Hollis voters asked to support Article 2

To the Editor:

The Hollis Land Protection Study Committee asks residents to vote at Town Meeting on Saturday, March 12, on Warrant Article 2.

This article is for Birch Hill, a 354-acre parcel of land located off Hayden Road and Federal Hill Road in the northwest part of Hollis. The Land Protection Study Committee is asking voters to buy this property for a multitude of conservation, recreational and public access benefits.

This land protects the groundwater supply within two aquifers – the Nissitissit and the Pennichuck. New Hampshire Fish and Game classifies Birch Hill as one of their highest rated wildlife habitats in New Hampshire. Two summits are on the property – Rocky Pond Hill, with views south to Rocky Pond and Boston, and Birch Hill, which at 821 feet above sea level is the highest point in Hollis.

The property was once part of the colonial 18th-century settlement of Monson, and is laced by historic stone walls and at least one cellar hole.

Public use has always been encouraged on this land, and hundreds of hikers, snowmobilers, equestrians and bicyclists use it regularly. An extensive well-maintained trail system exists on the property. Its location makes it a major "hub" for conservation land and trail systems.

Nearby conservation lands include Beaver Brook properties in Hollis, Monson Village in Hollis and Milford, and Melendy Pond Conservation Area in Brookline. Collectively, these conservation properties compose one of the major greenways in southern New Hampshire.

The Birch Hill Property (Warrant Article 2) received unanimous support from both the Hollis Board of Selectmen and the Hollis Budget Committee at the public hearing on Feb. 8. Several community members and outdoor enthusiasts spoke in favor of supporting Warrant Article 2.

Speaking in support of this and other pending land acquisition warrant articles in Hollis, Selectman Mark Ledoux says, "Timing is everything. Hollis taxpayers will see over a $1.2 million reduction in annual principal and interest payments from bonds being fully repaid. These monies will be coming off the amortization schedule within the next three years, and with bond interest rates at historic lows, now is the best time to take advantage of this significant opportunity."

This 354-acre parcel was recently appraised at $2.875 million. The Hollis Land Protection Study Committee negotiated a price of $ 2.1 million, which yields an attractive price of $5,929 per acre. The committee was created by the selectmen in 2000 to identify important parcels of land that "preserve the natural heritage and rural character of Hollis." The most recent Master Plan Survey, completed in the fall of 2015, corroborated for the third consecutive time that "rural character" remains the No. 1 reason people choose to live in Hollis.

The purchase of this land would require a town bond, which must have a two-thirds majority vote to pass. Please come out and support this article. If you have any questions, please contact Hollis Land Protection Study Committee Chairman Paul Edmunds at 465-6121.

Voters can attend an informational meeting about the land warrant articles at the Community Room at Town Hall on Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m., or find out more at the website www.SaveBirchHill.com. Voting takes place at Town Meeting, which is Saturday, March 12, at 10 a.m. at Hollis Brookline High School.

Paul Edmunds

Chairman

Hollis Land Protection Study Committee