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Select Board denies rehearing request for Bell Mill Dam decision

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Select Board has denied a request that they reconsider a decision made in November to require the repair of the Bell Mill Dam.

The dam has been at the center of a dispute between the residents that co-own it, Brenda Berry and Margit and Harris Porter, who each own land on either side of the dam. The dam is the site of a proposed hydroelectric operation by Contoocook Hydro, a proposition supported by Berry but not by the Porters.

During the November hearings on the dam, the Select Board made clear that the disagreement regarding the ownership of the dam, use of the water, and the operation of the hydro plant were all outside their purview. The only two things the Select Board could rule on was whether or not the dam required repairs, and the apportionment of how the repairs, if needed, should be paid for. 

On Nov. 7, the board voted that the dam, which has a washed-off wooden crest and broken off stone blocks, was in need of repair, and that the onus for paying for that repair fell solely on Berry, as the petitioner.

Since Berry had already reached an agreement with Contoocook Hydro’s president, Lori Barg, to repair the dam as part of the agreement to use it, and Barg had already secured the required permits and lease to operate, this effectively gave the green light for Contoocook Hydro’s project. 

Attorney for the Porters, Justin Richardson, filed a request to reconsider their findings, based on evidence submitted by the Porters that was not initially entered into the record, and alleging that the Select Board had received input on the issue outside of the public hearing process, which they allowed to influence their decision. 

Select Board member Barbara Miller said she had reviewed the materials, and did not see anything compelling enough that it would have changed her view on the matter.

“It did not influence my decision in any way,” she said of the additional filings by Richardson. 

Both Select Board member Ed Juengst and Chair Tyler Ward echoed that position, and with virtually no discussion, the board unanimously decided to deny the Porter’s request for a re-hearing.

 

 Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.