Pillsbury Memorial Hall
93 Main Street
Sutton Mills, NH 03221

Meeting Minutes 

 July 8, 2014

Members: Peter Blakeman, Julie McCarthy, Roger Wells, Carole O’Connell, and Bob DeFelice, members; (Carrie Thomas, Chairperson, and Dan Sundquist, Ex-Officio, were absent); Laurie Hayward, Land Use Coordinator (LUC).

The meeting was called to order at 7:08 PM, by Peter Blakeman, Acting Chairperson.


Minutes of previous meetings:  DeFelice moved that the minutes of the meeting June 4, 2014 be approved; Carole O’Connell seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.      Regarding the minutes of June 17, DeFelice asked if the members were “committed to complete this part of the Master Plan process” at this meeting.   Roger Wells moved that the minutes of the meeting June 17, 2014 be amended to add the words “try to” as proposed by DeFelice.  DeFelice seconded and it was voted unanimously to approve as amended.

Correspondence:   None

Other Business:      None

Blakeman, the Acting Chair, then opened the work session on the Master Plan.

The Community-wide Survey: It was agreed that members would take up the draft survey that the LUC had provided and go through it item by item.   In the course of extensive discussions about size, the reasons questions should or should not be included and how the survey should be formatted.  It was generally agreed that the survey should not be too long and every effort be made to make questions clear.  Answer choices, wherever possible, should be “yes” and “no” or other similarly limited options and that the options for “no opinion” and for “other              ” should be removed from all or most questions.

During the course of the session, Board Members made a number of votes on changes to the draft survey.

There was a short discussion about adding “voter” or “voting” to further define “resident” as used in the survey.   It was decided against that as it was agreed that residents of Sutton do not need to be voters in order to complete a survey.

There was a discussion about the demographic questions including that it would be nice to be able to compare to earlier surveys.   It was agreed to only keep those items that support the comparison to earlier surveys.  It was further agreed that the question did not have to be just the same as long as there was a way to compare.

Wells moved that the order of the items 1 through 6 be the same order as in the 1999 survey; that each line be as single or short as possible; and that number 6 be converted to distance in such a way that it is still comparable to the 1999 questions; McCarthy seconded the motion.  O’Connell said that she did not want the question about distance travelled to work.   O’Connell suggested that she simply wanted to have the question read “what town do you work in?” and “if you don’t work, are you retired or not employed?”    O’Connell modified that to “If you work, in what town do you work?                  and, if you do not work, are you retired? D are you not working? D”; it was voted unanimously as modified.

Wells then suggested that they simply give the LUC instructions on a more general level, such as keep demographics the same as earlier surveys.   Wells moved that the section with demographics be kept to questions in the 1999 survey and that questions be kept as short as possible, that is on one line, and to be as consistent as possible to allow comparison.  Wells moved that the LUC be instructed to keep all questions as short as possible.   And when a question can be made to be on one line, it should be so.   And sections should be as consistent as reasonable with the 1999 Survey.   DeFelice seconded and it was voted unanimously.

At the end of their work on removing and combining questions, the survey was reduced in size and wording was revised and the LUC was authorized to do what she could to further reduce size in any way she can.   The LUC asked about O’Connell’s suggestion to reduce font as a means to reduce the page count. It was agreed a reduction in font size is not to be used as a solution.

Wells stated that he agreed with a number of the recommendations in an email from Dan Sundquist. Wells moved that, Headers in question 7 be revised to read “Residential Zone” and “Rural-agricultural Zone”; that there be “yes/no” boxes; and that the options read “Smaller Lots”, “Larger Lots”, and “Same Lot Size”.  After some discussion, it was agreed that any answer of “Other” or “No Opinion” be removed throughout the survey. It was seconded and voted unanimously.

O’Connell opened a discussion about spacing and formatting.  Wells moved that the Board direct the LUC to do whatever she deemed best including reducing margins to reduce the number of pages.  McCarthy seconded and it was voted unanimously.

There was an extended discussion of ways to combine some questions and eliminate others and to add better instructions/explanations.  Blakeman noted that, with only two zones in Sutton, the questions about added zones are very important and so it is worthwhile to give the survey-taker some additional information, including some definitions.

Referring to the draft survey prepared for the meeting, Wells moved that questions 10, 11, 12, and 13 be removed; questions 8 and 9 be reversed in order and 9 be expanded.   After some discussion it was agreed that question 12 be kept, but moved to be the last question in the section and revised to read: “In your opinion what statement best characterizes Sutton?”.    O’Connell seconded and it was voted unanimously.

Wells suggested that all of the “Comments” options be removed from sections and to only have one “Comment” option and that at the very end of the survey. Wells moved that in the section Housing, question 17, item C be removed; it was seconded and voted unanimously.

There was discussion about how to provide information.  The draft already had some boxes with information about questions.     Members suggested some changes and additions to expand the so-called “magic boxes” so that they were even more informative.

It was agreed that the question on Current Use Tax Changes, Question 19, was in the wrong place in the survey and requires a better explanation for those not familiar with Current Use designations and with the Current Use Change Tax.  Blakeman suggested the instructions make clear that the money assessed at a change from Current Use goes to the Conservation Commission.

There was a discussion about the value of the question about broadband service.  The LUC explained that Central NH Regional Planning Commission tracks issues and will pursue TDS to provide performance levels consistent with their agreements with the state.    O’Connell asked that there be a question regarding cell phone service as well.

Members agreed to that addition.

There was discussion about and considerable revision of the questions about Town Services and Town Issues.  There was some paring down in order to simplify and remove any items that were redundant or not useful.   Some budget items which really cannot be impacted by the Master Plan process were removed, for example schools, sewer and septic, protection of the aquifer, and sidewalks and bike lanes.  The LUC was instructed to change the order to have Town Services come before Town Issues.

After completing the review and working through the changes, it was agreed that the changes would shrink the size and create a more logical flow and significantly reduce the time to take the survey.   The LUC agreed to make the changes agreed to and email a revised draft survey to members.

The Post Card to Residents:   The LUC handed out a draft of a post card to inform residents about the survey and how to complete it electrical or on paper and where to find the electronic and the paper versions.  It was agreed that members would take the draft postcard home and work on any revisions.  It was recommended that there be test subjects to take the survey so that there could be a statement of how long the survey takes.   It was suggested that the final version be sent to members and they could ask people to take it and let the LUC know the time required.  Members wanted the draft postcard shortened.  Wells suggested that the box on the front of the post card read: “It’s Master Plan Time.  Give us your opinions.   This survey will take x to x minutes. To be completed by xx xx, 2014”.

Committees and Sub-Committees:  The LUC also had given members copies of the listing and description of Chapter Headings from the 2005 Master Plan.   As this is to be an update of the 2005 Master Plan, it makes sense that the Chapter Headings provide the topics for the sub-committees.   After a discussion about the benefit of having a Planning Board Member working with each committee, it was agreed that the subcommittees would be as follows: Historical and Cultural Resources, Carole O’Connell; Community Facilities; Natural Resources; Housing, Roger Wells; Transportation; Future Land Use, Peter Blakeman. The LUC also noted that she did have names of a couple of non- board members, one interested in Community Facilities and one in Natural Resources.   It was suggested that all of the members of the Planning Board be on the Master Plan Committee which would be responsible for the overall Plan and the final chapter with Conclusions.

Other:  Wells asked if the LUC could make a request of the Select Board that there be an air conditioner or fan provided that could be used in Pillsbury Hall during meetings when it is hot in the hall.  The LUC agreed that she would ask the question.

Next regular meeting is scheduled to include Public Hearing and will be on July 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM.

There being no further business, Blakeman moved, DeFelice seconded and it was vote unanimously to adjourn at 8:55 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Laurie Hayward

Land Use Coordinator