Roll Call: Board members: Chair Jeff Miller, Vice-Chair Dennis Marcom, Clerk Jason Perron, Jeff Harrington, Joanna Andros, Bill Carmody, Select Board Representative Peggy Pschirrer. Alternates: Trevor MacLachlan and Travis Adams.
Recording: Marilou Blaine, Recording Secretary. These minutes were recorded. They are unapproved and will be reviewed at the next regular meeting for additions, corrections and/or omissions.
Call to Order: Mr. Miller called the meeting to order at 7 pm.
Minutes: Review minutes of March 2022 minutes and workshop minutes of 2022 February and March workshop meetings. Mr. Marcom made a motion to accept all the minutes as presented. Mr. Perron seconded the motion and the motion carried.
Continued from last month’s public hearing discussion of Liberty Utilities for additional tree removal work on Farnum Road. Liberty Utilities is installing taller poles on Farnum Road and will be removing additional trees – trees that were not mentioned at the December hearing. Farnum Road is a designated scenic road. RSA 232:158. At the March hearing the board approved the project on the condition that the older poles, being abandoned, would be removed. However, it was later discovered that Consolidated Communications and TCI are legally responsible for removing the old poles.
Ms. Green, Manager, Vegetation Management, attended the meeting along with Marc Coleman, Senior Electrical Distribution Engineer. Ms. Green said Liberty Utilities was at the last meeting to request permission to work on a scenic road. The company is adding taller poles and the company needs to change that corridor a bit. The request was approved with the caveat that Liberty Utilities remove the double poles. Liberty Utilities does not have the responsibility for those poles, Ms. Green said. Consolidated Communications and CCI share responsibility for those poles.
Mr. Marc Coleman discussed the double poles. The caveat said six months and Liberty Utilities can’t guarantee that time frame but Liberty Utilities will do their work and then transfer the removal of the poles to Consolidated Communications and CCI. He passed around a photo showing the new poles on the left in the picture with no wiring work done. The old poles on the right are more of the issue, he said. Half of the poles for the new work have already been designed. Coleman said Liberty Utilities reached out to the owners of the abandoned poles. They were very responsive and Liberty Utilities is putting together a work package and shortly they should be back on track.
Ms. Green said that she emailed the Select Board information regarding contracting and scheduling and the work has been confirmed by the owners of the poles. We are sharing this information with the Select Board, she said. Ms. Pschirrer said she would need the name and email address of this contact and if she doesn’t hear from him within the next few days, she will contact him.
In Walpole the phone companies owns the poles. CCI is a phone company. Liberty Utilities will do its work and then the phone companies come in and put in the telephone lines. Mr. Perron made a motion to approve the project as presented without any conditions. Mr. Harrington seconded the motion and the motion carried.
Public Hearing, requested by the Planning Board, to gather information on traffic and parking in the Maplewood Circle and Firehouse Road neighborhood.
Amanda Raney asked when the dumpster on the daycare property would be screened. The Select Board said it would be in the spring, Raney said. It is now the middle of April. She wanted a date on when those dumpsters would be screened. A bit later the board said it would not be addressing the dumpster because that topic is under the purview of the Select Board.
Regarding traffic, Ms. Raney said, it’s going pretty fast up and down that road especially during drop-off and pick up times. She didn’t understand why parking on the field hasn’t happened as promised. The cars of the staff are still parked on the side of the road with tires on the grass and road. All the cars should be off the road and it would be a better traffic flow through the neighborhood. Also the cars do need to start slowing down because when they’re on Firehouse Road they do speed. She didn’t know if it’s the speed limit but there is sign there saying 25 mph. It’s a major concern. So traffic and parking are still issues. Mr. Perron asked if traffic still a problem. Ms. Raney said “yes” it has increased, nothing has changed.
Tammy Simpkins. who lives at 25 Firehouse Road, said this has been a problem for decades. Her oldest child is 23 and her youngest is 20, so this has been a battle for decades. The neighbors have gone through suggestions with the Select Board. “Can you place speed limit signs? Can you put bumps in the road.” There’s really never been any attempt at fixing it, she said. With her children no longer in the neighborhood she said she’s started to relax a bit. But with the increase in traffic with the daycare, it’s definitely a problem. She said drivers are coming down Maplewood Circle and turning onto Firehouse Road. “It’s like a landing strip,” she said. She has license plate numbers, car models of vehicles with drivers on their cell phone. She remembered one woman who had a newspaper flipped over her steering wheel with children in the back seat. There is gross negligence on that road. It’s definitely a problem and something should be done about it. She’s also concerned about the congestion on that road. It’s so unsafe. She thinks parents do a fine job of trying to keep their children attached to them and neighbors do slow down if someone is in the road, but something’s going to happen and she urged the board to do something. “We’ve been told it’s not feasible, not in the budget and not necessary,” she said. Firehouse road is not posted. Recently the police put up a flashing sign recording speed limits. She feels uncomfortable going 25 mph on that road (Firehouse Road). It’s still too fast with the daycare there. She suggested putting up speed limit signs north and south. She’s ignored, she said.
Ms. Pschirrer said she would take the information back to the Select Board on Thursday night.
Ms. Andros asked if there were any signs about children. Ms. Simpkins said there was a sign saying “children at play.”
Helen Gideos was next to speak and she lives on the corner of Firehouse Road. She said she has seen an increase of children at daycare. She doesn’t resent her business but there’s more active parking and it is quite annoying to get past parents picking up their children. There is a big increase in traffic flow. She didn’t know if all of it was parents from daycare but it’s very disconcerting to me to not know who lives in the neighborhood. She has lived there about 40 years. It was a quiet neighborhood, now it’s quite loud with all the children, which is normal, but it’s still quite annoying. The traffic is annoying. She doesn’t feel she can sit outside or relax. And the dumpster – the smell is awful. She doesn’t want to cause trouble. She has good neighbors but there are problems with the daycare. She’d like to see some of these problems taken care of.
Nathan Bisson and his wife share a property line with the daycare center. He doesn’t live on Maplewood Circle. He is now a parent and has a child who attends the daycare center. He respects people’s concerns and he’d like to see everyone working together to solve the problems.
As a parent and as a business practice when he joined it was very clear what the rules were, Bisson said. Parents were told how to enter and exit when dropping off or picking up children. He appreciated that. The practice is clear but continued repeating of that, perhaps yearly, would be beneficial. We can all do better, he said.
Mr. Marcom asked if he gets reminders every year. Mr. Bisson said when they first joined there was a lot of paper work and information in relation to the rules. Parents do get notices on Facebook.
Jenny Plante spoke next. She said she completely agreed with Amanda and the others regarding traffic in the last two years. What she doesn’t agree with is that it’s her business that the cause. She wanted to confirm that all Planning Board members received a copy of a list of facts in December about parking and traffic. When she first opened in 2008 it was an older population who lived in these homes, Plante said. People rarely went out. The children at the daycare center would walk through the neighborhood daily. They road tricycles and bikes and there was never a problem. They would walk twice a day. A few years ago teenagers got their licenses, their friends were coming over, there was speeding in the neighborhood. We have a protocol about walking with children off of the property. But more recently younger families moved in, people in their 20s and 30s. They drive a little bit faster and all during the day. Those walks have been stopped and she thinks it’s partly because of the definition of off-street parking and on-street parking. It’s very unclear to the community what this means. Mr. Dalessio had Police Chief Sanctuary look at the area and he said there are no violations. Two cars can pass each other and there is adequate room for emergency vehicles.
However, Ms. Plante said she wasn’t complaining about younger families moving to Walpole. Regarding on-street parking, everyone is doing it. That and driving a lot faster. There are multi-family homes. One person is the owner but they have two or three brothers and sisters living with them. So sometimes there are three to six cars at some of these homes parking on our streets. The daycare center still does Halloween and May Day outings but a lot of parents help out.
Maybe you don’t know of Sandy Hook, Plante said. All her emergency planning is based on that incident. Two years ago Plante and her staff knew every one in the neighborhood – caregivers, husbands, wives. She doesn’t know everyone now and it’s become a challenge. Who’s in this car? Firehouse Road is 25 mph and that’s very fast. In an emergency families use Firehouse Road unless the road is closed. If there is an emergency and police were needed to come in, they are going to close off the entry from Main Street and reroute cars. Parents come pick up their child, park in the field and leave the same way they came in.
The 2008 minutes state that the daycare center promised to resolve any issues with neighbors. Everyone who has ever had an issue with the daycare center, she has resolved their concerns. Ms. Plante said that Ms. Raney asked that daycare staff not park across from her house because she couldn’t get out of her driveway. She did this after we denied her children childcare because she did not give us enough notice, Ms. Plante said. (In the December 23, 2021 minutes of Ms. Raney and a Select Board meeting Ms. Raney said “Ms. Plante thinks there is a personal issue between the two of them because she had previously asked about day care. There were no hard feeling because Mrs. Raney knows there is a waiting list for day care.”) Ms. Plante said that Ms. Raney has harassed us for the last six months. Ms. Plante said she has a license for 27 children. She has had the license for 27 children since 2008. How do you increase traffic when you still have the same amount of children? Ms. Plante asked.
The daycare center has pickup in the driveway and it is busy when parents pull in, Ms. Plante said. It is busy 7 am to 7:45 am and everyone has to be there by 8:30 am. In the afternoon it’s 3:30 pm and 4 ,pm and the hour between 4:15 pm to 5:15 pm. Parking in the field depends on the season. In the spring it’s too muddy. In the winter it can be icy. We use that field. “We nap in that field, we eat in that field, we have picnics, we play baseball and dodge ball. It’s a big part of our program,” Ms Plante said. Right now we park three cars behind the dumpster and there are times when the staff has to shuffle six or seven cars around, but it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes. She has contacted Fuzzy Brothers about putting recycled asphalt in that area. She is trying to solve these problems. She thinks she can move the dumpsters behind that shed but Casella needs a driveway so a truck can get to them. She has to work with Casella and Fuzzy Brothers. She purchased additional property in October 2020. Ms. Plante repeated that parking is a problem in mud season people get stuck, in winter and it’s icy and they have had people fall. “We shuffle everyday.” She is working hard to fix any problems.
Ms. Plante said no one told her 14 years ago she had to have the dumpster screened. She has had 25 people send emails with pictures of dumpsters that are not screened from the village to Shaw’s. Bowman Dental, Walgreen’s, Burdick’s have screened them.
Recently the police put a flashing sign and parked it on her property. It was to gauge how much traffic there was and how fast people were traveling. She offered to give tours of the daycare center to anyone who wanted one.
Mr. Perron said the board is holding this public hearing today to talk about an increase in traffic and the board is not having a hearing on the daycare center or dumpsters. Our obligation is to talk about traffic and traffic patterns.
Ms. Andros said you should be able to get some kind of data about traffic from results of having that piece of equipment the police put out.
Mr. Marcom said in 2008 you had 15 children and now you have 24. Ms. Plante said she was licensed for 27 children and she had 15 children ready to start in 2008. There were 3 staff members. However, in the summer of 2008, 24 children were enrolled that year. The center can have 25 children in the garage and the house can take 27, Ms. Plante said. The ratio is 1 to 4 children for infants and the ratio is 1 staff member for 1 to 8 preschoolers. Since the daycare serves meals, one person is cooking.
Laura Palmer works at EE Houghton’s across the street and her husband’s business is on the corner of Maplewood Circle and Main Street. She said there is a lot of traffic, non stop. And people are driving too fast.
Another parent spoke up and said when her first child went to daycare there, it was a neighborhood. It felt safe. Now it’s not safe enough to walk there. Jenny does communicate. If I’ve made a mistake, she there to tell me it’s not safe. But the reality is that years ago I could walk my kids on the street. Today, they would be clobbered. Her third child is there now. She not sure what speed is safe, maybe 15 or 10 mph.
Dale Sheppard was at the hearing to meet his neighbors, a lot of whom he hasn’t seen because of Covid.
Darren Simpkins said traffic flow has increased at his end of Maplewood Circle and there are numerous cars everyday. He suggested making the road one way traffic, with one way in and one way out. It might solve a lot of issues.
Ms. Simpkins said she hopes there is a solution for the congestion and the parking as it’s a huge safety issue.
Mr. Miller closed the public hearing at 7:50 pm.
T-Mobile request for a public hearing, 88 Scovill Road.
T-Mobile Northeast LLC is proposing to install antennas, radio equipment, and hybrid cables on the existing guyed tower owned by New Hampshire Public Broadcasting, Inc., located at 88 Scovill Road.
Additionally, T-Mobile would install radio equipment cabinets and a back-up generator on a concrete pad at grade within the existing fenced compound. Eric Dahl is the contact.
Mr. Miller received a letter about the work on the public radio tower. He contacted Steve Buckley at New Hampshire Municipal Association. Mr. Buckley said the Planning Board cannot deny T-Mobile that request. So why hold a public hearing for a site plan review? Mr. Miller asked. However, Miller said, they do need a building permit and through that permit the board will get a lot of information.
Ms. Myra Mansouri asked about the pad T-Mobile was installing. Mr MacLachlan said that is not for a new tower, it is for a generator. A board member asked if they would be spending more than $10,000, which is a monetary threshold for requiring a site plan review. Mr. Miller said it doesn’t make any difference in this case.
Request for a recommendation for a Special Exception in the rural/ag district. Article Vlll, C, Tax Map 11, Lot 53, 455 March Hill Road.
Tim Latham was at the meeting to ask for public hearing next month. He plans to put his electrical business in the structure at that address. He has two employees. The building has been previously used as a slaughter house and place where pizza dough was made. Mr. Miller said that there was plenty of parking there. Mr. Perron made a motion to have a public hearing next month for a recommendation for Tim Latham’s business. Mr. Harrington seconded the motion and the motion carried.
Discussion of traffic on Maplewood Circle and Firehouse Lane:
Mr. Miller said a lot of these issues are not relevant to the day care center and the owner seems to be working on some of the issues that are a problem. He suggest asking Ms. Plante to come in for a formal update.
Mr. Perron said his question is whether we are going to ask for a site plan or not. And I have to think it more and review it what was said in the original application. Is there any intensification of traffic? And then he want to look at what our site plan review regulations say. If you go to question 5, she never received a site plan review from the planning board. That means if there are changes, she needs a site plan.
Mr. Miller said the kicker of the site plan review is the initial property. It’s the $10,000 that basically doesn’t apply because she hasn’t expanded the footprint of the building.
The question for me is the public information that we received today, Mr. Carmody said. Is there anything said today that she should get a site plan? That’s the question is should a site plan be required after hearing the input of the neighbors. In his opinion there’s a problem but it’s not necessarily the neighbor with the daycare center. There’s speed and she mentions about parking in the street but she mentioned about the other woman before to slow the speed and that might solve the problem. He doesn’t like the way people park on his own street. At some point, it is what it is.
Mr. Perron asked but what about intensification of traffic?
Ms. Pschirrer said it was the Select Board who initially asked that she get a site plan review from the Planning Board. She said before tonight’s meeting she read all of the minutes regarding this matter and after listening to what was said tonight, she had not changed her mind. If the Select Board were asked should the daycare center have a site plan review, she would vote that way again. Ms. Plante has more property than she started out with. She has made some changes. What was once a garage is a now a play area, and in the minutes 8th of October in 2008 there was discussion of how many cars would fit in the driveway. But that’s not true anymore and now they are supposed to be parking off the street. As a footnote, Ms. Pschirrer said she is going to redo the parking ordinance. “I’ve been given that job and it complicated and filled with RSAs.”
“I would not change my mind. I would still vote for site plan review,” Ms. Pschirrer said. That does not affect her license. As I listened to her she seemed fearful that we will jeopardize her license. That’s not the intent at all. She is delivering an absolutely wonderful service that is needed in this town. But that doesn’t excuse her from these other things.
Ms. Andros said the was a lot of talk regarding speed and amount of traffic. Is there another thing that can be done about that without a site plan review? “I heard people say they are worried about safety,” Ms. Andros said.
Ms. Pschirrer said she thought all of those things can be addressed but the problems is always enforcement. We have three police officers in Walpole and a chief and that’s not enough people for all the things that must be done.
Mr. MacLachlan said regarding what Jason said about regulation no. 5 in the site plan review regulations. He thinks both these people are talking to counsel. We have to stick to the concrete facts. He said he doesn’t want to the board get in trouble because it’s an opinion. The board can point to to one of those regulations and say yes this is why we are doing it. He thinks that’s where she’s going. You mean she as Jenny Plante? Mr. Marcom asked. Mr. MacLachlan said yes.
It think it’s possible the other one is too, Ms. Pschirrer said. She’s claiming other things.
“The response from Jeremy (Hockensmithe, town counsel) was plain and simple,” Mr. Miller said. The responsibility is solely up to the Planning Board. And whether we say yes or no, it’s our decision. “He doesn’t know how anyone can object if the board said it’s required. My concern is she needs time,” Mr. Miller said. “She is working on making things right. A site plan is the best things for her business and the community. It’s not going to be a cumbersome process. It’s going to be best for her and best for everybody. She’s trying to come up with a plan. It’s all positive. She has plans to move forward.”
“I think it’s for her own protection,” Ms. Pschirrer said.
Ms. Mansouri said when Sheldon Sawyer was a Select Board member, there was a concern about High Street. At that time it was not one way. He called in Ms. Mansouri and asked her if she would making the street one way. It would mean she would have to drive through School Street and then Union to get to Main Street. Ms. Mansouri said she didn’t mind. Today it is much safer and it is not that inconvenient. It’s made a big difference for the people who live Applewood. Many of them do not have cars. The residents can walk to town and feel safe.
Mr. Marcom made a motion that Ms. Plante should come in for a site plan review . Mr. Miller seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Perron made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Harrington seconded the motion and the motion carried.
Workshop: The secretary will let the Board know if there is going to be a workshop on Tuesday, April 26, 7 pm to review the completed Economic Development Chapter and draft of Historical and Recreational Resources Chapter. Mr. Miller will check with Lisa Murphy at Southwest Community Services.
Next Meeting is May 10, 2022.
cc: WPB, ZBA, Town Offices, The Walpolean.
Posted: Inside Town Offices, on bulletin board outside Post Office, http://www.walpolenh.us