As I See It
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Selectmen went above and beyond
Board didn't give up until a solution to farmer's problem found

During the public comment portion of the Board of Selectmen's Monday night meeting, local businessman Dan Devriendt stood up from his chair, slowly walked to the table and asked the board for help.

Devriendt, owner of Devriendt Farms at 178 South Mast Street, explained his problem.  It seems construction going on up the road from his business on drainage work and a new roundabout had reduced his weekly business by 25 percent.  And now, beginning Monday August 16th, the road will be closed completely for the entire week.

Faced with catastrophic losses with a one-week closure of South Mast, Mr. Devriendt had come to ask permission of selectmen to temporarily set up shop next week at the Glen Lake boat-trailer parking area in order to sell his produce during the one-week road closure.

Obviously, this presented selectmen with two problems.  To begin with, town ordinances do not allow business to operate on town-owned land.  And everyone already knows about the congested parking situation at Glen Lake.

Selectmen mentioned these issues to Devriendt, and also noted that any change to the existing ordinance could take as long as six months.  Mr. Devriendt acknowledge the issues, saying he understood, but he at least had to ask.

The board, however, did not give up so easily.  Instead, Scott Gross, Nick Campasano, Steve Fournier and David Pierce (Phil D'Avanza was absent) rolled up their collective sleeves and worked hard to find a solution for Mr. Devriendt.  Eventually they did.

The first problem they tackled was legality.  Although town ordinances don't allow business to be conducted on town property, the town does allow businesses to sells goods on town property during special events provided 1) they obtain a vendor permit from the town, and 2) produce a certificate of insurance.  

So selectmen suggested to Devriendt that if he were to meet both those requirements, the board would declare a "special event" due to the unusual closure of South Mast Street.  First problem solved.

Next was finding a location.  The board agreed that the parking lot at Glen Lake was not the answer.  However, a quick review of potential town-owned locations revealed that a pull-over area across the street from Grasmere Town Hall is indeed owned by the town.  Second problem solved.

Lastly, the board agreed that this "special event" would be open to other farmers next week, provided they met the same requirements as Devriendt.

It was a pleasure watching the board work so hard to find a solution for Mr. Devriendt.  After all, Devriendt did not have an appointment with the board; he simply spoke during Public Comment, which is normally limited to five minutes.  But selectmen spent nearly 30 minutes in back and forth discussions until the problem was resolved.

When I mentioned this to my wife the next day, she wondered out loud if such a thing would ever have happened in a big city, and that what our selectmen did for Mr. Devriendt Monday night is just one of the many reasons she enjoys living in Goffstown so much.

I completely agree.  Nice job, guys.

Guy Caron can be reached via e-mail at:

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DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Caron are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members.

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