Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes


Sutton Conservation Commission

Draft Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Present: Henry Howell, Co-Chair; Wally Baker, Co-Chair; Chuck Bolduc; Don Davis; Barbara Hoffman; Debbie Lang; Amy Highstrom and Bonnie Hill.

Call to order: Henry Howell called the meeting to order at 6:03 p.m. Wally took over running the meeting when he arrived a few minutes later.

Previous Meeting’s Minutes: Henry moved to approve the minutes from the 1/8/2020 meeting. As there were no issues found with the minutes, the vote was unanimously in favor.

Financial Report:

Debbie reported that there was no town money spent by the SCC in January. We will not have town budget reports until after Town Meeting, and only minimal spending should be done before then. The TD bank statement for January 31st showed a balance in the Conservation Account of $147,615.16 and in the KHR account of $2,765.82. Henry reported that our budget was approved at the town budget hearing, with an increase of 35% over 2019. We will receive a one-time amount of $4,000 for Special Projects, and we will have $7,000 added to the Capital Reserve Fund. Debbie handed out forms that we need to use henceforth when requesting reimbursement for expenses and when submitting bills to pay third parties.


  • Letter from SPNHF thanking SCC for the $100 membership renewal gift.
  • Email from NHACC thanking SCC for the membership renewal gift.
  • Letters from ASLPT with copies of 2019 easement monitoring reports for these conserved properties: Emerson, Enroth, Putnam, Enroth-Lefferts, King Hill Reservation, Maple Leaf Natural Area, William Bean Quarry, Russell Pond, and Webb/Crowell Forest. The reports indicate that no issues with the properties were observed.
  • Lakeside, quarterly publication of NH Lakes, Winter 2020 edition. Articles on legislative advocacy, de-icing, achieving LakeSmart status, and more. Henry reported that NH Lakes is looking for people who would like to be trained as Lake Advocates. The contact person for that is Kelly Buchanan. Debbie has gotten word back from NH Lakes saying they can do a presentation on Water Quality on June 25th. She asked the group if that date was all right, and we agreed to do it then, though Chuck and Barb will be away then.

Review of Wetland Applications and Issues:

Review of new state rules for wetlands – Barb had researched this and sent out background information to the members before the meeting. She made a handout for us laying out the procedural timelines regarding DES wetlands permits, for both standard permits and minimum impact permits. The standard permits are for big jobs. The SCC is not required to sign a standard permit application, but does have 14 days following the filing date to notify DES if it wants to intervene in the permit review. If intervening, we have 40 days following the filing date to submit a report to DES. The DES can extend the report deadline by up to 40 days for good cause shown.

For minimum impact permits (expedited permits and permits-by-notification), the application has a CC waiver signature line. If the SCC refuses to sign, then the application will be reviewed as a standard permit application by DES. The SCC is not required to make a decision by a certain date. However, the NHACC recommends a reasonable turnaround time of 2-4 weeks. After the SCC makes its decision, the Town Clerk returns the original to the applicant, keeps one copy for public review, and distributes the other 3 copies to the BOS, Planning Board, and SCC.

Standard Permits: Barb said that we need to keep Lorri and Elly in the loop throughout this process, and also Barbara Richter of the NHACC. She said that just one member of the SCC can raise an objection; it doesn’t have to be a request by the whole commission. The thought is that conservation commissions will have more familiarity with their local areas than DES, and easier access, and may be more likely to recognize potential issues. Don pointed out that we are not allowed to make decisions via email. Barb said that clearly we are not going to be able to respond as a group within the 14 days. But we can have one to three people look at the application and say if we need more time. Barb suggested we appoint one person to receive the application and look through it, then email the rest of the SCC with some info including the tax lot number, and ask who knows the area in question and would like to deal with it. Wally said there are people on the SCC who are familiar with each of the town’s lakes. Debbie asked how technical these permits are, and what level of expertise is needed to understand them. Chuck said they can be pretty technical. Barb said the handouts she mailed to us give some guidelines for CCs. Amy asked how many of these permits there usually are. Debbie said there tend to be more at times, like when the level of the lakes gets lowered and people have greater access. Don said we are not allowed to go look at the sites, and Barb said we can if we get permission from the property owner. Wally said if we go to the site, we can look at the rough size of the area, see how many trees are flagged, and see if things appear to match up with what is described in the application. Barb said she has 2 suggestions: 1) appoint someone as a backup to get the applications 2) appoint a subcommittee to write up the procedures. Amy said we need to make sure the same rules apply to everyone and there is no favoritism. Debbie volunteered to be the gatekeeper, and Don volunteered to be the backup. Debbie will call Wally and email everyone else. Chuck will also review the application, as someone with technical expertise. Chuck asked whether, before we have the set of procedures written up, we should automatically ask for a delay until our next meeting. Wally said that if an application comes in shortly after we’ve had a meeting, then we will need to automatically file for an extension. Barb said the subcommittee will need to draft a form letter to be used to ask the DES for more time. Wally said if we are within 7 days of our next meeting, then we don’t need an extension. Chuck summarized the procedure thusly: A standard permit application comes in, Debbie picks it up and scans the first page or two and notifies the entire commission. The application then gets reviewed at the next regularly scheduled meeting, and if we need to file for an extension to make that happen, we do.

Minimum permits: Wally said the same basic procedure will be followed. The subcommittee will look at the application, and that subcommittee can change according to who has knowledge of the area in question. They will then report to the whole commission. Barb said the subcommittee can never be more than three people, in order to comply with the right-to-know laws. Wally asked if the subcommittee can say yea or nay, and the answer was nay – it has to be decided by the whole commission. Amy asked why we need a subcommittee, then. Debbie said she would write up the procedures that we discussed, and send them out for our review. Wally said to include the time schedule info, about permits needing to be delayed if they come in too far in advance of our next meeting. As people learn of our schedule, they will know how to work around it. Carol Merullo will have a copy of our procedure that she can hand out to people seeking permits.

Review of Intents to Cut and Logging Issues:


Old business

Review of Strategic Action Plan – A subcommittee consisting of Barb, Chuck and Don met to discuss Roger Wells’ comments on the Plan. They came up with responses to his comments and made edits to the Plan accordingly, and Barb emailed both the responses and the modified Plan out to the commission for our review prior to the meeting. Chuck went over these during the meeting, and the members were in agreement with the response to these comments. Chuck pointed out that the changes made the document a little easier to understand. Amy liked the statement that this is not a legal document, but just a guideline. Chuck explained that the data Roger wanted about the Delphi voting was not available from everyone, and that it didn’t make sense to include only a partial data set. He answered one of Roger’s concerns by pointing out that a smoothing function was used on the data. He said preserving our data, especially GIS data, is something we need to address. We voted to accept the changes that were made to the Plan, and Barb said she will write it up and send the edited document to Peter Stanley, representing the Planning Board.

Horse Beach parking issues – Wally said that there is now a maintenance agreement, and it will be voted on at Town Meeting. He will check the warrant article beforehand. Chuck said he scanned Wally’s drawings for Horse Beach improvements and included them in the plan he sent to the DOT.

New Business

Status of KHR mowing 2020 schedule Chuck asked if we should shoot for August, since anything later seems to be in danger of slipping. Amy said that October is ideal, after the birds have fledged and the monarchs have emerged, and that the next best time is right after snow melt. Don said it is too wet to mow then. Amy said pollinator data is going to be gathered in that area, and an ill-timed mowing could mess up the baseline data. She said some of the areas at KHR may be more important than others in terms of habitat, but we can’t know until July how important the habitat is. Chuck said we’ll shoot for September.

SCC Publicity Henry said we’ll need publicity for the NH Lakes event, and Barb reminded us that we are also planning to have an event with ASLPT to present the Strategic Plan and talk about conservation easements. We need to invite people whose land falls in our focus areas. Wally suggested we put up a display at Town Meeting about our events, etc. Chuck suggested displaying the big Strategic Plan map. Wally said anyone who has ideas for the display should send them to Don.

NHACC 2020 update of SCC members Henry collected our names, addresses and email addresses on behalf of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC). They want to know if we have anyone new who is interested in joining, and Henry does have someone: Will Wunderlich.

Trail Maintenance and Development

King Hill Reservation (KHR)

Trail tree removal – Henry has cut a lot of the downed trees, but he would still like to hire someone to help with this. Wally will talk to Danny Chadwick.

Hominy Pot Kiosk – The roof of the kiosk was totally rotted. Henry re-roofed it with cedar shingles and made some other necessary repairs. There are three new kiosks that need to be put up elsewhere.

Winter Trail Parking – Chuck said there are a lot of people using the KHR trails, and there is nowhere for them to park. Henry said we need a town warrant to get the parking areas plowed (including the parking areas at Webb/Crowell and Maple Leaf as well as Hominy Pot), but this will have to wait until next year’s Town Meeting. Don said it would be difficult to expand the parking area at the Hominy Pot entrance because the property line is very close.

Snowmobiles – Henry said snowmobiles are running wild on the Nichols trail and going onto private property. He looked at the easement for KHR to see what it says about motorized vehicles, and it says allowing them is at our discretion. Don gave the historical background of how there was a public hearing about this and snowmobiles ended up being allowed on part of the KHR land (but not ATVs, horses or bikes) because the snowmobile club was the only group that showed up for the hearing. They were allowed on certain trails and were later given additional access that the club was expected to monitor, but they have not been doing this. Henry asked the members if we wanted to do anything about this, Don suggested writing to the snowmobile club (the Sutton Ridgerunners) and telling them that if they want access to our trails they need to police the trail usage. Henry said he would contact them.

Historical Markers – Henry unveiled the beautiful metal signs for the cellar holes at KHR, and thanked Amy for all the research she did.


Grant money for pollinator gardens – Amy said NH Fish & Game is offering money for pollinator gardens on town-owned land, and she would like us to keep this in the back of our minds for future consideration. The gardens are meant to be in places with public visibility.

Friends of Mount Sunapee Events – Bonnie showed the group a poster for their upcoming program Everlasting Forests – The Mount Sunapee Story. This was recently given in New London and will be repeated on Feb. 19th at 6:30 at the Claremont Makerspace in Claremont and at 6:30 on Feb 26th at the Brook Road Inn in Goshen. She handed out brochures that describe the Exemplary Natural Community System and Old Forest at Mount Sunapee State Park, and contain a map of it.

Earth Day — Don said it’s going to be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year. In years past, the SCC did a road cleanup for it. Instead of that, he suggested a Trail Work Day at KHR. Henry said he has cleaned up the downed trees at KHR, but there are other areas that need to be cleaned up, such as Lefferts.

Senate Bill 588 – Legislation to end killing contests in NH – Bonnie forwarded an email regarding this to the SCC members before the meeting, hoping that some of them would be interested in writing letters in support of this or in attending the hearing at the State House on Tuesday Feb 18th at 9:20. The NH Wildlife Coalition provides a lot of good talking points in the email that was sent out.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 8:14 PM.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, at 6:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bonnie Hill, Secretary