Continued Eco Village, gun club delays spur discussion

  • The now-vacant Walden Eco Village in Peterborough. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/12/2022 10:12:36 AM

The Peterborough Planning Board continued its cases scheduled for Monday night, including the Eco Village issue, sparking a conversation among board members about lengthy continuances and the role of the board.

“I just wonder how long this goes on,” said board member Andrew Dunbar, expressing concern that cases like Eco Village had been continued through multiple meetings without a resolution.

Applicant Akhil Garland is seeking a 20-lot subdivision for the Eco Village after facing a series of challenges, including lawsuits over permit and safety violations and the eviction of all the tenants living on the property. The issue has been continued at every Planning Board meeting since the summer, after the town asked for a third-party review of the property’s wetlands and hydrology that has not yet been provided. At Monday’s meeting, the issue was also continued because applicants could not attend due to being sick, according to Vice Chair Ivy Vann.

On the matter of continuances, Vann said the board had a statutory obligation to provide a continuance when applicants request it. Additionally, she said, if the board asks the applicant to provide materials, it has to continue the case until such materials are produced.

“We cannot deny a hearing based on the number or extent of the continuances,” she said.

Another avenue available to applicants is to request a decision from the Select Board on the grounds that the Planning Board is not moving fast enough, she said, but in the case of applicants who request a continuance, this is not relevant.

Another continued case from Monday night was the issue of the Monadnock Rod & Gun Club. The Planning Board is awaiting a decision from the ZBA on the club’s appeal of an administrative ruling that its shooting range should not be considered grandfathered against existing restrictions against outdoor shooting ranges and thus recommending the application’s denial.

Town Code Enforcement Officer Tim Herlihy previously made the administrative decision, but the ZBA did not hear the case last week following a decision to continue the case in order to provide notice to surrounding towns.

The club is looking to recoup losses after being shut down following lawsuits from the town and abutters when it was found to have expanded one of its ranges without proper permits, filled in wetland areas and crossed over the abutting property line.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the Planning Board discussed moving its meetings to a larger space to allow board members more room for social distancing.

“I think that’s OK for a temporary amount of time to protect us and be able to stay safe,” said board member Sarah Steinberg Heller.

The board decided to hold its February and March meetings in the 1833 room in the Peterborough Town Library. The board’s next meeting will be on Feb. 14, at 6:30 p.m.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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