Sunapee planners will hold hearing on zoning amendments

The Sunapee planning board will hold a public hearing on seven proposed zoning amendments on Thursday, December 16 at 7:15 pm at the Sunapee Town Office building on Edgemont Road. If approved by voters in March, the changes would rezone residential areas within the town’s village districts; add a new mixed use district in the Avery Road area; and address issues related to signs, erosion control plans, and use of pervious surfaces in shoreline areas. Continue reading

Hearing Set for Proposed Zoning Changes in Sunapee

The Sunapee Planning Board will receive public comment  on proposed amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance at a public  hearing scheduled for December 17 at 7:15 p.m at the Town Hall.  To download (or view) a copy of the hearing notice and proposed changes, click on: Sunapee Planning Board Notice 2009 Dec 17 (46).

Amendment #1 seeks to bring the town’s regulations “in line with the NH Shoreland Protection Act by including the Sugar River (a fourth-order stream) as part of the Shoreline Overlay District.”

Amendment #2 addresses “minimum front setbacks” by clarifying that they are “measured from the center of all public and private roads as shown on the official map regardless of whether the road meets current town highway specifications.”

Amendment #3 relates to shorelines and erosion control and seeks” to clarify that any grade change of 12” or more within the 50’ shoreline buffer (lakes, ponds, and fourth order streams) requires approval from the Planning Board.”

Amendment #4 addresses workforce housing in Sunapee. Under Use Regulations, a new section will set out guidelines and incentives for allowing workforce housing per RSA 674:58-61. The purpose of “this ordinance is to provide reasonable opportunities for the development of Workforce Housing within Sunapee for both home ownership and rental,” according to language in the amendment.

Amendment #5 seeks to clarify the definition of a contractor’s yard by stating it is an “area used by builders, electricians, plumbers, excavators, roofers, yard maintenance, or other similar contracting service establishments for the storage of materials and equipment.”

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New Lake Sunapee Watershed Project Gets Underway


Map of the Lake Sunapee Watershed

A federally funded project to create policy recommendations for local government to protect the Lake Sunapee Watershed is underway. And national and regional experts will be in Newbury, NH on Wednesday, October 28 to explain the initiative. The project’s first public meeting will be held at the Newbury Town Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Those interested in attending are asked to sign up by contacting the Lake Sunapee Protective Association, phone 603-763-2210 or email

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier in the year awarded Syntectic International LLC, Antioch University New England, the Lake Sunapee Protective Association, and partners $243,000 to prepare the Lake Sunapee watershed for climate change and population growth. (See the prior news article posted on

The project partners hope to protect a vulnerable storm-water and drinking-water system and develop and distribute practical information for safeguarding communities. This  undertaking will also provide specific estimates of climate change impacts on the Lake Sunapee watershed.

“By developing a local-scale action protocol, the project team aims to maintain historic storm water risk levels for the Lake Sunapee watershed and other communities facing significant impacts from climate change and population growth,” according to a recent  press release about the project.

The meeting in Newbury on the 28th will give the participants an opportunity to learn about the new project and the challenges that result from increased storm water runoff and development patterns in the Lake Sunapee watershed. Working groups will be formed to create policy recommendations for specific infrastructure needs.

What is a Watershed? A watershed is the area of land from which all water drains into a particular lake, river, stream, wetland or ocean. Watersheds are natural areas determined by topography and the boundaries can be drawn on a map by connecting the tops of the tallest hills surrounding a body of water (see map).

Water that falls within our watershed boundary flows downhill and much of it ends up in Lake Sunapee. Watersheds can vary in size from just a few acres to hundreds of millions of acres, as every body of water – from Chalk Pond to the Mississippi River – has its own watershed. The Lake Sunapee Watershed is part of larger watershed basins, the Sugar River and the larger Connecticut River watersheds. – Sunapee Area Watershed Coalition (SAWC)

Planning Board and Selectmen Will Discuss the Sunapee Center

Discussion in Sunapee about the Sunapee Center, a 5-acre parcel with buildings on Sargent Road, continues this week when the town’s planning board meets with the board of selectmen on Thursday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m. The planning board continues to work on revisions to the town’s 1998 master plan, a multi-year process that began in 2006. Tomorrow’s session take places as part of the planning board’s master plan meeting, regularly held the third Thursday of the month.

The board of selectmen August 10 met with other town and school representatives, members of the school board and board of trustees of Abbott Library, to discuss possible uses of the Sunapee Center complex. Located across the town’s safety service building, the property is also near the central elementary school and Sherburne gym and adjacent to the state highway that cuts through the center of town. Town leaders and community members are looking at the property to see if it makes sense to acquire the property for future civic needs and to possibly centralize services and create a town center complex.

The property, taken over by Claremont Savings Bank by foreclosure, includes open land and buildings.

For more info: Read the selectmen minutes for August 10, 2009

For related articles:

Sunapee officials have a go at Sunapee Center Aug. 10 (

It’s a unique opportunity says Mastin (

Sunapee Officials ‘Have a Go’ at Sunapee Center Aug. 10

“Just want to thank the Sunapee Board of Selectmen for taking the time at their last meeting to listen to the idea of the Town of Sunapee acquiring a 5 acre piece of property,” said Rem Mastin, Sunapee. This occurred after Mastin, in a letter published in the InterTown Record, suggested the town look at the Sunapee Center on Sargent Road for a new complex to eventually centralize town services in one location. He listed different civic projects in the planning stages that might be suitable for the site. (See article: It’s a Unique Opportunity Says Mastin.)

Although not on the agenda, the selectmen took up Mastin’s idea July 27 and agreed to invite the Sunapee school board and library trustees to the August 10 meeting to discuss the possibilities. Continue reading

Sunapee Planners Approve U-Haul Rental

The Sunapee planning board approved adding U-Haul truck rentals to Philip and Linda Johnson’s property usage at 1158 Route 11 in Sunapee. At the July 16 planning board meeting, Phil Johnson said they’d be picking up the rental dealership previously operated by Northstar Storage, also located on Route 11.

Linda Johnson, who has operated Ideal Properties real estate sales from the 1158 Route 11 location for 13 years, told she thought it would be “a good match.” They expect to be operating the dealership by the end of the month. Phil Johnson operates Auto Agent car sales, as well. Previously, the Johnsons ran an electronics business from the Muzzey Hill location, up from the Georges Mills firehouse.

According to the planning board minutes, the Johnsons could use 50% of their existing display area for truck parking, up to five to six vehicles. Trucks would be rented and returned to the location, which has “good” visibility “up and down” the highway, according to Johnson. A change in signage to advertise the U-Haul rentals may occur. The board unanimously approved the application subject to no additional lot coverage.

Other U-Haul truck rental sites are in Claremont, Charlestown, Andover and Lebanon, according the company website.

To view Sunapee planning board minutes, visit the town website. The board usually meets the first and third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the town hall meeting room; meetings are open to the public.

It’s a Unique Opportunity Says Mastin

Rem Mastin is a 33-year resident of Sunapee, a member of the town conservation commission and a former member of the zoning board. He knows the lay of the land, appreciates local politics and understands the challenges facing towns such as Sunapee these days. Right now, however, he feels the town has an opportunity, unique opportunity that deserves at least serious conversation, if not serious study by the town.

Mastin recently published his idea in a letter to the InterTown Record, an area weekly, and purchased an ad in this week’s Kearsarge Shopper.

SunapeeCre2009_cphThe idea is to look at existing and future needs of the town and the potential of centralizing services in one area to form a new “Sunapee Town Center.” Mastin has his eye on the commercial property called Sunapee Center…“that in time, could be the answer to a lot of the [town’s] expanding and upgrading pains.”

Located adjacent to Route 11, off Sargent Road and across from the town’s safety services building, the Center encompasses “about 5.3 acres” and includes a newly constructed 11,000 square foot building, and to put it into perspective, our current town hall is about 2800 sq. ft., Mastin says.

The multi-phase development project went belly-up before phase one was occupied. The complex remains largely empty, the surrounding parking lot paved, and two acres remain cleared and open.

“The current owner [Claremont Savings Bank] took back the property by foreclosure and certainly is not in the business of real estate and development. In other words, they might be willing to try to work out a plan with the town to get this so called ‘asset’ off their books.”

“Wouldn’t it be great to get all of our town offices in one location…in a “new, totally upgraded and modernized” space with “the latest in ‘Green’ Energy Savings, too.”

Mastin thinks the property might be the perfect answer to a combined, multi-faceted planning project that considers the long-term needs for town office space, the library, recreation and the school.

“We have a town library…in very dire need of more space and, while efforts to solve this problem have been proposed, the outlook right now looks bleak. We have the Old Town Hall building known as the French Livery building, that as well as poorly located for public access, needs extensive (and very expensive!) rehabilitation just to make it functional for any public use,” Mastin writes in his public letter to the community.

“The Sunapee Center parcel was initially approved to include twenty or so condos/apartments and a 100 seat restaurant in addition to what is already there. Do we really need all that? Hmmmm, maybe not.”

Mastin hopes his idea gets the attention of the school board, as well. “Maybe the old school would make a great new library and indoor activities area for children. Wow, just think,  all the schools, recreation areas, library and town hall, all [located] on one side of the highway. Sounds like a safety feature to me.”

“If this sounds interesting to you folks in Sunapee, like it does to me, talk to your selectmen, town manager, department heads, your neighbors. Or call me or email me to share your thoughts.”

Mastin wants to gather more information and, depending on the feedback he gets, thinks a town warrant article to study the possibilities might be the way to go. A timely conversation is needed now, Mastin suggests, because once the parcel or part of it is sold for other use, the opportunity will be lost.

One can reach Mastin via phone (603-763-2016) or email:

To share your opinion about this and other topics of local interest, leave a comment or submit a Letter to the Editor.

Over 200 Attend DES Hearing on Wild Goose Boat Launch

By Katie Richardson

The Department of Environmental Services Wetlands Bureau held a public hearing at Sherburne Gym in Sunapee on Wednesday night.

Over 200 were in attendance to discuss New Hampshire Fish and Game’s application for a wetlands permit, needed for the proposed public boat launch on Lake Sunapee.  Having already received a shoreland impact permit, Fish and Game must obtain a wetlands permit in order to move forward with the launch planned for what is locally known as Wild Goose in Newbury.

The Wild Goose property, purchased by the state in 1990, is on the western shore of Lake Sunapee, north of the state beach.  The proposed project is to “construct two public boat ramps with parking for 31 car/trailer and 12 cars impacting 1500 sq. feet” on Birch Grove Road in Newbury.  The installation of another public boat launch at Wild Goose has long  been a contentious issue, with environmental and safety concerns heading the opposition’s list.

Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau attended the hearing and gave an overview of the launch with assistance from the project’s engineer and environmental consultant.

Those opposing the launch were quick to speak up, beginning with selectman Dick Wright of Newbury.  “We as a board of selectman do not oppose additional public access,” he stated, “but we do not believe the issues of safety have been addressed.”  Though safety was not the intended subject of the evening, several Newbury residents made mention of it, agreeing with Wright that vehicles hauling boat trailers would be a hazard entering and exiting Route 103’s 50 mile an hour zone.  Wright also took issue with fact that the launch proposal is not in compliance with Newbury zoning ordinances.

Katheryn Holmes, chair of the Newbury conservation commission, was the first to speak to the environmental concerns.  She felt the plan was in violation of the state’s Shorelands Protection Act and urged DES to protect Wild Goose from development.  “We encourage the Wetlands Bureau to deny Fish and Game a wetlands permit.  Let Wild Goose stay wild,” she said.

June Fichter, Executive Director of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association, honed in on the extensive dredging the project would require.  The LSPA advocates for an upgrade of the boat launch at Sunapee State Beach rather than a new launch at Wild Goose, reasoning that the impact to the shoreline would be far less.  Fichter said only 1400 yards of dredging would be required at the State Beach, versus 5000 yards at Wild Goose.

Fichter’s other concern was the lake as a source for drinking water.  She said inadequate filtration at the site will negatively affect the water quality.  Fichter informed the public that $20,000-25,000 a year is now spent on milfoil control and asserted that an additional launch would require more expenditure in that area.

Atty. Howard Dunn, representing the Sullivan County Sportsmen Association, presented DES with a petition of over 900 New Hampshire residents in favor of the launch.  He stated there is “a terrific need for more access to the lake”, a sentiment echoed by several members of the association present.  Reggie Dodge of Newport expressed his frustration that fisherman have long been prevented from launching a boat on Lake Sunapee by inadequate parking for vehicles and trailers.

The hearing was attended by State Rep. Ricia McMahon (D-Sutton), State Rep. Suzanne Gottling (D-Sunapee), State Rep. Thomas Howard (R-Croydon), State Rep. Dave Kidder (R-New London) and State Rep. Beverly Rodeschin (R-Newport).  Members of the Newbury and Sunapee selectboards were in attendance, as were LSPA President Deb Benjamin, former Fish and Game Executive Director Don Clarke, Newbury Police Chief Bob Lee, New Hampshire Wildlife Federation Communications Director Bob Dufraine, Newbury Town Administrator Dennis Pavlicek and Sunapee Town Manager Donna Nashawaty.

Normandeau concluded the meeting by stating his wish to put this long-debated subject to rest one way or the other.  “I recognize everyone has a point of view,” he said, “and I respect all of them.”

DES will accept written public comment on the wetland application through June 26.

NH Forest Society Evaluates 2009 Town Meeting Results

Voters at town meetings across New Hampshire this year continued to support land conservation, but at greatly diminished funding levels. This year, 17 communities appropriated a total of $268,038 to conserve land in their towns, according to a survey conducted by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Those towns in the Kearsarge-Sunapee area included: Sunapee ($15,000), Grantham ($20,000), Warner ($30,000) and Cornish ($4,500). The other towns were: Alstead, Erroll, Francestown, Groton, Harrisville, Holderness, Jaffrey, Lee, Lyme, Plaistow, Rumney, Sullivan and Swanzey. Of the articles that passed, the average amount appropriated was a modest $21,000.

The towns of Bradford, Fitzwilliam, Newington and Windham voted down conservation appropriations. One high profile project that did not receive funding was the 148-acre Battles Farm in Bradford. Voters there rejected a petition to appropriate $96,000 to purchase on a conservation easement on the historic working farm, which also features important wildlife habitat and iconic views. Continue reading

Everything and More About the Stimulus Package

“The word of the month appears to be ‘stimulus’,” writes Christine Walker, the executive director for the the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission in the February 1 E-bulletin. To get a copy, email your request to

The Commission is making available to member communities lots of materials and information.

“Instead of attempting to explain our interpretation of what will happen with President Obama’s Stimulus package we [The Commission] have simply compiled a number of resources so that our communities can best respond to myriad of activity taking place around the state.”

“Beware this can get quite overwhelming,” Walker wrote.

“The one piece of advice that we can offer to our communities is to make sure that you are familiar with the current funding resources that are available to municipalities and be prepared to apply for funding quickly.”

The Commission has posted documents and links including a handy Q & A from the National Association of Regional Councils, which you can here. Note, file size is 2.7 MB: Stimulusfaq122308

The Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission is a not-for-profit, voluntary association of 27 municipalities in western New Hampshire. We provide a mechanism for communities that live, work and recreate together to plan for the balanced growth of the Region and collaborate on issues of common concern.

National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions

teachin-unclesamDo you know about the National Teach-In on Thursday, February 5?

Organized by a non-profit organization, Education for Global Warming Solutions (EdSolv), in Portland, Oregon, the Teach-In is about climate change and finding solutions to global warming.

Hundreds of colleges, universities, high schools and K-8 schools across the country and faith-based institutions, civic groups, libraries and businesses are signed up to participate.

The Teach-In has four main components: A Webcast, Teach-in, Dialogue and Calendar of 100 Days of Action.

At a critical moment at the beginning of the new administration, help mobilize thousands of institutions and millions of Americans, and on this one day, raise global warming solutions to the top of the nation’s agenda……The only thing powerful enough to overcome DC gridlock is a mobilized American public—so get moving, and tell a teacher (or a leader at your church, synagogue or mosque) to join the Teach-In! – National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions

Sunapee News would like hear about National Teach-In events planned for New Hampshire and if you intend to organize or participate in any activities.

Continue reading

Climate Change Etcetera

Think Globally, Act Locally The New London Energy Committee has been working on energy issues since July 2007. After Town Meeting approved a Carbon Coalition warrant article, the Committee formed and quickly agreed on two major goals:

1) To make recommendations to residents about their consumption levels; and 2) to make recommendations to the Town for fuel use and building construction and other energy-saving measures.

The local committee has produced several articles about Energy Matters: building envelopes, global warming, and solar panels. Members also write letters in the local newspaper, such as to explain the selectmen policy on idling town vehicles and how individuals can reduce their own vehicle emissions. The group also wrote and published  “Shrink Your Lawn” and “Lights Out”–all available on the New London, town website. Continue reading

Guidebook on Innovative Land Use Planning

Innovative Land Use Planning Techniques, a handbook for sustainable development, is now available from the NH Department of Environmental Services. The guide was prepared by DES in partnership with NH Association of Regional Planning Commissions, NH Office of Energy and Planning, and NH Local Government Center and was released in October 2008. Continue reading

Sunapee Conservationist Protects 16 Acres in Burkehaven

Last month, a dream came true for Virginia Anthony Soule when the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests accepted her donation of a conservation easement. Soule is a 27-year member of the Forest Society and an avid conservationist in the Sunapee region. The 16-acre Rockwall Farm has been her family’s summer home on Lake Sunapee since 1929.

“The conservation of his lakeside farm will help protect the water quality of Lake Sunapee, the source of drinking water for the Town of Sunapee, as well as the view of the property from the lake,” said Forest Society President/Forester Jane Difley. “It has been a pleasure working with Virginia to help make her long-held dream a reality.”

Continue reading

Sunapee Planners Expect to Publish Revised Master Plan in 2009

“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there,” said Yogi Berra, the baseball catcher. So, it can be said about community planning to meet the demands of growth, development and environmental protection. One tool town planners use to “get there” is a master plan and the master plan process that involves the community at large.

So, where is Sunapee in its Master Plan process? Continue reading


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