Ossipee—January 14, 2016—Ron Adams, chairman of the Ossipee Conservation Commission, had questions on Monday, Jan. 11, for the selectmen regarding their recent rejection to support a built-out study proposed by the Green Mountain Conservation Group and to be conducted by FB Consulting, who has done them for other area towns.
The proposal was presented to the board at the Dec. 14th selectmen’s meeting by FB Consulting with a price tag of $6,000. The study is projection of when and where a town is built to capacity; that is, when every piece of buildable land is developed. The data from surveys in the past has enabled towns to develop safeguards, mainly through zoning ordinances, for the protection of their resources, especially water quality, which in turn impacts property values and subsequently the amount towns raise from property taxes.
Selectmen said at the time they would not give their support to funding the study because the proposal came from the Green Mountain Conservation Group, which was instrumental in blocking plans to establish a town beach at Long Sands shores on Lake Ossipee in 2006.
At a recent conservation commission meeting a vote was taken to undertake the survey directly with FB Consulting, presumably leaving GMCG out of the equation, and to assign $3,000 towards the cost of the survey from its 2016 budget, and ask the town to fund the remaining $3,000. Adams asked selectmen if they would support and fund this proposal.
The funding choices available at this time are for the selectmen to amend the budget; to make a petition warrant article; or to put the proposal on the floor at Town Meeting. It was no surprise that the selectmen said they would not consider amending the budget nor would they support a warrant article, however the option to introduce a proposal on the floor at Town Meeting is anyone’s right.
Adams asked the selectmen if they supported the survey in principle, as had been reported earlier. However all three had a lot more to say against the survey on this occasion. Not only do they begrudge GMCG for the past, but they do not trust that the information gleaned from the survey will be used in a way that will benefit the town, and that groups like GMCG would actually use the data against plans for economic development.
“I have zero desire to work with GMCG on anything. If they are still involved with the study I’d not only not support it, but I will actively speak against it. I don’t think they have the best interests of Ossipee at heart at all. I think the built-up study could be useful, but I think what may be attempted is to use that study as means of stopping people from developing their land, especially on the commercial side. We have a lot of land under conservation and current use and I’m fine with that. But I’m skeptical as to what the study would be used for,” said Chairman Rick Morgan.
Selectman Frank Riley said he didn’t understand from the December presentation how useful the information collected would be or how it would benefit the town, adding that it could be used to hurt the town. Adams replied that it would be up to the town to choose how to use the study outcomes.
“Basically it’s up to the planning and zoning boards, conservation commission, selectmen and highway department what’s done with the study,” he said. The matter was left as an option for the conservation committee to either make a warrant article, or a proposal to amend their budget by $6,000 at town meeting, with the selectmen agreeing that they would not support an amendment to the proposed 2016 budget at this late time.