Hall next week have the potential to dramatically affect the town’s center and the whole village of Ashuelot.
Residents who are concerned about life in Winchester during the next decades and beyond should attend those hearings and speak up. We need to ensure that discussion is thorough and open, and decisions are either well-reasoned or postponed until they can be well-reasoned.
On Monday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m., the Historic District Commission will again take up the question of whether to allow demolition of a 200-year-old house in the town’s central square. This review process now seems more balanced than when it started, but we’re by no means out of the woods.
After initially canceling the customary step of a professional inventory of the house’s historical assets, the Historic District Commission did re-commission the survey, and indeed historian May Williams completed an excellent draft. That document asserts the property is eligible for inclusion in the state and federal Register of Historic Places.
Such eligibility, once confirmed by the state, means that a commercial developer who preserves the house’s historic value could benefit from valuable local and federal tax credits and from flexibility in how to meet the requirements of the building code. Related to this, the Winchester Revitalization/Economic Development Commission is brainstorming directly with the developer about how to profit from a development plan that preserves and utilizes the house, and perhaps the historic bank as well.
Not so positive are the emotional fireworks that hamper the Historic District Commission’s work. In recent months, Historic District Commission Chairman Denis Murphy twice formally tendered his resignation and then withdrew it. During a Historic District Commission meeting he inexplicably explained that “There really is no such thing as history, at least not since 1492,” and shortly thereafter stormed out of the meeting.
The commission has as yet delayed approving the minutes of two meetings, and the draft version of one set of minutes failed to include key events: the vote to re-schedule the historic survey; and the chairman’s explanation of why the commission previously voted to cancel the inventory. It was, he said, because a town employee had counseled him that guidelines did not specifically require it, and therefore scheduling could expose the town to a suit from the developer. That draft also did not record an apt observation by resident Chris Thompson. Thompson noted that it would be more prudent for the Historic District Commission to worry that residents would sue the town if it did NOT undertake the historic survey because that was central to the commission’s fulfilling its core responsibility.
On Thursday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m., the Zoning Board of Appeals takes up a developer’s request for a zoning variance in order to build a massive firing range and survival-skills park (the biggest in New England). The location is undeveloped and rural land between Old Chesterfield Road and Route 119. The developers have plans to mitigate noise pollution and chemical pollution, and to ensure safety for children, adults, and domestic and wild animals. However, at this point their assertions about mitigation are only theoretical. The challenge is for residents and the ZBA to be able to accurately test and evaluate what the nearly constant noise of gunfire will really be like.
Additionally, residents need to consider what it will be like to have armed survival-skill students wandering around at night in the acres abutting their properties. Further, we should consider other examples. With the introduction of louder and more powerful guns, there’s now a pattern across the country of such facilities ramping up, and a pattern, not surprisingly, of conflicts between the facilities and their neighbors. As nearby as Peterborough, residents have complained that the quality of their lives and value of their properties both lessened when the Monadnock Gun Club increased its noise impact and then refused to respond to a request from that town’s select board to try to quiet the operation. We may want to consider the experience and opinions of those in Peterborough.
I hope to see many neighbors at both hearings. Now is the time to make choices that will send the town rolling down particular roads. Will that development be the kind that it builds upon the real value we already have, stimulating a variety of businesses that will generate and spread income and wealth through our community? Or will that development liquidate our unique historical and environmental assets, for the benefit of others, and set a tone that will discourage, or even shut out, more beneficial and attractive development. It’s up to us.


Trumplestilskin said...

Get over it - it's just an old house in a town full of old houses.
What will really impact Winchester for decades to come is the students sent to Keene issue.
That got ONE comment.
Shuffling the hours for town employees got 37 comments
Blog readers are more interested in criticizing town employees- as usual - than where their kids would go to school or the impact on tax rates.
I'm SO glad we saved that eyesore "historic Doctor" house - it adds so much to winchesters downtrodden downtown.
The Sentinel published a very positive front page piece in their weekend paper 2 weeks ago - the informer, which usually reprints every town related article, chose not to post because it doesn't fit in with the us vs them conspiracy name calling promoted here.
A shooting range fits right in with the Winchester lack of quality of life: high school dropouts, teen pregnancies, cigarettes, beer, scratch tickets, shacks, shanties, mobile home parks.

the Winchester Informer said...

You're entitled to your opinion and what you see as just an old house, people who care about preserving their heritage and the history of the town they love, see something else. Many towns throughout New England, the birthplace of this country, preserve many (just ) old buildings and homes as part of the heritage of those towns they were constructed in, for future generations to learn about the history of said towns and their significance that contributed to the growth of those towns and the people who lived there in the past. Because you don't care about the past, don't care about the people who contributed to make Winchester what it is today, should be no justifiable reason for you to knock people who do.. shows your ignorance and your lack of caring for history.

As for only one comment regarding where children in this town go to school, both parents and those involved attended meetings and voiced their opinions ( like you ) and concerns and discussions and meetings are still taking place. That only one person commented on the piece here on the blog does not represent the number of people concerned and talking about this issue at meetings.

.. and as for the Sentinel article you refer to; so glad you have the insight to speak for this blog, probably didn't occur to you that we may have been away and didn't see the article or that no one in town thought it worthy to mention or send to the blog for reprint.

If the town employees and their lack of dedication to the people, their demand of so much excessive spending to satisfy their wants for everything new and the outrageous benefits, a previously employee friendly ( how else to keep certain people in power ) schedule which gives them way too many four day weekends and 10 hour paid holidays weren't such a concern to the people of this town who pay their salaries, then perhaps you wouldn't see so many posts about the topic. Many people send in subjects they would like to see discussed on this blog, if you don't agree with them, don't comment. I don't remember anyone voting you the town mayor/blog critique recently. Perhaps we missed that article in the paper too.

If you don't like the articles that we put up for discussion that others think are important then choose to post your comments elsewhere.. or perhaps go start start your own blog and post whatever topics you'd like to have on it.. oh that's right you did and no one commented on it.

Nature_lover said...

The shooting range would be a real travesty if allowed. One of Winchester's greatest assets is being adjacent to Pisgah Park. We need to promote the tranquility of country life and nature, not ruin it with a shooting range. I hope residents make their voices heard and more importantly, that the town listens!

Anonymous said...

Is this land owned by Gary Beaman's daughters? If so they were going to turn this property into a compost facility. The question of the day is this better and do they need the money?

Noisechester, NH said...

Nature_lover is your blog handle then your in the wrong New England village. Tranquility to most Winchester Citizens is sold at the State Liquor Store, in 40 oz bottles. Nature_lover stated the shooting range would be a travesty for Winchester, just take a look around, it is just one more of the many travesties of this town. Junk yards, gravel pits, blasting, mud bog’s, racetracks and used junk truck parts store. This town should have been named Town of Travesty New Hampshire. The word is out, the Town of Travesty Town Hall is for sale and has been for sometime? It not just the old guard elected officials like Bucky Jones, Leroy Austin and now Sharra . It was and still is known fact if you wanted a special deal, just drop a roll of money on the town hall floor and say, Hey Is that your money on the floor there? Just a continuation pay to play.

Nature_lover stated, One of Winchester's greatest assets is being adjacent to Pisgah Park. Right! Pisqah is just another of the state's boondoggle politically motivated government project to take the land from citizen with the bold promises that it is there for everyone. What they did was destroy the many cottages on the pond,which robbed a cash strapped town of a lot of tax revenue. Of course it is yours to use they said to use if you have a 4 wheeler or brave enough to walk the trails on weekend when the 4 wheelers are out.

“We need to promote the tranquility of country life and nature, not ruin it with a shooting range. I hope residents make their voices heard and more importantly, that the town listens“! Good luck with that, some of us have been preaching for many years. We were hoping to take that single voice of disparity and turn it into bold loud roar, some people lead but no one followed. How that work for you? Some people said, if we could only elect new selectmen. How is that working for you? Same Ole, Same Ole. Just another "Ground Hog Day!

Anonymous said...

I think this select board is the best we have had in years. Be very careful next year, we don't want to slip back to the employees running the selectmen.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, just who is behind this so-called company?

Business Name .......History
Name ..................... Name Type
Ridgeline Shooting Sports LLC .......Legal
Limited Liability Company


Business ID: 744860
Status: Good Standing

Entity Creation Date: 5/19/2016

Principal Office Address: 48 Scotland Street
Hingham MA 02043
Principal Mailing Address: No Address

Last Annual Report Filed Date:
Last Annual Report Filed: 0
Registered Agent

Agent Name: Cunningham, John M, Esq
Office Address: 2 Kent Street
Concord NH 03301

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Anonymous at 4:33pm. Heard tell that their Facebook pages had been pulled. Hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that this LLC was formed just for this purpose. We need to keep that in mind as they have no track record. I wonder if they thought that the townspeople would just sit back and bow? Not happening in Winchester anymore. We are getting a backbone.

pauldobbs said...

Gosh, I think you might be a little cynical. Interesting how many people remain engaged in activism through 6, 7, or 8 decades against terrible odds, and then prevail (or not) but you only seem to have enough energy to whine about their efforts.

pauldobbs said...

Google OSOK industries. Or Alex Hartmann.

Anonymous said...

Ok so why the heck doesn't he stay in Massachusetts? We do not need to be invaded by him. Obviously he believes that Ma. would not want him so he came here. We need a grocery store or shopping mall there not Ma leftovers.

Anonymous said...

He expected to just muscle in here, throw a few dollars & empty promises around, and get his way. He obviously thinks that everyone is ignorant up here. The things he said about how he would deal with danger and noise were laughable at best.

A ply wall and a couple bushes to deaden the sound of high-powered gun fire?!

A 20 foot wooden wall to block any kind of stray bullets from hitting someone's home, their family members, their pets, or their vehicles??

I don't know what's more ridiculous: the fact that he said those things, or that he expects people to believe them!!

Anonymous said...

I was just outside (8-19) at dusk and heard something sounding like gunfire coming from the proposed gun range property. What gives? Anyone know?

I don't think it's just target practice said...

There has been quite a bit of shooting going on in the woods back there for several months. Sound carries, too, so hard to tell just where it's coming from.

Anonymous said...

Can our town sink any lower? Should I even ask?