Letters to the Editor
Column about cross burning in Wilton evokes memories
To the Editor:
I just read your column on the Ku Klux Klan’s attempted cross burning in 1926 in Wilton. My father, Norman Draper, would have been 9 years old at the time. If living, he would be 99 years old.
As a child, my dad told me about this event many times, and he was always frightened when he told it. He indicated, however, that the cross was actually ignited and burned so brightly that it could even be seen in the village of Wilton. Also, he said the cross was located inside the Catholic cemetery.
Apparently, judging from your article, Dad did not get it quite right. It would be interesting if anyone else could remember hearing from a close family member or friend about this incident. I always felt badly that this happened to the Catholics in our town, as it was such an unjust, vicious form of persecution.
I grew up in Wilton, and loved and respected all the good, kind and caring folks who lived there.
Douglas W. Draper
Milford needs better trained Zoning Board of Adjustment
To the Editor:
The members of the Milford Zoning Board of Adjustment would benefit from additional, professional training so they will come to understand that the zoning map and ordinance ARE the spirit of the ordinance.
The ZBA’s handbook, which the ZBA is legally obliged to follow, clearly states:
"The legislative body, in passing the ordinance and map, has already decided what zoning controls it believes to be best for the municipality and has determined what restrictions will be applied. The board of adjustment must act within the limits set by the ordinance and map and cannot enlarge, restrict, or disregard these limits. The board of adjustment cannot be given legislative powers. It cannot do anything that would, in effect, be rezoning." (See Page III-21 of the Handbook.)
The ZBA handbook also states in clear and plain language:
"When the ordinance contains a restriction against a particular use of the land, the board of adjustment would violate the spirit and intent of the ordinance by allowing that use. If an ordinance prohibits industrial and commercial uses in a residential neighborhood, granting permission for such activities would be of doubtful legality. The board cannot change the ordinance." (See Page II-10 of the handbook.)
Why, then, is the Milford ZBA making decision after decision allowing prohibited commercial uses in residential areas and industrial uses in commercial areas or vice versa? Why is the ZBA issuing variances to make permanent the grandfathered non-conforming business uses that are supposed to expire one day?
Abutters protest these extreme variances and "business creep," yet their concerns are given little weight.
With proper training, ZBA members could better defend our zoning map and ordinance. This is the sort of adjustment I’d like to see.
An informed public is crucial to good government. The public can follow ZBA proceedings on Channel 21 on the first and third Thursdays of the month or view ZBA deliberations anytime online on the town’s website and see for themselves what I mean.
Paul F. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Selectmen should heed environmental expert
To the Editor:
On Dec. 28, the Milford Board of Selectmen voted to move forward with a warrant article to excavate earth materials from the hills at Brox. This is the same old excavation plan of the past two years to expand the pit by cutting down the forest and leveling the hills in the community lands.
The selectmen appealingly say that the existing pit will be "restored." Don’t they realize that nature has already restored much of the pit and made it habitat for rare and endangered species? Spring 2015 saw state-endangered Blanding’s turtles using the pit just as it is. Changing it would destroy this habitat for them, as well as for spotted turtles, hognose snakes, ribbon snakes and everything else, including the bank swallows that are a state species of special conservation concern, and the tree and barn swallows that the state’s scientists are watching for possible future listing.
At his Dec. 1 presentation, natural resources expert Dr. Kevin Ryan said not to do anything at Brox without first studying the way wild animal species are using the sand pit or else their very existence on site could be threatened.
Regardless of what Dr. Ryan advised, the selectmen want permission to expand the pit and sell 739,000 cubic yards of earth that lies underneath the Appalachian oak forest, a rare type of forest that, in its own right, ought to be saved.
The selectmen tempt us with dollar signs of $1.25 for each cubic yard, when the fact is that the town would probably net just 50 cents a cubic yard. This is $5 for each truckload of earth sold at 10 cubic yards per load.
Just $5, you ask? That’s because there’s an awful lot of work that either the town or the contractor would have to do regularly to maintain the worksite that costs 75 cents a cubic yard, according to the most complete and professional bid by local company Leighton A. White. The White Co. indicated it would do ALL the necessary work, but would charge the town 75 cents a cubic yard for doing it. This costly work includes obtaining permits, clearing trees, grubbing and stumping, stripping loam, stockpiling, silt fencing around wetlands and upkeep of the access road.
A commercial excavation project would not only destroy priceless endangered species habitat, but would impact the numerous recreationists who presently enjoy the outdoors at Brox. Recreationists would be displaced for many years and possibly decades, a huge loss for Milford residents. Replacing cyclists and hikers with massive trucks hauling sand through the recreation areas would diminish the useful value of the land.
And there’s lots of outdoor recreation going on at the Brox town lands, as well as at Milford’s other hiking and biking trails, rail trail, parks, forests, the river, ponds, farms, conservation open space and everything that makes Milford attractive. People are enjoying themselves outdoors in Milford and are spending their money here.
Milford would lose these benefits to the local economy that we get today, as well as the increased money-making potential of outdoor recreation more generally that is being overlooked by the selectmen. Outdoor recreation brings in $4.2 billion annually to New Hampshire in consumer spending, according to the Outdoor Recreation Industry Association. The net effect of a commercial excavation operation might actually be a loss of money for Milford.
As the natural resources expert, Dr. Kevin Ryan, told the Milford public recently, Brox is "an ecological gem" that ought to continue to be enjoyed by outdoor recreationists. Dr. Ryan is right, and the selectmen would be wise to follow his advice.
Brox Environmental Citizens