NOTES OF NOVEMBER 21, 2013 RYE CONSERVATION COMMISSION MEETING
Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League
Present from the Conservation Commission: Jim Raynes, Jaci Grote, Mike Garvan, Sally King, Suzanne McFarland and Charles Raynes
Present from public: Peter Crawford, Ray Jarvis, Lindsey Josephs
Editor’s note: While the meeting was held in the Town Hall courtroom, the video had not been turned on. There are no time stamps as these would not be useful.
Call to order
The meeting was called to order at approximately 7:00 p.m. and it was announced that there were supporters from 2003 and 2004 waiting, and that the non-public session would be brief. Editor’s note: This was an apparent reference to the Open Space Campaign that was active in those years. The motion to approve the October 17, 2013 minutes without changes carried unanimously. The board was then polled and agreed unanimously to go into non-public session at approximately 7:05 p.m.
Editor’s note: At the November 12, 2013 meeting of the Planning Board, it was announced that Mr. Raynes would be presenting a proposed agreement to acquire the back portion of the former Rand Lumber Parcel at this meeting.
Part way through the non-public session, the door opened and “John” and “Ed” were called into the meeting. John O’Neill of Changing Places, LLC was one of the individuals who then entered the meeting, still meeting behind closed doors. Editor’s note: Ed Hayes may have been the other individual. Mr. Hayes is listed on the mortgage, Book 5430, Page 841 in the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds, as the mortagee on a loan secured by the former Rand Lumber parcel, as well as the manager of Wallis Road Properties, LLC, the mortgagor and the entity that acquired the property on April 18, 2013. The connection between Wallis Road Properties, LLC and Changing Places, LLC is unclear. Mr. Hayes has also recently offered his services to the Town Hall Committee.
The public was invited back in at approximately 7:45 p.m. The Board then voted unanimously to come out of non-public session and to seal the minutes of the non-public session.
John Chagnon addressed the issue of this property. The home there and the garage are planned to be demolished and a new home and garage constructed. The home will need a new septic system as the old system was built prior to 1967. They have laid out the new septic system to stay out of the 100 foot wetlands buffer. The home is adjacent to the salt marsh. There was discussion about the plans. A site walk was scheduled for Saturday, November 23 at 9:00 a.m.
October site walks discussion
The site walks at Wentworth-by-the-Sea Country Club, Harbor Rd. and Foss Circle were discussed.
Discussion with Ray Jarvis and Lindsey Josephs regarding $3 million conservation bond
Mr. Jarvis stated that he, Mr. Raynes and a half a dozen others were active over a period of about 5 years and were instrumental in getting a $5 million bond passed. It is public knowledge that the Conservation Commission is going down this road again, Mr. Jarvis said. Editor’s note: Mr. Jarvis is Chairman of the Capital Investment Program (“CIP”) Committee. The current CIP Plan includes a $3 million project for 2015 to acquire conservation land. Public discussions have revealed that a warrant article is planned for 2014. See the notes of the all day Board of Selectmen budget session on October 30, 2013 and the all day Budget Committee session on November 14, 2013. Mr. Jarvis offered his advice and assistance.
The question then arose as to whether an open space committee should be formed, as had been the case in prior years. Mr. Raynes stated that he thought that that was necessary.
that earlier that evening they had reached a meeting of the minds with the owners of one of the four parcels that they are considering acquiring. Editor’s note: This appears to be a reference to the former Rand Lumber property. He explained that there are four parcels that they are looking at. Two have been rejuvenated. One is in a prime area and the other is across the street in a prime area. Mr. Raynes stated that he had run into Mel Low coming out of cardiac rehab, and that Mr. Low had said that he felt good about what they were doing. The last time that he had talked with Susan Rizkalla she had also expressed interest in working on an open space committee.
One of the women on the Committee said that the Town could have bought the land associated with one of the acquisitions that they are looking at if they had had the money. They could not jump as they did not have the money, so the Town lost out.
Editor’s note: The entire parcel was acquired for $1.125 million, which included the portion which is to be subdivided for a 20 unit Retirement Community Development and would not be part of the land sold to the Town. See Book 5430, page 837 of the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds (tax stamp amount of $16,875 divided by the 1.5 percent tax rate). In discussions before the Planning Board during the last few months, the applicant has indicated that, if the land is not placed in conservation, it could be developed into 14-16 single family lots. In many cases, such lots sell for $300,000 or more in Rye. Thus, after subdivision and development with streets, the land could be worth $4.8 million. This value must of course be reduced significantly to reflect the development costs and the risk that the developer would not be able to obtain approval from the Planning Board. This is a particular concern given wetlands issues and problems of access which might require extending dead end streets which are already well past the limit for their length in the Land Development Regulations. Nevertheless, it would appear that the land was purchased for a bargain price.
The bond is very important to leverage it into more money, the woman said. With four possibilities on the table, $3 million is not going to buy it all, she said. Someone on the Committee interjected that there could be additional money available from the Southeast Land Trust.
Sally King stated that it was unfair to say that the Town lost. They did not get the deal that they could have because the Town could not respond. There will still be an opportunity to acquire a significant piece of land. Mr. Raynes stated that there had been trial meetings. He and Sally had met with David Borden. Editor’s note: David Borden is one of the two State Representatives for Rye.
Sally King stated that Selectman Musselman had said a couple of times that the Conservation Commission should acquire land parcel by parcel. It cannot be done that way, she said, it would cost a lot more.
One of the members on the Committee stated that it should not be taken for granted that the Town would vote for the warrant article. While the Town is supportive, they do not want to risk the warrant article not passing. There are four entities trying to find conservation partners, which is an incredible opportunity for the Town.
Mr. Raynes referred to a 2002 build out study. It does not need to be repeated. The amount of open space that is still available is not that much any more.
Lindsey Josephs asked whether the warrant article would be competing for support with Recreation. Sally King stated that the warrant article had been timed so as not to compete with other projects in Town. Editor’s note: The CIP Plan has the Conservation project in 2015 (apparently offset a year from the planned 2014 Warrant Article), the major expenditures for the Recreation Community Center in 2016, and for the Town Hall in 2016. However, as each of these are expected to be funded through bond issues, the repayment of the bonds would be occurring at the same time, thus if all projects go forward as scheduled, they would be combining to increase the tax rate.
The discussion then turned to the Goss Farm. Sally King reported that about $29,000 had been received from various sources. In was reported that they have almost signed up two ladies who will operate the Farm next summer. Jim Raynes expressed hope that the barn would be finished soon.
There was correspondence received relating to 3 Love Ln, 1083 Ocean Blvd., 2420 Ocean Blvd., and 41 Appledore.
Cell tower check
There was a check in the amount of $5219 related to the cell tower. There was discussion about whether that money belonged to the Town or the Conservation Commission. Someone stated that they should turn the money over to the Town as they need the Selectmen’s support for the warrant article.
Mr. Raynes reported that they had been told that their budget would be down by $700 for 2014. They can live with that. The $50,000 for land acquisition has been left in and approved by the budget committee but not the Selectmen. If anything happens that would be used as part of the down payment.
A number of small bills were discussed and motions to approve their payment carried unanimously.
A letter from Alex Herlihy to Tracy Degnan, on which Mr. Raynes had been copied, relating to the need for another commission in town was discussed. Mr. Raynes referred to the meeting with the Heritage Commission on October 3, 2013 attended by Mr. Raynes, Sally and Mike. He read a letter from Mae Bradshaw relating to the meeting, the information provided for the CIP Plan, and the fact that she had had the pleasure of walking the Goss Farm.
The meeting adjourned without all of agenda having been discussed.