The Town Hall will be closed starting on the 26th, not the 24th.
At its meeting the evening of November 18, the Fall Mountain Regional School District School Board discussed the rise of COVID-19 in NH, and discussed the best alternative for all concerned. It was decided the district “will be moving to a remote model of instruction beginning Monday, November 30 and returning to schools Tuesday, January 19 .” More information may be found at the district website – https://www.sau60.org/
Wear Your Mask – Socially Distance – Wash Your Hands
Stay Safe – and enjoy your holidays
RAY BOAS, Publisher
You may have heard that today, November 19, New Hampshire Governor Sununu enacted a mask mandate for the State of New Hampshire effective Friday, November 20. At this evening’s Walpole Select Board meeting, the following was decided: “The Town Hall will close November 24 until further notice. The Selectboard will return to Zoom meetings, starting December 3. No committee or public groups will meet in Town Hall. Appointments will still be accepted for individuals needing to make payments, register vehicles, get building permits etc.”
Any updates will be posted here. Encourage your friends to sign-up for CLARION posts, or to “like” the Walpole Clarion Facebook page to receive notices.
Wear your mask, and please stay safe. Your life (and mine) will depend upon that, thank you – RAY BOAS, Publisher
It is with sadness that the library announces the retirement of Fran Moses after 27 years of friendly and dedicated service. An avid reader and crafter, Fran loves helping patrons find new books and particularly enjoys talking with the children who visit the library with their families. Many of these young patrons are now parents who come in with their own children. She is always willing to help with projects and anything else that is needed. The staff will greatly miss her warmth, smile and terrific sense of humor. We expect to see Fran regularly as she and Bill will need to keep stocked up with reading material. The library staff and trustees wish her the very best of luck and much happiness in her well-deserved retirement. Fran’s last day will be November 27 so be sure to stop by and wish her well.
Wanted to share the email I received from Tom Goins as a reminder to all that we have some tough times ahead. It’s important that we do our best to support our local businesses because they are our friends and neighbors. “Spread Kindness”. – Lil P.S. In this case you can also stay out of the kitchen.
Just wanted to let you know that today The Restaurant at Burdick’s upgraded our To-Go Menu. We have added many new selections that typically can only be enjoyed when dining with us indoors. Since we are no longer offering outdoor dining under our tent (but still have outdoor dining under the porch), we decided to enhance our To-Go Menu. I think many of our loyal To-Go Menu customers will be pleased with these new selections.
If the COVID numbers weren’t bad enough, here is more good news from Sandy Smith! 🙂 – Lil
Walpole – $26.95 per thousand
North Walpole – $29.22 per thousand
Tax bills have mailed today, 11/16/2020 and will be due on 12/17/2020. Early payments are encouraged and appreciated.
Present: Chair Jeff Miller, Vice-Chair Dennis Marcom, Clerk Jason Perron, Jeff Harrington, Jeff Colley, Select Board Representative Steve Dalessio. Absent: Joanna Andros.
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the December 2020 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Roll Call: Mr. Miller opened the meeting at 7 pm. There was a quorum for the meeting.
Minutes: Mr. Marcom made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Harrington seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Lot Line Adjustment: Jeddediah and Lila Pellerin, 116 Brewery Road, Tax Map 14, Lots 11 and 11-1, Residential B. Transfer .2 acres from Lot 11 to Lot 11-1. Lot 11 is owned by James F. Mort and Marilyn D. Dooley, 100 Brewery Road.
Surveyor Joe DiBernardo represented the Pellerins. He explained the lot line adjustment was a simple transfer of property so the septic system and well that was on the Mort property would now be on the Pellerin property and there wouldn’t be any problem if the Pellerins wanted to sell. He said it is pretty straightforward.
Mr. Miller asked if there were any questions. There being none, he closed the Public Hearing. Mr. Perron made a motion to approve the Lot Line Adjustment as presented. Mr. Marcom seconded the motion and the motion carried.
Request for a Public Hearing for December: Mr. DiBernardo represented Jay Landry of Tilton, NH, who wants to subdivide two lots into four lots on land that is between Old Keene Road and Wentworth Road – Tax Map 17, Lots 5 and 5-1 in Residential A. Mr. DiBernardo said that all the lots conformed to the lot standards for that zoning district – at least 40,000 square feet with 200 feet of road frontage. The new lots would be:
Lot 5.1 – 2.19 acres with 200 feet road frontage on Wentworth Road;
Lot 5-2 – 1.67 acres with 200 feet road frontage on Wentworth Road;
Lot 5-3 – 1.15 acres with 200 feet road frontage on Wentworth Road;
and 5-4 – 6.22 acres with 203.61 feet road frontage on Old Keene Road and 48.5 feet road frontage on Wentworth Road.
Mr. DiBernardo passed out four plats and the Board looked at them while Mr. DiBernardo discussed the lot size and road frontage. Mr. Landry purchased the property is September.
Mr. Marcom made a motion to hold a Public Hearing in December for the subdivision. Mr. Harrington seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
ZBA Request for a Public Hearing – short-term rentals:
The Zoning Board of Adjustment wants to include short-term rentals in the current Bed and Breakfast ordinance. Ms. Jan-Galloway Leclerc, chair of the ZBA, was there to explain the rationale for that request. The board members received copies of the proposed new ordinance and current ordinance for bed and breakfasts.
Ms. Leclerc said that the ZBA had a question about an Airbnb and whether that required special attention. Ms. Leclerc checked with Walpole’s town counsel, Jeremy Hockensmith, and asked if the bed and breakfast ordinance covered short-term rentals and he said no. He advised that Walpole should put something on the books as soon as possible that would address short-term rentals. Apparently, short-term rentals in New Hampshire towns are getting to be quite popular. So the ZBA Board decided to modify the bed and breakfast ordinance so a short-term rental would require site plan approval too.
Mr. Dalessio asked if there was at one time a question about the number of rooms. Ms. Leclerc said that the state says a bed and breakfast has four or more rooms. Our ordinance says up to four rooms.
What is the difference between a short-term rental, more commonly known as Airbnb, and a bed and breakfast? Walpole’s bed and breakfast ordinance requires serving breakfast and the establishment is owner-occupied. With short-term rentals the owner could be from out of state and breakfast is not served. What if the owner were on the premises, does that make it a bed and breakfast. Ms. Leclerc said yes if they are serving breakfast.
The next question was “what if they are just renting rooms?” Apparently this is a gray area, Ms. Leclerc said. The NH Municipal Association said our bed and breakfast ordinance might cover short-term rentals, but Mr. Hockensmith said no. So as it stands right now there is no oversight on short-term rentals. Some are whole houses and others are just a room, but there is very little regulation.
What’s the difference between someone renting part of a house or the whole house? Mr. Miller asked. Ms. Leclerc said it’s a question of time.
What difference does it make if it’s one week, one month or a three years? Mr. Miller asked. Someone has the right to rent their whole house. Ms. Leclerc said the behavior is different for someone renting a house for a week or weekend, when someone may be attending a wedding, than a person renting that house for three years? Mr. Miller said it’s just an agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
Mr. Perron said some towns are having issues with short-term rentals so they’ve come up as an ordinance. Mr. Dalessio said Airbnb is a company, therefore it’s commercial.
Ms. Leclerc said that the ZBA is not trying to limit short-term rentals or prevent them. The ZBA just thinks they need site plan approval so people aren’t parking on their neighbor’s lawn or doing anything that might cause a complaint.
“If it were I,” Ms. Leclerc said, “I’d like to know if we could have totally different strangers every week as neighbors.” If you’re asking the owner of a bed and breakfast, who lives there, to have site plan approval then at least it seems reasonable to ask the owner of a home being used for short-term rentals to have site plan approval.
Mr. Perron said that’s the difference. The owner of a bed and breakfast has an investment in the community. An owner with a short-term rental could have bachelor parties there every week and not even be aware of what’s going on.
Ms. Leclerc said that the Board looked at several different short-term rental ordinances from other towns. She continued that it’s important to get something on the books before this gets out of hand. Mr. Miller said, “I still go back the resident. You have a right to rent to anyone the owner wants to.”
Mr. Dalessio said he was not opposed to an ordinance, but short-term rentals needs a definition. Ms. Leclerc said there was one and the secretary would send it to the Board.
Mr. Miller said he would contact Southwest Region Planning Commission. He also thought that short-term rentals probably need a Special Exception not a site plan review.
Ms. Leclerc said from the beginning, when ordinances were adopted, site plans were needed to have a bed and breakfast. Short-term rentals fall under that category of having guests for a remuneration.
Mr. Miller said the rationale at the time the bed and breakfast ordinance was adopted was that the town had a lot of big white buildings owned by older residents and it gave them an economic incentive to open up their homes to accommodate guests.
Short-term rentals are an economic enterprise. They are subject to a room and meals tax. Mr. Miller said if a room and meals tax is applied then he could see that an ordinance is needed. Mr. Dalessio said Airbnb is a trade name and a commercial enterprise and they would pay the rooms and meals tax. But what about someone local? How does the state even know there was a home being used for short-term rentals?
Ms. Leclerc mentioned that Cheryl Mayberry told her about her hometown that is being ruined by having so many short-term rental establishments. She said it had completely changed the town and now the cost of housing is so expensive that the local property owners can’t afford to live there.
A Board member asked, “How many days defines a short-term rental? Is it 30 days, 14 days, three months?”
Mr. Miller said that the Board has some questions. Perhaps, in the meantime, in order to accommodate the zoning schedule, the WPB can start the process. There are two more months that the ZBA can hold a Public Hearing to place an article on the warrant. If short-term rentals were an ordinance that required a public hearing it would give neighbors a chance to comment and put the abutters in the know about what is happening next door. The public would also have some standing if a problem at a short-term rental occurred.
Mr. Perron made a motion to have a public hearing next month regarding short-term rentals. Mr. Harrington seconded the motion and the motion carried.
It was left that the secretary would forward Mr. Hockensmith’s letter to the WPB and that the secretary would send the WPB copies of other ordinances from New Hampshire towns and a definition of short-term rental. Mr. Miller will contact Lisa Murphy at SWRPC about the matter.
Master Plan discussion: The Board decided that they preferred to have a discussion of the final drafts of the three updated sections of the Master Plan when someone from Southwest Regional Planning Commission could attend a meeting.
Sidewalk grant: Mr. Miller talked with J. B. Mack, who is in charge of transportation at SWRPC. Mr. Mack said at this time federal funds are not available and are “on hold.” Things might change in the spring and Mr. Mack would be in touch.
Adjournment: Mr. Perron made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Marcom seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
It’s not good but we need to know. – Lil
COVID by the Numbers—November 14 edition
Buckle up folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
In the first week of November, there were 35 new cases of COVID-19 in Cheshire County. In the second week of November, the number of new cases more than doubled, to 78 new cases. I would give you the numbers and locations of the current cases, but the DHHS web site that gives these numbers is down for maintenance until at least Monday. The 7 day moving average of cases per 100,000 in Cheshire County as of November 12 was 10.5, up from 3.0 less than two weeks ago on November 1. Cheshire County has lost its place as having the lowest 7 day average in the state; it is now third lowest, behind Carroll and Grafton.
Statewide last week the total number of new confirmed cases was 2088, for an average of 298 new cases a day. Friday the 13th lived up to its reputation by delivering 462 new confirmed cases. Hospitalizations, which were at 38 at the beginning of the month, are now at 68. 10 more of our citizens died this week. Three of those departed were from our neighboring Sullivan County. The statewide 7 day moving average of cases per 100,000 is at 23.9 as of November 14. That is up from 4.5 on November 1. New Hampshire has gone from having the 3rd or even 2nd lowest rate per 100,000 in the United States to being 41st out of 51, higher than not only Vermont(8.0) and Maine(12.6), but also higher than New York, Washington, Oregon, California, The District of Columbia, Georgia, Virginia and Hawaii.
Nationally, the 7 day moving average of cases per 100,000 has risen from 24 to 44 since November 1.
Wear your mask. And if you breathe with that nose, wear your mask over your nose.
Keep your distance—a full six feet.
Wash your hands.
Be incredibly careful if you meet with friends and loved ones who are not members of your household.
And keep well.
Selectboard Present:Peggy Pschirrer (Chair); Cheryl Mayberry; Steven Dalessio
CALL TO ORDER: Mrs. Pschirrer, Chair of the Walpole Selectboard, called this meeting to order at 6:30 PM in the Walpole Town Hall. She introduced Ms. Cheryl Mayberry and Mr. Steven Dalessio, the other two Selectboard members. Mrs. Sarah Downing, Manager of Administration, and Mrs. Regina Borden, Recording Secretary, are also in attendance. This meeting was being recorded. There were no members of the public in attendance.
Mr. Dalessio moved to accept the Accounts Payable Check Register in the total amount of $24,589.47 for checks issued November 6, 2020. This includes a payment to E.E. Houghton in the amount of $6,787.04 for water/sewer operations and Town building maintenance. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
Mr. Dalessio moved to accept the Payroll Check Register for the week ending October 31, 2020, in the amount of $31,151.53 for checks dated November 6, 2020, and for the 941 Payroll Tax Transfer in the amount of $6,509.62. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
SELECTBOARD MEETING MINUTES:
SELECTBOARD MINUTES – October 29, 2020: Mr. Dalessio moved to accept the Minutes of the Selectboard meeting of October 29, 2020, as submitted. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the Minutes were approved.
NON-PUBLIC SELECTBOARD SESSION – October 29, 2020: Mr. Dalessio moved to accept the Minutes of the Non-Public Selectboard Session of October 29, 2020, as submitted. These Minutes will remain sealed. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the Minutes were approved.
TIMBER TAX WARRANT:
CERTIFICATION of YIELD TAXES ASSESSED For MAPand LOT #027-006-000: Mr. Dalessio moved to accept the Certification of Yield Taxes Assessed for Map and Lot #027-006-000, Operation Number 20-461-001-T, in the amount of $2,239.72. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
TIMBER YIELD TAX LEVY For MAP and LOT #027-006-000: Mr. Dalessio moved to accept the Timber Yield Tax Levy for Map and Lot #027-006-000 in the amount of $2,239.72. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
Building Permit #2020-48; MAP and LOT #012-059-001: Mr. Dalessio moved to grant Building Permit No. 2020-48 for the owners of Map and Lot #012-059-001 to build a “10’ x 12’ Shed”. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
2020 Preliminary Tax Rate: The Selectboard acknowledged receipt of the 2020 Preliminary Tax Rate from the NH Department of Revenue Administration (DRA). A decision needs to be made today so Mr. Rich Kreissle can respond to the DRA tomorrow for the overlay and amount of money the Selectboard wishes to withhold to use. The Unassigned Fund Balance is $2,136,701. This is slightly less than last year but not a significant difference. Last year they retained 17% or the maximum. The minimum they can keep is 5%. For two years in a row they have retained a similar overlay of $61,192. At this time they do not know what the disparity between the sale prices of properties and their assessed value is, but they do know that properties are selling above their assessed values. Mrs. Pschirrer noted that last year they kept $400,000 which they allocated to various things the Town needed. They are retaining the maximum allowed. Mrs. Sandra Smith is anxious because she hopes by next Thursday the Selectboard will sign the warrant so she can process and mail tax bills the following Monday.
Mr. Dalessio moved to do the same as last year which is to use $400,000 of the Unassigned Fund Balance of $2,136,701 to be used for various needs in the Town and stay with the same overlay. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
Reservoir Dam Repairs: There is a meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) at 1:00 PM with Fuss and O’Neill.
Pending Further Actions:
Quote for Pool Roof: Mrs. Pschirrer reported that they cannot find any notes that indicate the pool roof was to be a part of the 2020 Article for Town building repairs. Therefore, she suggested it go into the 2021 Budget as it cannot get done until the spring. Ms. Mayberry is agreeable to having it go into the 2021 Budget.
Sewer Bond Fees: Mr. Dalessio advised they will run a model as they want to be sure there will be enough money to pay for the bond and reduce the user fee a little bit. It is being worked on.
Town Street Lights: Mrs. Pschirrer spoke with Mr. Steven Grenier about the Town street lights. He is happy to work on this project.
Tax Deeded Property Sale: This item will remain on the agenda.
Houghton Brook Bridge Repair and Grant: Mr. Dalessio hopes to have an update tomorrow.
MRRTC Support Request: Mrs. Pschirrer reported that theMonadnock Regional Rail Trail Collaborative (MRRTC) would like to have the Town’s endorsement on what they want to do. They made a presentation to the Conservation Commission last Monday. Ms. Mayberry feels it will be continued at the December meeting of the Conservation Commission. At this point they are asking for support; there are no financial obligations. Mrs. Pschirrer will draft a letter of support for what the MRRTC would like to do and bring it back to the next Selectboard meeting.
HealthTrust Annual Meeting and Board Elections: A notice was received from the HealthTrust that their Annual Member Meeting & Board Elections will still be held on December 1, 2020, but it will now be a virtual format as NH continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Mr. Dalessio moved to allow Mrs. Sarah Downing to represent the Town of Walpole at the Annual Meeting and Board Elections of the HealthTrust. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved.
Mr. Dalessio moved to authorize the Selectboard Chair, Peggy L. Pschirrer, to sign the Certificate of Authorizing Resolution to confirm that Mrs. Sarah Downing is authorized to vote on behalf of the Town of Walpole. Seconded by Ms. Mayberry. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Mr. Dalessio, Ms. Mayberry and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, motion was approved.
Yoga Classes in Town Hall: Mrs. Pschirrer reported a request was received from Kate Kim, a certified yoga instructor, to use the Town Hall to teach yoga classes. There will be no set fee but donations would be accepted that she would then give to an organization in Town. Participants would wear masks and be asked to sign COVID-19 waivers. Ms. Mayberry would be fine with this. In yoga they use mats on the floor rather than tables and chairs. Mr. Dalessio would be uncomfortable with the number of users (groups) using the Town Hall. Mrs. Pschirrer noted the Town’s Boards/Committees also meet in this room. Mr. Brad Nash has to sanitize the room after each use. Mrs. Pschirrer pointed out that at some time the Selectboard might have to consider going back to Zoom meetings given increases in COVID-19 cases. They will have to alert the Town Boards/Committees of the possibility of going back to Zoom meetings. People are becoming more nervous now that everyone is moving indoors due to the weather. There was a consensus to ask Mrs. Kim to return in the spring because now is not a good time for the Selectboard to allow another group to use the Town Hall.
NON-PUBLIC SELECTBOARD SESSION:
Ms. Mayberry moved to enter into a Non-Public Selectboard Session pursuant to RSA 91-A:3 II to discuss (a) Personnel. Seconded by Mr. Dalessio. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. On a roll call vote with Ms. Mayberry, Mr. Dalessio and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the motion was approved at 7:02 PM.
The regular Selectboard meeting resumed at 7:13 PM.
Ms. Mayberry moved that the Minutes of the Non-Public Selectboard Session of November 5, 2020, will be sealed. Seconded by Mr. Dalessio. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Ms. Mayberry, Mr. Dalessio and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, motion was approved.
Veterans’ Day: Mrs. Pschirrer announced that next Wednesday, November 11th, 2020, is Veterans’ Day. The Selectboard Office and other Town departments will be closed to observe this Holiday.
COVID-19: Dr. Charles Shaw and Ms. France Menk came into the meeting. Dr. Shaw explained they have been working on signage. Ms. Menk displayed sketches of buttons and magnets, T-shirts and signs for outside of business/stores, the schools, etc. Mrs. Pschirrer noted many stores have their own signs. These are to remind everyone to “Wear Masks”, “Social Distancing” and “Washing Hands”. They thought the T-shirts should be a pale color so the lettering stands out. Dr. Shaw mentioned that Mr. Jacobs was concerned about parents showing up at the school fields with many of them were not wearing masks. Mrs. Pschirrer would like to see similar signs on the Westminster Street field as soon as it is used for winter activities. She asked about funds to pay for these items. The Town has used the CARES money the Town was allocated. There was discussion about the Conservation Commission having money as well as the welfare account. Ms. Menk felt the T-shirts would be sold. Mrs. Pschirrer suggested the buttons state “I Wear A Mask”. Everyone attending approved. She felt for $1,000 they could buy a lot. Ms. Mayberry felt they could use welfare funds. A couple of signs should go to the Recycling Center as they are using handmade signs at this time. Dr. Shaw suggested that they do more research on prices and come back to the next Selectboard meeting.
Ms. Mayberry moved to adjourn this Selectboard meeting. Seconded by Mr. Dalessio. Mrs. Pschirrer asked if there were any questions or comments. There were none. With Ms. Mayberry, Mr. Dalessio and Mrs. Pschirrer in favor, the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 PM.