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Sullivan County Seeks 600-Acre Parcel to Aid Access to Pipe

Unity — A nearly 600 acre parcel not far from the county complex could soon be owned by the county if the delegation of state representatives approves the purchase.

County Administrator Greg Chanis said Monday there will be a public hearing on the proposal August 8 followed by a vote by the delegation on August 13.

The county has a purchase and sales agreement with a price tag of $298,000. If the purchase is approved, the money would come out of the county’s fund balance.

Chanis said the land, which is located on the north side of Second New Hampshire Turnpike near Spooner Road and extends north to the Unity/Claremont line, has a few benefits to the county.

First, the county would own about 70 percent of the roughly 8,000 foot underground pipe that runs from Marshall Pond, across Second New Hampshire Turnpike to a fire pond on county property that is used to supply water for hydrants and the sprinkler system at the complex where the nursing home and jail are located.

The county owns the Marshall Pond property to the east and this parcel abuts that land.

“We have an easement to work on the pipe but it is simpler if we have ownership,” Chanis said, adding that the pipe was built in the 1930s and will need maintenance. A second benefit is protecting the west side of Marshall Pond. The pond’s west shore almost touches the border of the land the county intends to buy.

The land also has value for timber harvesting, Chanis said. He described that as a “long-term” investment because the next harvest probably won’t be for another 20 or 30 years, since the last harvest was about six years ago. Lastly, Chanis said in the long term the property could be used for passive recreation such as hiking, though he described those discussions thus far as just “brainstorming.”

“There are some gorgeous views up there,” Chanis said, adding that the county began looking at the property three or four months ago and brought the idea to the commissioners after researching the deed.

The commissioners authorized Chanis to negotiate a price and secure a purchase and sales agreement. The commissioners then recommended the purchase to the delegation, which must approve the buying and selling of real estate.

With an official request to the delegation for a supplemental appropriation the next step is the August 8 public hearing.

The commissioners presented their recommendation to the delegation in a meeting last week and Chanis said the representatives were “cautiously supportive,” but suggested the purchase be discussed with the Unity Selectmen.

Jeff Barrette, chairman of the county commissioners, said last evening the selectmen could see the benefit to the county.

“Basically their feeling was we see where this makes sense to you,” Barrette said.

The property is in current use, which means the owner agrees to keep the land undeveloped, which lowers the taxes. The property would remain that way with county ownership so there would be no change in the taxes paid to the town. “I think this is a great idea,” Chanis said.

If the sale does not go through, Chanis said the county would be refunded its $30,000 deposit.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.