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Selectmen investigate road and runoff complaints and issues

April 29, 2009
TUFTONBORO — Roads, timber cut assessments and a controversy concerning the flow of water from Bill Holmes' property to his neighbor's demanded the attention of the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen at its morning meeting on April 27.

At the end of the meeting, the board members took off for site visits with Road Agent Jim Bean to discuss last winter's plowing methods on Burleigh Road leading to Jim Clark's residence and then to Leavitt Lane to gain an understanding of the water flow complaint brought by John and Melanie Ratcliff.

Bean reported that he will be reconsidering the order in which roads will be repaired after noticing that some roads are not settling down as quickly as he thought they would, and he will be discussing the matter with Pike's Paving. He remarked that though some of the dirt roads in town are still a little wet and contain frost, his crew will begin working on them soon. He expects to have his scheduled projects on town roads completed by June.

Chairman Dan Duffy read a letter from Harvey Jeness, who offered to pay the town $600 for its plastic refuse. The board agreed, under the condition that he do whatever sorting needs to be done on his own property, as he stated he was willing to do, and then pay quarterly.

Jim Clark, who had come before the board previously to ask that it amend the assessed value of his recently cut timber and take out the cost of laying gravel required to do the job, returned Monday morning, this time to thank the selectmen for the reduction in value that reduced his timber tax bill, but also to plead his case to reconsider their decision not to take the cost of gravel from his profit.

Selectman Bill Stockman responded by reading a comparison of how Clark's forester assessed the value of several types of wood with the prices he recently received for a job on his land and said, "I would have wanted two times what you got." He said he thought the forester did a poor job on the original estimate and said he felt that the job was managed poorly. In his opinion, he said to Clark, "I would take it up with the forester."

Duffy commented that he felt the decision should be left as is and Clark, though disappointed, thanked the selectmen for hearing him out.

Ratcliff vs. Holmes

The Ratcliffs complained that the recently-dug trench along Holmes' side of Leavitt Road has resulted in sandy runoff onto his property and brought pictures of the runoff as evidence.

Daniel Marisseau, who dug the trench, explained that the water was overflowing and that he was merely "restoring culvert function." He said he needed to drain the water to enable the removal of vehicles from Holmes' property.

Bean, who is working on constructing Holmes' long awaited storage building, corroborated that opinion.

John Ratcliff replied that Bean has a conflict of interest and requested that the selectmen come out to view the property, which they agreed to do. Police Chief Andrew Shagoury, who was present at the meeting, agreed to join them.

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist added that the Department of Environmental Services made a visit to the site on Friday afternoon with codes officer Jack Parsons and commented that the situation seemed to be escalating. Duffy said, "I'm sure we can resolve it. We'll try to keep it peaceful and everyone happy."

Marisseau reported that Holmes removed two more vehicles in the past weekend.

Other business

Island resident Carl Marshall came in to explain the extenuating circumstances that led to his boat being docked over several nights at the town docks last November and subsequently ticketed for $125. He said that he knows that it is not permitted, but he was "tied up worrying about his wife's impending surgery" and had asked his son to take care of the boat. The selectmen said that it would be fine if he paid just the original ticket for $25.

Stockman said that some of the water pipes in the town garden were not planted deep enough to avoid frost, so he will be repairing them.

Duffy reported that he attended the first of four scheduled sessions of the N.H. Selectperson's Institute at Antrim College of New England in which participants engaged in problem-solving exercises.

He also encouraged others to put a Lakes Region Planning Commission exchange with the NH Legislature's Groundwater Commission scheduled for May 11, at 6 p.m., on their calendars. The question being addressed is, "What role should your community have in regulating large groundwater withdrawals?"

The selectmen's next scheduled meeting is Monday, May 4, at 7 p.m.

Martin Lord and Osman
Salmon Press
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