Regional planning officials should answer questions in public
by Tim Carter, Meredith NH

Are you aware of the massive planning initiative called the Granite State Future? It’s currently being developed by the Lakes Region Planning Commission and the other eight regional planning commissions in New Hampshire. The plan will have far-reaching impacts about how you will be able to use your land, who will live in your neighborhood, who can drive where, what you can do with the water on your land, etc.

My guess is you probably have questions about all these things. Based on a letter I received on Thursday, July 18 from Mr. Kimon Koulet and Mr. Jerry Coogan, unelected employees of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, it’s far easier to push a boulder up the Mt. Washington Auto Road than it is to get an answer from the Lakes Region Planning Commission in a public forum about this giant state-wide planning project.

In fact, if you want recorded answers to your questions, there’s only one guaranteed method. You have to submit your question in writing to them.

If you attend a public meeting about Granite State Future, Mr. Coogan said in his letter to me, “…the public has no guaranteed right to speak at a public meeting….”

How does that sit with you? I know what you’re thinking, that you have First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Apparently those rights don’t exist in a public meeting hosted by the Lakes Region Planning Commission.

Are you shocked that you can’t ask questions of your public servants at public meetings about issues that affect your land and your life? I know I was stunned.

If you attend a public hearing, a hearing is different than a meeting, about Granite State Future and have a question about any aspect of the plan, the unelected members of the Lakes Region Planning Commission are not required to answer it. You’re allowed to make a comment at a public hearing, but Mr. Koulet and Mr. Coogan don’t have to answer any question you may ask.

If you go to their offices to meet with them to ask questions, they forbid you to record the meeting in case you want to re-listen to what they said.

Is this the way you feel your public servants should respond to your concerns about your land and what you can do with it in the future?

Do you feel Mr. Koulet and Mr. Coogan are trying to hide something? Why do they make it nearly impossible for the general public to hear answers to important questions?

Do you want to read the letter Mr. Koulet and Mr. Coogan sent to me? Go here to download it:

Letter to Tim Carter re RPCs Transparency

If you’re not happy with this state of affairs, I suggest you get in touch with me. We’ll then, as a group, meet with our N.H. House Representatives and our State Senator Jeanie Forrester to see about making changes that require the planning officials to answer our questions in public and allow all meetings with unelected planning officials to be recorded.

Related: Has Planning Commission Become Unaccountable Rogue Agency?