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Wakefield resident challenges town tax map of his property

Request to remove collapsed building renews open land controversy

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
May 31, 2012
WAKEFIELD — Resident John Fournier came before the Wakefield Board of Selectmen at their May 23 meeting to ask the town to accept his survey of his property rather than the one shown on the town's tax map.

Fournier, who lives at 16 Middleton Hill Road (Route 153) in Union on a lot that straddles the Wakefield-Middleton town line, has contended in the past that his house on his lot is in Middleton and should be assessed by Middleton. At an April 1, 2010 meeting of the Wakefield Board of Assessors Fournier claimed that Middleton is assessing him for 320 of frontage, which would put his house in Middleton. At that meeting Cynthia Bickford, Wakefield's Assessing Technician, told Fournier that Middleton had no intention of assessing his house, just the property he owns in Middleton. Fournier showed a new survey he had done by LandTech that he contended shows his house is in Middleton. Cartographic Associates, which maintains Wakefield's tax maps, had responded by maintaining that a straight town line from Milton to Wolfeboro places Fournier's house in Wakefield, as shown on the Cartographics tax map. At that meeting it was stated that the town line had been perambulated recently as required by law and that the cost to have the line formally resurveyed would be $18,000.

At the May 23 Wakefield selectmen's meeting Fournier reviewed the history of his lot, which is now listed as Map 241, Lot 71, and noted changes and discrepancies in the tax maps between 1975 and 2006.

Selectman Peter Kasprzyk said that tax maps are not valid for legal purposes and read the disclaimer to that effect that is printed on all Wakefield tax maps. Kasprzyk also stated that there had been a court decision on the Fournier lot and that the Board of Selectmen had no authority to change a court decision.

Fournier said the court case had to do with doing business in his home, not about where the town line falls.

Selectman Charlie Edwards asked Kasprzyk "why not accept his survey and the opinion of LandTech?"

Kasprzyk responded that LandTech did not endorse a change in the town line but just said "there was room for interpretation."

Edwards then asked, "Shouldn't we get our own survey?" When the $18,000 estimate from 2010 was mentioned, he asked, "Why not accept his survey rather than spend $18,000?"

Selectman Chair Ken Paul said there was no budget for surveying. "We can look at it again in the fall during the budget season."

Fournier responded, "I intend to be in Middleton by then."

Union Meadows lot issue

Conservation Commission Chair Dave Mankus told selectmen he had had a conversation with Road Agent Fred Clough about removing a collapsed camp building on the Union Meadows property the town is in the process of acquiring. He said owner Virginia Harding was willing to allow the removal and that Clough had estimated that it would take a hald day and two truckloads to remove the building debris. Mankus requested that the work be done in June.

Chairman Paul said that the site is still private property and that the town could not make improvements to private property.

Kasprzyk pointed out that the town has a signed purchase and sales agreement to acquire the property. He also pointed out that the demolished cabin was intact a year ago and that the place where it is located is "a party spot." "It's best to remove it," he said.

Edwards asked if there was any way to get out of the purchase agreement.

Mankus responded that if the grants approved by N.H. Fish & Game and the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) don't come through the town can get out of the agreement. He said the town has enough money to pay its part of the purchase cost from existing conservation funds but there was not enough town money to pay the whole cost without the grants.

From the audience resident Steve Brown said he recalls there is a liquidated damages clause in the agreement for the amount of the deposit if the deal doesn't go through.

Mankus said he was annoyed that "I come to ask for some little thing and there is a referendum on the property." He added "We've cleaned up a lot in town. This is just another dump."

Mankus also told the board he had found about a potential grant from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership that could cover up the $4,000 of transaction costs on a matching basis and that the Union Meadows project meets the requirements listed. "I would have to apply by June 1," he said.

Town Administrator Teresa Williams said that a public hearing does not have to held to accept grants under $5,000.

Selectmen gave verbal approval for Mankus to proceed.

In response to a question from Kasprzyk, Mankus said the ground work has been done on the Union Meadows property survey and the plans should be delivered the week of May 28.

Other business

Selectmen approved $20,500 in requests from six lake associations for milfoil prevention and treatment, with funds coming from the Invasive Species Control Fund. Please see separate article on that discussion.

The board accepted a bid of $1,500 from Crawford Logging to clear the lot to be used for the new food pantry building. There was some confusion in the bidding as the sole competitor, Jungle Jim's, quoted a cost of $4,750, vs. $1,500 in income from Crawford.

A letter from Brookfield resident Ron Fountain about Wakefield's emergency siren prompted Kasprzyk to review the current state of the discontinued siren and discuss it with the Heritage Commission.

During public comment Relf Fogg complained that Concerned Residents of Wakefield (CROW) is not getting airtime on the public access channel. The board agreed to ask Station Manager Jerry O'Connor to its next meeting to discuss the issue.

Kasprzyk reported that Union Station will open for the season on June 30 and that the Heritage Commission had submitted a grant application for $6.500 for canal planning. Bids for installing a heating and air conditioning system in the Greater Wakefield Resource Center were due on May 24.

After looking at the problems with the concrete block wall and waste oil system at the transfer station, Kasprzyk advocated looking at the transfer station site as a whole, including traffic patterns. He said he felt there should be enough money in the capital reserve fund to do the study, which should consider relocating the paper/cardboard dumpster and possibly add a cardboard compactor.

Edwards proposed and the board approved sending a selectmen's letter to Rhoddy Haskell, Deputy Chief of the Wakefield Fire Department, thanking him for his dedication.

Williams announced that the retirement party for Earlen DiPrizio will be on Thursday, May 31.

The board signed recommittal tax warrants for new Tax Collector Angie Casperonis, as required for all new tax collectors.

The next meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, June 13 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.

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