Groups unfairly accused over land

To the Editor:

This letter is a response to one recently published in this newspaper, written by Suzanne Fournier, titled “Environmental destruction masked as conservation.” That letter directly alleges collusion of the Milford Conservation Commission (MCC) and Melendy Country Association (MCA), a group of town residents, in the supposed destruction of wetlands and their buffers as a quid-pro-quo for a donation to the town of 30 acres of existing undeveloped property.

We, the commission, would like to state, for the record, that no such collusion took place. The two issues in question: the wetland impact in an application to the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment for permission to modify an existing driveway, and the donation of 30 acres to the town, are wholly separate.

Regarding the driveway: The MCC reviewed the application in March of this year and recommended acceptance to the ZBA, given a) an unpaved driveway already exists within the buffer, and b) the minimal impact of the proposed changes in terms of wetland function. Furthermore, wetland impact requires a review and sign-off from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services. They inspected the site and have since issued a permit, including conditions to protect wildlife.

Regarding the land donation: Together with a conservation easement, the sole purpose is to ensure permanent conservation of the land donated, rather than future subdivision and development.

Ms. Fournier’s accusations are no small matter. She refers in several places to a “deal” between the MCC and the MCA. She identifies one MCC associate member by name, alleging he used his position to “get the deal done”; in fact, he left the MCC in November 2016, months before the driveway application came to the our attention.

The MCC is almost wholly composed of volunteers, giving freely of their time, varied expertise and experience, for nature conservation in Milford. The proposed land donation, together with a conservation easement, means a major forfeit by the MCA members, or their heirs, of future financial gain; the MCA is donating this land for laudable reasons. The MCC and MCA are being accused, without any evidence, of collusion in significant environmental destruction, a specious claim in itself.

The town of Milford and state of New Hampshire accept the rights of landowners to use their property within the constraints defined in law, which includes mechanisms for flexible application of those laws given site specifics. In this case, correct procedure was followed throughout. The MCC and MCA have no reason to reproach themselves in any way for their conduct.

Andy Hughes

Chairman

Milford Conservation Commission

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