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125 Main Street, Suite 200
Littleton, NH 03561
Phone: 603.444.3996
Fax: 603.444.1703

Aug 14, 2017

Public Hearings & Regular Board Mtg Minutes - Aug 14-17

4:30 PM



Present:  Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Schuyler Sweet, V. Chairman Franco Rossi, Selectman Milton Bratz, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings


Others Present:  Chad Fillion (Channel 2), Chief Paul Smith (Littleton PD), Chief Joe Mercieri (Littleton FD), Joe DePalma (Public Works Director), Bruce Hadlock, Bryan Hadlock, Eddy Moore, Rudy Gelsi, Ralph Hodgman, Justin Roshak (The Courier), Robert Blechl (The Caledonian Record).


Sweet called the public hearing to order at 4:30 PM.


Public Hearing:

DOT Block Grant Aid Lump Sum Payment $151,304.77

The Selectmen will hold a Public Hearing on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 4:30 PM in the Littleton Town Office Conference Room, as prescribed by RSA 31:95-b, Section III, and RSA 91A: 2 to discuss the acceptance and expenditure of unanticipated money from the State, Federal or other governmental unit or private sources by the Selectmen. 


The source of income is from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) as an addition to the normal highway block grant in the amount of $151,304.77.    The legislation states that this money may not be used to supplant any locally budgeted and approved funds for road or bridge maintenance or construction.  Care needs to be taken to document the funds are being spent on new projects that were not included in the 2017 budget.  This special allocation has been deposited as one lump sum.  Sweet asked for any questions or comments.  A woman who did not identify herself wanted to suggest Elm Street across from the Jiffy Mart.  The road has damaged her car for many years bringing her daughter up to school.  Elm Street is awful and full of potholes.  Joe DePalma said they have Identified Elm Street as a problematic road.  We are going to do some tests later this week to see what is under asphalt for a sub-base.  DePalma said they are going to do something.  He did not know if they could address it with this $151,000.  The road is on our radar for repairs.  Bruce Hadlock said the way he interprets is you can’t use the money if it is in the budget.  How much of the money we received as a result of the storm can be used? Sweet said the storm money is from FEMA and not related to this money.  Hadlock asked if you could use it if you don’t get the FEMA money.  Sweet said yes.  Hadlock asked how much did the storm cost?  Sweet said he believes it was in excess of half a million dollars.  Hadlock said in theory it might not be wise to spend this money ahead of time on roads when you don’t know if you are going to get the money from FEMA.  Hadlock asked the board what they were going to do.  Sweet said they are not going to do anything right now, they are not going to spend it.  Sweet stated the money is in the bank and we are going to hold it until we find out what is happening with FEMA and what are the priorities that need to be fixed.  We have not decided that at this point in time.  Sweet said that some of the damage is not something that necessarily has to be fixed right now.  A lot of it is ditches that need to be cleaned out.  Hadlock asked how many of the roads were class five that the town already gets money for.  Sweet said he couldn’t answer the question but when it comes time to make a decision they will ask the question then.  Joe DePalma said they are not out a half a million dollars right now but the immediate work being done to fix some of the storm damage is costing us some money.  Jim McMan suggested that any sewer work coming up in 2018 be included in the list.  Sweet asked if there were any other comments or questions.  There being none he stated the hearing would stay open and they would open the second hearing at 4:45 PM.  


Sweet called the second hearing to order at 4:45 PM.

USDA Community Facility Grant FY 17 ATV Public Safety $17,000

The Selectmen will hold a Public Hearing on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 4:45 PM in the Littleton Town Office Conference Room, as prescribed by RSA 31:95-b, Section III, and RSA 91A: 2 to discuss the acceptance and expenditure of unanticipated money from the State, Federal or other governmental unit or private sources by the Selectmen. 


The source of income is from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Community Facility Grant, ATV Public Safety.  The Community Facility Grant not to exceed $17,000.  The project was estimated at $31,000, the Town will be putting in $14,000.  Chief Paul Smith stated the $31,000 is the cost of the project and it is part of the rails to trails project.  The money is for the purchase for a UTV not an ATV.  This will allow at least four people to travel in it when we are responding to an incident on the trail system.  The trail system is going to go from the Bethlehem town line to Lisbon.  It is quite lengthy and we have had incidents up there recently where we have had limited access except on foot.  It really does reduce our response time.  This vehicle would allow use by other departments.  Dorsett said that matching grant funds would be combined with the rails to trails program.  We submitted an application recently.  There being no further questions or comments Sweet said they would take a brief break until 5:00 PM and then commence with the regular board meeting.  Ralph Hodgman asked where the trail passes through in Littleton.  Smith said it is the old railroad bed that is being converted to part of the ATV system.  There is currently part of it open from the industrial park.  Bratz asked the Chief a couple of questions regarding Ford recalling a number of police vehicles because of carbon monoxide.  Bratz asked if our department had a problem.  Chief Smith said none of the officers have reported a problem.  He has heard about other departments within the area where officers have complained about that.  Smith said that Ford has not done a recall yet.  Smith said the town mechanic checked out the vehicles and everything is great.  They also have installed five carbon monoxide detectors in the police vehicles.  The VIP’s purchased the detectors and are allowing us to use them.  We have also made appointments to have the vehicles checked out by certified Ford mechanics.  Chief Joe Mercieri asked if people who are injured can be transported on the UTV.  Smith said yes.  Sweet asked Rudy Gelsi if he wanted to make a comment on either one of the hearings.  Gelsi said he just wanted to make a comment to the chairman that you guys consider to an open meeting to anything any tax payer wants to talk about and not just what is on the agenda.  He feels that by doing that people can communicate better.  Sweet said the public comments on the agenda is not restricted to agenda items.  Bratz said they went through a couple of changes on the policy.  Initially it was based on what was going on in the meeting.  But then Mr. Hennessey it should allow any topic.  Gelsi said yes because there is so much going on.  Sweet said there is a lot going on and that is why the board is really earning their salaries.  Bryan Hadlock just arrived and wanted to comment on the UTV grant.  Hadlock said he is just inquiring about it.  He is not in favor of it and he is not against it.  At this point in time we don’t have any ATV trails except for about a half a mile of trail going down the railroad bed and that is accessible by vehicle.  He does see the trail expanding in the future.  Hadlock said he does not know what kind of vehicle it is but price wise it is very high.  Sweet said it is a UTV vehicle which can hold up to four people.  Hadlock said he knows just about everything there is to know about every UTV that is out there.  Smith said they have not put out any request for proposals yet, they did get a quote from a local dealership.  It is can carry up to four passengers and it is completely enclosed.  It has a DOT package and it has a plow and a lighting package.  Smith said he did not have the spec sheet with him but they didn’t just pull the number out of the hat.  Smith said he believes the total cost was about $20,000.  The numbers they got from the USDA was for partial funding.  There will be another grant that will fund the rest of it.  Hadlock said that if this does get pushed through he would like to be put on a committee just to help only because he has been involved with a whole bunch of others.  Smith said he was not intending to put together a committee. Ralph said it is his understanding that the $14,000 is the Town’s share.  If we don’t get the offsetting grant the Town will have to cover the $14,000.  Smith said he was correct.  Sweet stated tht it was now time to close the two public hearings at 5:00 PM and opened the regular board of selectmen’s meeting. 


Pledge of Allegiance



Milt Bratz – Health Officer Report

Bratz quickly went through four sections of the Health Officer’s Report.  Bratz also touched very quickly on the dumpster ordinance.  This past spring he inspected some dumpsters that were collecting water after heavy rain.  An official from the state came here in regards to the proposed ordinance and recommended we also consider bear proofing the dumpsters. Bratz named some nearby towns that have active policies in place.  Bratz said that when they hold their meetings in September he would like to add bear proofing to the ordinance.  Bratz said they have issues with costs and with compliance.  Bratz said that after talking to other towns he was told that once they started fining people, people began to follow the ordinance.  He also found out that once bears get used to the food they get from garbage cans and dumpsters they continue to come back.  The mother bears and cubs then have to be put down. 


Dog Ordinance

Bratz said he would like the board to approve the dog ordinance with two minor changes.  The first change is on page 2, section 4, municipal athletic fields.  For those of you who don’t know about this, we are going to restrict dogs from going onto the playing fields.   We have people from this community as well as others that come and use the athletic fields for pooping.  They sometimes don’t pick it up and sometimes even if it is picked up not all of it is picked up.  He made a presentation back in June, and one third of an ounce of canine feces contain twenty three million of bacteria many of which can make you sick.  A request came in from the athletic director from the school and we moved on it.  The changes in section four is as follows:  “Any owner or person having custody of any dog shall trespass or be on the defined playing areas of the playing field”. A person came up to him after the presentation and said they have a service dog and they like to go to the games.  The intention here is to not restrict people from bringing their animals but to just keep them off of the actual playing areas.  The next change is in the second paragraph, “any playing field as described in this section shall have signs conspicuously placed on the fields.  We have five locations and we have nine or ten fields.  We have one on Brickyard Road, three at Remich Park and various other locations.  Sweet said the board would vote on this under board action of the agenda after they have taken public comment.  Bratz then displayed a sample of the signs that will be placed on the playing fields. 


Cybersecurity for Municipalities

Bratz said there was an article in the Town and City on Cybersecurity.  Bratz read a portion of the article.  Bratz asked the other selectmen if they were comfortable in asking Andrew to come forward in some time to answer the eight questions regarding security.  Andrew Dorsett said he could answer any questions on what they have done to mitigate any breach of security. 


Town Manager’s Report:

Introduction of new firefighter Tommy Hartwell:

Chief Joe Mercieri introduced Captain Miller who put together the swearing in ceremony for Tommy Hartwell.  Tom is from Lisbon, born and raised in Lisbon.  He has a long history of firefighting.  Captain Miller then swore in the latest hire, Tom Hartwell into the department. 


Chief Joe Mercieri – Acceptance of the Hazard Mitigation Plan

Chief Mercieri stated he was here to ask the board to adopt the Hazard Mitigation Plan.  A few weeks ago we sent out a copy for your review. This was done with cooperation with the school, highway, police, planning and zoning. There were quite a few people involved in the process.  The cost was offset by a grant we received and was facilitated by June Garner.  The final plan was sent out to the state, they review and sends their approval to FEMA.  The board has to adopt the plan to make it legal.  Sweet said this also requires a vote from us so we will do this at the end of the meeting to allow time for public comment. 


July 2017 Year to Date Revenue & Expenditure Report

Dorsett said they are right where we need to be on the budget with income and expenditures. 


Dog Park Committee

Dorsett said that one of the most common requests they get is the demand for a dog park.  He attended the last few recreation meetings and it something that is on their minds.  They want to work with the board to create a dog park site selection committee.  Franco asked if the Parks and Recreation were taking the initiative on this. The board agreed they would support such a committee.  Dorsett said they put a notice up on the website


Mt. Washington Regional Airport Representative Vacancy

Dorsett said the Town had received a letter advising us that the Town’s Representative to the airport has resigned.  Dorsett said this is information for the public to let them know if they interested in the position they should submit a letter of interest to the board of selectmen.  Franco said the letter stated there is only sixty days to make the appointment.  Right now we only meet once a month.  Sweet said they could make the appointment at their first meeting in September. 


School/Town & Budget Committee Meeting Schedule

Dorsett said that Article 8 of the school warrant requested the school board, select board and the budget committee do some kind of coordination meeting to better communicate throughout the year.  In response to that representatives from each one of those groups have gotten together and we really just got together to talk about representation.  We talked about collaboration with fuel purchased and coordination of our school payments.  We plan to get together at some point in September and review our potential unreserved fund balance and to talk about the MS1 and the Utilities Valuation because that has a large impact on our tax rate. 

We also plan on getting together in January. 


Other Business: 

Foster Hill Road Petition 

Sweet said the selectmen received the petition from most of the residents of Foster Hill Road.  The petition is to advise the board the residents would like it fixed.  Sweet said he also lives on the road and he can tell you the road is bad.  Given his position on the board he did not sign the petition and his neighbors were nice enough not to ask him.  Sweet said he could tell the audience and the petitioners it is all part of the process.  It has to be in the budget and it is currently not in the budget.  Sweet said it is on the list of one of the worse roads and most likely will be on the list during the next budget cycle.  If for some reason it does not get included in the budget, your petition is the beginning step of taking it to the next step.  We also know it is almost impossible to plow because it is so uneven.  Joe DePalma said that last year when he started work here he quickly identified Foster Hill Road as one of the most problematic.  He felt it met the criteria to be put on the list to be rebuilt.  It is long and it is difficult to plow.  There is a bus route on the road and he has put this on the top of his list.  Last year they brush cut the road with a rented mower.  This was done to enable us to look at the ditches before there are any repairs done.  We enhanced the ditching and did some pothole work last year.  We also did some surveying on the end of the road to determine our right of ways.  So when you drive up there it looks like there is not a lot going on but there is actually a lot of work that has been done and dollars spent.  Going into this year, it was the first road to be swept, the first road to be potholed and right now it is receiving its’ second round of potholing.  DePalma said they are doing what they can within their budget.  DePalma said he did not see the petition, but he agrees with the fact that he can’t plow the road with his pickup truck is a problem.  DePalma said they are looking at a quarter of a million dollars just for asphalt with no ditching, gravel or tree work.  DePalma said they did some tests and discovered the road would need at least sixty thousand dollars’ worth of gravel before it could be paved.  Sweet stated the road will be on the recommended list of roads that need to be repaired.  Whether the budget committee will carry it forward is not guaranteed.  He could not see any reason or them not to.  You always have the warrant article option if it is not included in the budget.   


Old Business: 

Bruce Hadlock July 10th Information Request
Sweet said that at the last meeting of July 10th Bruce Hadlock requested the list of this year’s abatements.  Sweet advised Hadlock the secretary had a copy for Bruce.  Bruce advised that he had already picked up a copy of the document.  Sweet stated that Hadlock had made some statements that there had been some potential illegal board meetings regarding the LIDC land transfer.  Sweet stated that the board went back and found the minutes from the 2014 hearings.  It was determined they were all done legally.  The question was that I may have been a part of it because I had a conflict of interest.  Sweet said he was not a selectman in 2014 and he was not a part of the hearings.  The third thing was the question of was there a transfer of land for a dollar.  We could not find any record of transfers for a dollar but we did find a list of transfer taxes that would indicate the transfers were done at a very minimal price.  The minimum transfer fee is $20.00 for any property that was sold for a value of up to $4,000.  So whether if it was sold for $3,999 or $1 we can’t tell.   


New Business:

Traffic Flow on Mill Street

Joe DePalma stated he completed a study on parking and traffic flow on Mill Street.  Last year the Town Manager brought to his attention that free parking was in really tough shape.  We did some maintenance to some of the lots.  DePalma said a tree came down on a car last summer which made it obvious that some work needed to be done.  We did sweeping and cutting back of brush.  He also worked with Chief Smith who had some lighting concerns.  They increased lighting and made sure that any lights that went out are replaced immediately.  New signage was put up.  We think these efforts will get more people off of Main Street and relieve the congestion and make it safer for everybody.  We also looked at the crosswalks.  The improvements have been well received.  DePalma explained why concrete blocks were placed on Mill Street was to create a protected pedestrian walkway.  It has worked well, once the blocks were set we tied some crosswalks to it.  The blocks and the signage were donated.  We are lucky to have a busy Main Street and with good collaborative efforts from the department heads and local businesses, we did a lot of work for very little cost. Sweet thanked DePalma for his presentation. 

Public Comments:

Sweet recommended that people who were here to speak on agenda items be given the opportunity to go first.  George Morgan stated he lives on Foster Hill Road.  He was one of the residents that signed the petition.  For those who are not familiar Foster Hill Road is about two miles long.  There are a few farms on the road, the road is severely crowned. The road is ditched on either side and flared on the ends.  It makes for pretty hazardous driving.  It is particularly had to hold the road when it is icy and snowy.  It is very difficult to plow.  He has slipped off the road just below his house.   It is a hazard for the residents and anyone who travels the road particularly in the winter.  As far as the patching goes, kudo’s to the highway department for the work they try to do.  But it is almost a useless effort.  The Town is spending money to fix the holes but not long after they fix the holes, the holes are back.  One of the problems is that it is so severely crowned it is almost like drainage ditches in the road, never mind the drainage ditches in the side.  When water runs down the road it pulls up the cold patch.  It seems like we are spending a lot of money to maintain a road that is really not maintainable.  He understands that it is a dead end road and that it is not a high traffic road.  It is also a road that carries heavy equipment.  There is a substation on the road.  They are constantly in there doing work.  Not long ago they moved a large transformer in there.  There is constantly flatbeds hauling huge pieces of equipment that are making a bad situation even worse.  He just wants to appeal to the Town the issue people are dealing with there.  He is not sure if the fire department has issues with accessing the road.  He requested his comments be taken into consideration when it is decided to redo the road. 

Andy stated he also lives on Foster Hill Road.  He wanted to talk about the safety issues.  There are three different issues that he wanted to address.  There are two explicit areas on the road where there are rocks coming up through the road and if another car is coming the other way it will bounce your car even at the posted speed limit.  In the winter when your car hits those bumps and you are only going twenty five miles per hour.  There is another area where all the good work done to fill the holes up, the area is sandy.  Every time it rains the holes wash out.  It is a hazard to drive through without destroying your car.  The last thing is a safety issue.  He rides a bicycle a lot.  He does not race down the hill but besides the pot holes there are very large openings that crisscross the road they are several inches deep and several inches wide.  You are in for a shock if you catch your tire into that.  They are all diagonal and he has to weave to ride on the road.  He does not think anyone should say to him he cannot ride his bike.  It is just not safe for him or anyone else that rides a bicycle. 


Bruce Hadlock asked if it was class 5 road.  Joe DePalma said he was not sure.  Hadlock explained that the State of New Hampshire pays the Town if you get class 5 highway so the Town would be reimbursed from the State of New Hampshire taking care of and maintaining a lot of your rural roads.  This is something you should know and find out how much money is needed.  The first part of that road is Littleton Water & Light.  Littleton Water & Light spends approximately sixty thousand dollars a year for cutting back the roads.  The majority is on NH Coop.  You should go to NH Coop to see if there is money available for the cutting back.  DePalma said they emailed the state of New Hampshire about this last week about whose road it is and if it were a class 5 road.  We are waiting for a response. 


Someone asked if the fines have been set for the dog ordinance.  Franco said it is $25 for the first offense and $100 for the second.  Sweet said there are provisions in the ordinance.  Sweet said that if payment is not made to the Town Clerk within 96 hours after notice of forfeiture a complaint will be filed with the District Court. Sweet then read the complete penalty section of the ordinance. 


Rudy Gelsi asked if they were going to raise the dog license fee to pay for the signs or do the taxpayers have to pay for them.  Sweet said raising the dog license fee is not in the ordinance.  Gelsi asked who is going to pay for the sign the tax payers.   He was advised the taxpayers.  Gelsi said even if the taxpayer does not have a dog.  Bryan Hadlock asked if they were planning on putting up dog waste stations.  Dorsett said one of the recommendations that there be more of those put around Town.  Hadlock said that when he first started to look at this when he was on the Parks & Rec there is a lot of money available from the dog companies.  The grant money out there for pets is massive. 


Rudy Gelsi wanted to encourage the Town Manager that when they have Town and school budget meeting that it be posted because even if it is to solve the budget of the school and stuff like that, he believes that the tax payers should get involved.  He found out about the meeting last week, somebody told him.  It’s no big deal to post a meeting if people want to go they go.  He even sent a request to the chairman Steve Kelley.  Sweet said the meeting you are referring to did not include the select board, it only included him.  It did not include the school board, it only included the chairman.  It only included Mr. Kelley.   That is why it was not noticed.  It was meant to plan the future meetings.  When we have the future meetings, if all of the entities are included they have to be noticed.  Ralph Hodgman said that is a public meeting even if it did not include the full boards.  Hodgman said you just had one to discuss the budget and it was not noticed.  Sweet said it was not considered a public meeting.  When you do not include the whole boards it is not a public meeting.  Hodgman said he heard there were two three school board members and two from the Town committee.  Hodgman asked if it was not a public meeting because it did not include public information.  Hodgman then asked if the meetings in the future would have to be advertised.  Sweet said yes.  Hodgman’s second question was when a nonprofit agency buys land in Littleton, do they have to apply to the select board for a nontaxable status?  Are they automatically given nontaxable status?  What he is getting to is a church is moving into an old building.  That has been a taxable property but as soon as the church moves in it becomes a nontaxable property.  Sweet said it is his recollection that it is a state governing agency who determines or not.  Dorsett said there are some agencies that are granted exemption and others that receive partial status.  Hodgman said that it will hurt the Town if we allow too many nontaxable agencies to move into the Town.  Sweet said not all of them choose to do that.  The learning center is education they chose to remain a taxpayer because they didn’t want to hurt the Town.  Franco Rossi said he understands Hodgman’s comment because he has seen areas where they just become too heavy with nontaxable properties.  Hodgman said Berlin is that way.  Rossi said he thinks it is important to think about what the benefits of a certain entity might be.  You have to weigh that against the potential loss in tax revenue.  Rossi said you have to make the best decision as best as you can.  As far as your question of can you stop it he does not believe you can stop it.  Sweet said that when the governor was here a few months ago he told us that White Mountain College deal with Hitchner is off.  Hodgman said he was just concerned that we become deluged with nontaxable because of what is happening in Berlin.  Sweet said we can keep an eye on it but we are not in dire straits as Berlin is.  Bruce Hadlock said that one of the things you need to be concerned about is anyone that has commercial property such as the Hitchner property, they can file for a different tax way of doing it based on the amount of revenue that comes in.  Your property taxes can take a substantial decrease on any commercial property because they are not generating any revenues.  The old shoe factory on Redington Street that used to be commercial it is now zoned residential. 

Rudy Gelsi had a question for the Town Manager.  How do you hire people to come to work for the Town of Littleton?  What do you do? Do you post them?  The reason he asks that the last three people that apply for jobs they are not from Littleton.  I ask this question all the time is everybody so stupid they can’t get a job as the Town Manager?  Sweet said that he could answer Rudy’s question regarding the Town Manager position.  No one from Littleton applied.  Dorsett said they advertise in the local newspaper and the NHMA.  Dorsett said the last two hires are actually from Littleton.  There are some positions that require certification or they have to live within a certain distance but we can’t discriminate beyond that.  Bruce Hadlock asked if they have met with the power company yet.  Sweet said it was scheduled for tomorrow but it has just been cancelled.  Hadlock asked why it was cancelled. Sweet said it was because someone’s father in law had a heart attack.  Bryan Hadlock wanted to say that when Mike Spaulding started with the Parks & Rec department the fields were in horrendous condition.  Mike did an outstanding job bringing the fields up to the condition that they are in today.  One of the key things he did was to keep people off the fields when they should not be played on.  He is urging whoever is going to be in charge to keep track of the conditions the PH levels of the soil, the grass, etc.  If not and he is not kidding you will have nothing but dirt piles.  It will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring them back.  We have had people come here from all over the country for the last twenty years they all say they cannot believe what good condition they are in.  To think it is all thanks to good maintenance. 


Board Action:

Sweet said they action to take on two items.  The first is the dog ordinance.  Dorsett said they had to vote to accept the unanticipated funds.  Rossi made the motion to accept and expend DOT Block Grant Aid Lump Sum Payment of $151,304.77.  Sweet seconded the motion.  Motion passed 2-0. 


Rossi mad the motion to accept and expend the USDA Community Facility Grant FY 17 ATV Public Safety $17,000.  Sweet seconded the motion.  Rossi had a question of the $14,000 share.  The share is based on getting another grant to cover the Town’s share.  Rossi asked if they don’t get the grant then are they forced to come up with the match.  Smith said if you change the motion to include language contingent on receiving another grant we won’t be able to act on it.  Motion as presented by Rossi passed 2-0. 


Sweet said they were back to the dog ordinance.  Rossi made the motion to approve the dog ordinance as presented.  Sweet seconded the motion.  Motion passed 2-0. 


Sweet said they now have to accept the Hazard Mitigation Plan.  Rossi made the motion to accept and adopt the plan as presented.  Sweet seconded the motion.  Motion passed 2-0.


Rossi made the motion to adjourn.  Sweet seconded the motion.  Motion to adjourn passed 2-0.  The meeting adjourned at 6:23 PM.