News

No signs for Mont Vernon’s Grand Hill

Thursday, July 10, 2014

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

MONT VERNON – Signs on Grand Hill saying “no loitering” and “no through traffic” would not be fair to people who just want to relax and admire the view.

That seemed to be a consensus Monday night during a public hearing on a proposed ordinance for two signs.

Homeowners on the top of the hill had asked for the town’s help in dealing with problems of people parking, sometimes late at night and sometimes bringing blankets onto private property.

About 20 people, including several of the Grand Hill Road homeowners, filled the small selectmen’s meeting room.

Jeff Johnson of Grand Hill Road had approached selectmen to ask for signs, saying someone had stolen signs he had put up.

But signs on the town’s right-of-way have to be approved by the town, per its ordinance, said Police Chief Kevin Furlong.

“Just telling people to ‘move on,’ we don’t have a leg to stand on,” the chief said. Police “can’t enforce a law that’s not there.”

“We can’t kick people off if the landowner doesn’t care.”

And Furlong said police have been called up there only three times since 2006.

Some non-Grand Hill residents spoke out against the traffic signs.

They would have a “chilling effect” on people who just want to go up there and enjoy the view, said Sheila Sturm. “It sounds like we’re trying to solve a problem for a few individuals.”

Others agreed and said the signs might encourage other homeowners to try to acquire signs against things they consider a nuisance, like hunting.

“It would set a very bad precedent,” Annette Immorlica said.

Wes Sonner said he came to the meeting intending to support the Grand Hill homeowners but changed his mind.

And Tony Immorlica said Grand Hill’s “million dollar view” belongs to the people of Mont Vernon and “any sign would be intimidating to residents who want to go up there. People who live there don’t own the road.”

Selectmen seemed to agree, and Jack Esposito admitted that the issue “got blown up more than we anticipated. We just wanted to help them (homeowners) out.”

The problem is that the owner of private property where people gravitate does not seem interested in posting “no trespassing” signs, residents said, and they agreed the solution seemed to be to convince the owner to post them.

“I go to my mailbox and there are people under a blanket having sex” late at night, said one homeowner. Another one said drivers sometimes block the narrow road, and Furlong said “that’s enforceable” and people shouldn’t hesitate to call the police.

“Any car parked after 11 p.m. warrants a police visit,” he said.

Steve Rand, a member of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society noted that Grand Hill is a “wonderful site” for stargazing.

The chief advised him to call dispatch ahead of time and provide a name, license number and purpose for parking there.

Homeowners agreed that “just a little courtesy” would solve a lot of problems.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.

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