Community Christmas Service Well-Attended

The First Christian Church of Tuftonboro (across from the General Store on 109A) held its annual community Christmas service on Sunday evening. Around 75 people attended the service, which was led by Rev. Kent Schneider, who is the interim pastor of the First Congregational Church in Farmington, NH.

The congregants sang Christmas carols with the aid of Cecelia Ewing on keyboard, Patti Nisbet on flute, Betty Schneider on persuasion, and Jane Wilson on clarinet and recorder. Mike Lymburmer sang tenor. Natalie Hebden also played guitar and mandolin, as well as sang.

Rev. Schneider’s sermon was on patience. “What are you waiting for?” He asked. He said we live in a time when people expect instant gratification. But Mary, Joseph, and even Mary’s sister Elizabeth, were waiting, he said, and they were rewarded for their patience.

After the service, Tuftonboro residents stayed to mingle and talk with friends and neighbors.

The First Christian Church of Tuftonboro is 147 years old.

“….the times that try men’s souls.”

Pre-result,  Election Night, 2016:

These are the times that try men’s souls.

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly:

it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
Thomas Paine,  The Crisis. December 23, 1776

Zoning Board Grants Continuance to Zimmerman

No decision was made at last night’s Zoning Board of Adjustment public hearing about the proposed self-storage unit project at 181 Middle Road next to the fire station. The board will reconvene on October 4th at 7PM at the Town House to hold a vote.

The board chairman, Mark Howard, began the public hearing by explaining that the petitioner — Paul Zimmerman, through his representative — was coming before the board asking for a special exception, not a variance. A variance is required when the current zoning specifically prohibits a proposed use for the property. However, Article 3.6.F13 of the Tuftonboro Zoning Ordinance allows the construction of “Storage Buildings” in medium density residential areas by special exception.

Therefore, the use is permitted if the property owner can demonstrate that the use will meet five specific criteria. Howard confirmed to me that if the use does meet the criteria, then the the law requires that the board must grant a special exception.

The criteria are:

Special Exceptions shall meet the following standards:
1. Standards provided by this Ordinance for the particular use permitted by special exception.

2. No hazard to the public or adjacent property on account of potential fire, explosion or release of toxic materials.

3. No detriment to property values in the vicinity or change in the essential characteristics of a residential neighborhood on account of the location or scale of Buildings and other structures, parking area, Access ways, odor, smoke, gas, dust, or other pollutant, noise, glare, heat, vibration, or unsightly outdoor storage of equipment, vehicles or other materials.

4. No creation of a traffic safety hazard or a substantial increase in the level of traffic congestion in the vicinity.

5. No excessive demand on municipal services, including, but not limited to, water, sewer, waste disposal, police and fire protection, and schools.

6. No significant increase of storm water runoff onto adjacent property or streets.

The board was short a member last night, and without an alternate, there were only four members present. Zimmerman therefore had the right to ask for a continuance, since he would require three yes votes to obtain a special exception. His representative opted to go forward with the presentation of the construction plans. However, the board voted at the end of the hearing to issue a continuance and reconvene on October 4th at 7PM in the Town House, in order to give Zimmerman’s team time to respond to several questions and concerns that were raised both by the board and members of the public.

Zimmerman constructed the self-storage units at Clark Plaza in Wolfeboro last year, and the proposed building at 181 Middle Road would closely resemble the Wolfeboro design.

storage-1
Clark Plaza Self-Storage in Wolfeboro

Bob Theve, a member of the board, asked what would happen if someone renting a storage unit put hazardous material in their unit. He was specifically concerned that the town be indemnified in the event.

Zimmerman’s representative, an engineer with Allen & Major Associates, Inc, stated that there would be no office on site and no security gate. The rental agreement would prohibit storage of hazardous material. Several residents were concerned that there would be no enforcement of that clause, however. They pointed out that if there’s no one on site to manage the facility, and if renters can come at any time, including the middle of the night, then there would be no way to prevent someone from storing liquid propane canisters, as one resident suggested as an example. LP canisters are very common and are used for gas grills, for instance.

Faye Friedrich, of Middle Road, stated that she is a supporter of private property rights, which is why she supports the new gravel pit across from her own property. However, she read from the town’s Master Plan, put out by the Planned Board, which calls for maintaining the character of the town. It was Friedrich’s opinion that self-storage units, especially corrugated steel structures as proposed, would change the nature of the neighborhood significantly. “Do we want to be Route 16 in Ossipee?” She asked. Adding, “No offense to Ossipee.”

Keith Rogers, whose property is directly across Middle Road from the proposed project, stated his concerns in reference to criteria #2 in the above list that there would be “no control of what goes in and what comes out.” He also contended that Zimmerman would have to salt the driveway and surrounding areas in the winter to maintain a safe environment for the people coming and going, and that the salt would run off the property, which has a steep incline, across the road, and onto his property and into his and his neighbor’s well (see criteria #6 above). Zimmerman is proposing to use porous asphalt on the driveway, and Rogers stated he is experienced with that pacing material and that if you use sand on it then it will clog very quickly and no longer be porous, thus you must use salt. Rogers was also concerned about lighting, saying that the light from the fire station was already a nuisance.

Resident Sarah Matlock requested an artist’s rendition of the proposed buildings from the point of view of the street. Rogers was also concerned that the building, sitting on a hill, would be in plain view.

Zimmerman’s representative stated the belief of the development team that the project would not negatively affect property values (criteria #3 above) because the area is already a mixed use, with the fire station next door. The abutting property owners in attendance strongly disagreed. I gave my opinion that a self-storage facility would severely negatively affect property values, and shared with the board that my opinion was based on my experience as a residential real estate agent in New York City for nearly eight years.

A storage facility of the proposed size (more than 100 individual units) would be expected to receive on average 27 visits per week day by unit renters, or 54 “trips” to and from the site. Zimmerman’s representative stated this was low-traffic (see criteria #4, above).

Van de Poll Addresses Tuftonboro Association Meeting

rick-van-de-pollDr. Rick Van der Poll of Ecosystem Management Consultants addressed the annual meeting of the Tuftonboro Association Monday evening and gave a talk entitled Conservation of the Great Meadow. Van der Poll has been studying the Great Meadow off and on for the past 16 years, as well as consulting with the Conservation Committee on purchasing various property lots that cover the meadow in order to place them into conservation.

There were approximately 30 Tuftonboro residents in attendance.

Lang’s Pond Road Closure

Lang’s Pond Road will be closed to through-traffic beginning on September 26th, 2016, for road reconstruction by LA Drew. The project should take about a month.

The selectmen awarded the project to LA Drew even though their bid was not the lowest. At first the selectmen said that they had rejected the low bid, by Integrity Earthworks, because it had been improperly submitted without a performance bond. Integrity Earthworks had followed the instructions provided by the selectmen, which did not require a bond. However, that turned out to be incorrect because state law requires projects over $35,000 to include a bond.

The selectmen acknowledged their error, but stuck with LA Drew anyway. As Chairman Carolyn Sundquist told Integrity Earthworks on July 29th, “We erred. We don’t know all the RSAs [state laws].”

LA Drew’s winning bid was $140,772 and Integrity Earthworks’ lower bid was $112,906. The Integrity Earthworks bid would have been higher if it included a bond, but would still have offered a considerable savings to the taxpayer of Tuftonboro had the selectmen not sent out wrong instructions.

Kelly Ayotte to Debate Tonight with Primary Challenger Jim Rubens on WMUR

Kelly Ayotte will debate challenger Jim Rubens tonight, September 7, at 7PM in a debate hosted by WMUR-TV 9. The debate will also be streamed live on WMUR.com and broadcast on WTPL 107.7FM The Pulse. Ayotte, the incumbent, is seeking her second term in the US Senate representing New Hampshire. She was previously the Attorney General. Jim Rubens is a businessman from Lebanon and previously served in the state Senate. Ayotte and Rubens are seeking the Republican nomination on September 13th. Very few polls have been taken of the GOP primary race, with pollsters’ main focus being the potential match up between Ayotte and Governor Maggie Hassan, who is running unopposed for the Democrat nomination for US Senate. The RealClearPolitics.com average of polls from May 25 to August 28 gives Hassan a 0.8% advantage over Ayotte.

Police Department Assists in Filling Sink Hole on Mountain Road

Last week a local bicyclist notice a sink hole on Mountain Road (otherwise known as Route 171, a state road), very close to Canaan Road. There happened to be a Tuftonboro Police cruiser passing by at the moment and the bicyclist waved the officer over. Within a very short amount of time that same afternoon the sink hole was being patched while Chief Andy Shagoury and Officer Tom LaFavre directed traffic.

IMG_6748

Here it is after being patched, looking in the opposite direction of the previous photo:

sink hole route 171 mountain road at canaan road

According to a resident who spoke to Officer LaFavre afterward, the visible hole in the roadway was just the tip of the iceberg, and there was a much larger hole underneath that could have caused the road to cave in.

The good news is that the hole was filled in immediately and also that the state had already informed the selectmen that all of Route 171 will be repaved this summer, from the Ossipee line to the Moultonborough line.

Thank you to the Tuftonboro PD for their prompt attention to this matter!

The Tyranny of the Majority

In 1787, James Madison, writing as Publius in Federalist No. 10, warned against majority rule in pure democracy: “Such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

It is just this type of tyranny of the majority that lends support to demagogues such as Bernie Sanders. When Sanders says that it is “immoral” for the “top 1 percent” to have as much wealth as the “bottom 90 percent combined,” what is he advocating? For that matter, what did Hillary Clinton mean (other than that she was trying to lean as far to the left as possible) when she tweeted, “The top 25 hedge fund managers make more than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined. That’s not acceptable.” What is she proposing that the teachers (the majority) do to the top 25 hedge-fund managers (the minority)? Donald Trump, who decided to call himself a Republican about five minutes ago, is no less a demagogue than the other two when he appeals to the silent “majority” who have been taken “advantage of.” All three are suggesting that the “majority” punish the “minority.”

Madison, like so many of the Founding Fathers, worried deeply about the dangers of pure democracy. Federalist No. 10 is devoted to mitigating the tyrannical effects of majority rule; Madison wishes to achieve this through factions (parties or other interest groups that arise naturally due to human nature). “The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.” The Constitution, drafted largely by Madison, creates a divided government in which power is intended to be balanced. We do not live in a democracy, and so long as we follow the Constitution, we can avoid the dangers inherent in such a form of government.

Maynard Thomson (Letter to the editor of the Granite State News, March 31) is right to ask us, “If 51 percent of the voters want something, are they justified in using government to force the other 49 percent to support that undertaking?”

Thank You, Clay

The letters section of a newspaper is a good place to publicly air one’s grievances. However, today I have another purpose entirely. Today I write to say thank you to Clay Gallagher. Clay is the supervisor of the Tuftonboro Transfer Station & Recycling Center, which is the most well-run transfer station that I have ever seen. It’s almost an oxymoron to say that a transfer station is clean. It is, after all, where we take our trash. But our transfer station in Tuftonboro is clean, well run, organized, and efficient. That means Clay is very good at his job. And his men are also good at their jobs. They’re also pleasant fellows, by the way.

I’m a new resident in town. I moved here last November. The first time I went to the transfer station, Clay gave me a tour. He explained that while recycling is not mandatory in Tuftonboro, there’s a big difference between the trash compactor and the recycling bins. It costs us money to ship the compacted trash to the landfill in Rochester. On the other hand, we sell the recyclable material. Clay told me that Tuftonboro has higher rates of recycling than other towns where recycling is enforced by ordinance.

Last Sunday when I made my weekly run to the transfer station, I was chatting with Clay and he mentioned that the station, while it is not entirely self-sufficient, brings in about $50,000 more per year than it did when he took over several years ago. That’s $50,000 that we as taxpayers don’t have to spend. Or rather, that we can spend on something else. Like repaving the roads. Or we could even reinvest it back into the transfer station. Either way, Clay’s doing a great job, both for the transfer station and the town in general.

Thank you, Clay.

This appeared as a letter to the editor of the Granite State News.