April 16, 2008 
Questions raised about Article 9

Goffstown News Correspondent

GOFFSTOWN - While Article 9, an amendment to Goffstown’s conservation district, passed at elections on March 11, contention over the map posted on the town’s Web site and a resulting revision to it surfaced before and after the vote.

The new district, which adds in surface water retentions that are contiguous with previously established streams and wetlands, increases the buffer between buildings and water from 50 feet to 100 feet for any wetland more than 2,000 square feet and all surface waters. The new limits, passed at the polls in a 1,209-to-1,076 vote, apply to lots created after March 11, 2008.

The article was brought forward by the town’s Conservation Commission. Neil Funcke, IT administrator for the town, posted a map on March 4 which showed the affected wetlands and the buffer in green and highlighted the remainder of the adjacent affected lots in pink.

Funcke said the map was posted in the town hall and on the Web site in response to comments and inquiries from the public on what pieces of land specifically would be affected by the article’s passage, adding he did so under the direction of Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux.
At a March 6 joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Economic Development Committee, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Conservation Commission and the Sewer Commission, there was discussion on the map and whether it was actually representative of what the article affects.

The Conservation Commission had found issue with the highlighted pink area, which gave the impression that much of the town was not buildable, said Planning Board member Joanne Duffy, who at the time was chairman of the board and is employed as Hooksett’s town planner.

At the joint meeting, it was decided that the pink shading would be removed, leaving just the green buffer on the surface water areas depicted on the map.

Desruisseaux said the pink was only supposed to represent the parcel affected, not the area of each parcel affected, but realizes the points the Conservation Commission and other boards made about the shading.

“I could understand their concerns. If anyone read the language, the language stated that the pink was the parcel impacted,” Desruisseaux said. “I can understand where you saw all that pink.”

However, Conservation Commission member Collis Adams, employed with the state’s Department of Environmental Services, went to the Board of Selectmen on March 10, the night before the vote, to say the new map was still a misrepresentation of the article’s function, some of the green sections being inaccurate.

Both Adams and Duffy said town should have checked with the Conservation Commission before posting either of the maps to ensure they were accurate, adding neither the Planning Board nor the Conservation Commission were notified about the postings beforehand.

Funcke said he did only as instructed, posting the map after getting comments from the public and removing the pink after the joint meeting.

“It wasn’t meant to make any kind of political statement one way or the other,” said Funcke, adding he has not received any feedback since the new map showing only the green was posted on March 7.

Adams said that while the Conservation Commission got what it aimed for in the article’s passage, he is still concerned the map is not an accurate depiction and admitted the Conservation Commission could have done more in getting the word out about the conservation district.

“There really wasn’t much public outreach and education done on this, and the Conservation Commission certain can shoulder some of the blame for that,” Adams said.

The intent of the article was not only to preserve clean water supplies but also to reduce the impact of flooding, Adams said, adding the buffer allows for more untouched land to absorb flood waters into the ground.

Desruisseaux said she is waiting for a list of the impacted parcels so that Goffstown residents with lots in the conservation district can find out what portion of their land is affected.



Reproduced by the Goffstown Residents Association.


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