October Recap from Lucy

COVID by the Numbers—October Recap.

What a month October has been!  And Halloween ended on a scary note, with 6 new cases in Cheshire County.  Here is a recap of the month.

At the beginning of the month, Cheshire County had had 152 total COVID-19 cases, with 10 cases being active on October 1.  By Halloween, the total number of cases had climbed to 206, and the number of active cases had gone up to 32; Keene(9) Jaffrey(7) Rindge(6) and 1-4in each of Hinsdale, Swanzey, Dublin and Harrisville.  The 7 day average of new cases per 100,00 went from 1.7 to 3.2 as of October 29.  That number went down as low as 0.6 on the 7th and 8th, but then came rocketing back again.

The state went from 52 new cases on the 1st to 205 new cases on the 30th —the first time that New Hampshire reported more than 200 cases in a single day.  Hospitalizations went from 15 to 42.  And the number of lives lost went from 441 to 48342 souls departed.

Transmission has been through youth hockey, restaurants/bars, and according to DHHS, mostly through small gatherings of family and friends.  It is so easy to let your guard down when visiting with family and friends.  But even there, please be sure to keep up the precautions, especially if travelling or entertaining others over the upcoming holidays.

On a positive note, there were no new cases in Cheshire County on November 1.  Let’s do all we can to keep it that way.  And another interesting idea—some are suggesting that the precautions taken to avoid COVID, along with an extra push to get the flu shot, may also lead to a lighter flu season.  Here’s hoping they are correct.

Keep on wearing the mask, even when distancing; 

Keep your distance, even when masked; 

Wash your hands, 

And keep well.

~Representative Lucy Weber

Lwmcv@comcast.net

603-499-0282

A Reminder From Cemetery Trustees

November 1st is right around the corner – Sunday to be exact. In case you have forgotten, Dale asked me to post this reminder. – Lil

Per Walpole Cemetery By-Laws, all all floral displays, pots must be removed from the Cemeteries by November 1st.  Please be respectful and help maintain the beauty of our Cemeteries. Thanks from the Cemetery Trustees.

Clarion Now Online

NOVEMBER 2020 — NOW ON-LINEby Ray Boas

Yes, already the eleventh month of this most different year. But moving right along anyway, the November 2020 issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION is now on-line for you to browse and read. Your “hard copy” in now in the mail, and you should be receiving it in a day.

So, take a look — detailed Town news from Peggy, our student articles are back, the new Reuse Center is open, some “Turkey” information, and a reminder to vote. And, just in case, I have a post ready to send on Monday to remind you to VOTE TUESDAY NOVEMBER 3rd.

CLICK ON THIS LINK
FOR THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE

Our State Representative, Lucy Weber, is providing the community with important COVID-19 updates. She provides them to THE WALPOLEAN – a community blog. Since I am not providing as frequent updates as occur on THE WALPOLEAN, I encourage you to click on the links for the site, and sign up for email notifications – just as you have done for THE WALPOLE CLARION, or will do if you have not already done so.

Please take care, wear your masks, socially distance, stay well! RAY BOAS, Publisher

More From Lucy

Good news for us. Glad to hear that Walpole is well at least. Stay the course! – Lil

COVID by the Numbers—October 29 morning update

In Cheshire County, the 7 day average of cases per 100,000 has jumped from 1.9 to 3.0.  That rise is driven by the new cases reported on  October 26.  Of those 6 new cases, 3 are in one family in Hinsdale, and the Hinsdale police chief reports that they self-isolated early, have notified their contacts, and have had no contact with the schools.  He says they are doing well and no further information will be forthcoming.  1 of those 6cases was in Keene, and were in Rindge. On October 27, more cases were reported;  also in Jaffrey and Rindge. On October 28, we were back to 0 new cases.

Here’s the good news: Cheshire County has the lowest 7 day average of new cases in the state.  Hillsborough is at the top of the list, at 8.9.  And as of yesterday, October 28, both Walpole and Westmoreland were removed from the Active Cases map, so a couple of people have recovered.  Cheshire County currently has 24 active cases, down from a high of 27 a couple of days ago.  Active cases are located in Keene(10) Jaffrey(5) Rindge(5) Hinsdale(3) and Swanzey(1).

Not-so-good news:  Vermont has now restricted leisure travel from all NH counties—even though Vermont’s overall rate, at 3.6 is more than Cheshire County’s rate of 3.0, and our neighbor to the west, Windham County, is also higher than us, at 3.4.  Essential travel and travel for work are still allowed.

COVID Fatigue is a real thing.  Currently, along with youth hockey programs, the real spreaders in NH are people who let their guard down in small gatherings of family and friends.  So please hang in there, and go on using caution.

For those of you who are statistics buffs, Wendy Grossman just introduced me to a site that is new to me–Covid Act Now. ( covidactnow.org )  In addition to new cases per 100,000, they also look at four other measures—infection rate, positive test rate, percentage of ICU beds used, and percentage of tracers hired.  I’m still working at wrapping my head around some of the extra numbers, but you can take a deeper look for yourselves.  Thank you, Wendy, for passing on this useful resource.

🎼🎶Wear your mask-even when keeping your distance, 

🎵🎶keep your distance, even when wearing your mask, 

🎵🎶wash your hands, 

🎵🎶and keep well.🎶

~Representative Lucy Weber

lwmcv@comcast.net

603 499 0282

Hydrant Flushing

Hydrants in the Town of Walpole are being flushed Wednesday October 28 and Thursday October 29. You may experience discolored water. Run the water for about 5 minutes or until the water runs clear.

Thank you,

Walpole Water Department

Polls Open at 7:00 AM

Please be aware that the polls will be open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Absentee ballots must be in by 5:00 PM, however.

And Another Change

COVID-19 by the Numbers October 26–Evening Update

And just like that, it changes again.

The news release for today lists 6 new cases in Cheshire County, 50% more than we have ever seen on a single day to date.  That’s only 2 extra cases, but the trend is not going in the right direction.  The new cases are in Hinsdale(3), Rindge(2), and Keene(1).

Currently, Cheshire now has 26 active cases.  Given that there were 21 active cases yesterday, the good news is that someone got better and was taken off the list.

You know what to do….and keep well.

~Representative Lucy Weber

603-499-0282

lwmcv@comcast.net

Zoning Board Meeting Minutes – 10/21/20

Be sure and read all the way to the end to see the good news posted from Ernie Vose! – Lil

Present: Board members: Chair Jan Leclerc, Vice-Chair Myra Mansouri, Clerk Tom Murray, Pauline Barnes. Alternates: Don Sellarole and Judy Trow. Absent: Dave Edkins and Ernie Vose.

Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the November 2020 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions. 

Meeting Opened: Ms. Leclerc called the meeting to order at 7 pm. 

Roll Call: Alternate Judy Trow agreed to fill in for the absent board member.

Minutes: Ms. Barnes made a correction on page three, section Appeal to Zoning Board section: change the word “want” to past tense and add the word “to.” Ms. Trow made a motion to approve the amended minutes. Mr. Murray seconded the motion and the motion carried.

Old Business:

Public Hearing for a Variance: Michael Nerrie – 507 March Hill Road – Map 11, Lot 59, Rural/Agricultural District – DADU – building is more than 150 feet and not more than 175 feet from the main structure. Structure is 900 square feet. Article IV – General Provisions O.

Mr. Nerrie wants to add a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit to his property to build a home for a caretaker for Distant Hill. Distant Hill is a 125-acre garden and natural space that is usually open to the public. Distant Hill has nature-based classes and workshops and research projects as well as trails. The plans Mr. Nerrie presented at the September meeting changed slightly because of the need to relocate the septic system. The building is still within the 175 feet from the main house that the board agreed to last month. 

Mr. Nerrie pointed out on the map where March Hill Road and the main house were and where the new building was going to be. He originally thought that because a corner of the building was within the 150 requirement, he did not need a variance. However, the board said the entire building must be within the 150-foot requirement. The original building site has been changed slightly because the septic engineer dug two holes and found them unsatisfactory for a septic system. 

Following are Mr. Nerrie’s answers to five questions to the variance criteria and questions Mr. Nerrie answered after reading the comment.

The comments in italics are comments on each criterion from board members after the Public Hearing had been closed.

The proposed use would not diminish surrounding property value:

Being that the setback of the proposed DADU will be 100 feet from the nearest property boundary, that the building will be in keeping with the architectural style of the nearby home and outbuildings and that its construction will allow the owners to better maintain their property, the surrounding property values will not be diminished.

Ms. Barnes said I think there would be a strong public interest in having a public garden.  

Ms. Trow said it supports keeping a large area as green space.

Granting the variance would be of benefit to the public interest:

The construction and occupancy of a DADU on the property will allow the owners to better maintain their property and Distant Hill Nature Trail, a public wheelchair-accessible trail network on the property.

Mr. Nerrie said the building allows us to have a caretaker to reside on the property and help him take care of the property. There is a public garden and public nature trail on the 125 acres. The nature trail is open all year, seven days a week and it’s getting to the point where Mr. Nerrie feels he won’t be able to maintain it. He and his wife have friends who have a son, living in Pennsylvania, and the son wants to move back to New Hampshire where he has family. He’s very capable and he’s a woodworker, Mr. Nerrie said.

Mr. Murray asked if the caretaker would be on a payroll. Would it be commercial? Mr. Nerrie said no. There is no payroll. The land is going into conservation easement, which is almost completed, and Distant Hill is a nonprofit.

Mr. Sellarole asked if this means the caretaker gets free room and board. Mr. Nerrie said the arrangements haven’t been worked out yet.

Ms. Trow said the site is not so far outside the requirements. 

Ms. Barnes asked why the number 150 feet was determined in the ordinance. The purpose, Ms. Leclerc said, is to keep the new building as close to the main house so it’s an accessory building as opposed to having a separate building somewhere else on the property and having two separate houses on the same property. Ms. Mansouri added there is an ordinance that says you can’t have two homes on one lot. 

Denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship to the owner:

Randy Rhoades of M&W Soils Engineering in Charlestown has examined the soils on the property and found no site completely within 150 feet of the main residence that would work for the proposed building and the required septic system except the one shown on the map.

Mr. Nerrie said without a variance, he can’t build a house and he doesn’t know how he would maintain the property in the future.

Granting the variance would do substantial justice because:

The location for the proposed building may be just outside the 150-foot maximum distance to the principle residence, but granting a variance would be just and fair, as it is the best, and only site recommended by the septic designer for the building.

Mr. Nerrie said the aerial view shows the space near the stone circle that is designated for the building. There is a fence and a garden between the main house and the building. The well, marked “W” on the map, is on the other side of the house from the septic system. 

Mr. Sellarole asked if the application was complete. The answer was yes – certified letters had been sent to abutters and a public notice was in The Keene Sentinel on October 1, 2020.

Ms. Barnes said it would be otherwise a loss to the general public. Ms. Mansouri said it will not impede any neighbor. 

The proposed use would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because:

The residents of the Town of Walpole voted to allow construction and occupancy of DADUs for just the proposed use of this building, fulfilling the spirit of the ordinance.

Mr. Sellarole asked, “When will you start building?” Mr. Nerrie said in the spring after the septic goes in. Mr. Nerrie was going to build a manufactured building but he didn’t like the quality of the material. So, he said, he has asked a local builder to do the work.​

Ms. Mansouri made a motion to accept the variance as presented and for the reasons that were in the explanation of the variance criteria. Mr. Murray amended the motion to include Nerrie getting a building permit and septic approval. Ms. Mansouri made a motion to accept the amended motion. Mr. Murray seconded the amended motion and the motion carried unanimously.

New Business: Cindy Westover. Ms. Westover did not come to the meeting.

Old Business:

Collect Gravel Pit Inspections Assignments: Cold River Materials – Board members turned in their gravel pit inspection forms. During the month of September, board members visited all four currently operating gravel pits in Walpole. They reported no problems at any of the gravel pits sites. The secretary will send a letter to all the gravel pit owners: Cold River Materials – Gary Patch and Eurovia; Graves Gravel pit on Wentworth Road – Tim Graves; Hodgkins gravel pit on Old Drewsville Road; and Cold River Bridges gravel pit, formerly Hodgkins, in the Industrial Park. Whipple Hill and Joe Sawyer’s gravel pits were closed in October 2019.

Exempt signage. At the September meeting, the board discussed a list of exempt and temporary signage that might be added to the current Walpole Zoning Ordinances. The members chose the ones on the list to keep, changed a couple, eliminated some or put together others. They also looked at a few tweaks to current ordinances. The board approved the document.

At tonight’s meeting Ms. Barnes wanted to add information from the NH Municipal Association about signage. It’s based on a document titled “Municipal Sign ordinance after Reed vs. Town of Gilbert – Dos and Don’t s. Ms. Barnes and Ms. Mansouri will work on combining information from both documents into one document that can be presented to and approved by the ZBA in November. Then it will be sent to the Walpole Planning Board for review in December and a public hearing held in January so it can be put on the 2021 warrant.

Short-term rentals: The Board unanimously voted to include short-term rentals to the “Bed and Breakfast” ordinance stated in Article IV, L of the Walpole Zoning Ordinances. Short-Term Rentals are commonly sought through such sites as Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor. 

The ordinance will now read in General Provisions Article IV, Section L. “Bed and Breakfast and Short-Term Rental Establishments. So called bed and breakfast and short-term rental establishments for the accommodation of paying, overnight guests may be maintained in all districts provided that the number of rooms for rent in any one establishment shall not number more than four, and that breakfast may be the only meal provided, and only to bona fide overnight guests. The conversion of a single-family residence or other building to a bed and breakfast or short-term rental establishment shall require Site Plan approval by the Planning Board.”

This change to this ordinance now goes to the Walpole Planning Board for its review at its next regular meeting in November and for a Public Hearing in December.

Appeal of Signs at 8 Prospect Hill: Jim Jones of North Walpole asked the Select Board to ask the owners of 8 Prospect Hill to remove all the signs not for their content but “to prevent sight pollution in our village.” The Select Board refused and Select Board member Peggy Pschirrer noted in a Select Board meeting that Mr. Jones could appeal their decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

However, there are certain requirements of a person or persons making an appeal to the Zoning Board. According to Stephen C. Buckley, Legal Services Counsel at the NH Municipal Association, “If the Select Board refuses to take action to enforce an ordinance, and the complaining party had​ standing, they can appeal that decision to the Zoning Board.  However, not all citizens in towns have standing to appeal decisions by the Select Board on zoning enforcement questions. To be entitled to appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment a person must demonstrate that he/she is a “person aggrieved,’ by showing a “direct definite interest in the outcome of the proceedings.” Casperson v. Town of Lyme, 139 N.H. 637, 640 (1995).”​ 

Mr. Jones and the Chair of the Zoning Board, Jan Leclerc, have exchanged several emails with Mr. Jones still pressing the Zoning Board to appeal the Select Board’s decision. But the simple fact is that the Zoning Board must abide by the legal opinion of Mr. Buckley. Mr. Jones does not have standing because he lives in North Walpole, a distance from where the signs are. If the ZBA board were to grant him an appeal, then someone with “standing” could not appeal to the board. More information on the matter of standing may be found in RSA 677:4 in a copy of “New Hampshire Planning and Land Use Regulation.”

Ernie Vose update: Board member, Mr. Vose, had open heart surgery recently and board members have been concerned about his welfare. Here’s a short note from Mr. Vose. “Hi, I am feeling pretty good but  tired.  I go to see my surgeon Friday and then I will be able to drive again. I will start pt in a couple of weeks. Everyone that has had open heart surgery recommends it highly. I now have a FitBit to watch my progress.  I am trying to keep steps up to 10,000 per day. See you next month. Ernie

Respectfully submitted,

Marilou Blaine 

ZBA Secretary

The Latest from Lucy – 10/26/20

COVID by the Numbers, October 26 Edition

The numbers since my last report continue to rise. The NH statewide 7 day average of new cases per 100,000, as of October 24, is 6.5, up from 5.3 on October 12.  The rate of acceleration has slowed, but we are still seeing steady increases.  We are now the 4th lowest state, behind Hawaii, Vermont and Maine. I think it is worth noting that both Vermont and Maine have significantly lower rates for their 7 day average of new cases; Vermont is at 2.7, and Maine has taken over the lowest spot at 2.4.   

On October 12, there were 738 active cases here in New Hampshire.  As of yesterday, October 25, there are 1,032.  The hospitalization number has also gone up from 17 to 23.  The bright spot here is that is still much lower than it was earlier in the pandemic, but it bears close watching.  The difference is that we are testing many, many more people now than back in May, when we only tested persons with symptoms, so we are actually identifying more asymptomatic cases than before.

In Cheshire County, the 7 day average of new cases rate has gone from 1.3 to 1.9.  There was a spike up as high as 2.6 during the week of the 14th to the 21st, but we seem to have settled back to 1 or 2 cases a day.  We are currently the second lowest county in the state, and our local rates are lower than the statewide rates for Vermont and Maine. 

That said, in Cheshire County, we had 9 active cases on October 12, and we are now at 21 active cases, driven by those days when we had 4 new cases a day. Active cases are located in Walpole, Westmoreland, Marlow, Keene, Swanzey, Jaffrey, Fitzwilliam, and Rindge.  Jaffrey, Rindge and Keene seem to have most of the more recent cases, but they have not been reported as being associated with either of the colleges.

There are now only 6 states in the contiguous 48 that are still in the yellow “community spread” category on the Harvard Global Health Initiative map—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York on the east coast and Washington and Oregon on the west coast.  21 states are in the bright red category, up from 13, and the rest are orange.  North Dakota is now at 105.2 cases per 100,000.  The US as a whole has gone from an average of 15 cases per 100,000 to 20 per 100,000.  

These are numbers you may want to keep firmly in mind when considering holiday travel plans.  Also, check each state’s requirements with regard to travel.  NH currently requires anyone travelling here from outside New England to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival; this applies to anyone from NH who has travelled and stayed in those states as well.  Bear in mind that when that order was issued, all the New England states were in the Yellow category, except Vermont, which was Green. Now, the three southern New England states are at Orange–the rate of new cases in Massachusetts and Connecticut is 13 per 100,000; Rhode Island is at 21.  Be careful out there.

Each state has its own different leisure travel requirements.  Vermont looks at the county you are travelling from.  Currently Cheshire County, along with Sullivan and Coos, are the only NH counties that are exempt from the Vermont quarantine requirement.  Essential travel (work, shopping for essentials) is allowed.  If you are planning to travel, look at the requirements both in NH and in the state you are visiting.  

Wear your mask—even when you are at a distance, keep your distance—even when you are wearing a mask, wash your hands, and keep well.

~Representative Lucy Weber

603-499-0282

lwmcv@comcast.net

Food Drive

Scouting for Food 

Walpole Cub Scout Pack 299

&


     Walpole Boy Scout Troop 299 

         We will be doing Scouting for Food this year on the
following dates :

NOV 7th ——— Distribution of information hangers.

We don’t go door to door anymore. We will be at the following locations handing them out. All locations are from 9am to 12pm.
                          Walpole Post Office, Walpole Recycling
                          Center, Discount Food Shelf, and Tractor 
                          Supply 


NOV. 14th —— We will be at the above locations from 9am to 12pm to collect food and monetary donations. All donations are going directly to the Fall  Mountain Food Shelf .
          There are directions on the tags of what can and can’t be donated . We also ask that when thinking about food you can also donate pet food. If people can’t feed their pets they will often feed them their food.
          Please mark these dates on your calendars