RCL Notes of September 15, 2016 Conservation Commission

R CL Notes of September 15, 2016 Conservation Commission Meeting

1.     PUBLIC HEARING

In accordance with RSA 675:7 to discuss acquisition of a Conservation purchase of .42 acres at 0 Ocean Blvd, Map 19.4, Lot 56, owned by Frances Kost.

Chair Sally King stated that she had asked Tracy Degnan, from the Rockingham Conservation Commission, to assess the importance of this piece of land.  She read Tracy Degnan’s letter into the record:

Sally requested that I outline a few conservation features relating to the above mentioned parcel (map 19.4 lot 56, also noted as map 194, lot 056000000) and totals approximately 18,295 sq. ft. +/-, and why it is worthy of permanent protection.

Although small, it is an important conservation piece for the Wallis Salt Marsh and to protect Parsons Creek itself.  This salt marsh and upland areas serve as a transitional zone and a tremendous buffer to the adjacent developed areas.  It will also serve as an important flood storage area for increased sea level rise, storm surges, and to accept increased precipitation.

According to the Parson’s Creek Watershed Plan (5/2011) this watershed has14% +/- impervious coverage, and as noted by NHDES and PREP (Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership) generally anything greater than 10% impervious coverage leads to decreased water quality.  One of the tools used to assist with not increasing impervious coverage within a watershed is to protect open lands.

Tidal wetlands are of the highest quality wetlands resources valued by both local municipalities and in particular, the State of NH.  Funds from the Town, State and Federal government have been allocated to permanently protect and/or restore several parcels in Rye alone (Awcomin Salt Marsh/Massacre Marsh\Fairhill Marsh, etc.).

This parcel has been reviewed by the Natural Resources Conservation    Service and it qualifies for a WRE (Wetland Reserve Program) easement (see attached map), although due to its size might not be highly competitive in a grant round.  It does abut or closely abut other conservation lands and given the amount of development/re-development in this watershed, it should be given serious consideration for protection.  The attached town-generated parcel map highlights another conservation/town owned piece in very close proximity to the above mentioned parcel.

Also the NH Department of Fish and Game outlined habitats of special significance in coastal areas of the state. These areas are designated as Conservation Focus Areas (CFAs). Each CFA is based around a core area which contains the natural resources necessary to maintain habitat and ecological integrity.  The attached shows the Wallis Marsh areas with ecologically significant areas of 311+/- acres, that includes salt marsh habitats on both sides of Wallis Road.

I hope that a few of these considerations help to highlight the importance of this small but worthy conservation project.  Please let me know if you have any additional questions.  Thank you!

After reading Tracy Degnan’s letter, Chair Sally King stated that the parcel has been assessed at $ 28.400, however the family is gifting $15.000 of its value, which is very generous, thus the Town will have to pay the Conservation Commission, as its agent, $13, 400.

Peter Crawford, member of the public, stated he had not noticed the Public Hearing until he printed out the agenda, which was an hour ago.  As a result, he has not had a chance to read the appraisal.   He stated that apparently there is an appraisal for this parcel.

Chair Sally King interjected that there was no appraisal, just an assessed value.  She explained that because they are getting a bargain sale, as this is considered a bargain sale, they are trying to keep the cost down.

Peter Crawford replied that he has had a chance to look at the GIS system and he was surprised to find out that there were no wetlands.  Even the Marsh was not identified in green as wetlands, which he believed must be wrong.  According to the aerial view, he found a rock wall on the property.

Chair Sally King interjected that she had not gone on the site walk.

Peter Crawford stated that he went on the site walk but they just kind of pushed aside some of the marsh grass.  He assumed it was all marsh.  (Member Jaci Grote interjected the word “phragmites” as Peter Crawford was talking.)  As he continued to describe the area, Peter Crawford stated that there was apparently a stream or a very wet section and then it becomes dry again.  He asked if this were accurate.

Member Suzanne McFarland, who went to the site walk, stated there is a little crescent that is dry in the back and the rest is all “mucked.”

Peter Crawford asked if there was any use for this land even as a parking lot?  He stated that it could not be used unless it was filled.

Chair Sally King stated that they have addressed the use when she read Tracy Degnan’s letter.

Peter Crawford stated that he did not object, as it was such a small piece of land, but asked if instead of purchasing the land they could not collect the taxes.

Chair Sally King replied that it has happened in the past when family would come and sue the Town 10 years later.  She stated that it is subjective whether he felt that it was worth protecting.

Peter Crawford replied that he did not disagree, but the question is, does it protect itself, as the land cannot be developed.

Member Jaci Grote stated that it is particularly valuable as it connects to other Conservation land and in terms of doing marsh restoration.  They can start working on phragmites remediation.

Chair Sally King interjected that the parcel is also directly on the Tidal Creek and that there is a lot of emphasis at the Town level to protect the Parson’s Creek watershed.

Peter Crawford reiterated his statement regarding the fact that the land protects itself, as it cannot be built on.

Member Suzanne McFarland stated that she believes that he [Peter] saw some encroachment during the site walk.  She also understands his point of view.

A motion was made by member Jaci Grote to present this to the Board of Selectmen for a Public Hearing with an approval from the Conservation Commission to purchase the property.  Seconded by Mike Garvan.  All in favor.

II.  EVERSOURCE – RE: TELEPHONE POLE REPLACEMENT WITHIN TIDAL WETLANDS

Chris Wills (sp?) from BHB spoke on behalf on Eversource.  He stated that this is maintenance and a liability project for Eversource, which is part of an ongoing effort in the region to repair and upgrade infrastructure that has been identified during inspections as basically in need of replacement.  The major factor is corrosion due to the salt air and the marsh.  The poles date back from the 30s and the 40s.  Poles to be replaced are around the Rye Harbor entrance running all the way to the pull off area (showing on the map).  He stated that they are 14 poles.  For one pole, the proposal is to replace an existing supporting anchor wire, which leaves 13 poles.  Looking at the salt marsh itself and design standards, they were able to eliminate 3 poles out of the 13 poles. 10 new poles are to be installed, which will be taller, going from 30-35 feet to 40-45 feet.  Overall, they will be only 6 poles below the tide marsh line.

Members voiced concerns regarding holes left behind after poles are removed.  Chris ensured that proper procedures are in place regarding minimizing the impact in the wetlands and backfilling the holes.  There should be no safety issue after the poles are removed.   Native material will be used to fill the holes.

Member Mike Garvan made a motion to allow Eversource to proceed with the project as proposed with the caveat that they fill in the holes that are left by removal with native fill.

III. DANNA TRUSLOW – TOWN TRAIL

Danna Truslow was not attendance but Chair Sally King reported that she is concerned regarding the Trail Management Subcommittee’s recommendations and proposal not to allow more bog bridges to be built in the Town Forest.   Her concern is to protect the wetlands.  She is scheduled to come next month before the Commission to discuss the matter.

IV. WETLAND UPDATES

a). 245 Pioneer Road

The owner is refusing to comply despite a notice of violation.  Chair Sally King stated that she saw a letter from the owner’s Attorney disputing the facts and the need for restoration.

Member Mike Garvan stated that they were planning to go before the ZBA but were not heard.  The Commission sent a letter stating that they would object. He  believes the trees that were cut in the buffer zone were not cut for safety reason, but to provide a better view.  Overtime, there were a lot of trees, and several owners, and now the trees are gone.

Building Inspector Peter Rowell will continue to follow the issue.

Chair Sally King stated the Commission has a lot of issues with tree cutting in the wetland/wetland buffer, which is the reason they have been working on amending the wetland Zoning Ordinance.

Members went on to discuss their plan to address violations in the Town Newsletter through education pieces and to encourage citizens to report violations.

b). 1112 Ocean Boulevard.

Chair Sally King reported what they observed on the site walk.  The applicant is trying to increase the patio size.  She stated that members noticed that there were gutters that were directed onto the beach.

She believes that they were going to reduce the size of the patio, as was stated in email, and that they were not going to drain water onto the beach.

Member Suzanne McFarland has been following the issue with DES, namely that the water should not drained onto the beach.

The applicant will be coming back.

c). 130 Harbor Road

Chair Sally king did not know how to handle the request as it just came in her mailbox: an application for a project to add a gangway to an existing float/dock in Rye Harbor.

Suzanne McFarland is going to follow-up.

(Editor’s notes: a site walk was planned on Wednesday, September 28 at 4 pm.  To review application for a project to add a gangway to an existing float/dock in Rye Harbor).

d) WBTSCC relief

(Editor’s notes: WBTSCC for property owned and located at 60 Wentworth Road came before the ZBA on September 7th, 2016, for a relief for a “fence” 90’ high and 350’ +/- long where 6’ is allowed.  The board determined that the proposal required a site plan review as an amendment to previous sites plans.)

Members discussed the proposal for a fence 90 feet tall.  It is currently 75 feet.

Member Jaci Grote is going to follow-up with the Wildlife Center and Audubon regarding the 90’ high fence as birds get caught up in the net.

V.  TOWN TRAILS  (it was scheduled to be discussed early.)

Danna Truslow arrived late during the meeting.  She discussed her concerns regarding the Trails’ subcommittee’s decision not to allow more bog bridges to be built.  She provided some background on why and how the existing bog bridges came to be, namely to protect the wetlands, and that she along with resident, Doug Nelson, had initiated the project to protect the trails.  One year ago, they submitted for a wetland permit to do trail work.  They identified a number of areas that needed protection.   The lumber was donated; people from the Town volunteered and AMC provided guidelines with the project.

Member Mike Garvan stated that it would be good to have a site walk.  As the Chair of the Trail subcommittee, he mentioned the view of the committee to reroute some of the trails as opposed to install more bog bridges.

Danna Truslow talked about education and trail signage.  She is going to exchange emails with Chair Sally King to set up a meeting.  She would like Doug Nelson to join as well.

VI.  DISCUSSION

Suzanne Mcfarland was nominated vice-chair of the Conservation Commission.

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