On and on it lingers.
To begin, and for clarification, BoS Chair Joel Mudgett stated last Thursday that he has heard people may be seeking his removal ( due to the PB matter) and he is waiting for his letter to show up. Not to worry Joel. The enabling statute used for the Planning Board removal hearings (RSA 673:13) refers only to Land Use Boards: Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Conservation Commission, CIPC and the Heritage Commission.
To remove a sitting selectmen, it must be done the traditional way: at the ballot box. Good thing maybe. Over the years I have been attending BoS meetings I have observed many instances where if there had been a similar statute in place for BoS removal, we would need a white board with erasable markers to keep track of the changes.
On to the next matter. When asked at the end of the BoS meeting by Hollis Austin if the BoS had taken any steps to correct this situation that occurred and led up to the September 9th hearings which may have caused some damage to the two individuals, the response was directed toward continuing education for the Planning Board. The question however was directed toward what the BoS are doing. It went a bit off track from that point and became an indictment of the entire Planning Board. I guess there has been very little introspection by the BoS on what transpired and how they perhaps could have better handled this matter.
Little attention I have been told, has been paid to the owners of the Bears Nest LLC tower that seems to have started this whole mess. I agree. The owners apparently blatantly disregarded the permitting process and seemingly got away with it. Not exactly true. They will have to pay whatever cost to the contractor to retrofit and re-engineer portions of the structure so it safe and up to code.
What many may not realize is that simply ignoring permit requirements and building codes does not mean you have to tear down what you build without approval. You still get to seek approvals after the fact, such as variances and conditional use permits, as if the construction never occurred. Then, you must redo and bring up to code whatever is in violation. That process was determined outside the control of the PB or the ZBA.
The current fines for ignoring the rules are laughable and hardly a deterrent to any owner or builder.
To address future situations, there are amendments being proposed to the Town ordinances for building permits and building codes which increase the penalties significantly. (Scroll down for the drafts) It is an agenda item for the Planning Board meeting scheduled this coming Wednesday. A joint Planning Board /BoS meeting is scheduled I believe for this Thursday's BoS work session at 4pm.
I remain disappointed though with the ZBA deciding to not participate at the joint session. Three boards, one voice, makes a much stronger statement that yes indeed, we want to fix this problem. The first step in the Bears Nest approval process after all was the approval of the variances by the ZBA. Addressing this issue with only two of the three boards is not the right way to go. Its almost as if they are saying" your problem, not ours".