Monday, April 16, 2007

A First Time for Everything

Welcome to my new blog!

I have created this blog as a way to get information out to the public concerning the Newington Conservation Commission and other issues that interest me. While I expect that a great deal of the blog will concern the Newington Conservation Commission, it is my hope to discuss other areas as well as time and space allow. This is my first real foray into blogging and the internet. Please be patient with me as I get accustomed to this process and look forward to improvements in the future.

About Me

By way of background, my name is Justin Richardson and I am a Newington resident and a volunteer member of the Conservation Commission, appointed by the Board of Selectmen in April 2005. While I have lived and travelled many places over the years, including Rennes, France; Montreal, Quebec; Nairobi, Kenya, I have lived most of my life in New Hampshire.

In my professional life, I am a lawyer for the firm of Upton & Hatfield, LLP where I practice primarily municipal, environmental and utility law. There is a picture of me on the firm's website under "profiles": www.upton-hatfield.com

I moved to Newington only recently in September of 2004, with my wife Leila. Since moving to Town, we have two daughters, Elsa and Josephine that you will often see with me around Town. If you notice a dad with a toddler and pair of binoculars looking at birds or wildlife, that is probably us.

While I am a recent arrival in Town, I have been involved in a number of Newington projects in a professional capacity before moving to Town. As far back as 1996, as special counsel to the Counsel for the Public in the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office (see RSA 162-H), I was involved in the siting and permitting of the Portland Natural Gas and Maritimes & Northeast natural gas pipelines. In 1998-2000, I later served as Counsel for the Public on the construction of the Newington Energy, LLC natural gas fired power plant. While working as in house legal counsel for the property tax consulting firm George E. Sansoucy, PE, LLC, I was involved in applications for tax exemption for pollution control facilities at the Sprague Energy terminals on River Road and Avery Lane, and the Newington Energy plant.

Newington has always struck me as having some of the best of what New Hampshire has to offer: natural resouces, an independent spirit, low taxes. It is my goal as a member of the Conservation Commission to continue to promote those (and other) goals.

A New Direction for the Conservation Commission

Introductions aside, I would like to briefly describe what I see as some significant changes and opportunities that are on the horizon for the Commission in the next year. These included a number of "firsts" as well as some big projects and opportunities that may impact the Town for years to come. Here as just a few:

Changes in membership and approach. Three commission membership are up for reappointment, and the current chairman was recently asked to step down. As anyone following the news in the Portsmouth Herald knows, over the last several years, the Conservation Commission has been a very political organization, pointing fingers at other municipal and governmental bodies such as the Board of Selectmen, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, the Pease Development Authority and others. While some of these political actions were justified, others were a significant distration from the Commission's mandate on environmental and land conservation activities. I believe with new appointments on the horizon the focus of the Commission will turn from largely political and legal issues back to Conservation.
New Laws and new projects. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has a new program in its infancy called the in lieu mitigation fee program. It came as an amendment to RSA 482-A:28 et seq, signed into law by Governor John Lynch in the fall of 2006. In a nutshell, the program involves developers proposing to fill between 10,000 and 44,000 (less than 1 acre) paying a fee to the NHDES to be used for conservation projects in the same watershed. NHDES will then award grants for projects such as wetlands mitigiation, conservation and other projects. It is my goal to try to pursue potential mitigation projects to promote wetlands mitigation, stormwater protection and/or other projects that will benefit Newington, Great Bay and the Piscataqua River.
NH DOT Spaulding Turnpike. The DOT proposes to fill some 30+ acres of wetlands for the expansion of the turnpike. See www.newington-dover.com The Commission has asked the DOT to consider a number of mitigation projects in town ranging from outright land conservation to enhancement of disturbed wetlands and streams in Town. The next year should see the DOT making more specific proposals as the project moves forward.
Use of Information Technology. It is my hope that the Commission will begin making more information available on line, either on this site or an official resource such as the Town's web site. The time is long overdue.

I look forward to your comments, suggestions and participation in this blog as it moves forward.

-Justin Richardson

LEGAL DISCLAIMER
While I am a member of the Newington Conservation Commission, the views expressed here are my own, not those of the Commission. The Commission is not an adjudicatory body such as Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board. While I hope to use this forum to provide information on projects that the Commission may have in mind, I will try to steer away from debating or discussion any cases or decisions to be made by the Commission in upcoming meetings. There is currently legislation concerning the use of the internet in municipal government actions that may further define what is or is not appropriate use for this site. I will continue to try to use this blog as a conservation and information tool. If you have any concerns that my use of this site is inappropriate or not in accordance with the law, please feel free to share your concerns with me. You may reach me at JCRLaw@Gmail.com

1 comment:

Cherlin said...

Well written article.