Letters to the CCC
There are not enough Brad Andersons in New Hampshire. We all stand by helplessly, totally frustrated, as the developers, loggers, strip-malls, highways, etc. destroy the land, water, rural beauty and wildlife habitat in our state, invariably aided and abetted by most of our public officials who deliver up the state as a lamb to slaughter.
Helane Shields, Alton
Member, NH Sierra Club
I have been living in Lancelot Shores for 16 years and am apalled at the total disregard for DES guidelines and the lack of site reviews for buildings. I was interested in purchasing land that abutted mine so as to preserve that land. I was quite sure that the lot in question was unsuitable for building (fine with me) so I wanted to discusss the price with the current owner. When I called the Code Enforcement Officer with questions about regulations, I was told "anyone can do what they want in Lancelot Shores. " When I mentioned that builders still had to be accountable to DES regulations, I was answered with some nebulous comment like "OH, I don't know about that." Needless to say, I chose not to pay the asking price for the lot; in the meantime someone else offered much more, a perc (sp?) test has been performed and I and the other abutter are waiting to see what happens. 7 years ago a different purchaser-to-be was denied a site plan (the septic would be too close to the other abutter's well.) for this same lot. Drive in here and see another lot that has been cleared (I should say stripped) and I don't know how many loads of sand dropped to begin septic work---without a permit. (I have heard that this job has since been halted). Or there is the other lot, across from the lake in which the septic tank was place about 25 feet from a brook flowing directly into the lake; the truck loads of sand dropped then began flowing into the lake and when the well was drilled, the silt was flowing into the lake. In the meantime, a concerned resident went to the town hall, but could receive no info; seems no paper work was available re: who owned the lot or who was building. Since then, the foundation has been installed---supposedly there has been a cease and desist order on the job. And then there is the other case of a camper-trailer placed on another waterfront lot just last week. Where is that septic going? I have remained pretty much out of the politics---pay my taxes, abide by the laws, but I am ready to fight. Admittedly, I am still unwilling to go public (submitting my name to you), but I am watching and applauding your work, and hopefully I'll take the leap soon.
June 22, 2003
I used your site link to look at the town boards and minutes postings. The town's web site is a joke. I attended the "Meet the Candidate's Night" for the March 2003 selectman's race. Most of the sixteen candidates supported the need to keep the citizens of Farmington informed and agreed that the town was lacking in its duty to keep citizens informed. All three of the newly elected selectmen agreed about this.
The town administrator told the public at that meeting that the town web site would be up and running soon and it would serve as a tool for keeping people informed. We were also told that the town was working on televising meetings. I can't see much information being supplied to the citizens through the web site, and, as of yet, I haven't seen any board meetings being televised. I wouldn't say that the newly elected selectmen are keeping their promise to keep the citizens more informed.
The last selectmen's minutes posted on the web site are dated May 12th. The last posted minutes for the Planning Board are May 6th, and the last posted minutes for the Zoning Board are February 6th.
I've also spoken to many citizens about the SWOT meeting held last Saturday at the Memorial Drive School. Everyone I've spoken to had no knowledge of any meeting.
I wonder if the notice was posted on the front door of the town hall. If it was, perhaps that's why no one knew.
Anyone that's visited the town hall over the last several weeks knows that the front steps have been under construction. That little detail must have escaped the person responsible for posting public notices. The public notices continued to be posted on the front entrance even though the front entrance was barricaded.
I've talked to several business owners in town and they've told me of their willingness to post public notices in their store fronts but they've been told by the town that the notices only have to be posted in two locations and the town meets the law. That's true, but what's the harm in putting the notices in town shop windows where more people could view them? There's no law we can't post in more than two places. Again maybe the powers to be don't want the public to know what the boards/town are doing.
Oh well, who wants to read public notices anyway.
Just wanted to vent my thoughts on the newly elected selectmen's failure to keep the public informed.
Thanks for a great web site. I wish you great successes. Keep up the good work.
Long time Farmington resident
June 25, 2003
The following piece by Beth Olshansky ran as a "Community Commentary" in Foster's Daily Democrat on January 9, 2002. Beth has give the CCC permission to post it. Beth is writing about Durham, but her words are pertinent to Farmington as well.
Level the Playing Field
Having sat through several Planning Board Public Hearings [in Durham] in the last year, I would like to share my observations and express my deep concern about the process.  . . . [It] has become crystal clear to me that there is a tremendous bias in the process in favor of developers.
Let's look at a typical Planning Board proceeding: a developer wants to develop a piece of land. Because this is his livelihood and an opportunity to make significant sums of money, he hires a lawyer to represent him at the Planning Board meetings. He is not shy about using his lawyer's skills because, in the end, he knows he will be duly compensated for his initial outlay in legal fees.
Often abutters and/or neighbors object to the development of nearby parcels--whether it be because of the loss of their treasured open space, an increase in traffic, added burden to the schools, or increase in taxes. Many citizens go to the Public Hearings to state their concerns. Some citizens even know enough to study the town ordinances and come armed with important questions based on their understanding of the regulations. The citizens are always invited to air their concerns and are respectfully listened to by Planning Board members, yet their voices seem to weigh in weakly as a matter of "opinion" while the voice of the hired lawyer rings resounds with authority. The attorney presents well-crafted arguments, presenting selected facts and omitting others. Skillful use of language is the attorney's craft. Speaking to a Planning Board of well intentioned volunteers (with little or no legal expertise) is his friend. The attorney's presentation is slick, and even if Planning Board members, deep down inside, do not support the proposal, it is hard to climb out of the attorney's intricately woven web of selective truths to find legitimate reasons to turn down a proposal. Or more often, the attorney convinces the Planning Board that the developer has every legal right to do what is proposed, with the implication that the Planning Board decision will be challenged in court if the board does not approve the project. Meanwhile, public opinion pales next to the attorney's well-crafted arguments.
If abutters are serious about fighting a proposed development, they MUST hire a lawyer. The expense, thousands and thousands of dollars, is not compensated by future profit. Private citizens must pay out of pocket and have nothing to gain from this expenditure but maintaining the life they envisioned when they first bought their property. Even if private citizens hire a lawyer to present their arguments, they may or may not win, but at least they have an equal opportunity--at a tremendous price.
This system strikes me as extremely unfair. Something needs to be done about this inequity. I propose that if developers are allowed to bring lawyers to speak at Planning Board meetings, the town should supply private citizens with access to free legal services. This person should be available to answer questions, interpret ordinances, and offer counsel to private citizens prior to a Public Hearing. Citizens who wish to speak out to preserve their neighborhoods should not have to face thousands of dollars in legal fees just to have their voices heard.
I also suggest that the town's attorney be present at Public Hearings and deliberations to answer questions by Planning Board members. If that is too costly, Planning Board members should, as a matter of course, feel free to postpone a decision until they have received the necessary legal counsel. This should be viewed as a routine matter.
What would the town have to gain by these measures? This would help to slow growth, thus curbing an increase in taxes caused by residential development and increased burden on town services. It would also help to maintain quality schools, preserve treasured open space, and help to retain Durham's rural character. While I do not believe this is the full answer to Durham's problems, we must begin by leveling the playing field and giving private citizens an equal opportunity to participate in the process.
While these measures may sound extreme, I believe that only when these changes are implemented will the voices of private citizens truly be heard at Public Hearings.
As a long time resident of Farmington I too am sick of all these people who come to our small town and say how much they love it then turn around and try to turn it into the hole they just moved from. . . .They put up fences, clear lots and try to build multi apartment buildings. Our little town can't handle anymore kids in the school system or unwed mothers on welfare or another Massachusetts slum lord, We can't afford to let the selectmen vote in some "OUTSIDE" trash company who says they will only truck in 10 or so semi trucks of trash a day into our dump when you know they really mean 20 or 25 daily.
Have any of you been down 125 in Rochester and seen the trucks from Mass lined up at the lights waiting to go to waste management? Trash blowing off the back of the truck, traffic tie ups, the smell.
Watson Corner road has had enough problems lately, leave us alone. . . . . That little bridge on our road can't even handle the traffic it gets now, how can it handle all the semis full of trash if this outsider takes over the dump?
It is time to put a stop to EVERYTHING for a moment and take a step back and see just where our town is heading. I will admit there is some things our town needs right now such as companies that can offer secure jobs and places for our kids to hang out, and I am not talking some little rec center day care. . .I mean a place for the teens to go and hang and have fun. . . . .What ever happened to all the jobs that the Voith place on RT.11 promised us when they wanted to build? We have a Business park but right out front is a storage place. How many people does that employ other than the owners?
Yes it is time to step back and take a recount, see the big picture, bring this town back on course before it turns into Mass North.
July 18, 2003
Planning Board Screws Up
Thanks for providing a place for citizens to voice their concerns.
In February 2002 the planning board allowed the Lovelys to split their property and create a lot from a very wet area on their property (the old Parshley home on the corner of Lone Star Avenue and East Grove Street).
Abutters couldn't believe a lot could be created in this area. One abutter described it as sometimes being a pond. There's a water ditch that runs by the property that the town dredges to help with the water situation in this part of town.
Construction has now started on the property. The cellar hole is dug and is now a manmade pond.
How could the planning board allow this lot to be created? What kind of planning board does this town have? Do they care what impact their decisions have on the people? Doesn't the town have protections in our regulations to prevent this type of lot creation? These are all questions I'd like the planning board to answer. If children play near this cellar hole and fall in, how would they get out? This is very dangerous and our town officials should be concerned.
These pictures tell it better than any words.
August 3, 2003
The opinions on your site remind me of those of the great newspaperman and keen observer of all things American, H. L. Mencken. One of his most famous observations embodies the very personality of the Shenanigans and Chicanery site itself:
. . . here, more than anywhere else that I know of or have heard of, the daily panorama of human existence, of private and communal folly - the unending procession of governmental extortions and chicaneries, of commercial brigandages and throat-slittings, of theological buffooneries, of aesthetic ribaldries, of legal swindles and harlotries, of miscellaneous rogueries, villainies, imbecilities, grotesqueries, and extravagances - is so inordinately gross and preposterous, so perfectly brought up to the highest conceivable amperage, so steadily enriched with an almost fabulous daring and originality, that only the man who was born with a petrified diaphragm can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night . . .
August 4, 2003
To: The Farmington Planning Board:
Re: ZAMPS informational meeting of 10/23/03
On Thursday October 23, along with about 70 other residents, I attended the ZAMPS informational meeting, the first of three gatherings. Although not thrilled by the turnout, I was impressed by the interest shown by those in attendance. The meeting was taped to be run on channel 26 at a later time. It is my hope that people will watch and that the next two meetings will have a better showing.
I feel that the ZAMPS sub-committee deserves our thanks for all the hard work and effort that they so far have put into the rewrite of the master plan and zoning ordinances. I'm sure that they still have plenty of hard work and late nights ahead.
Submitted to PB at the Nov 4 meeting.
To: The Farmington Planning Board
Re: The Fall Planning and Zoning Conference
On Saturday October 25, Paul Parker, Charlie King and I attended the Fall Planning and Zoning Conference held at Plymouth State University. For me it was very informative. I am still learning what it is exactly that we do as a planning board. The last conference I attended in the spring I left with the thought "Do not be hasty in anything no matter what the applicants want, say or threaten". This time the message was "Get your house in order."
Attorney Michael Donovan spoke first. His focus was on organization and procedure, right to know and conflict of interest. He said as long as you stay within the intent of the rules you will have a hard time being appealed.
Second we had Clay Mitchell and Ben Frost speaking on roles and responsibilities. They said that when writing your Master Plan you must have an implementation section and have plenty of community involvement. Clay also noted that no town in NH had put into effect a successful growth ordinance. I heard these two guys at the last conference and they are great. They are very informed and full of energy, we definitely want to listen and learn from these two guys.
The last speaker of the day, June Rowan, Community Planner, town of Plymouth had us go over a plan together. The plan was of The Common Man Inn where we had eaten lunch. The Inn is a turn of the century birch products mill that the entrepreneur turned into an Inn/spa/function hall/brew pub. It is a very impressive place where modern business keeps the ambiance of the old mill. The exercise was getting good when the fire alarm went off necessitating the clearing of the building.
That was all for the day.
Submitted to PB at the Nov 4 meeting.
The winning caption [for Contest 3] was wonderful and I don't think I would have thought of that. Impressive really.
Ann of Columbia, MD
November 12, 2003
[A follow-up to Anonymous's letter about the East Grove St cellar hole full of water (see photos)]
Driving by the cellar hole full of water the other day, I noticed a house is now built on the foundation. Did all that water in the cellar hole evaporate?
G of Farmington
February 6, 2004
Stop the Road Madness
On July 28, 2004 I attended a special public hearing the selectmen held to discuss road maintenance. I learned the town has no official transportation plan. The consensus from a planner (and others) in attendance was that the town of Farmington needs a Transportation Plan. Performing road maintenance without such a plan is an irresponsible way to spend our tax dollars. A transportation plan would make an inventory of all town roads, assess the condition of the roads, and formulate a plan on how to best maintain them. It would also plan for future roads and set road construction standards. It would evaluate emergency routes in and out of town.
Most of us travel Route 11 to get to our homes. Stop and think what alternate roads you use when Route 11 is closed due to an accident or road construction. Now imagine what type of nightmare it would be if you had no alternate road to travel when an emergency closes Route 11. This is another reason it's important to have a Transportation Plan to look at these roads and keep them in top shape to handle the traffic in case of an emergency situation.
Right now there is a request for bids to spend $40,000 plus to remove trees, grade, widen and ditch a small stretch (1.3 miles) of the Meaderboro Road. (I understand that the go-ahead to spend for this project was given prior to the newly elected board of selectmen.) There is also an effort afoot to get the dirt portion of the Meaderboro Road paved. Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that Selectman Scruton lives on the Meaderboro Road. At the July 28 meeting, he asked Paul Brown, one of the "experts" in attendance, if he thought paving the Meaderboro Road would raise the property values of residents on the road. Kind of a strange thing for Sruton to be wondering about. Isn't road work supposed to be done not to increase property values, but to maintain our roads?
As tax payers we should be asking why so much money and effort is being put into upgrading the Meaderboro Road when our infrastructure roads are being ignored.
After reading Alicia Sprague's letter, "Save Meaderboro Road!", I'd like to give my take on one of the reasons why the Meaderboro Road "needs" all this attention.
A few years ago when roadwork was done on the Meaderboro Road, several residents came forth with complaints about the way that work was being done. After hearing several comments that were made to those residents that complained, I have good reason to believe this may be part of the reason the Meaderboro Road became a pet project for our road resources. Ever since the complaints were lodged our road crew has been spending hundreds of hours working on the Meaderboro Road, which seems to me like spiteful payback—"We'll-show-you-what-happens-if-you-complain" type of payback.
I hope the selectmen take seriously the fact that Farmington needs a Transportation Plan, and will put a halt to spending our tax dollars until they can get a handle on just what condition our roads are in and what funds need to be spent where.
August 24, 2004
At least the people of the Meaderboro Road have a strong group who understand and appreciate the meaning of "rural." When they come to terrorize Ten Rod Road, it may be harder to find anyone living along the road who gives a damn what they do to it.
There are new Massholes here who want all the conveniences of the places they have moved away from. One of the things that really bugs me about the new people on the road in their over-priced, out of place, manufactured boxes is that now we have those big, smelly Waste Management trucks tearing up the road because the people in the big houses don't want to take the time to go to the dump.
August 30, 2004
Anybody watching the selectmen's meeting Monday September 27th should be asking, "what the hell is going on"? Now we have extra money and should spend it on striping the back roads to make them safer. Safer from what? Who came up with this notion? The idea to do the double yellow middle line is bad enough but to put white lines down the sides? Don't we have something better to spend our tax dollars on?
Here's an idea. Give it back to the taxpayer.
Then the idea to move voting to the new town hall. There isn't enough parking at the old town hall, so we'll make them vote at the new town hall were there's even less parking. (Good idea.) And how is the new town hall any safer than the old hall? (Beats me.) Then a lady got sick from the curtain material on the voting booth. We should have thought about that before we bought those silly curtains. If the curtain material is going to cause a problem maybe we should analyze the whole hall and see what else might cause a problem. Perhaps we should pad the floors?. . . someone might fall. A safety net over the ceiling would be nice. . . . don't want any falling objects hitting voters. Hire escorts to help people into the hall so they don't slip on the steps. (That would be me. I'm always falling on steps.) This list could go on and on.
I've got it. . . Let's just not hold elections in Farmington. That would solve all the problems. (You think?)
Change the voting location 42 days before a presidential election. Now that one wins the Smartest Idea of the Evening award.
All these fantastic ideas floating around. Wouldn't it be nice if those heads got together and figured out how not to have to pay any taxes?
Wouldn't that be super fantastic?
Sick of Stupidity
September 28, 2004
Krasner gets it right
In his book, Earth in the Balance, Al Gore said the most important job of a government is to protect the environment.
On November 2, we will be voting for state representatives. Here's why all the Democratic candidates will get our votes.
We all know there is a battle for the world's dwindling oil. Many of us also know that an even more important battle is underway: the theft of the public's water supply by private corporations large and small. We also know that currently, only one in six people on the earth have sufficient potable water.
We in New Hampshire have followed the attempt by USA Springs to rip off the water under Nottingham and surrounding towns, and have recently learned that DES, the corrupt agency that is supposed to be protecting our environment, is allowing USA Springs to proceed.
In a recent "Meet the Candidates" debate that ran on Farmington's channel 26, Republican state rep Packy Campbell, running for a second term, and Democratic candidate Emmanuel Krasner went head-to-head on the matter of the privatization of water.
Campbell said he believed people had a right to make a profit from the natural resources on their lands, and that included water. Krasner, on the other hand, said while he believed people had certain property rights (which may include, for example, making money from timber sales), they didn't have the right to drain the water under their land, because doing so affects neighbors who share the underground water, which knows no clear property lines. Krasner does not believe, as Campbell does, that making money at the expense of a community is acceptable.
In the October 21 Rochester Times, the Republicans representing us in Concord were given dismal scores on their environmental positions by the Sierra Club/Clean Water Action. Packy Campbell scored 38, Sam Cataldo 36, Tim Easson 10, David Bickford 18, Michael Harrington 36, George Musler, 50. In stark contrast, Democrat Nancy Johnson scored a 91 for her environmental positions. What does that tell us?
Emmanuel Krasner, Nancy Johnson and the six other Democrats running for state rep (Larry Brown, Jacalyn Cilley, James Cyr, Brandon LaRoche, Carol Mulligan, and Felice Vincelette) all stand firmly against private companies ripping off our precious water. For that reason alone (though there are other reasons), we are voting for all eight of them.
John and Jane Wingate
To the Editor:
On November 18th Farmington residents will have the opportunity to vote on three zoning ordinances presented to the town by the Planning Board: the Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance, Open Space Residential Cluster Development Ordinance and a Phased Development Ordinance. These ordinances will provide the community of Farmington additional tools to guide new growth for the future.
These ordinances were carefully researched and written by the Zoning and Master Plan Subcommittee at the request of the Planning Board. Information gathered from a variety of sources (resident's opinions from both surveys and community gatherings, planning consultants and the town attorney among others) was used to shape these ordinances.
The Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance was written to keep Sexually Oriented Businesses (SOB) away from our schools, churches, residential neighborhoods and downtown business district. Without this ordinance a SOB may locate anywhere in town that retail businesses are allowed. By law, towns cannot prohibit these types of businesses. This ordinance therefore steers SOBs to the industrial business district away from our children and our homes. It also places restrictions on signs, proximity to houses and the road. This ordinance also provides many other things to prevent this type of business from becoming a nuisance in our community.
The Open Space Residential Cluster Development ordinance encourages landowners and developers to work with the town to locate development on one portion of a tract of land and leave the remainder of the parcel undeveloped. These types of developments create liveable neighborhoods with access to permanently protected open space for resident's recreation. Open Space Developments are an effective way to reduce sprawl and maintain wild-life habitat and other sensitive natural resources. Cluster development is not mandated. Landowners/developers who voluntarily choose to use this innovative land use tool are eligible for density bonuses in return for their consideration of the benefits of open space preservation to the town and the environment.
The Phased Development Ordinance is designed to help manage the pace of change in both our downtown and rural neighborhoods. Developments larger than ten units would be phased in at the rate of 10 units per year. The total number of units is not restricted. The Ordinance makes allowances for open space developments to phase in more quickly than conventional developments.
I would also like to thank ZAMPS zoning committee members (Charlie King, Paul Parker, Bob Talon, Norman Russell and Brad Anderson) for the countless number of hours they have sacrificed and continue to give from their personal lives to get this work done.
Be sure to vote on November 18!
Member ZAMPS Master Plan committee
To the Editor:
On Sept 30, 2003, the people of Farmington, recognizing that growth is the biggest problem facing our town, voted for a year's moratorium (in Interim Growth Ordinance) on large residential subdivisions in order to give us time to assess how we might improve our ordinances so that we would have the tools to better manage growth and all its pressures.
For a year, the volunteer members of the Zoning and Master Plan Subcommittee, with guidance from paid professional planners, have been following the will of the people by working long and hard to improve our ordinances and put in place new ones that will give us more say in how we want our town to grow. The process is ongoing and laborious; the work of ZAMPS, and their dedication to our town, continues.
The town voted for this work to be done; it is what we saw we needed and what we wanted. Now it is important that we do our part. We must turn out on Nov. 18, at the old town hall, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., to vote for the ordinances that the ZAMPS members have crafted. Please make every effort to get to the polls on Nov. 18.
John and Jane Wingate
[Combined excerpts from several letters from J of Exeter]
. . . It's all so wrong. It's to the point where I don't trust any politicians to do what's best for the country. The Iron Triangle of the military, the defense industry and congress. Those bastards are working together to fleece the common man.
Honestly, who really looks out for us? The real problem is the culture of greed that permeates our society. Who the fuck needs to amass a billion dollars? But the powermongering fat-cats can't be satisfied. It's an illness, really. Or maybe I should call it immaturity.
They haven't cracked out of their egos and discovered that there's more to life than fucking people over for a buck. Imagine if the richy-rich decided to ease the greed a few notches. Imagine if the military spent only a few times more than the ten next largest military rivals. Imagine if the powers-that-be dismantled our repulsive agricultural subsidies. But it won't happen. History has written the arc of this nation a thousand times.
I'm amazed at how much has changed in the last few years. Fuck global terrorism. The real terrorism is being perpetrated by our own government on the US masses. Even "The Economist", which had firmly embedded itself in George W's colon after 9/11, has become skeptical of his policies. The facts stand by themselves: the economy is worse, the threat of terrorism is worse, the country is more divided, and the future is more uncertain. Undoubtedly, Bush is the worst president since Hoover and history will bear this out.
I don't know how much more I can stand. My head literally starts to explode each day when I sit down with the morning paper. We're experiencing the biggest rip-off since Andrew Jackson and his spoils system. If Bush were serious about fixing Iraq, he'd get Halliburton and Bechtel out of that country and start working with Iraqi engineering firms. What better way to reduce unemployment and get people working to help themselves. This is just more of the same corporate greed we've come to expect from this lot of criminals. It's so wrong. Everything.
Environmentally, societally and economically, this great country is being destroyed. We're breaking down faster than I'd ever imagined. And those motherfuckers have the gall to wear the flag on their lapels. It's just wrong . . .
J of Exeter
Property Rights? Property Wrongs
In response to William Tsiros' wildly inaccurate letter [in the Rochester Times] of April 28 which is based on hearsay, conjecture and I-don't-know-what-else, I offer the following facts which correct errors in that letter (errors shown in quotes):
- "who paid for it? Tax dollars, I assume": The wetland study was funded entirely by grants with the exception of research on a twelfth wetland that had been left out of the original. That was budgeted in the Conservation Commission's current operating budget. The regional study was a $120,000 value for which our share was—nothing.
- "why do we need consultants?": State law RSA 36-A mandates that the Conservation Commission research and inventory wetlands. This requires the special skills of wetland scientists. If the Commission did it on their own, detractors would say they were mis-representing the location, quality, etc of the wetlands.
- "I have been informed . . . that there are only three members": Including alternates, the Conservation Commission has five members—not three. We are also missing a selectmen's representative (a voting member) since the March Town Meeting because the Selectmen have not appointed a replacement for Gerry McCarthy. The Commission prior to 1999 operated with only one member for many years in contravention of state law. We have been seeking new members for several months. As with all boards, not all members show up for any particular meeting.
- "include . . . the Ela River and the Cocheco": Neither are included in the areas under consideration for reclassification to Class One—only some of the wetlands associated with them in limited areas of particularly high value. Some wetland areas have been named for major waterbodies that they are associated with.
- "will create a tremendous problem": The reclassification CAN NOT affect the ability of homeowners to maintain residential structures nor to do the things that most people do with their backyards.
- "you will not be able to do anything": All of the frightening things the letter says you won't be able to do, you actually can do near a Class 1 or Class 2 wetland. Even if a buffer is established.
- "federal and state have determined that Class II [is] sufficient": The Class system is not a state or federal classification as the letter contends, but a local one that Farmington has had since 1988 to provide residents with more local control, and a less impacting way to identify wetlands than the state or federal systems.
- "as far as I know . . . no problem with pollution": There is ample evidence that human impacts (pollution)—in Farmington specifically—are affecting water quality. This has even been covered in previous articles in the Times.
- "people capable of understanding their relationship with nature": We have many excellent land stewards in this town. But it only takes one person that cares more about his own profits than he does about the drinking water and habitat and quality of life of the rest of us to make it necessary to consider regulatory protections. It is not legal to pass laws directed at one or a dozen irresponsible actors . . . they have to be fairly applied to everyone.
- "areas are all served by water & sewer": The wetlands in question are not all in areas of water and sewer service. Less than a tenth are. The wetlands in question are almost entirely within the floodplain where existing laws already prevent most construction or other activity, so they are not the "best geographic areas" for development at all. Just the opposite.
- "no threat from big development": There are threats from big development in all the areas of our town as is evidenced by proposals before the planning board right now. In 2003, Farmington had more deed transfers than any other town in Strafford County. We are now growing faster than any of the surrounding towns and the county. How much faster? About 58% faster than the county average.
- "100 foot increased buffer": There is no 100-foot buffer proposed. There will be no blanket change to property rights as a result of the reclassification. These are our most important and special wetland resources for a wide variety of important, scientifically researched reasons. Class One status recognizes that. It also allows the increase of the currently applicable 50-foot buffer to 100 feet on a case-by-case basis which is the best we can do to protect the property rights of the little guy for small impacts.
- "will the . . . Commission keep asking for more buffer": Here it is (as seen on TV at public hearings and announced at public meetings): the Commission intends to recommend to the voters that these wetlands also be designated as Prime Wetlands (a state designation). The voters may choose not to do that—the Commission will have no say.
One bit of opinion among these facts: Farmington's clock is broken. It has been inaction and a willingness to pretend predictable outcomes "won't ever happen" that has created the problems we have today. We need to look at what has hurt us in the past, and plan to avoid that in the future. We all have a part to play and contribute to health and prosperity in our collective future and that of our children by supporting measures that protect the resources that we rely on for life and commerce. And we need to act on facts, not bizarre biases.
May 6, 2005
Basic Lesson: Earth 101
From many of the letters I have been reading lately, I have come to believe that a lot of people need a refresher course in Earth Science. Let's take five hypothetical landowners and a couple of possible situations. Joe Schmoe's property abuts Mary Smith's whose other side abuts Peter Piper. Peter's property abuts Shep Jones' and Sally Forth's, although Shep and Sally live in the next town.
Joe has 20 acres of swampland near a lovely river, and the town has a shortage of housing. Joe unselfishly puts in 100 houses, with paved driveways and a paved basketball court, and each home has a nice lawn. The new neighbors cheerfully fertilize and de-weed their lawns, settling into the community.
The roads are salted so that the conscientious workers can get to their jobs, even in the most severe weather. Spring thaw arrives and Mary's, Shep's and Peter's cellars fill up with water, something that never happened before. Why? Joe's houses and driveways are built on the land where the spring runoff used to be absorbed. It's his land and he can do whatever he wants with it, regardless of consequences to the abutters.
Joe's river doesn't seem as clear lately, and the fish and frogs remaining are deformed and dying. The only things thriving are the pesky mosquitoes. Who needs fresh fish? Just buy it at the supermarket, right? Why worry about that river, when we can get our water from a store, which supplies us with bottled water?
Okay, one more situation: Sally also owns a restaurant downtown, with a few tables outside, where her customers sit in good weather. Next door to her restaurant, a man decides to grow his own produce and raise a couple of pigs and a cow. Sally's customers don't like the smell and stop frequenting her restaurant. She is frustrated and demands her neighbor stop raising manure-producing animals right next to her tables. Since the neighbor can do whatever he wants on his land, she has no recourse at all and has to sell her restaurant at a loss.
This is what a town gets when we work solely on the premise of "no one can tell me what to do on my land".
Personally, I need to drink clean water and breathe clean air to be healthy. Prove to me that you do not and I will let you off the hook, regarding shared responsibility for the care of land and water in our town.
How many chemicals do you want to have to treat your water with to remove salt, fertilizer, pesticides and hormone leaching? Maybe your abutter thinks your tolerance level is greater than you think it is. Or, maybe he doesn't think about you at all.
How long before the food you buy is of lower quality because the land it's grown on is contaminated by runoff from an abutter's stored hazardous waste?
Maybe you think these issues only affect people in other towns. But, remember, that town abuts another town, which abuts another town, which could be your town.
Get it yet?
May 6, 2005
Response to John Quinn's articleIt is good to see Foster's Daily Democrat's continuing coverage of the lawsuit against the town of Farmington for granting a special exception to EquiVise to build 140 houses on a lot mostly in the Industrial Business zone.
Since I am quoted in John Quinn's July 6 piece (Zoning land suit splits Farmington), I'd like to clarify a few points.
First, Mr. Quinn's opening paragraph mischaracterizes the suit which, simply put, challenges the Zoning Board of Adjustment's decision to grant a special exception to Meyer/EquiVise.
Second, Farmington's zoning ordinance does not "allow exemptions for elderly housing." It merely defines elderly housing. More important, in our ordinance there is no housing permitted in the Industrial Business zone.
Third, Steven Mayo, vice president of EquiVise, says "a vast majority of the town is 100 percent behind the project." In fact, at the polls in March, 2004, the people of Farmington voted 558 to 324 against a zoning change that would have permitted the project to proceed.
Fourth, I am quoted as having said, "This suit is not about business growth at all." In fact, when I was asked if the suit was against growth, I said the suit had nothing whatsoever to do with growth of any kind. Talk of business growth is certainly out of place in the context of the lawsuit.
Fifth, it's curious Selectman Joan Funk didn't answer repeated phone calls from Mr. Quinn, since she is usually accessible to townspeople by phone. However, it's not surprising that the omnipresent and voluminously vocal Bill Tsiros is always available for comment.
Tsiros calls for the resignation of Paul Parker and Paula Proulx (the two selectmen-appellants in the lawsuit), saying "it was a mistake to elect them." (Tsiros would say that, wouldn't he, since he lost to them by a landslide when he, and they, competed for the two slots for selectmen in 2004.)
Why would Tsiros have Parker and Proulx resign for doing what they took an oath to do when they assumed office—i.e., to enforce the laws of the town, including our zoning ordinance which is, after all, a land use law.
July 11, 2005
To the Editor of the CCC:
My wife and I watched the last Planning Board meeting [October 18, 2005] and couldn't believe our eyes and ears. We wrote this poem to say what is going on in Farmington. If you decide to put our poem on your website, please do not print our names.
Sincerely yours, we are
The creeps are out in Farmington; it's almost Halloween.
They say that what they're doing is really a great plan,
The poison pens are writing and the spinning has begun,
It's their way or the highway and they know what is best.
They're fine upstanding citizens—just ask them and they'll say:
Respect each other's thoughts I say; agree to disagree.
Personal destruction and threats of every kind
Beware to all newcomers with independent thoughts,
The creeps are out in Farmington, it's really a disgrace—
October 25, 2005
Fun fun fun in the old hamlet again, eh? Not to insult Mrs Thayer's generous donation; she has been very good to this town in the past and I believe she wants what is best for the townspeople.
BUT, what the heck do these people think is going to happen when we do all this? I'll tell you. We pay more taxes. Something that at town meeting everyone vocalizes that they do not want; but when town sons George or Packy say it would be good for the town every one just jumps on the bandwagon.
One mitigating factor in all this is Cyndi Paulin's position in the Preservation Guild. George Meyer says that it is a waste of money to pay her for her grant application work. Her job is to get grants for projects like this. Sure seems like George wants to do away with the Guild.
Back to TAXES . . . . that got your attention . . . . We've already gone over this. More houses = more tax money. That's a true equation until you take into account SERVICES. Then you have to raise taxes so no one can afford to live here—unless you want to bring in some big box stores . . .
January 8, 2006
This has to be the most appalling website I have ever come across. It seems to me that you have way to much time on your hands. You accuse Betty Mros of being the town heckler when it seems to me that it is actually you who should be labeled town heckler. I was a long time resident of Farmington who now resides in Rochester. People like you and your website make me never want to move back to the town I grew up in, graduated high school from and loved. It is obvious to me that you have a major problem with George Meyer and Joan Funk who now currently hold positions in town. You should remember that they were elected to these positions by the people of Farmington. You may not like them but enough people in town felt that they were going to do what was right for Farmington that they voted for them. You seem to know everything that maybe you should run in the next elections and see how far you get.
February 4, 2006
Robert O. brought up several points above. Here the CCC replies.
Robert O. wrote:
> This has to be the most appalling website I have ever come > across. It seems to me that you have way to much time > on your hands.
It's not hard to find much worse sites. We'll spare you a list.
> You accuse Betty Mros of being the town heckler when it seems to > me that it is actually you who should be labeled town heckler.
Well, we can hardly avoid the "heckler" label, since we bestow heckles as well as shprekels on our officials.
> I was a long time resident of Farmington who now resides in > Rochester. People like you and your website make me never > want to move back to the town I grew up in, graduated high > school from and loved.
Move back if you want to. This little website is not something that should keep you away.
> It is obvious to me that you have a major problem with George > Meyer and Joan Funk who now currently hold positions in > town.
We disagree with their politics. That's not a problem, is it? The CCC—or anyone—can by right publicly criticize town officials, and one would think it would be a civic duty to do so when those officials seem not to be doing what is right for Farmington. This is America! We have the First Amendment. If you don't like it here, perhaps you should go somewhere where they don't tolerate political dissent; China, perhaps.
> You should remember that they were elected to these > positions by the people of Farmington. You may not like them > but enough people in town felt that they were going to do > what was right for Farmington that they voted for them.
We do remember. And we hope the people, when they go to the polls on March 14, will contemplate just how well or how ill Meyer and Funk actually serve the best interests of the people of Farmington. We suggest that on March 14, citizens of Farmington deny Funk their votes and grant them to McCarthy.
> You seem to know everything that maybe you should run in the next > elections and see how far you get.
We all have different talents. The First Amendment is essential to our way of life, and some of us are more effective through comment than through committee.
February 7, 2006
Farmington will survive without Meyer
Citizens of Farmington, remember the reputation we used to have? Our town was alleged to be a town full of rioters, murders, and other unsavory elements. Thankfully, that type of criminal activity for the most part has ceased. But what is our reputation now? We are now known for political nonsense involving signs in yards, bitter letters to the editor, and general hate and discontent. Instead of a town with a bad reputation, we are fast becoming the laughing stock of the state. This political backstabbing nonsense has got to stop. As a citizen of Farmington for forty-six years, I for one am sick and tired of it. The people of Farmington elected officials to manage the town for the good of the town and its people. As with winners and losers in any public election, it is within our right to protest but let's face it, this political mess has become ridiculous. We need to stop allowing our personal issues to become public fodder.
In the past two years, with the assistance of The Rochester Times, the public has been exposed to a cohort of resentful citizens airing their personal dirty trash in the newspapers. I find it is disgraceful.
Farmington's selectmen, Paula Proulx and Paul Parker are dedicated, honest and hardworking people whose only crime it seems is to play by the rules and, obey the laws of town government. Not once have these public servants responded to the negative, spiteful and perhaps slanderous remarks aimed at their character.
The resignation of George Meyers is a done deal. He quit of his own volition. Supporters of Mr. Meyers need to deal with his decision and stop blaming others. The town will prosper and survive without him, just as we would if another elected official decided to quit.
I, like many other less malicious people, support our remaining board of selectmen, Gerry McCarthy, Marty Gilman, Paul Parker and Paula Proulx and are grateful for the work they have done on behalf of the town. I thank you all, and those who serve on other boards.
Please stop this insanity and let our town officials do the work they were elected to do.
August 29, 2006
Norm slams biased reporting
I am writing in response to an article ("Tsiros to fill Meyer selectman position") by John Quinn that appeared in the August 22, 2006 Foster's Daily Democrat and in the August 24, 2006 Rochester Times.
In that article, Quinn wrote, "Resident Norman Russell also recommended that the board [of selectmen] select King as Meyer's replacement".
That statement was an absolute fabrication. In fact, I did not make any recommendation as to who should fill the position Meyer quit. I did, however, advocate that the board of selectmen not choose Joan Funk. The reasons I gave were several:
First, Joan Funk and Matt Scruton were together responsible for deciding to spend public funds to defend the law suit filed against town, and the expenditure was not authorized by the board of selectmen, or by Paul Parker and Paula Proulx. See an email from Paul Weston which can be viewed here:
Second, Joan Funk refused to request the zoning board to reconsider their unlawful decision (to allow single-family dwellings in the industrial-business zone).
Third, Joan Funk openly advocated breaking the law by publicly asking the planning board to allow a density for the George Meyer property that was not allowed by ordinance.
And fourth, Joan Funk used her position as board chairman to publicly berate selectmen Paul Parker and Paula Proulx in a public meeting and then refused them the opportunity to respond.
At the August 21, 2006 meeting, I also clarified what the lawsuit was actually about. I said the suit was filed to compel adherence to the zoning ordinance, our land use law. I then stated that the zoning board unlawfully granted a special exception to allow use of industrial-zoned land owned by George Meyer for single family detached dwelling units. Single-family detached units are a use specifically prohibited in the industrial-business district by the zoning ordinance.
John Quinn neglected to report my above comments, and he also failed to mention that I commended the board of selectmen for their support of Cable 26, which broadcasts the meetings of our town boards. Live public television is the best method to communicate factual information. Quinn also did not report my characterization of the local newspapers as biased and unscrupulous.
There is nothing like John Quinn's work of fiction in the "Tsiros to fill Meyer selectman position" article that better exemplifies the point I made at the meeting: that you can't believe everything you read in the papers, and that you often only get a very small part of what was actually said. Those who watched the August 21, 2006 selectman's meeting know that I never advocated that the board of selectmen choose King to fill Meyer's position.
I recommend watching Cable channel 26 as a source for truthful information about what is being said at Farmington board meetings.
August 30, 2006
School Board Secrecy and
Rudeness at Public Meetings
Every major board meeting in this town is televised except the school board. Apparently the school board members think they should be immune from public scrutiny. Considering the amount of tax dollars that they expend, I find this appalling.
Perhaps the school board doesn't want people to see the procedures that they follow during their meetings. They limit public input and only if they choose will they let the public speak on an issue that they are discussing.
I think anyone should be allowed to speak on any issue throughout a meeting. Why have public comment only at the beginning of a meeting, when you might want to ask questions about items on the agenda that have not been discussed yet? Do you hold that question until the next meeting (a week or more later after they have already voted) and then try to remember to ask during public input? That is just ridiculous.
I am also concerned about the comments that are muttered under one's breath, and about other behavior at public meetings.
Is it OK to attend a meeting and boo and hiss and act like children? How does that make a positive contribution? To applaud when someone gets personally attacked verbally? Some people are so busy being personal, that the positive contributions, thoughts and ideas of people they have chosen to dislike are not heard.
Just because someone is on a board does not mean that they have all the answers. A question or comment from the public during the discussion may yield a better solution to a problem. A solution that the board has not thought about. It's too bad that some people are so busy watching the clock. They want to hurry through the business of the board that they have agreed to be a member of, instead of being open-minded and listening to what other people have to say.
I understand that most board members are volunteers, and it would be great if they got out of their meetings by 8 p.m., but rushing to make a decision because you want to go home is a disservice to the people of the town.
Let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt and say that their intentions are to do what is best for the town (and not for their own personal agendas) and give board members the respect that they deserve, whether you personally like them or not.
January 9, 2006
I noticed [Obama] even before his big 2004 speech. Eight years ago I liked McCain, but time has passed him by (probably). He was wrong on Iraq, but at least he would have proceeded more competently. I think Obama is the smartest of all the candidates, a man of nuance, who phrases his statements carefully. Of all the candidates I rate McCain and Obama highest in character. Fortunately, people seem to catch on. Smarmy Romney will, I hope, return to Smarmsville. Giuliani was always untrustworthy and is going down. Huckabee at least is a nice guy, if totally unfit for the presidency. Hillary is trying hard, and recently I saw how her campaign was calculating how she can seem not to be calculating. She's a more competent version of Bush.
I've been giving a little money to Obama (not too much of that to go around), usually at critical times, like just before June 30. As a result I've been on their mailing list. They're soliciting reasons why we support Obama to energize their workers. It's probably an exercise in futility, but I may sit down and write such a list, or analysis, which will take some time. Some of the people around Obama in his campaign seem a little green, but the man himself is quite consistent and well-versed.
I'm more enthusiastic about his campaign than I've been about any candidate in a long time.
(Of course, we can't forget Fred Thompson. There was a picture of him last week actively campaigning in Iowa. He was sitting alone at a table drinking a cup of coffee. Two cups and people will say his campaign is on fire.)
What the hell are the selectmen thinking, digging in their heels and opposing the hiring of Paula Proulx as Farmington's Town Administrator? Have they forgotten that they were voted into their positions by the people of Farmington to do what is in the best interests of the town? Hiring Paula would ensure that the town is run in an honest, fair and efficient manner. Charlie and Joan: what's your problem? There are a lot of people who see your bumbling, angry, misplaced sense of power coming through at the Selectmen's meetings. You can be sure that when your terms are up, not soon enough for us, you will not have the votes of the people who believe that Paula is what's best for our town. So, do yourselves, and us, a favor—remove the stick from your butts and do the right thing.