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Assistant coach John Steward and players Kelsey Steward, Skylar Wharem, Missy Collins and Taylor Siewierski from the Colebrook area are on the Way North Babe Ruth 14U team that went 9-0 in the state and regional championships over the past two weeks, earning a berth in the the World Series, July 29 to August 5 in Florida. The Babe Ruth organization does not fund travel to the World Series and the team is accepting donations at www.gofundme.com/lt31wc. (Arlene Allin photo)

Balsams Group Continues Work Toward a Development Subdistrict in Dixville

By Jake Mardin

The Coös County planning board met last Wednesday in Lancaster with members of Dixville Capital, LLC for a pre-application conference on a planned development subdistrict for The Balsams.

Planning board chairman John Scarinza explained the conference was to be an informal discussion on the acceptability of aspects of the project proposal, prior to the submission of a development subdistrict plan. He said no decisions would be made at the meeting, which offered an opportunity for the developer and the board to hash out some ideas and focus on broad concepts.

He said that he would be using three guiding principles and documents: state statutes; planning board regulations and procedures; and a handbook for local officials prepared by the N.H. Office of Energy and Planning. He said he would also use the services of the board’s attorney Bernie Waugh, who would assist with legal questions and decision writing, and of Tara Bamford from North Country Council.

David Norden of Dixville Capital LLC said his group has prepared an application that is about 90 percent complete. “The goal is to create a subdistrict in Coös County,” he said, after which Dixville Capital would like to have its own set of zoning regulations and site plan review standards. He said the Balsams Resort Concept Plan would be “big-picture and very long-term,” and upon approval of the concept, they would seek to form the subdistrict, using the concept plan for direction.

Mr. Norden said the Dix and Hampshire houses of the hotel “are furthest along in design.” He also discussed plans for a new building called the Lake Gloriette House, and talked about other development around the lake and the expansion of the ski area. The area around the lake will be worked on first.

Developers shared some parts of the draft application with the board. Mr. Norden said with the approval of the concept plan, Dixville Capital is also asking the board to approve the ski area as part of the concept plan, on the condition that the required state and federal permits are acquired.

Mr. Norden said all roads that are part of the resort will be private, and the roads that are currently owned by the Department of Transportation will be conveyed to The Balsams.

The board set the next meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, again at the DRED building in Lancaster. Mr. Scarinza said if the process goes as anticipated, a public presentation will be planned to take place in Colebrook.

(Issue of July 22, 2015)


Sunday’s heavy rainstorm caused a washout on Meridan Hill Road in Columbia, on the hill just past the bridge over Lyman Brook. Cloutier Sand and Gravel got right to work on the road and by Monday morning one lane was open, with work continuing throughout the day. Last year spring rains washed out the same section of road along with a bridge, and a temporary bridge was built before residents voted to appropriate funds for a permanent one. The Columbia, Stratford and Bloomfield area was hit hard by the storm, with several trees down and power outages reported. (Jake Mardin photo)

Town, Engineers Look at Colebrook’s Utility Lines, Start Discussing Options

By Jake Mardin

Town, state and utility officials and engineers got together for the first time on Thursday to discuss the complexities of Colebrook’s Main Street development.

Attending the meeting were town manager Becky Merrow, selectman Sue Collins, public works director Kevin McKinnon, planning board member Sandra Riendeau, and representatives from Eversource, Fairpoint, N.H. Department of Transporta-tion and CMA Engineers.

Dan Hudson of CMA briefly talked about the project, which involves replacing the outdated water and sewer mains and improving the street and sidewalks. He said by working with DOT, they were able to secure a Transportation Alternatives Program grant for sidewalk work. The town also has submitted a TIGER grant application, and voters at town meeting raised $6.5 million for the project, with $3 million coming from bonds or notes, $2.7 million from state and federal grants, and $800,000 from the Main Street Capital Reserve Fund.

Mr. Hudson said aerial mapping for the project was done a year ago, and they are working on ground surveying now. He said at this point they do not have a traffic engineering study to review.

There are three options to be considered for replacement of utility lines: burying them, co-locating them on either the east or west side of the street, or relocating them behind buildings.

Joe Marshall of Eversource said a 4,160-volt, three-phase line primarily services buildings and sits mostly on the western side of the street, but does share some space on the eastern side with Fairpoint. He said the buildings on the east side of the street are fed from the back.

A Fairpoint representative said its lines mainly follow the Eversource lines, but do cross the street in some sections. He said all the utilities that use the poles should work together to come up with a design that benefits them as well as the town.

Mr. Marshall said if the main circuits are placed underground, redundancies will be required, due to the fact that underground failures take longer to isolate and repair than above-ground lines. When asked who would pay for burial, he said he would look into it, but that there are different cost scenarios. Ms. Merrow added that underground placement does not mean that no lines will be visible above ground—service lines will still have to be overhead.

Mr. Marshall said components such as transformer pads would still be visible, and that typical underground projects include a riser where the wire goes below ground, and the runs may be short enough to use a switch gear. He said there could be some manholes, but that will be an engineering determination.

The group also discussed the option of co-locating the lines on either the east or west side of the street, which may be the most cost-effective measure. Mr. Hudson said there is a possibility of a hybrid set-up, with a small portion buried, and Mr. Marshall noted the final location of the transformers is important. He said there may also be situations where the feed into a building could be switched, and that typically there would be a short outage while they make the switch. Phil Beaulieu of DOT said his agency licenses poles in the right of way, and they must meet setback requirements. In locations where it isn’t possible to locate poles inside the right-of-way, easements will be required.

Mr. Marshall said if the lines are co-located, taller poles will be required, noting that the standard height for poles with three-phase lines is 45 feet. He said the new ones would be at least that tall, and the height will be determined based on what is going on the poles and the clearance over certain sections. He said they sometimes use 50-foot poles, mainly in the southern part of New Hampshire, where as many as six communication companies have lines on them. He said Eversource owns the top 109 inches on a 45-foot pole, and a minimum of 40 inches to the next line is required. He said Fairpoint is typically the lowest line on the pole, and other communication companies have lines between Eversource and Fairpoint. Mr. Hudson noted that sometimes taller poles can be beneficial by resulting in less congestion.

Ms. Merrow observed that a number of utility poles are placed in the sidewalk, and they will have to be relocated for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Poles will be moved, but they don’t yet know how many.

Mr. Hudson said CMA is under contract for the water and sewer work, which is scheduled to begin during next year’s construction season. After the utility work is done, the next step would be to work on the roads and sidewalks.

(Issue of July 22, 2015)


Little Averill Pond offers a nice place for people to get away, but some who have camps at the lake or visit it are concerned about water levels being too high. A public hearing on the topic was held at Norton Town Hall on Thursday, with Big Averill Pond and Norton Lake also discussed (see story, page 1). (Jake Mardin photo)

Residents in Favor of Lower Water Levels in Norton, Averill Lakes
By Jake Mardin

Over two dozen members of the public attended a public hearing at the Norton town hall on Thursday evening, concerning water levels at Great Averill Pond, Little Averill Pond and Norton Lake. The general consensus from those who spoke is that the levels are too high, and they would like to see them lower.

Barbara Nolan of Norton filed a letter and petition on December 8, requesting that the state Public Service Board reestablish maximum and minimum water levels of the three bodies of water. The petition contained 25 signatures and read:

“We the property owners around Norton Pond, Big Averill Lake and Little Averill Lake petition the Public Service Board to review the agreement between Coaticook Power Company and the PSB to lower the maximum height of their water level at their dams. The water level has increased since repairs have been done to the dams, thus robbing the property owners of their property around the lakes. They are actually making wetlands out of property owners’ land that were not wetlands before. This agreement needs to also make sure there is a minimum flow in the streams below the dams to allow fish passage and spawning.”

In March, the PSB opened an investigation into the water levels and scheduled the public hearing. PSB staff attorney Michael Tousley attended the meeting and explained the rules. He said that it was not a question-and-answer session, but an opportunity for people to offer their input, which was recorded by a stenographer. Also attending the meeting were members of the Agency of Natural Resources and Coaticook Power Company.

Several related that their families have owned property on the lakes for years. Timothy Cowan said he owns a camp on Little Averill with three other family members, and the family has had the camp since the late 1950s. He said that his late father picked the spot because of its beach, but since the dam reconstruction in 1989, the water level has been higher and has resulted in less of a beach. He said that there has also been “exceptional erosion” under the roots along the shore.

Peter Rodin has owned property on Norton Lake since the mid-1960s and on Little Averill since the ‘80s. He said he has also noticed higher water levels and it prompted him and others to set rocks down to try and prevent erosion. “The levels seem to be quite a lot higher than years ago, prior to the reconstruction of the dams,” he said, adding that he would like to see lower levels and better monitoring of the dams.

Frank Castelucci suggested the power company notify residents if the water level is going to be lowered. Cliff Biron said he has a cottage on Norton Lake, where he has been going since childhood, and that the water level is too high. “I’d like to see it lowered so we can save our shoreline,” he said.

Larry Bruce said his big concern is extreme variations in the water level. He has seen the creek below the Little Averill dam dry on several occasions, and there have been times when the lake level was so low that he couldn’t launch any boats. He said he doesn’t have a particular level in mind, but wants it to be clearly established and enforced, and at a level that will benefit the fish habitat.

Alan Cattier said his family has had property near the Big Averill dam outlet for over six years. He said there is not a lot of beach at the property on July 4, but it gets better as the summer goes on. He said the number of fish has gone down in the stream, and said it may be due to it getting flushed at high levels. Others echoed the same concerns, and the meeting closed after about an hour. A number of deadlines have been set in the investigation for discovery, responses and testimony. The last item listed on th

e docket is a technical hearing, scheduled for October 17-19, 2016.

(Issue of July 22, 2015)


Ruth Lewis spent a few minutes looking over the variety of pies and baked goods on display at the Mohawk Grange’s pie sale on Friday before deciding on which one to take home. This photo shows Ruth and longtime Granger Ann Woodard completing the transaction. (Rob Maxwell photo)



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