Nancy Clark resigns from New Ipswich Planning Board

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-04-2023 1:11 PM

Although she was aware of the effort on her behalf, Nancy Clark said it wasn’t her idea to run a write-in campaign for New Ipswich Planning Board.

She was pleased to find out she had been elected March 28, though, stating her enthusiasm “stemmed from a strong desire to serve the community I live in and make positive contributions to the public administration of the Town of New Ipswich based on my professional experience as an engineer and a lawyer.”

However, Clark has resigned from the board even before her first meeting, scheduled for Wednesday. As a lawyer representing a group of neighbors opposed to the proposed Silver Scone Teas event business on River Road, for which the Planning Board was scheduled to continue site-plan review Wednesday, the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys bar her from appearing before the board while representing clients regarding the matter.

“I take these rules very seriously, as I do all my legal work,” she said.

After learning of the rule, Clark said she spent Monday researching the matter and determined she had two options, one of which was to have another attorney at her firm, Devine Millimet, handle the case, but said any other lawyer would not be properly prepared.

“I think that having another attorney representing my clients, no matter who it is, would not be fair to my clients,” she said.

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That left resignation, and Clark submitted her letter to Planning Board Chair Deidre Dailey on Tuesday. One of her clients, Richard Smeeth, was also elected to the Planning Board on March 28, and another, Elizabeth Freeman, is an alternate. Clark said they have already informed Dailey that they would recuse themselves from Silver Scone discussions, but that was an option not available to her.

Silver Scone Teas, owned by Jane Elwell, had been running events out of her home until she received a cease-and-desist order from the town last year due to not having a variance. The Zoning Board has since issued that variance to operate in the Village District, and the Planning Board accepted the business’ application for site-plan review in March.

The Planning Board’s review includes a proposed 16-space parking lot off Currier Road. Robert Fasanella, representing Elwell, told the Planning Board that the parking lot has been in existence for decades, but Clark has disputed whether the parking lot had existed, and read a statement from a former owner of the property claiming it had never been a parking lot. 

Clark also claimed that the board acted incorrectly in waiving a fully engineered site plan, that the septic system was not sufficient for the number of guests allowed and that Elwell did not have permission from the Monadnock Conservancy, which holds a conservation easement on a large part of Elwell’s property, to upgrade the driveway leading to the parking area.

Elwell said she has been in contact with the conservancy and that it has been supportive, and that the Zoning Board found her septic plan to be sufficient.

Once the Planning Board has issued a written decision on Silver Scone, Clark said she would volunteer for the board in hopes of being named an alternate. She also said she would consider an appointment to fill an unexpired term should one arise, although she said the next election for a full seat is too far off to say whether she would run.

In addition to representing neighbors in front of the zoning and planning boards, Clark is also their lawyer for lawsuits with the state’s Housing Appeals Board and Hillsborough County Superior Court. The Superior Court suit against the town related to approvals for the business was dismissed after an out-of-court settlement.

The appeal regarding the issuance of the driveway permit to the Housing Appeals Board is ongoing, and the town has an April 13 deadline to provide a certified record related to the variance and issuance of the driveway permit and to answer the complaints submitted by Clark.

Even if that appeal continues after the Planning Board makes a decision on Silver Scone Teas, Clark would be able to rejoin the board because the matter would no longer be in front of the Planning Board.

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