What kind of year was 2007 on the lake? It was the year the New York Times discovered Ossipee and found its “four season ambience” to its liking – even mud season. A fine place to live, its reporter opined, if you like life at a slower pace surrounded by scenic mountains, sparkling lakes and lush woods. The Iron Kettle and Lazy Susan’s were named breakfast nooks of note.
It was also the year that DRED ended years of indecision and closed most of the Natural Area’s shoreline, promising a management plan for the fragile property by next summer. Most boaters honored the decision, and some submitted ideas on low-impact uses that might work there. The closure was the year’s most important lake story, but one that will take years to play out fully.
The Natural Area was just one of the topics on the minds of the people who attended our first annual Lake Representatives Forum, the culmination of a three-year effort to bridge the gap between lake property owner associations, businesses and conservation groups. Issues from water quality to wildlife were discussed, priorities were set and programs were planned for next year. This coming spring we’ll do it again.
Friends and Neighbors
No new milfoil was found in the lake, but the old milfoil was trouble enough. Removal efforts continued on Danforth Pond, and a group of lakefront residents joined with Danforth Bays Camping Resort to form the Friends of Danforth Pond with a goal of securing long-term funding to control the indestructible weed. State money could be available in the coming months, and the Alliance is helping the Friends pursue it.
The Whittier Covered Bridge wasn’t in the forefront of the news during the year, but behind the scenes a small group of preservationists and town officials continued to cobble together the big bucks needed to save the Bearcamp River landmark. As a result of their efforts the Whittier is now one of the State’s seven most important properties to save – good news for everyone, including the kayakers and canoeists who favor the site as their entry to the big lake.
From time to time our neighbor Bob Smart took to his computer to chronicle lake life for those of us who live elsewhere for most of the year and wish we didn’t. Mother Nature had lots of tricks up her sleeve this year, from ice storms to spring floods to frost heaves on Ossipee Lake Road, and Bob was always on the spot to file his unique reports.
Legal Cases Grind On
In contrast to the year’s welcome news were the stories that just wouldn’t go away.
The long-playing drama that is Ossipee Lake Marina produced another chapter when Freedom’s Zoning Board scrapped the boat storage limits it set in 1997 to protect the lake’s residential community. On a 3-1 vote the Board authorized “as many boats as can fit within the setbacks,” as one Selectman memorably put it in arguing the marina’s case (as a private citizen, not an elected official).
A Superior Court judge threw the ruling out but the Selectmen appealed to State Supreme Court, ensuring another year of litigation. Consider that in 2008 the Town Attorney will be fighting in court to support the additional boats that the same Town Attorney fought in court to prevent in 2003. Your Freedom tax dollars at work.
The marina’s legal issues have been a news mainstay for a decade, but for longevity nothing beats the Donald Lee case. Lee is the man who admitted altering the course of the Lovell River to build a sandbar – an endeavor so successful that the neighboring Bluffs Association’s beach and boat basin were filled with thousands of tons of sand and debris.
A Superior Court judge found Lee guilty of conducting a deceptive 18-year cat and mouse game with State wetlands officials and directed him to “forthwith” present a plan to clean up the mess, at an estimated cost of $1 million, or else face stiff fines and new charges by the Attorney General.
That was 15 months ago. On January 1 the Lee case will enter its 20th year with no clean-up plan in place, no stiff fines or new charges by the Attorney General and no court date set for a Motion for Contempt charge that was filed in July. Your State tax dollars at work.
Toasts to the New Year
Will you join us in a toast to some of our fellow local organizations that made a difference this year? Cheers to Focus:Tamworth for its staying power and its commitment to keep facts at the forefront of the debate over the racetrack.
When DRED wanted to know what the local conservation commissions thought should be done about the Natural Area, the heads of the Effingham and Ossipee commissions stepped forward and helped spur the State agency to take its first decisive action in the matter.
Kudos also to Green Mountain Conservation Group, whose leader seemed to be in the newspaper every month with a new easement preserving local land forever, for the benefit of all.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Re. Ossipee Lake Marina – to cover the costs of the appeal, would it be legal for the town of Freedom to accept a “donation” from the Marina, via an increase in boat ramp usage fees or something similar in nature? It is not right for the taxpayers to pay for this appeal, and it creates feelings of ill-will from many town residents knowing that they are contributing to attorney fees in this matter. The Marina should seek to become both an asset and a “friend” to the people of Freedom. Done correctly, it could be a beautiful, highly functional, and profitable (to its owner and the town) property. It is a beautiful property already, and I personally would have no objection to the addition of a small outdoor restaurant, which, again, if done correctly and tastefully, could be a win-win for all of us.
Nice summary of the year. Thank you for all you do.
I’m a land-use trial attorney with property in Freedom, and find this very puzzling. It’s unusual for a municipality to defend an individual’s zoning relief. The zoning relief is typically defended by the applicant with the municipality involved in name only — specifically to avoid cost and burden to the taxpayers.
There’s no reason the marina couldn’t contribute to the cost of the town’s appeal, but that begs the question of why the marina isn’t the one appealing. The typical course would be for the applicant — the marina — to take the appeal, with the town as a nominal appellant and the applicant bearing the burden and cost of prosecuting the appeal. This situation seems to be going exactly backwards — the municipality (and the taxpayers) are bearing the burden and cost of litigation which benefits an individual’s zoning relief.
This is particularly bizarre given that in this case the municipality is appealing a decision that upholds a prior decision the municipality had successfully argued and won — which means that Freedom taxpayers will have paid — at least twice — to argue opposite sides of the same matter, the outcome of which benefits a private commercial interest.
We’ve happily paid fifty-plus years of property taxes in Freedom, knowing the money was going to the schools, the roads, the police, etc., but frankly we’re more than a little curious what the total cost to the town for marina-related issues has been since 1997, when the marina began the essentially un-permitted expansion of its property, services, and facilities. This year our taxes went up a whopping 40%, and we’re wondering how much of that is attributable to marina-related legal issues. The town’s legal bills should be public record — has anyone requested them?
Whatever they are, they’re an unnecessary burden to taxpayers on top of the new expense of milfoil cleanup, which itself amounts to an additional tax on waterfront property owners — and which, like the legal bills, is a burden borne by taxpayers on behalf of a commercial interest which profits from the boats that are the source of the problem. Once again, we pay, and the marina profits.
You can’t blame a commercial interest for trying to grow — though the history of the marina since 1997 (https://www.ossipeelake.org/lake/legal/ossipee-lake-marina) makes you question the decision-making (at least) of Ossipee Lake Marina’s owner — but the members of Freedom’s Board of Selectmen and ZBA are another matter: they’re charged with upholding the law and protecting the interests of the whole town of Freedom — and it’s hard to read the history of this situation without thinking that they’ve done just the opposite. This latest move, appealing a decision on behalf of a private individual in direct opposition to a decision they’ve previously won indicates just how far they’ll go to put the interests of one commercial property owner above everything, and everyone else, in Freedom.
Clearly, the Selectmen and the ZBA are not going to do the right thing. The only way for Freedom to rid itself of this embarrassing Hooterville-like circus of abusing property owners and taxpayers at the expense of one commercial interest is to vote them out at the next opportunity. Bring your tax bill on election day as a reminder.
I am sick and tired of people coming up from the city and imposing their ideas on the rest of us who actually live, work, own business and raised our children to respect the outdoors. I have many this question before with a lot of varying answers, Why did you come here in the first place? Was the low taxes due to the frugal Yankee mentality that made NH attractive. Was it the quality of life where you use to be able to live comfortably on less money? I was just told of one couple who had moved to Freedom this past year who had started a petition to have strret lights and sidewalks installed in Lake Ossipee Village so they could walk at night!!!! If you want street lights, so you can no longer see the stars at night, stay where you were. If you want sidewalks to be able to avoid the bedlam of Freedom traffic, maybe two or three cars an hour, stay where you were. I’m tired of people who have made their living elsewhere, telling us how to run our business when they probably couldn’t survive the uncertainty of running a business here. I’m venting, I know but i am really sick and tired of this mentality. If you can’t adopt the country way of life, stay where you were!!!!
At least Dr. Steadman had the guts to sign his name! J & metro 888
What a crock. It wasn’t “city people” that stripped bare a residential lot or built an illegal building that collapsed the first time it snowed or installed light towers that blocked out the stars or tried to dig out a channel that has been there for ages — it was one of the richest guys in town.
A few very rich people in town are taking us all for a ride and ruining the place for everyone. Respect for the outdoors? What a crock — he’s a rich guy with a fancy lawyer and friends in high places that’s shows no respect for the outdoors — all he respects is the money he can make before he moves to Florida and leaves the mess for everyone else to clean up. And he wants us all to pay for it. My taxes went through the roof, too.
Where did Price come from, anyway? He’s not from up here.
He’s from away but he has the money and friends to get what he wants and the hell with everyone else.
Happy New Year Freedom!
2008 can be a fresh start. Just add a “cup o’ kindness”.
I’m also for a fresh start, starting with a candidate who will run for selectman on a platform of restoring trust to town governance. A candidate who will pledge to do what’s right for the town instead of what’s right for his or her friends. A candidate who will honor the decisions of other boards and commissions and encourage their independence rather than try to influence their decisions. A candidate who recognizes and respects that residents and non-resident taxpayers have more in common than they have differences and that they are all in the same boat when it comes to town spending. A candidate who can restore integrity to the board of selectmen with a “cup o kindness” and a pledge to do better than the current board. That candidate could win, and win big. My opinion.