September 13, 2012OSSIPEE — Selectmen here will be meeting with the town's code enforcement officer to try to map out a plan to keep the local fire chiefs informed about who's building what in Ossipee.
Center Ossipee Fire Chief Michael Brownell was on the agenda at Monday's selectmen's meeting, asking for the board's help. He said the method for notify the fire chiefs when a commercial business changes use from one type of business to another or when a commercial building is being renovated is not consistent and that he often finds out by accident that change is occurring in town.
He said one problem is that property owners are issued building permits and then he shows up, citing fire code and requiring additional work that the contractor or property owner may not have planned on, been aware of, or budgeted for. "It makes the fire chief look like the bad guy. The contractors are upset. The owners are upset," said Brownell.
Brownell also cited the study done by Municipal Resources, Inc. a few years ago that found the fire departments needed to have better communication between themselves and with the officials at town hall.
Brownell said communication between the three chiefs has improved greatly. "We've cleaned up our act hugely," said Brownell. "Now we need to clean up our," responded Selectman Harry Merrow.
Ossipee Code Enforcement Officer David Senecal suggested that one way this could be resolved is to have the fire chiefs sign off on every building permit that makes its way through for approval, a process that could delay the issuance of permits by several days.
Brownell also took issue with the fact he was not informed of the renovation project taking place on the Freight House, a town owned building on Moultonville Road which sits in his precinct. Though he did not make it clear whether he first met with the town's public works director who oversees the project, he said he met with the engineering firm, H.E. Bergeron and pointed out flaws in the renovation design. The building is set to be used as additional office space and meeting space for the town's land use boards as well as storage for town records. Brownell said sprinklers are required in upstairs storage space, something that was not included in the plans. Further, he said, he has concerns over whether or not snowfall will impede exit through one of the buildings egresses because of the way it is designed.
The board thanked Brownell for bringing his concerns and said they will plan to meet in a workshop to further discuss the issues and determine what action, if any, will be taken.
Sidewalks and covered bridge
Merrow can be counted on at each selectmen's meeting to ask the status of the covered bridge project in West Ossipee and the construction of sidewalks in Center Ossipee Village. Both projects have grants that are paying for them, at least in part, and because of that there are many steps of engineering and permitting that needs to be done. Public Works Director Brad Harriman gave another update to the board on Monday, stating that determining the right-of-way on Main Street is still in progress for the sidewalk installation. When Merrow suggested that another year was going to go by without the project being done due to the long list of permissions needed, Harriman said he's not completely counting it out for this year.
On the covered bridge, Harriman said there remains a lot of engineering work to be done that could take a couple of months. The project is not completely stalled, however, as work on disassembly will continue.
Selectmen will return to holding their meetings on a weekly basis beginning in October as they begin work on preparing the 2013 budget. For most of the summer they met on a bi-weekly basis.
A resident on Hodsdon Shore Road questioned the board on what the highway department is up to on that road. Harriman said the crew is currently cutting back brush and then will be marking trees that need to be removed to make plowing that road easier. Harriman explained that the road is so narrow in spots that the town's plow trucks end up hitting the trees as they make the corners. "I don't want any trees cut down there," the resident said. Harriman said once the trees are marked, he will meet with the selectmen and the property owners who own the property where the problem trees are located to get permission to remove them.
Selectman Robert Freeman took issue with the idea that any property owner on the road might have a problem with giving permission to have the trees removed. He said the town can't continue to have plowing equipment damaged as crews work to remove snow. He suggested if there isn't cooperation by the property owners then perhaps the town shouldn't bother to plow the road. "Let them get their own plows," he said.
Selectmen reported that water testing has been completed at the town-owned swimming area at Duncan Lake and Mill Pond. The tests found the water quality is good and within the parameters for safe swimming.