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Selectmen again asked to address issues with HDC

October 15, 2009
WOLFEBORO — The controversy over the conduct of Wolfeboro's Historic District Commission (HDC) continues to intensify.

It began on Sept. 2 when Ken Perry, President of the North Wolfeborough Area Association (NWAA), presented selectmen with a formal request, approved by 50 NWAA members, to review the actions of the HDC and replace its members if needed.

To date selectmen have taken no action on that request.

At the selectmen's Oct. 7, meeting Beverly Woods, a musician and music teacher who lives on Haines Hill Road at Dimon's Corner, also complained about the HDC during the public comment period. She said that the previous evening, Oct. 6, the HDC had imposed a procedure on her that had not even been adopted yet, needlessly delaying consideration of her accepted application to have a firewood shed built behind her house until November. She informed selectmen that she would be circulating a petition in the Historic District, and read it aloud:

"Whereas, the Historic District Commission under its current leadership acts in an arbitrary, capricious, unfriendly and inequitable manner towards those who must go before that body in order to gain permission for needed repairs and improvements to their properties;

"Whereas, the Commission is in the process of adopting new procedures which will needlessly consume even more time and money for applicants and taxpayers, for no good reason;

"Whereas, the Commission leadership and the majority they command refuses to listen to or discuss the issues before the Commission with members whose sentiments are in the minority;

"Whereas, applicants are prevented from speaking on behalf of their own applications that are being considered by the Commission during the time in which they should be able to present their cases;

"Whereas, the Chairman and the Vice Chair have turned a deaf ear to all those who have pointed out that the Commission is headed in the wrong direction;

"We, the undersigned, hereby petition the Selectmen of Wolfeboro to immediately request and accept the resignations of the Chairman and Vice Chair of the Historic District Commission."

Woods also asked the board to respond to the earlier NWAA letter.

Selectmen did not respond to Woods' comments.

Follwing the Oct. 7 selectmen's meeting Woods submitted a letter to this newspaper, which is published today on page A12. Jim Ladd, an HDC member, has also submitted a letter giving his own views of the commission: that letter appears on page A13.

The original NWAA request of Sept. 2 asked the board of selectmen to "formally review the operations and membership of the Wolfeboro Historic District Commission" and "if the HDC cannot establish written standards or guidelines and develop a respectful and constructive attitude towards those appearing before it, as well as among its members, then it may be necessary for the board of selectmen to dissolve the current HDC and reconstitute the commission with new members and clear directions in order to effect the required changes and ensure that the HDC functions as originally intended."

HDC Chair Bruce Fichter and Vice Chair Suzanne Ryan have both been openly critical of the record keeping and lack of follow up on approved applications by previous HDC members, including, most notably, Perry. They have responded to previous criticism by pointing out that they are trying to establish clear procedures and documentation and to make sure that any conditions imposed by HDC approvals are followed.

The next meeting of the HDC is scheduled for next Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Community Center, 22 Lehner St.

Matin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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