Claremont Municipal Airport Hangar
or "the hassle of a lifetime"
MAY, 2006 - This page details the excruciating agony of trying to build a hangar at the City of Claremont, New Hampshire Claremont Municipal Airport (CNH), and the hassles of dealing with the Claremont bureaucracy, particularly Nancy Merrill. I began this process filled with enthusiasm and optimism, very much looking forward to working with the Claremont officials to get a hangar built. A year later, I am exhausted from dealing with Claremont's imperious and uncooperative obstructionists and their bad attitudes, and I no longer wish to have anything to do with them.
Click HERE for the summary of the Claremont hangar hassles.
I apologize for this being such a long read. It had started off as a simple page describing the building of my hangar, and grew with each new hurdle to overcome. It was originally intended to just be a few words and some pictures of the hangar construction process. In the beginning, I did not keep detailed notes of every contact with the Claremont bureaucrats, because I did not realize then that those contacts would end up being the whole story.
OCTOBER, 2006 update - the level of treachery by the Claremont bureaucrats has been raised considerably by their dishonest handling of leases for the new FAA-funded municipal hangars. Jump to HERE for details.
DECEMBER, 2006 update - Filed FAA complaint and followup complaint
JULY, 2007 update - FAA concurs that CNH leases are discriminatory, and orders them corrected within 60 days.
AUGUST, 2009 update - FOUR YEARS after being told by the obstructionist Claremont bureaucrats that I had to put my hangar plans on hold while it took them NINE MONTHS to come up with laughable "comprehensive hangar building guidelines" because "so many people wanted to build a hangar there", not a single person has broken ground for a new hangar at Claremont.
May 28, 2005 - I've begun work on building my own hangar. I had looked into it back in December, 2004 at Claremont, NH Municipal Airport (CNH). At that time, Peter Chase, Airport Manager, thought funding would be approved for the city to build at least 6 T-hangars, so I didn't bother proceeding with the expense and headaches of trying to build my own. I just found out that the lowest bid the City received for the project was more than $100K over budget, so the plan for City hangars is off at least until next year. I've asked Peter several times to get on the waiting list for the City hangars, whenever they are built, but all I've gotten so far is vague squirming. For some inexplicable reason, he says the city will start its own hangar waiting list, rather than simply picking up the existing waiting list for the existing hangars and continuing to use that.
So, I've been very busy every day with dozens of phone calls, getting all the processes going to build my own hangar. I'm told Claremont has a better attitude toward pilots & building hangars than many of the local airports. I don't think any new hangars have been built anywhere in New Hampshire for about 30+ years. I've been on a waiting list at CNH for 3 years for one of their rusty old existing hangars. About the only way to get into a hangar in NH is to inherit it. I will be spending lots of time working on all the planning for this hangar.
One benefit is that someone else just built the first new hangar at CNH, so I can follow in his footsteps. He says he went through a lot of hassles to get it done, but it should be easier for me following right behind him. I am committed to doing it, I've got the money set aside for it, and I hope to have it done by the end of the year.
This is Dick Love's hangar, just being completed now. Mine will go right beside it (behind it in this pic), and be the same color. Depending on what I get back for estimates, it may be the same building, from the same supplier (Morton), or from a local garage builder. Dick's is 48' wide and 45' deep, with a 41' door. Mine probably won't be quite as deep, and maybe not quite as wide. It's actually a wood building, with wood posts and rafter trusses, even though it looks like a metal building.
June 22, 2005 - I've been very busy every day for the past month on this, getting everything lined up to go to the Claremont Planning Board with my building plan. The Claremont bureaucrats, especially Nancy Merrill, Business Development Coordinator, apparently don't believe in returning phone calls. Even though I had seen a letter from Nancy Merrill, expressing hope that there would be more hangars built, I seem to have encountered mostly resistance and haughtiness from these people. Nancy is the key person in all this, and she is most unhelpful. She doesn't return phone calls. She's very vague and evasive about everything. She offers no help or guidance.
Just as I was ready to submit my plans to the Planning Department, I found out my hangar plans have been put on hold indefinitely while the local bureaucrats now decide how to come up with a "hangar policy". This is something new they just thought up to add more red tape to the project. I had thought in my first meeting a few weeks ago with Gerald Coogan, City Planner, that he seemed quite hostile to me and to the idea of me building a new hangar. Jerry showed no interest at all in discussing my hangar plans (the purpose of the meeting). Instead, his only interest seemed to be to challenge my qualifications to oversee the building of a hangar, my qualifications as a plane builder, my qualifications as a pilot, my plane's qualifications to fly, and my qualifications to afford a hangar. Nancy Merrill was supposed to be in that meeting, and she didn't even bother showing up for it. Peter Chase was in the meeting, but he just sat there passively throughout the meeting and offered no help or support while Jerry gave me the Third Degree.
Apparently, this new delay is the Planning Department's way of adding yet another layer of hassle to the process. I guess all the layers of Claremont City Planning Department conditions, Claremont Planning Board approval, Claremont Airport Board approval, NH state DOT approval, FAA approval, concurrence with Airport Layout Plan, etc wasn't enough red tape for them. Now, these Claremont planning bureaucrats say they won't accept my plans until they finish fumbling through formulating a hangar building policy, whatever that means or could entail. That can take a couple months (or more).
I got an estimate from Morton, who built Dick Love's hangar, but I decided to go with LaValley's, a local building supply chain and inexpensive garage builder. People think of a hangar as something special, but it's really nothing more than a big garage for a plane. The LaValley's price was less than Morton's.
June 23, 2005 - Set up meeting for the 29th with PSNH (local power company) to see where I should plan to run conduit, so I can show it on my site plan. Called City Attorney about leases & left message
June 24, 2005 - Called City Attorney again & left message. Like Nancy Merrill, apparently the City Attorney does not believe in returning calls.
June 27, 2005 - Called Peter Chase and told him about meeting with PSNH to determine conduit path. He will be there.
June 28, 2005 - got a voice mail from Peter Chase. He said he won't be at tomorrow's meeting with PSNH because Ken Walsh, the Claremont Building Inspector, has taken it upon himself to CANCEL my appointment with Russell Wiles, the PSNH rep. Incredible audacity!
June 29, 2005 - Confirmed with Russell Wiles that Ken Walsh told him to cancel his meeting with me. I also talked to Peter Chase. He says the Planning Department is now taking over the hangar building process, and he claims he has little say in it any more. He also said that Ken Walsh had told him I have no lease and no permit, so Peter should not attend the meeting with PSNH that I set up. Apparently Peter is so meek, he just went along with what Ken told him to do. After leaving several voice mail messages for Ken Walsh to find out why he cancelled my meeting, I got a voice mail message from him. First, he gave me a big lecture about "don't leave him more than one voice mail message". Then he went on to claim that I was "jumping the gun" by "trying to get electricity put in when I don't have a lease". That's absurd; I had only called PSNH to find out where the conduit should be shown on my plans, and to find out the specs I'd need to follow for the conduit trench. The hostile, imperious attitudes of these people are unbelievable! I also called some people affiliated with the Parlin Airport in Newport. Even though it's twice as far from home as CNH, it may be a better option. Unfortunately, the only individual hangars they have room for at Newport are really big ones. In talking with the people at Parlin, it sounds like the attitudes there are MUCH better than in Claremont.
June 30, 2005 - talked to Ken Walsh and explained why I had set up the meeting with PSNH. I still can't believe his audacity in cancelling MY meeting!
July 1, 2005 - talked to Peter Chase. He was very evasive and gave me lots of lame excuses. He says the Planning office has now taken over all handling of all new development at the airport. He claims he is powerless to do anything about it. He claims the Planning Dept now has to develop an extensive plan and policy on the details of how private hangars are to be built. He says the City will not accept any new proposals until the City's new plan and policies are in place.
July 5, 2005 - Talked to Jerry Coogan about the "hangar policy" they are doing now. He says it will take "a few months", and that I just have to wait and be patient. He is quite aloof and imperious every time I talk to him.
July 15, 2005 - reiterated yet again to Peter Chase, Airport Manager, my interest in getting on the waiting list for the city hangars. I've been on the list for the existing hangars for 3 years, and I have been #1 there for at least a year. The fair and honest way to handle it would be to simply use the existing waiting list, but Peter is very evasive on the subject of the waiting list. I emailed them with several suggestions for the policy they are creating, including several suggested hangar spec guidelines and having a public meeting to get input on the subject from pilots and potential builders. I also again suggested they treat it like any subdivision; just have one site plan review and abutter notification process for the whole thing - not make each hangar go through the same process over and over. 2006 update - of course, ALL these suggestions were complete ignored. THIS is what it took them EIGHT MONTHS to produce.
Aug 4, 2005 - finally got an email reply from Peter Chase regarding my many queries about the hangar waiting list, saying "This whole process is getting complicated and I do not know who will be making the decisions on awarding the new hangar leases but I will do my best to forward your request. Dufresne-Henry is developing a site plan for private/municipal hangars and it should be available soon, the policies are being coordinated by Nancy Merrill." This is after I've been telling him over and over since I first met him last December that I want to be on the waiting list for the City hangars. I sent him this reply: Thank you for your reply, Peter. Please do what you can to ensure that whoever is maintaining the list knows that I asked to be placed on the new hangar list as far back as Dec ’04, and that I have been on the waiting list for the existing hangars for about 3 years. I hope this will ensure that my name is somewhere in the top 6 for the new hangars. If you find out who is going to be managing this list, please do let me know as soon as possible. Called Nancy Merrill and left message to call me.
Aug 5, 2005 - I finally caught Nancy Merrill in her office, after leaving her many voice mails over the last several days. She almost never returns any phone calls. All I got from her was more evasiveness and lots of BS and double-talk. She claims the hangar waiting list is "an internal thing not yet sorted out" and that they are in a "transition of functions". How can these people be so obtuse that they can't even figure out how to do a waiting list? It's standard procedure at every airport in the country. She claims she'll check with Peter on the waiting list. She said it'll take another month or so to finish updating the ALP. She claims she'll call me next week about it. Yeah, and I'll be holding my breath on that, Nancy.
Aug 11, 2005 - Of course no call from Nancy Merrill, as she promised. Called her & left message.
Aug 12, 2005 - Called Nancy Merrill again. She says it will take another 30-40 days to redo the ALP. She said she talked to Peter Chase about the hangar waiting list, and after construction begins they will do pre-lease agreements. She claims she's "not on the list end of things". Even though it's been two months so far, she has accomplished absolutely NOTHING on their hangar building policy, and she claims they are "working on it". Of course, they have ignored all my suggestions about such a policy, including the suggestion to open the process to public/pilot/builders input. That's part of the arrogance and ignorance of these bureaucrats. Not only are they so incompetent they can't even do a simple waiting list without screwing it up, they're also so arrogant and imperious they refuse to accept any intelligent outside input.
Aug 17, 2005 - The City now does plan to go ahead with its own 6 unit hangar. Nancy Merrill, Business Development Coordinator, and Peter Chase, Airport Manager, continue to point fingers at each other regarding the waiting list for the City hangars. I have made it very clear to Peter since December, 2004 that I want to be placed on the waiting list for hangars the City is building. Peter claims Nancy is handling it. Nancy claims Peter is. Peter is fairly responsive, but Nancy rarely returns any phone calls. Apparently, neither of them is clever enough or has enough ambition to start making a waiting list. They claim they can't start a list because the hangars don't exist yet, and each claims the other is in charge of it. They claim they can't start a list until they "develop" the hangar leases. What a crock! They claim they are "looking into" how to do it. That seems to be the main thing these useless bureaucrats do; "look into" the simplest of things while they accomplish nothing. My God - how much simpler can anything be than making up a waiting list? Whether it’s a table at a restaurant or a hangar at any airport, the procedure is very simple; as someone comes in and says “I want a hangar/table/whatever”, the person managing the list takes the person’s name and puts it on the bottom of the list. As tables/hangars/etc become available, the person at the top of the list is asked “your table/hangar/etc is available now – do you want it?”. The fact that the hangars and/or leases do not now exist is irrelevant to the maintaining of a hangar waiting list. Things don’t get much more simple than that. Yet, these 2 are struggling with this concept. I've been asking about the waiting list for months, and all I get is their lame excuses and finger-pointing. After 3 months of waiting, still no news at all on when they will let me submit my hangar plan.
I sent an email to Nancy and Peter about the municipal hangar waiting list situation, including: I strongly urge the city to make the establishment of a fair, honest, and open city hangar waiting list part of the policy formulation process. People who request a hangar should go onto the list in the order in which they asked to be placed on the list. In my case, that would be December, 2004. I can get you the exact date, if you wish. There does not need to be a lease or other policies in place in order to establish and maintain a waiting list. The hangars don’t have to yet exist in order to establish and maintain a waiting list. After the hangars are built and become available, if a person’s name comes to the top of the list and they don’t like the terms existing at that time, then they can simply decline it, and the offer will move to the next person in line. The key is to establish and maintain, in a fair and honest manner, a list that indicates the order in which people requested to be on the list for a hangar. The email was ignored, of course.
Sep 12, 2005 - Called Nancy Merrill again to check on status of ALP, policy, waiting list, etc. Left message. No callback, of course.
Sep 14, 2005 - Called Nancy Merrill yet again. She claims they should have something from Dufresne-Henry on the ALP by the end of the week, and she and Peter Chase will discuss it after that. They have done NOTHING so far on lease details, charges, locations, etc. She says it will take "a few weeks" to formulate their plan. As usual, she was quite evasive on any details. This is after they have squandered about 4 months so far doing nothing. She says she doesn't know anything about getting public input on their plan. She claims they will be ready to accept my building plan within 2-4 weeks. I asked her about the waiting list again, and she claims they are "waiting for the construction schedule" to do anything with that, and she said Peter Chase is handling the list.
Oct 4, 2005 - called Nancy Merrill to check on status of things, and left a message to call me. No callback, of course.
Oct 5, 2005 - called Nancy Merrill again and left another message. Also called Peter Chase to get his version of the BS tap-dance. He said the municipal hangar needs to go to site plan review. He claims the City Attorney is working on the pre-lease agreements and he had some vague convoluted tap dance about how the hangar waiting list is somehow waiting for these pre-lease agreements. He says D-H has finished redoing the ALP, and they are waiting for the Planning Board to sign off on their new plan at a Planning Board meeting on the 24th. Then he has to get FAA and DOT approval of their revised plan. So, it's taken them over 5 months just to make some minor changes in the ALP, and they are apparently still fumbling with the "hangar building policy" and have thus far done nothing with the hangar policy, or the private or public hangar leases, or the municipal hangar waiting list. 2006 update - of course, they never did produce any pre-lease agreements or any other opportunity to view the lease terms in advance of the "race for the leases"
Oct 6, 2005 - called Nancy Merrill yet again and left yet another message to call me. She didn't call back, of course, so I called again and told the receptionist it was "Ray Burton" (NH Governor's Council member) calling. Like magic, Nancy was suddenly in and available for my call. She says the Site Plan Review on Oct 24 is only for their municipal hangars, not for the redone ALP or for any private hangars. I asked again why each person has to take the same site plan to Site Plan Review over and over for each proposed new hangar. She had no answer to that. She says Peter has to get the municipal hangar approved, then send it all out to FAA and NHDOT before they will consider my plans. She says the municipal hangar will have the site work done in the fall, and will be complete by March, 2006.
Oct 24, 2005 - Went to Site Plan Review before the Claremont Planning Board. As an example of their secretive and imperious way of doing everything, these arrogant bureaucrats refused to divulge or seek any input on any of this from local pilots and hangar builders (even though I had asked them to do so back in July), before taking the plan to the Planning Board. Jerry Coogan was particularly hostile, acting like I had incredible audacity for showing up and asking any questions. I had several questions about it, during the public hearing portion of the meeting. I questioned why no provisions were shown for getting power, water, sewer, etc to the municipal hangar or to the private hangars. I also had questions about the way they are showing vehicle access and parking. They claimed they'd "look into" the issues I'd raised. They claim they can start construction within two weeks. The "Daniels Building" referred to in the minutes is this (the relic of the Great Lakes Aircraft Company that the City of Claremont drove out of business).
Oct 25, 2005 - sent email to Nancy Merrill with the following suggestions regarding their site plan (all were subsequently ignored):
1. Proposed auto parking for hangars 11-18 should go all the way from Hangar 11 to Hangar 18. It is presently shown only in front of hangars 13, 14, 15.
2. The road along the private hangars should go all the way to the proposed fence
3. At the south end of both rows of city and private hangars, there is a proposed fence. Both fences show a 20’ double swing gate, but the plan does not show a road through those gates.
4. The plan should show how the city plans to get power and phone conduit to the row of private hangars.
Oct 30, 2005 - Met with Warren Stevens, M&W Soils Engineering, at the airport to get soil samples at my proposed building site. The Building Inspector, Ken Walsh, says I have to get a certified soil survey in order to use a common Alaskan Slab for my building, so I have to hire Warren to do that.
Nov 8, 2005 - talked to several people who were involved in getting hangars built in Newport. It sounds like it was a simple matter to build a hangar in Newport, with cooperation from local officials, not the "Claremont attitudes".
Nov 18, 2005 - Called Peter Chase. He says they are now waiting for a verbal FAA approval of their redone ALP. He claims the City Attorney is is now forwarding the lease agreements to Nancy.
Nov 30, 2005 - The Claremont bureaucrats have been jerking me around for 7 months so far. After taking 7 months to make some minor changes in the ALP, they are now finally getting ready to offer me a lease, so I can proceed with this.
They've screwed me on being able to start any construction this year, because the ground is now frozen, so it'll be about next April before I can start the prepping the site for concrete. The City is also building 6 of their own T-hangars, but they are so grossly incompetent that they squandered their time, and they have done absolutely nothing toward starting their building. Their site plan was approved and they told the Claremont Planning Board over a month ago that they'd start construction within two weeks, but they've accomplished nothing since then. So now the ground is frozen, and they'll have to wait for the spring thaw along with me.
I had a meeting with Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill today, and they are finally done with the "rethink the airport layout plan" issue. They've gotten a verbal approval from the FAA on the revised Airport Layout Plan, so they are now finally ready to produce a lease for me to sign. Apparently they are incapable of doing tasks in parallel, like getting the leases ready WHILE they "work" on the other issues, instead of AFTERWARD. They also have spent 7 months claiming they were coming up with a "formal development policy" for building hangars at the airport. After 7 months, they have produced NOTHING formal, and have only a couple verbal "suggestions" regarding design features, like color, door styles, etc; all of which I already suggested to them, and we all agreed upon, months ago. Now, they say they are ready to produce a lease I can sign. Even though Peter told me a couple weeks ago that the leases were FINALLY ready, they now claim it'll take a couple more weeks to get the City Attorney to print out a lease I can sign. TWO WEEKS to print out a lease?? They also said someone else has already signed a lease. How can that be, when they claim leases just now became available to sign? What can be so difficult about inserting my name and hangar space number into the same lease, and printing it out? These people are unbelievable! They also still claim they haven't figured out how to create and maintain a waiting list for the hangars the City is building.
Dec 6, 2005 - Called Warren Stevens on my soil and hangar door engineering projects. He says it will be done this week or next.
Dec 14, 2005 - Two more weeks wasted, and I am still trying to get the city to print out a lease I can sign. I had thought two weeks was an absurdly long time to print out a lease, and they couldn't even meet that deadline. It's been promised "very soon", as they work out the simplest of details.
Dec 21, 2005 - So far, it's taken the Claremont bureaucrats 3 weeks to make a very minor change in the wording of the lease, so I can sign it. The incompetence and indifference of these people is staggering. Dealing with the Claremont Planning Department is EXTREMELY frustrating. It's hard to comprehend how bureaucrats can get so little done each day. My theory is that they know how grossly incompetent they really are, and thus they move with extreme deliberation and caution on the simplest of things, in a feeble attempt to avoid their propensity for screwing up everything they touch. Plus they just don't give a damn whether anything gets done or not.
Last winter, I spent several months working as a contractor for a county government in Georgia. It amazed me that they would spend weeks and months agonizing over simple decisions that would be decided in an hour in private business. Even though I was well paid, I ended up quitting that job, because I was bored to death as they paid me to just sit there week after week, doing nothing (like them), while they held meeting after meeting, and tried to make the most elementary decisions on how they wanted me to configure their software.
How can these people live with themselves? It must take some special rationalizations only they are capable of; to not see what utter losers they are, and to remain oblivious to the fact that they are incapable of functioning in the real world, where people provide goods and services that other people are actually willing to pay for. There isn't an ounce of ambition in the whole lot of them. They are masters of rationalizing their value to society.
Dec 22, 2005 - finally signed the lease for the hangar. After daily calls & emails to Nancy Merrill, Business Development Coordinator, she finally said it was ready. They are taking 2.5 days off for Christmas, and she actually wanted to MAIL it to me, wasting yet another week, but I told her I'd come over immediately and sign it. They squandered an entire month just getting a lease to me to sign.
Dec 27, 2005 - talked to Peter Chase, Airport Manager & Fire Chief, about where the conduit for my electric power should be shown on my site plan. He said he plans to have the City dig the trench and lay the conduit. I told him I would much rather pay for it myself than wait while they screw around wasting months doing something I could get done in a day. Of course, he can't decide anything on his own, and has to check with their engineers & says he'll call back. Of all of them, Peter appears to be the most sincere and responsive, and he seems to want to actually get something done. But that isn't saying a lot. I called the PSNH electric company & opened a work order to get power and to find out where they want the electric conduit laid.
Dec 28, 2005 - Met Peter Chase and a PSNH rep at the airport, and we discussed how we're going to get power over to the other side of the old runway, where my hangar will be built. I'll need this info for my Site Plan for the Planning Board. I had raised this issue with Peter many months ago, and I had specifically asked him, Nancy Merrill, and Jerry Coogan to be sure to indicate that info on the new ALP they spent 7 months revising. Of course, they did absolutely nothing on it, so now I am working on making it happen.
Dec 29, 2005 - Nancy Merrill STILL has not taken my signed lease to the City Manager for his signature. She says she will do it this afternoon, and mail it to me. I realize it's holiday time, but it's been a &^%$#@! WEEK since I signed it!
Jan 3, 2006 - met with Peter Chase & PSNH rep at the airport, to discuss AC power delivery. Because of the more extensive power delivery plan now proposed by PSNH (rather than just me getting my own power to my own hangar), I am now dependent upon Peter and the City to get it done. I tried to stress to Peter to start working on it and planning now, so it can be started as soon as the ground thaws. Hopefully, he will do something on it. He claims he will, but I don't have any confidence that in a month or two, any planning at all will have been accomplished.
Jan 4, 2006 - met with Wayne McCutcheon, surveyor, to get started on my site plan. It quickly fell apart, due to his unmitigated greed. I had gone to him, even though my parents had previous bad dealings with him concerning outrageous overcharging, because he has already done previous airport and hangar site plans. So, the idea of the advantage of going to Wayne was that he already had the survey done and all the pertinent info at his fingertips. Plus, he's all computerized, so my site plan would be nothing more than adding my site to his existing plan and printing it out. I had visited him back in May to do my plan then, and he had seemed OK at that time. After a couple minutes of chat, he blurted out that the charge for a site plan would be $2,000. He said someone else is doing the same thing as me at the same time, and he'd gotten that person to agree to pay him $2,000. So my charge would be $2,000. He was quite rude about it, and said I could "take it or leave it". I tried to reason with him and asked why he was overcharging so much for no more than an hour or two of work. He threw down my papers and yelled "I'll take that as a 'leave it'".
He's quite a hothead, and he's well known locally as a collector of numerous $100K+ muscle cars from the 60s. I guess he expects me to pay for his expensive cars. I don't know yet who is the other hangar builder who agreed to pay him $2K for an hour or two of work, but I'd guess that person must be a non-local. I had already expected Wayne would probably overcharge me a LOT for his work, but nowhere near $2K. $500 would have been quite high, and $1K outrageous. $2K is insane. Even more unacceptable than his overcharging was his attitude and rudeness. I wouldn't hire him, even if someone gave me the money to overpay him. His greed and attitude ensure that I will NEVER do any business with him again.
I called Tom Dombroski, the only other local surveyor, and set up an appointment for tomorrow night at his house. Tom is the opposite of Wayne; a very laid back and plain country guy, and very honest. The only reason I didn't go with Tom in the first place is his inexperience with plans at the airport and he doesn't already have a survey there. So, I'll have to pay Tom to do a survey from scratch. Tom is a nice guy, and I've had him do work for me before. I stressed over and over on the phone with him that he must get the site plan to me by Jan 17 so I can submit it for a Jan 24 TRC (Technical Review Committee - a precursor to Planning Board).
Also, it's been yet another entire WEEK, and I still have not received the signed lease that Nancy Merrill promised a week ago to mail me. I called Nancy and left a message for her to call me about it.
Jan 5, 2006 - called Planning Department and got on their TRC agenda for Jan 24 at 0900. Still no signed lease in the mail. Called Planning Dept again & left another message for Nancy Merrill about "where is my signed lease?". No callback from Nancy, as usual. Met with Tom Dombroski. I think I impressed upon him the critical nature of getting the site plan done by Jan 17. He promised me he'd get it done by then.
Jan 6, 2006 - Still no callback from Nancy Merrill, as usual. Stopped by Planning Dept to get a copy of Dick Love's site plan for Tom to use as a guide, and Nancy was there. Nancy now claims they are withholding the City Manager signature on the leases until they get a verbal approval on the ALP from the FAA. This is total BS; that's what I spent all fall waiting for, and Nancy & Peter claimed in the Nov 30 meeting that they'd gotten the approval to proceed. Now, they are back-pedaling and claiming they are still waiting for approval. Never mind her promise a week ago to get the lease signed and mailed to me. I am thinking seriously of filing a formal complaint against her with the City Manager. Her job is "Business Development Coordinator". She's supposed to be working to promote a business development environment. Her words say the right things, but her actions are just the opposite. She drags her feet as much as possible at every step, and does as little as possible. She's secretive and evasive. She rarely returns phone calls. She does claim that the lease issue will not affect me being able to go to the TRC, though, so I guess it isn't critical. The Claremont Planning Board process is so long and tedious it'll be at least March before I can get a building permit, even with no other delays.
I also asked her yet again about why they are insisting that each hangar builder go through the Site Plan Review process with a nearly identical site plan for each hangar. They also had ignored my request last May to treat the ALP as a single development requiring just one site plan review - for the entire site, just like a subdivision. If someone does a subdivision, they don't make every homeowner in that subdivision take the same plan through site plan review again and again. Yet, that's what they're doing here. They ignored that suggestion, as well as every other suggestion I'd made regarding the revised ALP they wasted 7 months redoing with nothing more than minor changes. The incompetence and intransigence of these people is stunning.
Jan 10, 2006 - I am still trying to get my building plans from Warren Stevens, the engineer who's been working on them. He needs to engineer and certify a mounting for the bifold door to go on the LaValley's building, and he's supposed to produce the concrete drawings after having done the soil survey. Ken Walsh, the new Building Inspector, won't allow any more slab buildings in town unless the builder has a certification from a soils engineer that the ground is not susceptible to frost. Warren has been promising to have it "this week" for over a month. Also left messages for PSNH and Peter Chase to let me know status on what they've done so far (most likely nothing) regarding the plans for getting power to the site.
Jan 11, 2006 - Talked to PSNH and Peter Chase - PSNH has billed Claremont $5K or $6K for a deposit to go ahead with the planned power installation. Peter says no problem in getting the city to pay the deposit in the next few weeks. So that's looking good. I also found out who the other builder is. The Planning office had been quite evasive about identifying the other builder, even though it should be a matter of public record. Nancy claimed she "wasn't sure" of the person's name, and gave me a last name only. She's very secretive and evasive about everything I try to talk to her about. I asked around at the airport, and found someone who knew the name. I called him in CT and talked to him some about his hangar. He has some local builder I never heard of handling all the details of dealing with the City, so he is rather detached from the details of the process, and he isn't in any hurry to get it done. I am SURE the City prefers people like him to people like me who want to get something done.
Jan 13, 2006 - got an email from Nancy Merrill. She now says they have decided to have the City just do one site plan, for the entire layout, rather than making each builder go through a separate, but nearly duplicate, site plan review process. Duh! This is how they should have done it, and it's how I asked them several times since last May to do it. Of course, Nancy made it sound like it was something they had just thought up, ignoring the fact that I have been repeatedly requesting since May '05 that they do it this way. So, now I am out $500 for what I owe the surveyor for what he's done on my site plan so far. I guess that's better than JD Dunn, the other builder, who may be out $2K for nothing to Wayne McCutcheon for his site plan. They've also (coincidentally-?) managed to delay this decision as long as possible, yet still get it in just before I was set to go ahead with my own TRC and Planning Board process.
Jan 17, 2006 - I talked to Jerry Coogan about my scheduled TRC. He the Claremont Planning Manager or some such title. At least Nancy is cordial and pleasant. From the first time I met Jerry, his hostility and arrogance are palpable. He acts like doing his job is SUCH a bother, and his resentment of me trying to get something done is quite apparent. He confirmed that the City will be doing its own site plan "at its own pace", and that they "may" have the site plan ready for the Feb 28 Planning Board meeting. He said there was no point in me going to my scheduled TRC, and that I would no longer need a site plan. He was very vague in his answers and seemed quite annoyed that I had the audacity to ask him questions about when they might get their site plan to the Planning Board. Over the weekend, I called Tom Dombroski and told him to hold off on further work on my site plan. Still no word on when the city will sign the leases that JD Dunn and I signed nearly a month ago.
Jan 19, 2006 - calls to Peter Chase, to check on status of their site plan, and to Warren Stevens, the structural and soils engineer who is doing my concrete plan and the engineering drawing to mate my bifold door to my hangar structure. As Warren has told me each week since the first week of December, he expects to get it done "this week". Warren is really beginning to annoy me, a la Randy Dierks. Nancy Merrill consistently making lame excuses and not returning my calls is bad enough, but someone to whom I am paying good money doing the same things is quite another matter. No callback from Peter Chase.
Jan 23, 2006 - Still no callback from Peter Chase. Called him yet again. He is handling the city's site plan for the whole airport development plan. He says he has the NHDOT approval and is still waiting for the FAA approval, so they can take it to the City Planning Board. He says it is on the schedule for Feb 27, which is the same date I'd have had if I'd taken my own plan through the Planning Board process, so no delay there. I also talked with Jerry Coogan again. Jerry says that if the Planning Board approves the city site plan, and my hangar is on that site plan, then I am OK with him and the Planning Board. Then, I need to submit my building plans to Ken Walsh as part of the process of applying for a building permit.
Jan 25, 2006 - talked to Ken Walsh, Building Inspector, and Nancy Merrill. The city's site plan is supposed to go to the Planning Board Feb 27. That is beginning to seem definite. Ken says I will still need FAA approval for my building after that, before he will approve issuing a building permit . Nancy and Peter are seeing if I can submit my building plan to the FAA prior to the Planning Board approval. Otherwise, that'll waste yet another month after the Planning Board hearing, before I can get my building permit. 2007 update - this whole hassle and delay with requiring additional FAA construction approval was not necessary at VSF, Springfield, VT, because the VSF management had done their ALP (Airport Layout Plan) properly, in contrast with the incompetent fumbling of Peter Chase and the Claremont bureaucrats.
Warren Stevens still has done nothing on my building plans, and still does not ever return my calls. I will fire him very soon if I don't get something from him immediately. Looked into alternate engineering companies.
Jan 26, 2006 - Talked to Stevens Engineering in New London about doing my building structural plan. The first thing I did was make sure that Ross Stevens, the engineer, is not related to or affiliated with Warren Stevens in any way, as it's the same last name, different town. Ross says he is not related to Warren or affiliated with him. Ross says he can get it done in a couple weeks. Called Warren's office & left message "return my call today or I'll hire someone else".
Got a call from Nancy Merrill. She & Peter talked, and I can go ahead and submit my plans to FAA now (Form 7460-1 construction application), rather than waiting for Planning Board results. That alone will save about a month in this insane process. She also mentioned that I will need to submit a site plan to FAA, as well as the building plan, so now I am back in emergency mode to get Tom to finish that site plan. I knew I shoulda just paid the extra bucks and had him finish that in the first place. So much for Jerry Coogan telling me I no longer needed a site plan. Called & left message for Tom to call me ASAP. Still no word on the City signing the leases, but it isn't holding anything else up, so at this point, I don't care.
By 4:30, didn't have a callback from Warren, so I called Stevens Engineering and made an appointment for Monday. As soon as I did that, Warren called & said he'd completed a preliminary drawing and was mailing it to me. So then I had to call Stevens Engineering again & cancel the appointment.
I talked to Tom Dombroski later in the evening, and he said he will crank the site plan out for me, and should have it done by Tuesday, Jan 31. I appreciate his effort on it. Peter Chase is going to mail me a copy of Dick Love's FAA application, so I can see what answers the FAA wants for some of the more arcane entries on the form. I went to the USGS web site & ordered a 7.5 minute topo map of the area, as the FAA application says it wants that included, too. I also emailed the Schweiss Door people & told them to go ahead and process my hangar door order.
Jan 27, 2006 - Received preliminary plan from Warren Stevens for hanging the Schweiss bifold door onto the hangar frame. Warren says he will run the proposed design by Mike McNeil, the LaValley's designer. I also asked him, again, to also run it by a Schweiss engineer, to make sure nothing is overlooked. Called Schweiss to get the info, then sent Warren an email with the name and phone number of the Schweiss engineer, to help prompt him along. Also received from Peter Chase a copy of Dick Love's FAA application, so I can use that as a basis for my application.
Jan 31, 2006 - Finally got my signed hangar site lease from the City of Claremont. Mailed order and check to Schweiss Bifold Door people. Talked to Mike McNeil at LaValley's. He still hasn't gotten the preliminary door hanging plan from Warren. He will follow up with Warren.
Feb 1, 2006 - Called Tom Dombroski in the evening about status of site plan, supposed to be done by yesterday. He said he is waiting for Dufresne-Henry, City Engineers, to send him some document that he needs in order to proceed. He said he hasn't gotten it yet. I asked him to call them if he doesn't get it tomorrow. He said he was sure it would come in, so no need to call & follow up. He's so lackadaisical! He says he's going on vacation next Wednesday, so he has to get it done by next Tue. I also got a pleasant surprise in the form of a rare proactive email from the City Planning Dept. The said the site plan review is on the calendar for Feb 13; two weeks earlier than anticipated.
Feb 2, 2006 - I am not about to wait around passively hoping for something to come in, so I called the Dufresne-Henry engineer, Rick Yarnold, and asked him what was going on with what Tom needed. He said Tom had only contacted him a day or 2 earlier, and he (Rick) had not yet sent anything out. I explained to him the urgency of this, and he will mail and email the requested info immediately, and he will copy me on everything. Rick is always very responsive, and I'm not even his client. Talked to Mike McNeil again - he STILL has not gotten any response from Warren Stevens. Since Mike was the person who referred me to Warren, I gave Mike quite an earful of how ticked off I am at Warren and his lack of work and lack of responsiveness. Mike says he will call Warren again immediately. Mailed a deposit check to Schweiss for the door.
Feb 3, 2006 - Got email from Rick Yarnold, showing what Tom had needed; the reference point D-H was using in their ALP. It also included a doc showing exactly what the measurements are from the reference point to my hangar. This info really should have been included on the ALP, as I had asked Peter and Nancy to do many months ago, and none of this delay would be necessary. Tried all day & evening to contact Tom, but his phone is continuously busy.
Feb 4, 2006 - Finally reached Tom Dombroski in the evening. He says he got the D-H info Friday, and he'll have to go back out to the site Monday. There is no snow on the ground right now, so I asked him if he could work on it over the weekend, but he wasn't interested. He's still claiming he'll get it done by Tuesday. That's a week after it was promised, but at least I'll have it.
Feb 6, 2006 - I'd spent the weekend thinking about Warren Stevens, and planning to fire him for sure this morning if he hasn't responded to Mike and/or done something on the plan. I talked to Mike McNeil first, and he said he had reached Warren and talked with him. He still hasn't gotten the proposed plan from Warren. He said he'd call me if it doesn't come in today, and I will take him my copy. I called Warren and actually reached him, and it sounds like he's back on track. He had talked to Mike, and even said he'd called the Schweiss engineer, as I'd requested, and run the plan by him. So, things are picking up there. Warren had seemed fine at first, then he went unresponsive. Mike says that's uncharacteristic of him, so hopefully he's back into this now and we can wrap this up soon. Later in the day, Mike said he'd gotten the drawing from Warren, so he will start incorporating Warren's drawing into his. It snowed a bit overnight and it's spitting a little snow now, so that'll make it harder for Tom to find Dufresne-Henry's reference point at the airport. If he'd gone over the weekend, as I'd asked him, the ground was bare, and he could have found it easily. I talked to Tom in the evening, and he says he was out at the airport early in the morning, and got done all he needed to. He confidently said I could stop by his house and pick up the plan tomorrow at 3. So, that was great news! Since we're now so close to the date of the Planning Board hearing, I will wait until after that to submit my FAA application, so I can state on the application that the Planning Board has also approved the plan. In the afternoon, I went out to the airport myself, and easily found the reference point. The snow dusting we'd gotten in the morning was all gone by then. I talked to Peter Chase, and he says they want to send my site plan & FAA application to Dufresne-Henry, for their review, before sending it to the FAA. FAA approval is expected to take about a month.
Feb 7, 2006 - Went out to the airport with a couple 100' tapes & some stakes, and my Mom helped me lay out the site for the hangar. Decided to make the building a bit longer, so I had Tom change the site plan to 48' long. Stopped by Tom Dombroski's house, and picked up the site plan. Filled out the FAA construction request form, using a copy of Dick Love's application as a template. Tom's work cost me $1000, because he had to do a survey from scratch, but that's still much better than paying $2000 to Wayne McCutcheon for an hour's work. Tom also indicated that subsequent site plans at the airport would be less expensive, because he's already done the initial surveying. That's an example of Tom's honesty and business ethics. Unlike Wayne McCutcheon, he doesn't charge his customers over and over for the same work. I HIGHLY recommend to anyone considering building or having other surveyor work done at Claremont Municipal Airport (or anywhere around here) that you use Tom Dombroski as the surveyor, not Wayne McCutcheon.
Feb 8, 2006 - My Mom took the FAA application to Peter Chase for me. I left him a voice mail to call me, to discuss the application and to discuss the current status of the PSNH electric power work. Talked to Mike McNeil. He & Warren will work together and produce one set of drawings (as opposed to one from Mike & one from Warren), and then Warren will stamp & sign Mike's drawings. Told Mike to go ahead and make the building 48' deep. I've never seen a building yet that I couldn't fill and wish I had more space, so I might as well take care of that up front. Asked Mike to have it complete within 2 weeks, and he agreed that was reasonable. Called PSNH. They got the deposit check from Claremont. It's unclear as to what they are waiting for now. Someone from PSNH will call me with more details. I later found out that I have to have my concrete in place and a permanent meter location specified before they will start to put in all the components needed to get power to that point; backwards from how I'd assumed it worked.
Feb 9, 2006 - got a followup call from Russ Miles at PSNH. He explained further that I need my meter location in place (after concrete is poured) and the City needs to have all the trenching done before they will provide anything or do any work on the equipment they need to provide. Still no callback from Peter Chase.
Feb 10, 2006 - Still no callback from Peter Chase. Called him yet again. He got quite nasty when I asked him politely why he hadn't returned my calls for several days. Apparently, the City is having a big decision quandary about whether to drill under the old runway for the electrical conduit, or to dig a trench. They are concerned about things settling under the taxiway and leaving a dip if they dig a trench. Apparently, none of them has ever heard of a compactor. Bureaucrats and decisions. You know how that goes. He said nothing can be done until the ground thaws. I explained to him that the ground is not frozen; I was just out there, driving in stakes. It's all sand, so there's no water in the soil to freeze, so work could start any time. He also said the City will be contracting out the trench work, after they decide how it's to be done. The decision and contracting bid process alone will take months. I asked if anyone was working on that process now. He said NO ONE is working on it. I tried a couple times to get him to see the value of starting work on that whole bureaucratic process now, rather than waiting until the ground thaws to begin a months-long process. He either couldn't or wouldn't grasp the concept. He said he's got my FAA application and will be showing it to the D-H people when they come here Monday for the Planning Board meeting. I asked if I could attend that meeting with D-H regarding my application, but he said he'd "contact me if they have any questions". Throughout the conversation, he made it clear that he didn't want to talk to me and that I was bothering him terribly by asking questions about MY hangar. This arrogant, unhelpful, uncooperative attitude is typical of the Claremont bureaucrats.
Feb 13, 2006 - attended Planning Board meeting for the City's site plan for all the private hangars. Peter was quite aloof & acted like I was annoying him by asking about the status of my application (which he's now had for nearly a week and has thus far done nothing with). Jerry Coogan was his usual hostile, arrogant self and wouldn't even acknowledge my presence. The City's site plan was approved unanimously. The Board didn't even ask for public input on it. I wasn't about to argue with THAT. Peter and the folks from D-H said it will take a minimum of 30 days to get FAA approval on my site plan & construction application, and maybe as much as 60 days. Now all I need to do is get Peter to actually SEND it to the FAA. I
Feb 14, 2006 - called Peter Chase to inquire as to status of my FAA construction application. He said Rick Yarnold & the other engineer from Dufresne-Henry looked at it & took it with them to double-check back in their office. They will send it directly to the FAA, and they will copy Peter, NHDOT, and me on it. Apparently, the person who handles these at FAA is out or no longer there, and D-H wants to make sure it goes to the right place at FAA for prompt action. Again, Peter acted like I was bothering him terribly by asking about my application. His childishness is something else.
Feb 20, 2006 - emailed Rick Yarnold as to status of FAA application. He replied promptly and said "I repackaged the submission and sent copies to you, Peter Chase and the NHDOT Div. of Aeronautics. The FAA should receive its copy tomorrow, and we will follow up to try to expedite it as much as possible. The review process typically takes a minimum of 30 days." So, it sounds like it just barely went out, but at least it's gone out. Rick is always quite responsive and on top of things, quite unlike the Claremont bureaucrats.
Feb 22, 2006 - Got a call from Mike McNeil at LaValley's, 2 weeks to the day after he said the building plans would be ready in 2 weeks. And HE called ME, as he said he would; I didn't have to call him. I am very pleased with Mike's professionalism and responsiveness. The plans are ready for me to pick up. Got plans & called Mike with a couple minor changes. I also want to increase the roof overhang to 2' all the way around. He will adjust the plans & I can pick up new copy Friday. Called Ken Walsh, Building Inspector, to see if he would look at the plans early, while I am waiting for the FAA application approval, so I 'd know what additional info he might need for issuing a building permit. Ken said he was too busy to bother with something like that. He also said he'd gotten a "hangar construction guidelines" document from Jerry Coogan, and he questioned if I need to have the city review my site plan, so I called Jerry and left a message. The document may just be referring to what I've already submitted to Peter and D-H and the FAA through my FAA construction application, but I want to make sure. I'd also like to get a copy of the document.
Feb 23, 2006 - got a callback from Jerry Coogan. He was quite pleasant, for the first time. He actually sounded a bit cooperative. He reiterated that the Planning Board needs nothing from me. He said "the city" wants a copy of my site plan, but it sounds like that means what I submitted to FAA, with copies to D-H, Peter, and NHDOT, covers all that. He didn't know what "hangar construction guidelines" Ken Walsh was referring to. He will talk with Ken to clear things up. Apparently, one hand over there has no idea what the other one is doing.
Feb 24, 2006 - got a copy of my FAA construction application that D-H sent in, postmarked 2/21. So, it took an extra week to go out, and 2 weeks from the time I gave it to Peter, but at least it has gone out to the FAA. D-H seems to be on top of the procedure pretty well, and their cover letter to FAA asked them to expedite the process. Cross my fingers & start waiting. Picked up final set of plans from Mike McNeil and checked them OK. Now, I need to get Warren Stevens to sign & stamp them. Called Warren, but he's out until next week.
Feb 25, 2006 - took LaValley's floor plan and my electrical sketch to Chuck Peabody's house. Chuck will make up an "official" electrical drawing, and he will submit it to the City with an application for electrical building permit. Stopped by Planning Dept and got a copy of Dick Love's building permit application, so I can use it as a model for filling out mine.
Feb 27, 2006 - Called Warren Stevens, left message.
Feb 28, 2006 - Chuck Peabody faxed me the lighting layout. He says PSNH has a program to help pay for them, as they are energy efficient lights. Called PSNH and left a message for someone to call me about it. No callback from Warren Stevens, of course, so I called him again. He said he'd be going by LaValley's later in the week, and he'd sign the plans then. I've gotten his bill, and I plan to be just as attentive and prompt in paying it as he has been in doing his work and responding to my calls. I sure as hell would NOT hire him or his company, M&W Soils Engineering, ever again.
March 2, 2006 - Peabody Electric faxed me the estimate for the electrical. Incredible!! I knew he sure wasn't cheap, from the "shocking" bills I'd gotten for work he'd done at my house before, but this was truly stunning. $15,000 to put in some overhead fluorescent lights and some outlets. This is about 5 times what I had figured the worst possible case cost would be. $10,000 in labor alone. $2500 for the 25 light fixtures. I can buy cheap shop lights at Home Depot for $10 each, not $100 each. There is NO WAY I'm spending anywhere near that much on electrical. I could do the wiring myself, but I am sure Ken Walsh, the Building Inspector, will be busting my chops every inch of the way if I try to do it myself. I will have to find a cheaper electrician, and cut WAY back on the scope of the electrical; just a couple outlets and lights.
March 3, 2006 - Stopped by Chuck Peabody's to retrieve my plans and electrical layout sketch. Chuck mentioned that part of the cost is the fact that, because it's not residential, it is therefore commercial, and higher standards apply for everything. For example, he said no Romex can be used - all the wiring has to be in metal conduit. This is ridiculous; Romex is good enough for people's homes, where they go to sleep and keep their FAMILY safe. It's good enough for people's garages, where they keep their cars, no different from my plane, and someone's car is much more likely to be leaking fuel than my plane is. I'd run into this problem before when talking to Ken Walsh about the foundation, when he said everything about the building has to meet commercial code. My building is not for commercial purposes, and it's not open to the public. Ken doesn't care - if I don't live there, then it's commercial. This is going to be a BIG headache. Oh well - the building won't even be done for months, so by then I will sort out what greatly scaled-back electrical plans I'll have. Then I'll either buy a code book and put the wiring in myself or hire someone to just do the bare minimum; the grid hookup, the breaker box, and wire the door motor. I also talked to Mike McNeil. He said Warren has signed and stamped the building plans, and Mike is sending them out for copying, so I will have them next week.
March 7, 2006 - Called Peter Chase to ask about status of their trench for electrical. He had his "why are you bothering me and how dare you question me about what we're doing?" attitude going. This is typical of the imperious and non-collaborative nature of the attitude of the Claremont bureaucrats. Apparently, he is still in his childish little snit simply because I had asked him politely a month ago why he hadn't returned my calls about my FAA application. Amazingly, he said they had actually come to a decision and that St. Pierre, Inc. would be doing the trench, beginning the first of April, when they start the site work for the City's hangar. I'd been thinking of using St. Pierre anyway, so I may save some money if they are already onsite for the City. Called St. Pierre & asked to get on their schedule. Will mail them a copy of plans so they can send me a quote. Worked on laying out an abbreviated bare-bones electrical plan. Called Suzanne at the Claremont Planning Office (she's always friendly and helpful) and asked about charges for the various building permit applications. She also mentioned that I cannot do any of my own electrical work on this building, regardless of code, because it's commercial.
March 8, 2006 - Picked up 6 signed and stamped plans from LaValley's. The building permit application alone needs 3 copies. Started making out the Claremont Building Permit application. Also called Everett Cass, a local site work guy I've used before, to get a quote from him on the site work. Also called 2 local electricians to get quotes from them on my revised electrical layout. Mailed plans & site work info to St. Pierre. Asked LaValley's to get me a final revised cost for the revised building, as I will need it for the Building Permit.
March 9, 2006 - Visited site with Everett Cass, to get an estimate on costs for the site work. He had a couple questions I couldn't answer, like where all the removed fill will go, so I will follow up on that. He also was concerned about whether the road to the airport might be posted (no heavy vehicles allowed on back roads here in spring), so that might be a factor on when he can get in. I don't think that the airport road gets posted. Also, a possibly more pertinent factor may be that Everett may have already fully committed himself for April, but he seemed to kind of dodge that issue. We'll see. Called LaValley's & Peter Chase & left messages. Talked to 2 electricians about electrical work. I will mail them my sketch & get an estimate/bid from them.
March 10, 2006 - got calls back from LaValley's & Peter Chase, answering my questions for Everett. Also asked LaValley's Craig Messer when I'd get my cost quote for the building. He said "soon". Mailed electrical sketch & cover letter to 2 electricians.
March 17, 2006 - REALLY bad news - I got a voice mail from Ralph Nicosia-Rusin at the FAA. Apparently, Dufresne-Henry sent the application directly to him, because supposedly the usual person was out or no longer there. So, D-H sent it directly to him in an attempt to speed things up. Unfortunately, Ralph has been out for surgery, so my application has done nothing but sit in his inbox for the entire month.
March 20, 2006 - Called Ralph at FAA & talked about my construction application. Explained to him that the building permit is on hold until I get the FAA approval. Ralph seemed to give a damn, and said he'd try to get it approved in a couple weeks. He invited me to call him in 2 weeks to check on it. I emailed this info to Peter Chase and Rick Yarnold at D-H. Rick promptly replied and said he'd also talk to Ralph and do what he could he help it along. Of course, no reply from Peter. I am still waiting to get the final bid cost from LaValley's on the building. Still waiting to get bids on the electrical work. I did get a call last week from one of the electricians. Even though I thought I'd made things excruciatingly clear with notes on the drawing, plus a detailed text description in a cover letter, he didn't understand some of it. Hmmmmm? It still sounds like the electrical (and anything else I try to do there) is going to be a big hassle, with Ken Walsh and his people picking every nit.
March 21, 2006 - Got sick of waiting for Craig at LaValley's to get back to me with the cost quote for my Building Permit application, so I just estimated it on the application, and took the application and all supporting plans & documents to the Planning Dept. It cost $316.80 for a building permit! They used to be $10 in Cornish and they are now $30. They also told me at the Planning Office that I CANNOT do my own wiring for anything but single-family residential. My financial screwing as the builder of a "commercial" building in the self-important City of Claremont has only just begun. Got a call from one of the electricians. He quoted "ballpark $3K" on a time & materials estimate. I'll see what the other electrician comes back with, but I'll probably go with him. The other electrician is the one who was asking all the questions last week
March 24, 2006 - Still no cost quote from LaValley's. Called Craig again & left message. Also got my bid cost from St. Pierre for the site work. $8500! Apparently, some people see the word "airport" and thinks it means "independently wealthy". The idea of using St. Pierre was that they will be already on site starting April 1 for the City hangar site work, so I shouldn't have to pay them to deliver their equipment there. My parents are putting in a LaValley's garage at the same time, and their site work cost is $1300 for 24' x 24'. I'll have to see about having those guys do my hangar site work. Everett Cass got back to me with a quote of "about $5500", but he probably won't be able to start it until May.
March 27, 2006 - still no cost quote or callback from Craig at LaValley's. That's getting irritating. Called him yet again. He said he's been backlogged and hopes to get it out in 2-3 days. That's the same line of crap he gave me several weeks ago. I also got a call over the weekend from the other electrician. He quoted me $3200 for my scaled-down version of the electrical plan. I am not sure which one to go with. The first one was time & materials. The second one is a fixed bid. Probably the fixed bid is safer. I also talked again with Ken Walsh, the Building Inspector, about the requirements for the electrical work. He says it has to follow Article 513 in the NEC and all the wiring has to be Class1, Division2, whatever that means.
March 30, 2006 - Got a call from my electrician. Part of the electrical problem is that even the professional electricians (or even a big engineering company like Dufresne-Henry) don't know what all of Ken Walsh's requirements are for this, and Ken is very difficult to reach to ask any questions. Ken's so busy enforcing all his many rules. The electrician said he'd talked to Ken again about the electrical requirements for the hangar. Ken is going totally over the top on this. I can't use any Romex in the building. From the top of the plane to 10 feet above, it, there can't be any outlets. There can't be any outlets within 5 feet of the plane or within 18" of the floor. If I have outlets at all, there has to be at least one every 12 feet. I can't use any florescent lights; all lights have to be "explosion-proof". The electrician said Ken had told him he (Ken) has never done a hangar before, so he's obviously going way overboard on the requirements, as he tries to learn on the job. The part that really ticks me off is that Ken says the main power has to be on some sort of a motor switch and that there can be no live power to the building when I am not in it, so I have to have some sort of motor switch near the door to kill all power to the building every time I leave the building. This is insanity. There's no hangar in the world like this, even big commercial ones. I called Ken to talk to him about it, but I was told he is out for several days. He seems to be out a lot. I am thinking seriously of canceling this project, due to the extreme hassles and harassment on it from these people.
March 31, 2006 - called Ralph at FAA again & left a message.
April 4, 2006 - called Ralph at FAA again from the Sun N Fun air show in Florida, and left a message. Called Rick Yarnold at Dufresne-Henry to tell him what Ken Walsh is demanding from me (and will presumably be demanding from the City's hangar) on the electrical. Rick agreed that it seemed out of line, and he will have his electrical people look into it. He agreed with me that holding my private hangar to the same requirements as a large, public, commercial hangar is not reasonable.
April 6, 2006 - got a callback from Ralph at the FAA. Apparently, whoever he sent the "expedited" construction request to has been OUT all this time, so, nearly 2 months after I submitted my application, there still has not been a damn thing done on it. I reiterated to Ralph that my building permit is on hold, waiting for them. He claims he will try to get something going on it.
I've been trading voice mails with Ken Walsh all week. He left me a long detailed voice message. He said he looked at my plans, and they are basically OK, except Peter Chase said the color shown on the plan (white) was unacceptable, and that Peter wanted an "off-white". That's REALLY annoying, as there's little difference between white and off-white, and I've told Peter MANY times I don't care what the color is. Anyway, I'll get the color designation changed on the plan. Ken also needs a clarification on the snow load. He says it's specified 50# in one place and 85# in another. And Ken again said that I have to follow Article 513 of the NEC, so he has no flexibility there. Ken always seems reasonable and business-like when I talk to him, and everyone says he has high integrity, but it's still extremely frustrating to try to get anything accomplished when he's such a stickler and so hard to reach.
One of the reasons these parasites made me wait nearly a year to get a building permit was so they could put together "comprehensive hangar building guidelines". Click HERE to see the product of 8 months of "work" by these hard-working, highly motivated professionals. Nothing specific at all. I especially like the last item, where they say there are "specific criteria", but they can't seem to name any of them. They had also told me verbally that bifold hangar doors are a requirement, but I guess they didn't have enough TIME to get that onto the "Guidelines" document. There isn't a single thing on there that wasn't already in place, discussed, and agreed to last May, when they decided to hold up my building application for 8 months while they created this document.
April 9, 2006 - I'm back from Sun N Fun. Sent Peter Chase and Rick Yarnold an email about the electrical situation and the paint color situation. I asked Peter to provide some specifics on what he wants for colors. I am SO sick of all the hassles and the Claremont City people doing all they can to sabotage this project, that I am seriously considering telling the City they can shove this hangar. I called Ken Walsh with some questions about the electrical requirements, but he never did call back. Even though Peter Chase had told me they would be beginning site work for the municipal hangars on the first of April (as opposed to last October, when they could have started and when they told me and the Planning Board they'd be starting within two weeks), there is still no sign of any site work for the municipal hangars.
April 10, 2006 - Talked to Mike McNeil at LaValley's. Mike said he will get with Warren and Ken and resolve any questions about the snow load, and he'll get back to me with the results. So, that's one headache removed. Besides Rick Yarnold, Mike is the only bright spot in this whole unbelievable hassle. He's helpful, responsive, prompt, and he does what he says he'll do, when he says he'll do it.
April 11, 2006 - Mike McNeil called me, as he promised. He said he's already resolved the snow load question to Ken Walsh's satisfaction. I stopped by LaValley's and got a color chart. I dropped the color chart off at Peter Chase's office. I talked to Peter this morning, and he will choose whatever color he wants, and he will take it to Ken and get the plan updated, and let me know what color he chose. He also told me he'd talked to Rick Yarnold, and that neither of them had expected Ken's position on the electrical. He seems to have gotten over the childish hostility he was exhibiting on my last few conversations with him. Hopefully, between Peter and the engineering expertise of Dufresne-Henry, they will talk some sense into Ken. D-H has their Electrical Department looking into it now.
April 12, 2006 - Peter has chosen "Desert Sand" for my hangar color. I don't think that's the closest in color to Dick Love's (the City's goal is to match the color of Dick's), but I don't give a damn - it's Peter's choice. He says he will get with Ken Walsh and update my plans in Ken's office. I informed LaValley's of the change. Peter also said the City has not yet gotten an electrical permit for their building. I warned him he may be in for a surprise on that from Ken Walsh.
April 13, 2006 - It's been nearly 2 months since I sent my plans & FAA construction application to the FAA. I called Ralph at the FAA. I got more BS excuses. He says my application still isn't even showing up in their database yet. They haven't done a damn thing with it. I again reiterated to him that they've had it nearly 2 months, and that my building permit is on hold for their approval. I also told him it's slightly shorter and further from the runway than Dick Love's hangar, which they approved a year ago, so it should be a very simple matter to get this approved (height and distance from the runway are the two most critical issues). He claims he will try to get it expedited, but somehow I no longer believe him. 2007 update - this whole hassle and delay with requiring additional FAA construction approval was not necessary at VSF, Springfield, VT, because the VSF management had done their ALP (Airport Layout Plan) properly, in contrast with the incompetent fumbling of Peter Chase and the Claremont bureaucrats.
April 17, 2006 - Called Rick Yarnold at D-H. Rick will try to get something moving at the FAA. No news on the electrical situation. Maybe I should just cancel this thing. I don't know how I will heat the building - I had planned a small, inexpensive, vented LP space heater, but with Ken Walsh being such a nut case about the wiring, I can just imagine the cost of a heater to satisfy him. He's treating my hangar like I'm building a friggin' oil refinery. He's also the one who made the concrete plan such a hassle and required me to hire Warren Stevens for the soils engineering. He has essentially put LaValley's out of the business of building garages in Claremont. LaValley's has been building pre-fabricated, efficiently-erected, low-cost garages on slabs in this area for over 35 years. Ken Walsh has single-handedly made it pretty much impossible for them to build any in Claremont now. This is because Ken refers to some arcane part of the building code that says "no slab foundations"; everything has to have frost walls now. I applied for a variance, as did Dick Love and the City, because the airport is all sand. But most other places won't be able to get a variance, so that drives the cost way up.
April 19, 2006 - I called Ken Walsh to see if my plans for using an Empire vented LP heater are going to be OK. I actually managed to catch him in his office. Most of the time, he's out in the field, in a meeting, or "off". I had decided that if he was going to give me a big hassle on heating the building, I would probably cancel the project. He seemed ok about it, so I went down and got details on the heater from the LP gas company, Limoges, and got a mechanical construction application from the City Planning Office. Ken also said he's STILL waiting for resolution on the snow load and paint color issues, and that Peter or I can't make a pen change to the color specified on the plans; he must have a letter from Mike McNeil on it. So I called Mike McNeil about all that. Mike said he thought it was resolved. He will send Ken a letter about it. Also called Ralph at FAA again and left a message, imploring him to get my application moving.
April 21, 2006 - Called Ralph at FAA. He says my approval letter is going out today. I thanked him profusely. He faxed me and Peter Chase a copy. I immediately took it to the City Planning Dept. Ken is "off" (yet again), so I'll have to wait to Monday to see if he's got any more hassles & delays for me. He sure seems to have a lot of days off for a guy who's only been there about a year. I stopped by the airport, to make sure my stakes are still in place. Even though the City got an OK on their building plan for the City Hangar early last fall, they STILL have not even broken ground. Their most recent "revised start date" was April 1. It's just unbelievable how indecisive that project is. And I don't think Peter is the type to pursue anything very aggressively.
April 25, 2006 - I still can't get Ken Walsh to return my calls. I've been calling once or twice a day since last Friday. Robbie Williams can start the excavation next week, if I can only get Ken to do his job and give me my Building Permit. I called again in late afternoon. The secretary told me Ken said he was "busy and would get to it when he had time". She also essentially told me to stop calling. I think dealing with Ken Walsh through the building and inspection process is going to make all the previous hassles look like a picnic by comparison. My parents and I just put up a 24' x 24' LaValley's building in Cornish, one town north of Claremont. The building was completed today. The entire process, including getting plans made, getting a building permit, excavation and fill, concrete, and erecting, roofing and finishing the building, took less than a month. Contrast that with what the parasitic Claremont bureaucrats have created; a full year of constant hassles, foot-dragging, finger-pointing, incompetence, indifference, indecision, lack of cooperation, and delay, just to get a building permit so I can BEGIN the hassle of dealing with Ken Walsh.
April 27, 2006 - called Ken Walsh & left another message, asking him to return my call. I said he had previously looked at my plans and said there were 3 things needed; 2 clarifications and the FAA approval. I got him the clarifications a couple weeks ago. I got him the FAA approval a week ago tomorrow. So, what's the delay or problem? I don't know, and he won't even return my calls to tell me. Later in the day, got a callback from Ken and someone from the Fire Dept. He is about to issue the Building Permit. He says I have to put in a SECOND personnel door for fire egress, but he'll issue the permit, contingent upon adding another door. He also wondered if NHDOT had to sign off on anything, or if their approval was implicit in the FAA approval. I said I wasn't sure, and I'd check with Peter. Ken also clarified for me at what stages of construction I can expect to need an inspection. Looks like this is finally all set to go.
Then he said there was a question about the permit application for the mechanicals - heating. Mark Limoges had drawn up a simple heating plan, and indicated on the plan that he'd checked with Empire, and that the Empire Direct Vent LP Heater was approved for use in hangars and garages. Ken said he wanted to see something more formal - like a letter from Empire stating that the heater was explicitly approved for hangar use. I emailed Peter Chase about the questions Ken had, and got a prompt reply that everything is OK there. I called LaValley's and left a voice mail for Craig that I want to get my building order started, and I want to know how much of a deposit he wants.
I later exchanged some emails with Peter Chase on the latest things from Ken and to give Peter a heads-up on what to expect from Ken on the City hangars, like the additional door requirement. Peter also finally explicitly confirmed in an EMAIL that I am #3 on the waiting list for the City hangars: Yes you are 3rd on the city hangar list and Nancy Merrill will be involved in the annual leases. I should have been #1, as I'd been asking since 12/04 to be on the list, long before they figured out how to make a list, and I've been #1 on the waiting list for existing hangars for several years, but as long as I am in the top 6, I'm not going to argue about it.
I called Mark at Limoges Oil, and Mark suggested I call Empire myself. I called Empire, and they stated flat-out that the heater is not approved for anything but residential. The guy at Empire said they don't make anything but residential. I am still getting screwed every time I turn around by this "residential vs commercial" designation. I exchanged a couple more calls with Mark, and he will look into a solution. I am very discouraged, and thinking strongly of canceling the project.
April 28, 2006 - Got a call from the Planning Dept, and they say my Building Permit is ready to pick up. That's ironic, as I am now back to thinking seriously of canceling the project, due to all the current and projected hassles from Ken Walsh. I picked up the Permit, and talked to Mark Limoges again. Mark called me later, and claims that if I buy and follow the fire code book NFPA 409 Section 5.12, I can install the heater in a separate room and duct the heat to the hangar. But whether or not that NFPA 409 document describes how to do it (have to buy it first to read it), it doesn't matter - the only thing that matters is what King Ken will allow. If he allows me to have a Direct Vent heater in the enclosed office, then I might be able to do that. I've already planned to get around Ken's absurd electrical requirements by simply cutting the electrical back to the absolute bare minimum; like one light and the legal minimum for receptacles. Otherwise, it's over, and I will just rent a City hangar, if they ever get them built.
May 1, 2006 - Called Peter Chase & left a message asking him to call me about how we can deal with the heating problem. Since this is a fire protection issue, it seems the Fire Chief ought to have some significant input into what's acceptable. In theory, Nancy Merrill, as Business Development Coordinator, should also be helping me through this and the other issues, but there's little chance of hope there. Nancy does as little as possible, and Peter just passively goes along with whatever the other bureaucrats tell him to do.
May 4, 2006 - Peter Chase finally called me back. He didn't have much to offer, although he said he'd get with Nancy Merrill and see if they could do anything. So, that essentially means they'll do absolutely nothing. JUNE '06 UPDATE - of course, I never heard back from Peter or Nancy on this. He said he's in the same boat as me, with the City's hangars having to meet Ken's demands. I asked about getting a City Ordinance passed, to classify private hangars as non-commercial. He said the City Council is behind Ken Walsh 100%, so he says there's no hope of getting anything changed. I went by his office and read the fire protection codes, which were quite depressing. I called Ken Walsh and left a message for him to call me. According to the fire codes I was reading, NFPA 409 Section 8 (not 5), I can put my heater in a separate, sealed room in the hangar, with no access from the hangar to the room. If Ken approves it, I will proceed. If not, I am done with this horror story. I never did get a call back from Craig at LaValley's. I guess my offer to give him a check for about $20,000 deposit wasn't important enough for him to bother with. At this point, it really doesn't matter, but I'm not very pleased with Craig's consistently poor responsiveness.
May 11, 2006 - After waiting yet another !@#$%^& WEEK for Ken Walsh to return my call, I called him again and left another terse message, asking him to call me. I also called the City Manager's office and left a message for Guy Santagate to call me about my complaints about the way these bureaucrats drag their feet, make everything so difficult, and don't return calls. Ken called back and said he isn't interested in NFPA 409, as it's not in his list of codes to follow. He says I have to follow the Mechanical Code, and that goes by manufacturer listings. Apparently he picks & chooses which codes he wants to follow. He says the heater has to be listed by the manufacturer as tested and approved explicitly for HANGAR use. I called Mark Limoges again, and told him all that. He will see what he can find.
May 15, 2006 - Mark Limoges called me and asked me to bring him a copy of my drawings. He found a source that should be able to get me what I need. Now the big question is "How much will it cost?". I drove the drawings over to Mark's office. Guy Santagate also returned my call. I thanked him for returning the call, and mentioned that in general I wasn't happy about how the planning & development people were so uncooperative, but I didn't have my ducks in order for a formal complaint. My specific complaint was about Ken not returning my call, but by then I had finally gotten a callback from Ken. Frankly, I am just so sick of all the hassles, I no longer give a damn and will most likely not build the hangar.
May 19, 2006 - Got a call back from Mark Limoges. He checked with some heating industry source of his, and said he was told that there is no heater that is "certified" for hangar use. He says there is a sealed unit that hangs from the ceiling, but he said, and I know from reading the NFPA 409, that it has to be at least 10' above the wing. Possibly above the engine, whichever is higher, I don't recall for sure. At any rate, with 12.5' ceilings in my hangar, it doesn't matter. I reminded Mark that Ken had repeatedly stressed that the heater used had to be listed by the mfg as a "listed use" for a hangar. He's going to call Ken Walsh himself, and see what he can find out. At this point, I hardly care, as I am now about 99% ready to cancel the whole !@#$%^ thing and just rent a City hangar, if they ever get them built.
Neither I, nor the City, nor the other builder, JD Dunn, has broken ground yet. I think I'm the only one who even has a building permit. The City hangar was approved last fall, and they've gone nowhere with it. Claremont has a seedy reputation in NH as a dirty, gritty, poor, dying little low class mill town, and the Claremont bureaucrats' efforts to stymie any growth or development don't help change that. Lowes is building a store in Claremont. Or at least they WERE. There has been NO visible change in their site since last fall. Home Depot is in there next door, but their store was put up shortly before the reign of King Ken. I suspect that the lack of movement on the Lowes building may be due to the current anti-development attitude in Claremont.
May 25, 2006 - got a callback from Mark Limoges. He finally connected with Ken Walsh. Ken is still insisting that the heater has to be listed specifically for hangar use, even though Mark and his heating industry sources say there is no such thing. I've talked several times to people who built hangars at Newport, NH, the next town over. They certainly didn't go through any such hassles on their construction. They said it was pretty simple, and the local officials were helpful and cooperative; just the opposite of the Claremont bureaucrats. I had looked into building at Newport, even though it's at least twice as far from my house as Claremont, but they don't have the space for small individual hangars like mine. They are only allowing T-hangars and one or two large individual ones.
Mark said Ken is now "looking into" various codes on the subject, and claims he will call back on it. Ken seems to be learning how do do this as he goes along. I then called Nancy Merrill and told her I am about 99% decided to cancel this project, due to all the hassles and added costs created by Ken. I told her that, if I can't heat it, I won't build it. Nancy said she'd talk to Ken and get back to me on it. Nancy later called back and said Ken is out on vacation for a couple days (AGAIN!), and she will have Anthony Lyons, their boss, call me about it. I also asked her how Ken could have so much vacation for someone who only started there about a year ago, but she had no answer. Anthony called back later, but I was in an area of bad cell phone reception & will call him on it after the long weekend.
May 30, 2006 - I called Anthony Lyons. I wasn't sure what to say to him at this point, as I am so TIRED of all this hassle that there really isn't anything he could say that will make me change my plans to cancel building my hangar. But I didn't want him to say he'd called me and I hadn't bothered to call him back, so I called. I told him about the issue with Ken demanding that the heater must be specifically LISTED for use in a hangar. Even Anthony agreed that was not possible. Anthony said any commercial heater should be fine. His main interest seemed to be in defending the players in this. He asked if I'd gotten Ken's demands in writing. Apparently he thinks it's a misunderstanding at best, or that I'm making this stuff up. I can't even get Ken to return calls, much less try to get him to make his demands in writing. I told him Ken had told me very specifically on multiple occasions that "hangar" had to be a listed use. Ken also told Mark Limoges the same thing. I also told him in general terms about the hostile, condescending, and uncooperative attitude of the city bureaucrats in general and Nancy Merrill's lack of helpfulness in particular. He claimed I was the only person who'd ever complained about Nancy. So apparently that made it a non-issue in his eyes.
Anthony said I could set up a meeting with him, Ken, Mark Limoges, and electricians, and get a definitive position on exactly what I need to do. I've been trying to do something like that by myself for months, via phone calls between Ken and me and/or my contractors, and it sure hasn't worked. In fact, I've asked the bureaucrats all through this process to do just that, and they have refused, citing they are "too busy", telling me I have to just go through the "normal process", and refusing to cooperate at all. It takes at least a week just to get Ken to return a call, and then he talks in generalities. I had also previously asked Ken about sitting down with the plans and going over in detail exactly what was required, but he said he was too busy to bother with that.
After playing dumb, in the first part of our conversation, about why I was calling him, Anthony mentioned that he'd been reading this hangar page. I thought it was quite telling that he had already read about all my issues and problems, knew about all of them all along, and had done nothing about any of them. He didn't speak to Ken to straighten him out about the bogus requirements Ken was pushing. He didn't speak to Nancy about her lack of helpfulness and responsiveness. He didn't call me to rebut any of my claims of hassles or to see how he could help. That's a perfect example of the lack of cooperation and bad attitudes of the Claremont bureaucrats. When I talked to him, he mainly seemed interested in defending Ken and Nancy and their actions.
There was an article in the Sunday Valley News newspaper, featuring Anthony Lyons, with him bragging about how Claremont is trying so hard to be a great place to locate. So, I will be making the effort to write a rebuttal to that.
May 31, 2006 - got a call from Mark at Limoges. He's been very good at following up on this stuff, even as my interest is waning. He said Ken Walsh finally got back to him, and now Ken has changed his tune, and is saying that the standard commercial sealed hanging heater will be acceptable. I said I didn't think it would be allowed, due to the "10 feet above the wings" requirement in NFPA 409, but Mark said he thought Ken would OK it as long as it was as high as possible and in a far corner. I told Mark what Anthony had said about Ken and the heater, and Mark agreed that Ken had previously been very clear and explicit in telling him the heater had to come with documentation specifically listing "hangar" as a listed and approved use. I told him I was getting so tired of the hassles I didn't think I wanted to try to continue. I thanked him for his efforts, and told him if I proceed, I will definitely have him do the heating. I also emailed a rebuttal to the Valley News about the Claremont development story.
June 1, 2006 - sent email to Nancy Merrill, notifying City that, because of their hassles, I will no longer attempt to build this hangar, and I canceled my lease with them.
June 2, 2006 - Valley News informs me they will not allow me to mention the URL of this page in my letter to the Editor. That's too bad, but there's nothing I can do about it. It would have been helpful to spread the word about these people and how they operate. Emailed Schweiss Bifold Doors and told them I won't be getting the door. That's a $1600 deposit pissed away right there alone. I added up my costs, and this mess has cost me about $4,000 in direct costs, plus indirect costs and the hundreds of hours of effort I've put into it.
Nancy acknowledged canceling my hangar plans, and told me she's passed on to Peter Chase that I still want to lease a City hangar. On 4/27, when I confirmed with Peter that I am still interested in being on the waiting list for the City hangars, he finally acknowledged that I am #3 on the list, and said Nancy was handling the hangar leases. So, those 2 are apparently STILL pointing at each other regarding the City hangars. Of course, Nancy STILL has done NOTHING about getting the leases ready in advance.
June 7, 2006 - The Valley News printed my letter yesterday. Unfortunately, they wouldn't print my URL and they wouldn't print any of the specifics listed here.
I went out to the airport today to retrieve the stakes I had put in the ground to lay out my hangar. A few weeks ago, I had put up a little business card-size note on the bulletin board in the FBO office at CNH that said "HANGAR BUILDING AT CNH" and the URL for this page. I see the childish Claremont officials have torn it down.
Apparently these people don't have time to return phone calls, but they do have time for such childish behavior. I've been considering whether it's worth the trouble to start an ad campaign publicizing how they really operate in Claremont. As they say on the ads for the Today Show on NBC, "The Story Must Be Told".
Here's the summary I wrote for the Valley News:
The Planning Manager was arrogant and openly hostile to me and my plan from the minute I met him.
You’d expect that the Business Development Coordinator would be someone whose role is to encourage development and help smooth the process, rather be as obstructionist as possible. Not in Claremont. She dragged her feet as much as she could at every step, and would only return my calls about 25% of the time. Another hangar builder also mentioned her in particular as being especially obstructionist and unhelpful.
The City Attorney never returned a single one of my calls about the leases.
The Code Enforcement Officer is gaining quite a reputation in the surrounding area as a very hard case to deal with, making life difficult for everyone. Due to all the additional enforcement work he has created for himself, it takes about a week to speak to him on the phone with questions about what he will and won’t accept, and he has no time to deal with any of the details. Even professionals, such as two different electricians or my heating contractor, could never figure exactly out what he wanted. His demands made my project quite a bit more expensive. In the end, his insistence that I use products that do not exist (heater certified specifically for hangar use) was the final straw for me.
The Airport Manager was helpful at first, but I also found him to be increasingly resentful of being asked about how the various processes were proceeding. He was the most helpful and interested of the bunch of them, but that isn’t saying a lot. Since he’s also the Fire Chief, he’s probably overtasked from having too many responsibilities. Seems to go along meekly with whatever the other bureaucrats tell him to do. Definitely not a "take charge" kind of person.
They all pass the buck among each other.
While at the Airport, I also noticed that the City STILL has not done anything on the hangar they are attempting to build. There was a new pin at what I assume is Dunn's hangar corner, so I guess his hangar project is proceeding slowly. No ground has been broken at all out there, even though we're already months into the short local building season, and the City received Planning Board approval for its hangar, as well as FAA and all other approvals, way back last fall. Given the poor management of that project, I will be VERY surprised if they can even manage to get it done THIS year (as opposed to LAST year, when it was supposed to have been done). And it certainly isn't Dufresne-Henry's fault for being slow to redo the ALP, as was suggested to me. I found D-H to be extremely prompt and responsive in all my dealings with them, and I wasn't even their client. Some of the delay is probably due to all the additional unexpected requirements Ken Walsh is laying on them, as he did with me.
June 12, 2006 - emailed someone with an avionics business who had been talking with me about relocating to CNH and building a hangar there. After reading my account of what a horror story it's been in Claremont, he said he'll definitely be setting up shop elsewhere.
June 27, 2006 - stopped by airport, as I was in the area. No ground has been broken yet for any hangars. Unbelievable incompetence and footdragging. They had claimed they would start the construction last fall, within two weeks of Planning Board approval. They fumbled that, then claimed they'd start April 1. Here is is nearly July, and they've still accomplished nothing. Also, the Claremont bureaucrats haven't had time to do anything useful, but they have found the time to go out there and tear down my card from the FBO's bulletin board again. I've been working on writing a story about the Claremont situation for the Atlantic Flyer, an east coast GA magazine.
July 7, 2006 - I was flying around the area today in a rental plane, and saw that they are just now breaking ground for the hangars the City is supposed to be building. So, they've started it about 9 months after they got approval from the Planning Board to build it, and at least 3 months after construction could have begun (and was scheduled to begin), if it was being managed properly. I landed there and put up a flyer for a fly-in at Lawrence, MA, and also put up one of my cards, as the Claremont bureaucrats had torn down the one I put up the other day. They don't have time to return calls or to do their jobs, but they sure do have time to keep a close eye on that FBO bulletin board, and to make sure any cards I put up are promptly torn down. Incredibly childish, on top of their already-proven incompetence, arrogance, ineptitude, and malfeasance. I also flew to several other local airports, and put up cards and flyers.
July 11, 2006 - finished my Atlantic Flyer article and submitted it
July 13, 2006 - stopped by airport. Childish Claremont bureaucrats have again torn down my card. Put up more.
July 26, 2006 - There was an article in the local Valley News paper the other day about hangars at Lebanon Municipal Airport, about 20 miles north of here. The article said the City had just opened bids to build 20 hangars at LEB. I called the Lebanon Airport Manager's office and talked to Jay Fitzgerald, the Operations Manager there. As I expected it might be, talking to Jay was was like night and day, compared to the evasiveness, finger-pointing, stalling tactics, and general incompetence of the buck-passing tag team of Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill. Even though Lebanon's hangars won't be built until probably next spring, after they build a new ramp to them this summer and fall, Jay was on top of everything, and was very responsive to all my questions. He has a waiting list already started. I asked him to put my name on it, and he took care of it immediately, right there on the phone. He said I'm approximately number 15 on the list. I asked about leases, and Jay said they were already working on them, and that they'd be notifying people on the waiting list as soon as pre-leases were available. Jay was completely straight-forward; none of the arrogance, games, stalling, finger-pointing, and evasive half-answers I always get from Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill. I think the difference is that Jay is professional and knows what he's doing, while Peter and Nancy are such incompetent amateurs that it takes them an entire year just to figure out how to do something as simple as establish and maintain a waiting list. Once the Claremont hangars are finally built, I just know it's going to be the same circle of incompetence again with the leases for those hangars.
Even though LEB would be a MUCH better airport for first flights and flight testing (two runways, both considerably longer than CNH's single runway, as well as a tower and ATIS), it's about 20 miles away, versus about 8 to CNH, and the auto traffic in and out of the LEB area is much worse than CNH. The only other drawback to LEB is that the article in the Valley News said they expect to make $120,000 per year from the 20 hangars. That's $500 per month for a T-hangar! Jay confirmed that amount is about what they expect to get for the hangars. That's much higher than I was expecting, and much higher than what I think are typical rents around here. Maybe Lebanon is just higher rent because it's a much classier city and airport than Claremont, even though it's a smaller city. We'll see what the Claremont bureaucrats come up with for rent. In keeping with their Amateur Hour procedures, the last time I asked, they had no idea what the rents would be. They probably won't know and will still be fumbling with that and the leases long after the hangar is built. Oh well - I am on both waiting lists now, so we'll see what develops.
July 28, 2006 - stopped by airport. Childish Claremont bureaucrats have again torn down my card. Put up more.
Aug 12, 2006 - stopped by airport & met Dick Love. He & I have had numerous conversations over the last year or so, but I hadn't yet had the chance to meet him, so I was looking forward to it. However, he immediately confronted me about him being accosted by Peter, Nancy, and other City bureaucrats regarding the comments about the bureaucrats in general and Nancy Merrill in particular that I have attributed to him here from my past conversations with him. He said he did not want those comments attributed to him. Although I very much disagree with his current statement that he never said things like that, it's his right to not have comments attributed to him, if he so chooses. His outlook on his hangar, and the hassle involved in building it, seems to have mellowed considerably since he and I first talked a year and a half ago. Back then, he used to rant at great length about the Claremont bureaucrats when I talked to him on the phone about his hangar. I told him I'd remove all comments attributed to him, and have done so. Apparently, all the Claremont bureaucrats are in quite a tither about my expose' here, and read it regularly. Of course, they still do nothing to correct their behavior and attitudes that are described here.
Speaking of the bureaucrats, the city hangar building is fully erected now. Dick said they finished it last week. Of course, even though the building is nearly complete, there is still no contact from Nancy/Peter concerning the leases, rent, etc. I emailed them about that to see what they say. The electrical is partly installed- just the conduit and boxes. One of the things I had tried to do with my hangar to reduce the additional costs imposed by Ken Walsh's requirements was to cut down on my electrical, by reducing it to a minimum number of lights and outlets. Ken had countered that by saying I had to have an outlet every 12 feet. The city hangars do not have an outlet every 12 feet. There are only 3 boxes in each hangar; and 2 of those are apparently for light switches. They may also add an outlet there in those two switch boxes, but that's still a far cry from the "every 12 feet" that Ken Walsh said I had to have in my hangar. I emailed, Ken, Nancy, and Peter about these things.
Aug 15, 2006 - No response from Peter Chase. I got a reply from Nancy Merrill on the hangars, saying We expect the hangar’s to be completed by the end of September. The lease terms are currently being developed by the city attorney and will be available prior to the time construction is completed. Rents will be $200 a month. Nice and straightforward; it sounds like maybe they're making things happen in a timely and clear-cut manner now. I'm still suspicious that they will try to pull a fast one on the leases and the waiting list before this is over, but I am giving them the benefit of the doubt for now. The rent sounds much more reasonable than LEB. I can't believe LEB will ever get pilots to pay $500 per month for a small, uninsulated metal hangar. These hangars are going to be hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and dripping condensation on everything every time we have our regular major temperature swings.
Ken Walsh replied to my email query to him about the electrical outlets. He now claims he never said anything about requiring outlets every 12 feet. Since I got it second-hand from one of the electricians, and not directly from Ken, there's nothing I can say about that. Ken also felt compelled to give me another of his lectures - this time chastising me for visiting the hangars without permission.
Aug 21, 2006 - followed up on the article I wrote last month for the Atlantic Flyer. I didn't see it published. Apparently it missed getting into the August issue, so it will be in the September issue.
Aug 22, 2006 - I saw in the Claremont paper yesterday that they were having a ribbon cutting ceremony for the City hangars today, so I went over to see it. It was mostly City officials and various politicians patting each other on the back for doing their job. Jerry Coogan came up and said hello before the ceremony began. He said he reads my web page regularly, but then he quickly moved away after saying that, so I don't know what that was all about. Peter got a lot of praise for getting the hangar built (no mention of the major slips in schedule, of course). It's a super deal for the City. They said it cost half a million bucks(!!), and one of the speakers said Claremont only had to cough up some $12K of that, so it's all profit for the City after that. Peter was also praised for getting the FAA grants to get it done. They claimed the FAA doesn't usually do grants for hangars. The ceremony was mercifully brief. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera. There is still no sign of any activity for JD Dunn's hangar or any other private hangar. The electricians were there in the first bay, running the wiring through the conduit.
Sep 14, 2006 - stopped by airport. Of course the childish Claremont bureaucrats have torn down my card again. Noted several things. First, the hangars are STILL not completely wired, even though the wiring process was started over a month ago. I also noted, in the hangars where they are further along on the wiring, that the lighting is three FLORESCENT lights. Once again, just like with the outlets, my electricians had told me Ken Walsh told them that my plans for florescent lights were not acceptable, and that I had to have special EXPLOSION-PROOF lighting. Yet these hangars do not have that. I think Ken had no idea what he was doing, and was just making up stuff as he went along on, but I can't prove it, as he didn't actually say it to ME; my electricians told me he had said it to them. He DID claim to me personally, repeatedly, that I had to have a heater specifically certified for hangar use (no such thing), and Anthony Lyons subsequently tried to deny that Ken had ever said that. I also see that the conduit and trenching is done for the private hangars. I also noted that there is no apparent sign of any provisions for water supply. I've heard from a couple sources that the City has changed its position on supplying water (I had asked about water supply early on in the process, and was told "no way"), and they now will be supplying water (and presumably a sewer line to get rid of the water) for the private hangars. Yet the trenching is already done and filled back in under the taxiway, and I don't see any sign of provisions for water. The old runway in front of the hangars is all torn up, waiting to be repaved.
Sep 23, 2006 - stopped by airport. Taxiway in front of hangars is still torn up. Electrical still not done. If they don't hurry up on the paving, they will miss the weather window for doing it this year. There are only a few weeks left that will be warm enough for paving. Nancy's last word on the hangar had been that they expected to have it done by the end of September. Yet another in a very long series of deadlines for this hangar that they have been too incompetent to meet.
Oct 1, 2006 - stopped by airport. Electrical still not done. Someone at the airport said the paving was just done a couple days ago, and that they've been waiting for the paving to be completed before they could get a lift in there to finish the electrical. Of course, still no word from Nancy Merrill or Peter Chase on the status of the hangars, nor any sign of any progress on getting the leases ready. They have known for over a year that the leases were going to be required now, and I've asked them about it several times, yet they STILL have not been able to produce something as simple as a standard hangar lease, or even the repeatedly-promised "pre-leases" to review. It's a wonder these people can ever get anything accomplished. Also noted that apron paving stops short of where the plan had shown JD Dunn's hangar to go. It only goes south as far as where my hangar was to go, so I guess something has already changed with that plan.
Oct 2, 2006 - Emailed Nancy & Peter, inquiring as to status of hangar and leases. See my entries for Aug 12, 2005, over a YEAR ago, where Nancy said the pre-leases would be available when construction began, and for Oct 5, 2005, nearly a year ago today, where they claimed then that the City Attorney was "developing the pre-lease agreements". It's a year later, and the municipal hangar building is very nearly ready for occupancy (although I'm sure they will find ways I can't presently imagine to drag that out as long as possible), and they still haven't even done the pre-lease agreements, much less the actual leases to be signed. The ineptitude and lack of productivity of these people is just amazing. Peter and Nancy form a perfect tag team of buck-passing, finger-pointing, and abdication of responsibility and accomplishment.
Oct 6, 2006 - still no response from Nancy Merrill or Peter Chase on the municipal hangar leases. Called Claremont City Manager's office to lodge formal complaint about Nancy and her incompetence and her consistent failures to respond. Left message for Guy Santagate to call me.
Oct 8, 2006 - beautiful day - out for a motorcycle ride & stopped by airport. Hangars appear to be complete. Electrical looks complete. Yet, still no word at all from Nancy or Peter on the leases for the new municipal hangars. They continue to ignore my queries to them about it. As I've suspected since I first met Peter nearly two years ago and he was so evasive about the hangar waiting list for so long, I think he and Nancy may be planning to attempt to sneak an end-run around the "waiting list" and get their "preferred insiders" into the hangars first. Either that or I have underestimated the level of their ineptitude and they really are continuing to fumble with the leases after the hangar is complete.
Oct 11, 2006 - The Claremont bureaucracy has gone above and beyond my wildest expectations. They've now gone from merely incompetent and uncooperative to downright dishonest. I got an email from Peter Chase this morning, saying "The leases are ready and you can pick it up at the fire station today or I will drop it in the mail later this afternoon". I went over to pick it up. It was in a sealed envelope. Peter looked nervous as I picked it up and made an odd comment, saying there was a cover letter inside that "covers what the deal is". I should have opened it on the spot, but I waited until I got home, still having no idea how much I had underestimated the treachery and dishonesty of Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill.
First, in the cover letter, Peter finally mustered up enough courage to admit to dropping the pretext of the waiting list for the new municipal hangars. They've now reverted to leasing the hangars to whomever can turn in their signed lease and rent check the fastest. I've suspected since the very beginning that Peter and Nancy were going to pull some dirty trick like this to avoid a fair and honest waiting list for the hangars, and to ensure that the members of their good old boy network got the leases.
The letter from Peter about the leases is dated Oct 10, but he waited until the 11th to notify me about "the race for the leases", to make sure I'd be last out of the starting gate. This is after Peter had told me, both verbally and in writing, that I was #3 on the waiting list. Never mind the fact that I have been on the FBO-maintained waiting list for a hangar at CNH for about 4 years, and I've been #1 on that list for about 2 years. It's hard to imagine a more incompetent, irrational, dishonest, and unprofessional way to handle the leasing of the municipal hangars than how Nancy and Peter have done it. DECEMBER, 2006 UPDATE - see here for details of how Peter Chase ensured that his nefarious pals, Larry Dingee and Joe Osgood, got around the hangar waiting list and were first in line for the new hangars.
Second, and even more egregious, it is quite clear that they have written the lease specifically to exclude ME, as they know that the purpose of me getting a hangar is to have a place to put the wings on and finish building my plane. It says three times on the first page alone that any plane stored in the hangar must be "certified and/or registered". There is no rational purpose for this, other than to attempt to exclude me. The lease also prohibits all maintenance in the hangar, "other than minor maintenance": "...mechanical, fabrication, ... is expressly prohibited". I could get around the "registered" part by simply registering the plane now, but they clearly put in the prohibition on mechanical work for no logical reason other than to exclude me. They probably even took the word "fabrication" from reading my builder's log. They also kept the onerous lease terms secret (at least from me - maybe not from the others) until the last possible moment. NOVEMBER, 2006 UPDATE - filed complaint with FAA. JULY, 2007 UPDATE - FAA concurs with my claims of discrimination and orders Claremont to remove discriminatory terms from leases.
Presumably, this is their childish revenge for me describing their activities on this web page. This page seems to have upset them considerably, but apparently not enough to prompt them to treat people in a more reasonable and professional manner, to prove me wrong. Instead, they've chosen to further embarrass themselves to locals and to pilots worldwide. None of them has ever disputed the veracity of anything written here.
These utterly sleazy people, their childish behavior, and this blatant discrimination are something else. The unprofessional, inept, and dishonest handling of the hangar assignments stands above all their other dirty tricks, bad attitudes, foot-dragging, and obstructionism. They've written their leases (on a hangar funded about 99% by FAA and NHDOT funds!) to exclude homebuilts, ultralights, and doing any work on a plane. They even had the audacity to put in a provision that allows them to selectively enforce or not enforce these provisions, to allow members of their "good old boy" network to ignore them if needed. Can these people be any more crooked? Can the tag team of Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill possibly be any more sleazy, unprofessional, childish, and dishonest?
They can keep their hangar. It wasn't all that desirable, anyway. I wasn't looking forward to having to deal with such sleazy, dishonest people and all their lies, subterfuges, deceptions, evasiveness, and treachery. Also, it would have been too cold in their unheated, uninsulated hangars to do any work 6 months out of the year. The uninsulated steel will be dripping condensation on everything every time we have our regular major temperature changes. I have several alternate plans which are better; starting with the fact that, for the foreseeable future, I have plenty of work do to on the plane at home, where it's much more convenient than at any airport.
Oct 12, 2006 - Even though I don't intend to sign a lease containing such discriminatory terms, I called Peter Chase first thing in the morning just to see how many signed leases he has collected so far. Surprise, surprise - the answer is "six". He probably had his 6 when I picked up the lease yesterday. I couldn't stomach any further conversation with him. Received several emails from readers of this page, suggesting that I file a complaint with the FAA about the dubious lease terms, even if it's too late to help me personally. I called the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Government Relations Department about what the City had done with the leases, and asked them to assist with presenting this info to the FAA. Mailed the lease and Peter's cover letter to the EAA. Not only did the FAA pay for these hangars, the EAA people tell me that, because it's a public airport, the City can't exclude classes of airplanes like this. We'll see what they say after they get the actual lease.
Oct 16, 2006 - I've been talking with numerous people about various options concerning hangars at several other local airports. In ALL my conversations with Airport Managers and other officials at other airports, now and in the past, it's like night and day compared to talking to the people at Claremont. Instead of being obstructionist, they are helpful. Instead of being secretive and vague, they offer information. Instead of avoiding discussion of waiting lists, they offer to add me to their waiting lists. Instead of being imperious, they offer cooperation and collaboration. Instead of being evasive, they are direct and honest.
Oct 17, 2006 - Guy Santagate (Claremont City Manager) and I have been playing phone tag for about 10 days. I'd originally called him to complain about Nancy Merrill's consistent failure to return calls or emails. After Peter & Nancy's big "hangar leases screwover", I had given up on any hope of anything fair or honest from the City of Claremont, so I didn't bother calling Guy back after the last time he left a message for me several days ago. So, even though I was "it" on the phone tag, Guy called me again and we talked. He seems VERY reasonable, and sounds like he really gives a damn about how things are run. He's the person who signs the leases for the City. I asked him to suspend signing the leases until the questions of honesty and fairness are resolved. He said he'd look into it and get back to me. We'll see what comes of it.
Oct 18, 2006 - I've received calls and emails from several people, telling me they had seen the article I wrote for the October issue of the Atlantic Flyer, and offering support and condolences on the CNH hangar situation. My article was going to be in the September issue, but a more important issue had come up in September; some super-rich newcomers to the area threatening and harassing a small, family-owned public airport (Somerset Airport - SMQ - in Bedminster, NJ) with a barrage of lawsuits. I hope the airport owners come out well on that.
Oct 19, 2006 - I wouldn't believe this if I hadn't seen it for myself. I went over to the airport to pick up a copy of this month's Atlantic Flyer. Every month, there is a big stack of them, and the stack always lasts all month, with some left over at the end of the month. Even though the October issue just came out recently, they are all GONE. The Claremont bureaucrats have apparently pulled all the copies of the Atlantic Flyer from the FBO office, so no one there can see the article I wrote. Unbelievable. How childish can these people possibly get?
Oct 20, 2006 - While doing a Google search for some Claremont-related info, I came across this posting. I guess some people want to shoot Ken Walsh. Can't say that I blame them. I hadn't heard about this before, but I don't subscribe to either the Manchester Union Leader or the Claremont Eagle Times. Obviously, I am not the only one who is none too pleased with what Ken Walsh has been doing in Claremont. I don't condone violence or vandalism against these people, but it certainly does demonstrate what I've experienced and heard all over during my hangar-building process - that Ken is ticking lots of people off all over town in a big way, and he's making life difficult for everyone and driving everyone's costs way up. See my April 17 entry for just one example of this (in addition to all the other mega-hassles I had from him). Most of the construction business people are afraid to speak out about it, because they are concerned about repercussions from the childish and imperious Claremont bureaucracy, but no one is very happy with Ken's overzealous enforcement actions. I found this info on a Plaistow, NH blog page. Here is a local copy of it, in case that link goes away.
Oct 27, 2006 - I never heard back from Guy Santagate, as he'd promised. By this late date, he obviously does not plan to do anything about the situation. I'd had high hopes for him to do the right thing; yet another disappointment. Called his office and left a message.
Oct 31, 2006 - received feedback from EAA and filed FORMAL COMPLAINT with FAA. Still no callback from Guy Santagate. Called him again and talked to him. That was a complete waste of time. Guy just made excuses for Nancy and Peter. He said that Nancy and Peter had told him they were "following what they thought was a correct and fair process", and apparently the lamest and phoniest of excuses was good enough to satisfy Guy. He said he could meet with me and Peter and Nancy, but of course he already missed his window of opportunity to correct the unfair process set up by Nancy and Peter. He said he'd look into it more and get back to me, but I won't be holding my breath on that. DEC '06 UPDATE - as expected, I never heard from Guy Santagate again.
I am thoroughly disgusted by these wretched people and their bad attitudes, compounded by Guy Santagate and Anthony Lyons turning a blind eye to all of it and refusing to do anything about any of it.
Nov 8, 2006 - At the far opposite end of the cooperation scale, I met today with Ron Shadroy, who handles the leases for VSF, Hartness State Airport in Springfield, VT. VSF is a MUCH better airport than CNH (more and bigger runways, taxiways, automated weather, much nicer and better-equipped FBO). The only reason I didn't go there in the first place is because it's further from my house than CNH.
Ron's role is comparable to that of Nancy Merrill. Ron is extremely helpful and cooperative. In one exchange of emails and one meeting, Ron did more for me than Nancy did in over a year of her evasiveness, stalling, finger-pointing, inactivity, and lame excuses. Ron returns calls and emails promptly. Ron does what he says he'll do. Ron goes out of his way to be helpful and informative. Ron is direct, honest, and straightforward. All just the opposite of the tag team of Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase.
As soon as I told Ron I was interested in building, he immediately set up a meeting to start the process. And not just a meeting to stir the pot, like in Claremont, but a meeting to actually get something done. In that one meeting, we got all the details covered. Ron had quick, honest, straight-forward answers to all our questions. We walked the hangar development area, and Ron staked out where my hangar and another builder's hangar will go. Ron will start work immediately on making up the lease for it. He has also been most helpful in describing the details of the rest of the process (which sounds like it will be FAR less than the hoops the Claremont bureaucrats made me jump through). Ron has also offered to help walk me and a couple other builders through the permit process as we get to that point. It took me about a YEAR to get stakes in the ground in Claremont. It took about a week in Springfield. That's just one small example of the extreme difference in cooperation and attitudes between Claremont and Springfield.
Nov 24, 2006 - received email from FAA that they have received my complaint, and will respond within 30 days.
Nov 27, 2006 - came across this gem while doing a Google search. The Claremont bureaucrats are so concerned about the truths published on this page, yet it never occurs to them to try changing their devious, evasive, uncooperative, and dishonest behavior, or their imperious attitudes.
Back when I had first met Peter Chase, I had asked him about talking to this Airport Advisory Board about my hangar plans. He was evasive about it and discouraged me from further interest in it and its members and activities, telling me there was no point in meeting with them. I'll bet anything that one or more of the members of this board are part of Peter Chase's secret "insiders" group who have conspired to bypass the waiting list and get themselves into the municipal hangars ahead of people who have been on the waiting list for years. I also see now that, in the July and September meetings, they apparently discussed and knew all the terms of the leases before the "race for the leases" opened; terms I had repeatedly asked Peter and Nancy to disclose, and my requests were ignored. Of course, knowing the terms of the leases before they were disclosed to other "contestants" in the "race for the leases" gave them a huge and dishonest advantage over the other "racers".
Nov 28, 2006 - stopped by Claremont Planning Office and filled out forms, requesting copies of the 6 municipal hangar leases the City signed, to find out the names of Peter Chase's "insiders".
Dec 4, 2006 - received in the weekend mail the hangar lease copies I ordered. I had never mentioned any names before, but it has been very clear to me, ever since Peter Chase began to be so evasive about the municipal hangar waiting lists 2 years ago, that if there was going to be any sort of chicanery with regard to these hangar leases, Phillip Osgood (aka Joe Osgood, aka Philip Osgood, aka Philip Joe Osgood) and/or Larry Dingee would be at the center of it. Sure enough, Larry Dingee got Hangar #1 and Joe Osgood, the insider from the Claremont Airport Advisory Board (and recently-voted-out State Representative), got Hangar #2. I already had an extremely low opinion of the honesty and integrity of those two, as I know them both as former public officials in Cornish. I also know Larry from "highly unsatisfactory" business dealings with him at his Dingee Machine business back in the early 90s. This certainly confirms my opinions and suspicions.
Filed ADDITIONAL COMPLAINT with FAA. Looking into filing complaint with NHDOT.
This is who got the hangars:
David Russo & William Rodeschin
I know Dave Bridgham. He's a good guy. I doubt he's dirty on this. I know the other names, but I don't know the person behind the name. I have no evidence of collusion between them and Peter Chase. Typical Larry - he wasn't on the hangar waiting list, so he conspired with Peter to get around that, cheat other pilots, and get into a hangar anyway. I don't regret not signing Claremont's discriminatory lease, but I don't plan to let the City get away with their dishonest tricks, either.
Dec 5, 2006 - I read on the Claremont Eagle Times web site that Anthony Lyons is no longer employed by Claremont, as of several weeks (or more) ago. I don't know if he quit or was fired, but good riddance to him. Now all they need to do is fire Nancy Merrill and get a real Airport Manager who knows what he is doing. The newspaper article said the City hasn't been able to find a replacement for Anthony, so they are having the head of the Public Works Dept take over his position. The Public Works Dept also sounds like a much more appropriate home for the Airport Manager, rather than giving the position to the Fire Chief, but I suppose that's much too logical for Claremont.
The FAA tells me they have submitted my complaints to the City Manager for Claremont's response. I'm sure the little Claremont scamps will be putting their heads together to come up with lies, convoluted phony excuses, and subterfuge to cover their actions. I am keeping my expectations low regarding the FAA complaints. At the very least, the Claremont bureaucrats will know I was here. I hope the FAA isn't as willing to accept specious excuses as Guy Santagate was. We shall see what comes of it. ITMT, things are progressing along nicely with regard to building my own hangar at VSF.
Dec 8, 2006 - forwarded FAA complaint info to Jack Ferns, Director of Aeronautics at NHDOT. Later in the day, I received a copy of the LETTER that the FAA sent to Guy Santagate, requesting his response to my allegations. They had also copied Jack Ferns.
Dec 11, 2006 - A local reader of this page pointed out to me that the Larry Dingee-Peter Chase connection is based on the fact that Larry's metalworking business in Cornish focuses on the building and repairing of fire trucks (Dingee Fire Apparatus/Dingee Machine). So, the Fire Chief and the person who builds and repairs his fire trucks have a cozy little relationship. Too bad Larry couldn't have followed the honest "waiting list" path, like normal people, but that's typical Larry for you. Too bad Peter had to accommodate Larry and Joe through such a blatantly unfair and prejudiced process. There's no integrity at all among these people.
Dec 13, 2006 - I was contacted by another member of Claremont's business community, who told me of his experiences with vindictive retribution and harassment from Peter Chase and the Claremont bureaucrats. Peter and the others are SO childish, as already well-proven by their activities described on this page. I haven't done any plane work for the last couple days, as all my spare time has been busy with finalizing the plans for the hangar size, so I can get the building on order.
Dec 15, 2006 - Found and installed StatCounter. It is far better than the hokey old hit counter I used to have. I was surprised at the traffic I am seeing. Within minutes of installing it, I started getting hits from all over. I guess more people read this than I'd realized.
Dec 19, 2006 - I'm continuing to work on the plans for building my hangar at Springfield. Here's just one more small example of the radical difference between dealing with the people in Springfield and dealing with Claremont's nightmare. In addition to all his other fabricated requirements on the electrical and heating, Ken Walsh had insisted that, even though I already had a huge 40' wide main door covering one wall AND a regular personnel door on another wall, I had to add a SECOND personnel door on a third wall. Idiotic. I've already checked it out, and there's no such requirement in Springfield. I haven't confirmed it for sure yet, but I also understand there is also no hassle with Alaskan Slab foundations in Springfield, as there was in Claremont.
I also have been talking with the people at Schweiss Bi-Fold Doors. Not only are they going to honor the quote on the door I had ordered last year (and had to cancel, thanks to the continuous harassment by the Claremont bureaucrats), they are even going to honor the deposit I had sent them for the door. They are going to do this even if they can't locate the actual door they had made for me in the spring of 2006, before I had to cancel the order. That is EXCEPTIONAL customer service, way beyond my expectations, and I HIGHLY recommend Schweiss for your hangar door.
I had been planning to go with a considerably larger Morton building this time, for Springfield, but my proposed building partner (another RV builder) wasn't ready to proceed, so I am going ahead on my own. After nearly ordering the building from Morton, I ended up going back to the same plan I'd had for the Claremont building. Mike at LaValley's still has all my plans and engineering drawings from the Claremont fiasco, so we can just reuse all that, minus some of the stupid things required by Ken Walsh, like the second personnel door. At the time I cancelled Claremont, I was so disgusted with all of it (and not yet realizing the screwing Peter Chase had in mind for me on the municipal hangar leasing), I threw away all the papers related to my own hangar. But Mike (and Schweiss) still have all that stuff, so we can pick up where we left off.
After I get all my plan details in order, I expect to start the process rolling in Springfield next month. Details coming. I expect that whole process will be like night and day, compared to Claremont. From all I hear, it's going to be a pleasure dealing with the people associated with Springfield.
Dec 26, 2006 - started subscribing to the Claremont Eagle Times newspaper, to stay on top of what's going on in Claremont
Dec 29, 2006 - sent 2 emails to Claremont Eagle Times; one for publication, one for news article suggestion.
Jan 4, 2007 - met with Matt Clary, Editor of the Claremont Eagle Times. He was mainly interested in the FAA complaint and the conflicts of interest regarding the municipal hangar leases. He also expressed a strong low opinion of this web page. While I avoided dwelling on that, I believe his opinion was primarily based on his view that the web page is full of personal attacks against the Claremont bureaucrats and the City, and presents the City in a poor light. IMHO, OTOH, all I've done here is relate who said and did what when. Nothing I've written is untrue, and no one has ever challenged the veracity of anything written here. I didn't seek these actions by the bureaucrats, and I came into this with nothing but enthusiasm and optimism. Hopefully, anything that gets printed from this will be fair and balanced coverage.
I am still working on finalizing plans and choices for my hangar, and hope to be ready to start moving on it very soon.
Jan 5, 2007 - received copy of Claremont's response to the FAA complaint. While I think the City's arguments that it did not discriminate are highly specious, what matters is whether or not the FAA buys into such a shell game. I am working now on writing a letter to the FAA in response to Claremont's response.
Jan 8, 2007 - The Claremont bureaucrats appear to be attempting to avoid further embarrassing themselves; by no longer publishing minutes of the Airport Advisory Board. Their web page says they have meetings every odd-numbered month, so presumably they had one in November. But after their own documents were used to bring light to their nefarious activities (see my Nov 27, 2006 entry) and to support my claims of duplicity and insider conflicts of interest, they no longer list any new minutes after September. The Claremont bureaucracy seems to be the Keystone Kops of city administration; constant fumbling and bumbling, and then trying to cover it all up.
Sent email to Eagle Times, asking why my letter has not been published and/or why no one has contacted me if there is an issue with printing some or all of it. The letter I'd written was about a classic Nancy Merrill operation. After running a futile promotion contest all year for a free lease of City commercial space, and twice extending the deadline for it because no one was even interested in applying, Nancy was quoted in the Eagle Times as refusing to divulge how many companies had entered the contest (no doubt to hide her embarrassment over the poor results of her failed promotion). She was also quoted as saying "no particular reason" when asked about the reason for the most recent delay and missed deadline in announcing the winner of her ineffectual promotion. This is SO typical of Nancy Merrill in action. Yet the Claremont administration continues to bury its head in the sand, and deny there is any problem with Nancy Merrill's job performance
Jan 9, 2007 - My building plans are taking shape. I talked to a couple people who built most recently at Springfield. While I am still not quite ready to do my applications there, everything from everyone I talk to indicates that it will be night-and-day compared to dealing with Claremont's horrid people and their inefficacy, intrigue, and bad attitudes. Ron Shadroy in particular is especially helpful; very responsive, guiding people through the process and greasing the skids at every step, just the opposite of his Claremont counterpart, Nancy Merrill. In Springfield, there are much fewer and more relaxed requirements, and vastly better attitudes toward being helpful and cooperative. More details on this next week, when I expect to be ready to start my town and state applications there.
Emailed FAA regarding my response to Claremont's response to my complaint. It's in the FAA's hands now. I am keeping my expectations low; after all, look at what happened when the sleazy crook Richard Daley (Chicago Mayor) did something far more onerous than what Claremont's bureaucrats did. He stole an entire airport (Meigs Field) in the middle of the night, and got away with it.
Jan 11, 2007 - still no response from Eagle Times regarding my letter or my followup inquiry email. Called Eagle Times to ask about it. They said they have no record of a letter from me. The lady I talked to said the "letters" email address published in the paper is not a good one, and she gave me a different email address to resend to. Resent letter.
Jan 15, 2007 - Eagle Times prints my letter, complete, including this URL, with no editing. I am pleasantly surprised.
Sent FAA additional info regarding the specious arguments in Claremont's response to the FAA.
Jan 17, 2007 - signed contract for a Morton Buildings 48' x 38' hangar at VSF (Springfield), to be built commencing around the first of June, 2007.
My complaint to the FAA is not the first time Claremont officials have recently faced problems and actions from the Federal government as a result of misuse of Federal funds. The following is excerpted from the Sullivan Report site:
In 2001, the recently completed Visitor Center (which was funded with Federal grant money) was vacant. The original plan was to only use the top floor of the building. At that time, the only thing that still needed to be done before occupying the building was for the top floor to be made ADA compliant. Claremont's new City Manager, Guy Santagate, decided to turn the Visitor Center into an annex of City Hall by placing both the Planning and Economic Development offices on the first floor. The ADA compliancy issues were not addressed. The government agency who supplied the funds to build the Visitor Center later demanded that the first floor be turned into a visitor center or the Federal funds used to build the Visitor Center be returned. The City Manager then decided to move the government offices downstairs, making matters even worse because now two floors of this building would have to be brought into ADA compliance. This would also now require the installation of an elevator, all at local taxpayer expense. In 2006, an agreement was signed between the US Department of Justice and the Claremont City Manager, requiring Claremont to make the entire Visitor Center ADA compliant by the end of 2006 (except for the installation of the new elevator, which has to be completed by the end of 2007). Photos taken of the Visitor Center, by two local residents on December 28, 2006, clearly show that many of the things the agreement required be done by the end of 2006 have yet to be done. Since the money was budgeted, why wasn't the work done? Was the money spent elsewhere? How will the US Department of Justice respond? Here is the link for the agreement with DOJ. See here for the original source info on The Sullivan Report.
Jan 25, 2007 - A few days ago, I sent info about "The Claremont Story" to a New Hampshire news blog, the NH Insider. Today, they have featured an article about this on their Front Page. Here is a direct link to their article. I've also recently posted links to the Claremont situation at various other places on the Internet.
Jan 26, 2007 - signed land lease for my hangar at Springfield. Visited Springfield Town Office and State of Vermont office for town and state forms. Everyone there is extremely helpful, friendly, cooperative, and accommodating, without a hint of the evasiveness and obstructionism that is so prevalent in Claremont. They described the steps I need to take for my state and town permits. They helped me with the forms and with the process. It is VASTLY less hassle than Claremont. It is all very simple and straightforward. No FAA Form 7460-1 (construction application) needed (saving at least 2 months in the process, compared to Claremont). No surveyor needed (saving months and thousands of dollars there alone). No fancy, expensive drawings needed. No hassles over the foundation, no hassles or expenses over soil analysis, no hassles or added costs for additional, unnecessary doors. No hassles on electrical or heating. And, of course, no 8 month wait for sophomoric "Comprehensive Hangar Building Guidelines". The attitude at Springfield is "How can we help you?" and "No problem", rather than Claremont's "What you YOU want?" and "Here's some more hoops to jump through.". It is SUCH a blessing to be away from those horrid, despicable Claremont bureaucrats!
Jan 27, 2007 - a local reader informs me Matt Clary is no longer with the Eagle Times. Don't know why or where he went.
Jan 29, 2007 - spent the weekend filling out, copying, and collating the forms and attachments for the Town of Springfield Site Plan Review and the State of Vermont Act 250. It was easy - I just used copies of the previous VSF hangar builder's applications as a template for my forms.
I've been receiving lots of calls and emails of support regarding this web page, and links to it are posted all over the Internet.. One such posting I just saw was this, referring to the gross incompetence of the members of the Claremont bureaucracy. This posting is on the Plaistow, NH Town Crier blog.
Jan 30, 2007 - Here is another example of how an honest and competent government and airport is run, so very different from Claremont. Today, I received a call, as promised, about my request last summer to be on the waiting list for the municipal hangars to be built this spring at Lebanon, NH (LEB). They called me today to tell me that the pre-lease agreements are now posted on the KLEB web site. The web site contains the pre-leases for examination, the pricing, and information about getting a hangar. Contrast this openness with the secretive and underhanded way Claremont handled leasing their municipal hangars. Nancy Merrill promised for about a year to make the Claremont pre-leases available for review, and in the end she never did produce them at all. She and Peter Chase kept the lease terms secret until the "race for the leases" began. Also, Lebanon has not procrastinated until the hangars are built to provide lease terms and details, as Claremont did. As I've said before, EVERY contact with EVERY person at EVERY other airport is like night-and-day compared to the incompetence, bad attitudes, and harassment I encountered at every step with Claremont.
I had some questions about the LEB lease terms, so I emailed the LEB Airport Manager, Steve Miller. He replied promptly, and answered all my questions completely and honestly; quite a contrast with the evasiveness, double-talk, and treachery I encountered with Nancy Merrill, Peter Chase, and the Claremont bureaucrats.
I feel sorry for people like Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase. It must be terrible to go through life knowing deep down inside that you are so very incompetent, and having to always be evasive and noncommittal about everything, in the futile hope of hiding the fact that you have no idea what you are doing, and knowing that you will screw up everything you touch.
Feb 1, 2007 - Finished collecting all the info and attachments I need for my hangar building applications. Submitted my Town of Springfield Site Plan Review and State of Vermont Act 250 applications, and distributed copies of the forms and attachments to all the proper destinations. The contrast between a couple days of filling out and copying some simple forms and attachments, and the year-long jerking around that Claremont gave me, is striking. Ron Shadroy has been exceptionally helpful, prompt, and responsive in every step of this. Getting approvals for these applications should be routine, from what everyone tells me. Linda Rousse at the Town of Springfield, Linda Matteson at the State of Vermont, and all the other people I encountered on all this were very helpful and cooperative. As my friend Stan has told me, the attitude in Springfield is "You want to build a hangar? At the airport? (shrug) OK.", and that's the extent of it.
Feb 2, 2007 - I've never gotten any sort of response from Jack Ferns, Director of Aeronautics at NHDOT, regarding my complaints about the misuse of FAA and NHDOT funds at CNH. I emailed him and specifically asked for a response.
I also forwarded a summary of this Claremont situation to the local EAA Chapter newsletter list.
Today's Valley News says Steve Miller is no longer LEB Airport Manager, as of 2 days ago. They're being very close-mouthed about details. Steve came in as Airport Manager in October, 2005 to replace the previous Airport Manager, who'd been fired after only 10 months because the airport had failed the last 2 FAA inspections. It had seemed like everything was going very well for Steve's tenure. I read recently that the airport had passed its most recent inspections with flying colors. The Valley News said "at Wednesday's council meeting, Mandsager [Lebanon City Manager] informed the council he had dismissed Miller". It also said "... Miller, whose cell phone and home phone numbers were disconnected, could not be reached for comment". Too bad - in my only contact with Steve (it must have been one of his last acts in the job), he seemed quite responsive and reasonable.
Lots of political intrigue around the airports here. Lebanon is notorious for wanting to cut funding for its airport. They even tried to shut down the tower a few years ago. The Lebanon City Council was giving serious thought to the ludicrous idea of defying FAA funding conditions and trying to "just give the airport money back to to FAA", so they could close the tower. It's incredibly short-sighted, as business jets and commercial flights land there every day, bringing lots of money into the precarious local economy.
Anyway, deficits at LEB may be behind Steve's departure. The City of Lebanon still refuses to fund any airport expenses, ignoring the value that the airport brings to the area, so LEB has to be self-funding with landing fees, hangar rentals, etc. The Valley News article hints that budget issues may have been behind Steve's departure, saying that "Mandsager said yesterday that he wants to improve the airport's financial performance and hire a manager with business experience". See the whole story here, although I don't know how long the Valley News keeps its stories online. LEB is a tough place to be Airport Manager, because of the aforementioned City Council short-sightedness in funding, although I don't think it's as bad now as it was a couple years ago. I think Chuck Wiles, Steve's predecessor, got fired because he was trying to operate under such tight (and perhaps unrealistic) funding restrictions, so he had to cut some corners.
Claremont, OTOH, is just a dusty backwater where even the most incompetent people can mismanage everything for years without anyone getting fired.
Feb 5, 2007 - contacted Aviation Association of New Hampshire (AANH), and NHDOT Board of Aeronautics to further pursue the issues related to Claremont's misuse of NHDOT and FAA funding.
Feb 7, 2007 - received copy of letter FAA sent to Claremont, requesting clarification of some of Claremont's terms and asking questions about what Claremont allows. Based on what the FAA is asking and the wording of the questions, the outlook for justice in this case does not look good, but we shall see what develops.
Feb 12, 2007 - talked with Jay Fitzgerald, Operations Manager at LEB, about the proposed terms of their leases. In sharp contrast to the arrogance, secrecy, and intransigence I consistently encountered at Claremont, Jay returned my call promptly, and was very cooperative and open to suggestions regarding their proposed lease terms. Jay suggested a good change that makes sense for all, and he will send me the proposed text change.
I've also been receiving more emails of support from local people who have dealt with the bureaucratic harassment nightmare of Claremont. No one wants to be identified, though, because of the proven childish vindictive nature of the Claremont bureaucrats, so I mention no names or specifics. I think my own specifics more than adequately describe what it's like to deal with Claremont bureaucrats.
Feb 13, 2007 - Vermont Act 250 legal notice published in Eagle Times
Feb 17, 2007 - posted Springfield Site Plan Review hearing notices at VSF
March 1, 2007 - Received notification that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has filed an appearance in my Act 250 application. Also received a proactive courtesy call from Linda Matteson at the Act 250 office, telling me that a neighbor has requested an Act 250 hearing on my application. So, a hearing will be held later this month, and Linda will be sending out notices for that. The issue with the neighbor was not unexpected, as I'd been told this might happen. People tell me it should not be a problem, though. After all, it IS a hangar at an airport.
I contacted Ron Shadroy about the ANR appearance and Linda's call. Ron is completely "Johnny On The Spot" about all this. He returned my call immediately upon returning to his office, and he's making all sorts of calls and efforts on my behalf to get ANR's "stormwater" issue resolved or negated. There are several reasons the stormwater criterion is not applicable to me, and Ron is working with AOT's legal office, ANR people, and Act 250 people to get the issue resolved quickly. Ron helping me through the bureaucratic speed bumps is such a HUGE contrast with what it was like trying to get anything done in Claremont, and his promptness, responsiveness, and efforts are just the opposite of how it was trying to get anything accomplished with Nancy Merrill, Ron's counterpart in Claremont.
March 6, 2007 - Ron Shadroy continues to be extremely active in getting all the bureaucratic hoops taken care of for my hangar.
March 7, 2007 - Had Site Plan Review hearing before the Springfield Planning Commission. Again, in such sharp contrast to the obstructionism and hassles encountered in Claremont, the hearing was a non-event. I was up first. I spoke for about 5 minutes, giving a brief description of the hangar. There were no comments or questions from the Planning Commission or from the public. The Commission voted unanimously to approve it. I was out of there in 10 minutes. Both the hearing, and the process to get to the hearing, were totally smooth and hassle-free; quite the opposite of the continuous roadblocks and delays thrown up by the Claremont bureaucracy. All the people involved at Springfield were extremely helpful, friendly, and most of all cooperative.
I read in the Eagle Times that the best of Claremont's very few even slightly decent restaurants is expanding.....ELSEWHERE. Rather than face the mountain of bureaucratic hassles to expand in Claremont, they are closing the Claremont operation and opening a new larger one in Springfield.
A Claremont pilot is expanding his hangar......ELSEWHERE. Rather than face the mountain of bureaucratic hassles to expand or build in Claremont, he's moving to another airport.
A Claremont manufacturer recently expanded.....ELSEWHERE. Rather than face the mountain of bureaucratic hassles to expand in Claremont, they closed the Claremont operation and opened a new larger one in another town.
A Claremont retailer recently expanded.....ELSEWHERE. After attempting to face the mountain of bureaucratic hassles to expand in Claremont, they closed the Claremont operation and opened a new larger one in another town.
An aircraft business was planning to come to Claremont. But not after reading this web page. They went ELSEWHERE, as did at least two other potential hangar builders that I know of.
Aubuchon's, a regional hardware store chain, has just closed its Claremont operation. Here's a quote from The Sullivan Report about it: Aubuchon Hardware closed its Claremont Store after being here for over 50 years. According to the article in our local newspaper the company is expanding by opening up new stores. Did the City Manager and his staff at the Economic Development Office try to help Aubuchon Hardware find another Claremont location or did they simply do nothing?
Yep, that's the way things are in Claremont; an uncooperative, evasive, bungling, do-nothing "Business Development Manager" like Nancy Merrill, a nit-picking, harassing, overzealous, amateurish building inspector like Ken Walsh, a perfidious, incompetent, childish, conniving Airport Manager like Peter Chase, a hostile, arrogant City Planner like Jerry Coogan, an imperious, obstructionist bureaucracy, and management that buries its head in the sand. It's no wonder businesses and the tax base are fleeing and/or avoiding Claremont just as fast as new ones are conned into coming in.
March 8, 2007 - talked to Linda Rousse at the Springfield Town Office about my next step, the Zoning application. Linda, the epitome of helpfulness and cooperation, said I don't need to bother submitting plans with the application, as the form says. She says she'll just attach the drawings from my Site Plan Review application to the Zoning application for me when she gets it. The Zoning application is what will generate the Building Permit after the approval I obtained at last night's hearing. Completed and mailed the Zoning application.
I also received a copy of Claremont's specious replies to the FAA queries of a month ago. I will be working on sending the FAA a response to it, when I get a chance.
March 14, 2007 - received my Springfield Building Permit (called a Zoning Permit in VT) in today's mail. Getting it couldn't have been easier. The whole thing was a quick, simple, hassle-free process that only took a few weeks total, and less than a WEEK, including 2-way mailing time, from the time of my Site Plan Review until I had my Building Permit in hand. That is quite a contrast with an entire YEAR of harassment from Claremont's bureaucrats to do the same thing. Throughout the process in Springfield, there was NO mention of all the stupid harassment things I had to endure in Claremont; soil surveys, land surveys, additional doors, redundant FAA permits, "hangar building guidelines", contrived heating and electrical hassles, evasiveness, foot-dragging, finger-pointing, hostility, bad attitudes, etc. Everyone I have dealt with regarding this hangar at VSF was most cooperative and responsive; quite the opposite of Nancy Merrill, Peter Chase, and the whole obstructionist Claremont bureaucracy.
I also got another proactive call from Ron Shadroy. There simply aren't words to describe the huge contrast in attitude and helpfulness between Ron and his Claremont counterpart, Nancy Merrill. Ron's been very busy working with AOT (VT Agency of Transportation) legal people, ANR (VT Agency of Natural Resources), and the VT Act 250 people to resolve ANR's issue with my Act 250 permit. It's a long detailed story, but suffice it to say that Ron got it all resolved, very quickly, and now ANR no longer has any issues with my Act 250 permit. Their issue wasn't really with me, anyway; it was a Vermont inter-agency thing and a stormwater permit that AOT needed (and had already applied for back in January). Ron has coordinated getting all that resolved in a very short time. Can you imagine the result if a do-nothing loser like Nancy Merrill was responsible for resolving something like that? It would NEVER get resolved. The state issues Ron resolved were potentially bigger and more complicated than any of the petty local jostling Nancy faced and refused to deal with; Nancy is so incompetent she couldn't get snowballs made at the North Pole. As far as I know, she never did announce a winner to her inept "free lease" contest.
March 16, 2007 - exchanged some emails with Jay Fitzgerald, Operations Manager at Lebanon Municipal Airport. In yet another example of the sharp contrast between dealing with Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase in Claremont, and dealing with people in other places, Jay has been most open, honest, responsive, and cooperative regarding the hangars to be built at Lebanon and the leases for those hangars. I had been concerned that the original lease prohibited all but "minor maintenance". After a couple discussions with Jay, he has gotten the leases reworded so that now the only work prohibited is that which is related to a fire hazard, such as welding, painting, doping, etc. This issue is important for all EAA members and builders, and it's important to avoid setting precedents that prohibit maintenance which does not produce an increased fire risk. Thanks for your helpfulness and cooperation, Jay!
March 22, 2007 - Had my Vermont Act 250 hearing in Springfield. Like everything else associated with building this hangar at VSF, the Act 250 process was smooth as silk, characterized by cooperation and helpfulness at every step; just the opposite of my experiences in Claremont. The abutter was quite reasonable, and we addressed his aesthetics concerns. The permit will be issued, subject only to making the hangar the same color as the others (as planned) and getting ANR to sign AOT's pending stormwater permit. The whole process was smooth and simple, aided greatly by Ron Shadroy greasing the skids at every opportunity.
March 29, 2007 - People have been asking me about Claremont's response to the FAA query from February and my response to that. Well, I finally made the time to respond to the FAA about the lies and deceptions the Claremont bureaucracy is attempting to use to snow the FAA. I'll post it soon. I also made the time to scan Claremont's response to the FAA's queries, so see the March 8 entry for that.
March 30, 2007 - sent FAA an email with my reactions to Claremont's March response to the FAA February queries.
April, 2007 - arranged site work for approved hangar at VSF. Site work delayed some by three big late-season snowstorms and unusually cold weather. Site work still expected to be done as soon as the ground condition allows it; the last week in April, with building construction in early-mid May. No word from FAA on status of complaints.
May 4, 2007 - site work begun for hangar at VSF. The whole process of building at Springfield has been completely hassle-free; just the opposite of the continuous obstructionism and harassment at Claremont. Thus begins what should have happened at Claremont TWO YEARS AGO, before the petty little Claremont bureaucrats began harassing me. Click on any pic for a larger view.
Site work begins for my new hangar at VSF, right on schedule.
May 7, 2007 - site work completed; ready for building delivery.
Nice and flat and smooth. Done by Jon Murphy of Brownsville, VT. Looks good.
May 9, 2007 - building materials delivered
Unloading one of the roof trusses. The back of the tractor that delivered the trailerload of materials from Gettysburg, PA converts into a forklift. Pretty nifty.
Continuing to unload the trailer with the tractor/forklift.
May 10, 2007 - building construction begins
Morning - The crew has laid out all the post locations and are building the posts to be set into concrete in drilled holes.
Morton uses some cool specialized equipment to make this a very fast and efficient process; the post holes were done with this truck with a boring machine in the back and a backhoe on the side.
Afternoon - 18" diameter column holes are bored about 5 feet deep, with 2 feet of concrete poured in, posts being installed into the concrete and plumbed, and holes being backfilled. The front two holes are "double-wide" to support the door.
Evening - all the columns are in. The concrete will harden tomorrow and over the weekend as the crew finishes up a building somewhere else, then they'll be back Monday morning with an additional crew to finish erecting the building. In the background is the frame for one of the walls. While the crew was waiting for other things to arrive, they built all 3 main wall frames and laid them out in the grass.
May 15, 2007 - building is framed.
There was a letter in today's Claremont Eagle Times from the owner of one of Claremont's very few nice restaurants, expressing displeasure at the way they've been treated by the Claremont bureaucrats and ignored by the local paper, including "After near bankruptcy before opening our doors due to the city's redundant hoops and unfriendly small business requirements.... our business continues to grow."
The frame is up. No one was around this afternoon. It was raining this morning. They probably did all this yesterday. They'll probably sheathe the building tomorrow. The door is expected to arrive by the end of the month. When it's done, it'll look just like the ones in the background, only smaller.
May 18, 2007 - wall panels are up
Side & back wall panels are all installed. The tractor is another of Morton's specialized tools. It's a tractor, loader, forklift, hole borer, and personnel lift, all in one. It's been a slow building week because of heavy rains & high winds. I guess they'll do the roof panels next week.
May 24, 2007 - building completely erected, just waiting now for the main door
Lovely warm day, so I rode the CB1100F over to VSF. Sometime during the week, the crew finished installing the roof, ceiling, personnel door, trim, etc. It all looks great. We're just waiting now for the main door, expected late May/early June.
June 1, 2007 - Remember the issue I mentioned way back in January, where Nancy Merrill's "Perfect Place" promotion contest for Claremont was so poorly received that she twice had to extend the deadline for the "free commercial lot", and all her evasive double-talk to cover up the poor results? I had sent the Claremont Eagle a letter about what a failure that contest was and how it typified Nancy Merrill's evasive and unproductive job performance.
I read in the Concord Monitor a few days ago (apparently the Claremont Eagle avoids printing stories unfavorable to the Claremont bureaucracy) that Nancy's fiasco has finally been put to death. According to the Monitor, the contest "has ended with the lone applicant declining the offer". The contest "failed to generate a single applicant beyond the city's boundaries". Back in December, Nancy Merrill was quoted in the Claremont Eagle Times, being as evasive as usual, regarding when the contest would end and when a winner would be announced. At that time, she was claiming the contest would end in January. Then, she dragged out the inevitable for another six months, obviously stalling for time, hoping to find just ONE applicant who would enable her to claim the promotion a success. The one Claremont company that did apply for it ended up saying, "thanks, but no thanks". Despite getting articles about the contest printed in USA Today, MSNBC, and the Boston Globe, not one company outside Claremont was interested in applying for it. So the promotion accomplished absolutely nothing and wasted a year of time and effort.
But wait; there's more - here's the best part; the Monitor also said that, "despite the contest's ultimate collapse", Claremont City Manager Guy Santagate said he did not consider the contest and promotion to be a failure. Jeeeez, Guy, just how blatant does a failure have to be for you to recognize it as such??? This really summarizes the problems in Claremont; when the City Manager looks at such abject failures and blithely claims them to be a success.
Please also note my entry for May 15 about the hassles endured by another Claremont business. As one of my downstate readers, who knows New Hampshire quite well, said to me recently, "Claremont will never get out of its hole". Another reader wrote "I used to be much more optimistic about Claremont's potential, but no longer." With people like Nancy Merrill and the Claremont bureaucrats screwing up the simplest of things in Claremont, making things as difficult as possible for development and growth, and with their miserable failures and bad attitudes being covered up by Guy Santagate and the Claremont management, it's no wonder Claremont has such an uphill climb.
June 6, 2007 - Peter Bania, Morton sales rep, tells me my hangar door has been installed and the building is complete. The door wasn't there on Saturday (6/2), so they must have installed the door and completed the project on Monday and/or Tuesday (6/4-5). I'll get out there this weekend or next week and inspect it.
June 10, 2007 - hangar door is installed. Building shell is complete.
The building is completed. I'll insulate it over the summer, as I get time, as well as doing the electrical and the concrete floor. I stopped by to seed around the building.
.June 19, 2007 - one of my readers sent me the March, 2007 Claremont Airport Advisory Board meeting minutes. It appears that both the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics (which has consistently ignored all my correspondence to them about Claremont's misuse of NHDOT funds) and the FAA are continuing to fund more Claremont projects while my allegations of misuse of previous funds remain unresolved. I immediately sent the following to the FAA and NHDOT:
I understand that the FAA and NHDOT Division of Aeronautics continues to fund projects at Claremont Municipal Airport while the allegations of misuse and discrimination in the use of FAA and NHDOT funds remain unresolved. It doesn’t make sense to continue to provide Claremont with more funds in the face of my claims that the Claremont Municipal Airport management has misused the funds they’ve already been given.
I request that further funding of projects at Claremont be immediately suspended until my allegations of abuse and discrimination are resolved
July 2, 2007 - It appears that my latest letter to the FAA prompted them to make a determination in my discrimination complaint (or maybe coincidence?). I got a letter from them today, with their findings. They claimed the biggest part of my complaints - the insider favoritism and dirty deal on awarding the hangar leases to their friends and bypassing the waiting list - was outside their purview . I am continuing to look into what more I can do about that. On the remaining issues, the discriminatory terms of the lease, they agreed with my allegations and ordered Claremont to remove the discriminatory language from the leases within 60 days. As soon as I get a chance, I will post the letter they sent to me and the letter they sent to Guy Santagate, Claremont City Manager, directing him to correct the leases and to send those changes to the FAA for their pre-approval.
July 5, 2007 - Here is the letter from the FAA to me, and here is the letter from the FAA to Claremont City Manager Guy Santagate. Several readers have contacted me about this, suggesting that I sue the City of Claremont and some of the individuals involved in the dirty schemes described here. I'm considering it.
July 6, 2007 - Claremont bureaucrats continue their schizophrenic actions, claiming to support development for the City, while being as obstructionist as possible. In a story carried by the Claremont Eagle Times and in better detail by the Lebanon Valley News, Claremont is now being sued by a developer who says Claremont has reneged on a deal made in the 1990s regarding parking spaces.
Santagate and City Attorney Jane Taylor are now attempting to claim that instead of the deal including actual parking spaces, it meant only to convey some ethereal "credit" for parking spaces. A former Claremont City Councilman, who approved the original agreement in 1995, confirmed in the article that the original "intent was to provide Marro with access to physical parking spots owned by the city", and he said further "Some people have a hard time understanding the English language", referring to Santagate's hair-splitting, Clinton-esque attempt to redefine the original deal.
As recently as 2002, then-City Attorney Matthew Upton confirmed in a letter that "the City of Claremont will execute a parking easement to recognize the previous agreement". Now, Guy Santagate is making the absurd claim that "the City does not believe that this 1995 Agreement granted an easement for 20 parking spaces on the Sawtooth parcel". How crooked, devious, and anti-development can these people be? Why would anyone want to attempt development in this den of vipers? Claremont will remain behind the 8-ball and will retain its reputation as the grimiest place in NH as long as Santagate and his team continue to do all they can to thwart developers.
July 19, 2007 - Claremont loses yet another lawsuit in the NH Supreme Court. This one involves a City Assessor who was fired for commenting to the Eagle Times about inequities in the City's tax abatement system. After losing the case, Claremont appealed it to the Supreme Court. While blaming his predecessor for the problems, City Manager Guy Santagate justified his own decision to waste yet more City resources in continuing to appeal the decision by saying "We thought we'd give it a shot...". The parade of incompetence, malfeasance, and intrigue in Claremont just continues on and on!
July 30, 2007 - I've been busy arranging power and phone service for the VSF hangar. Everything's been going smoothly, and all should be in place by the end of August.
August 1, 2007 - I've been looking into various local real estate investment opportunities. Rule Number One is "NOTHING IN CLAREMONT!". They have the highest taxes around here, the bureaucracy is a proven nightmare, and no way will any of my taxes go to support these miscreants. The Claremont Eagle Times newspaper published a story about new hangar development at Springfield's Hartness State Airport (VSF). I submitted the following letter to the editor about it:
This letter is in response to the article in the 8/1 Eagle "Second hangar this year planned at airport". One big reason people are building hangars at Springfield Airport and not at Claremont Airport is the huge difference in attitudes between Springfield and Claremont. Claremont’s underhanded, scheming airport management and hostile, imperious, uncooperative, obstructionist, anti-development bureaucrats are a sharp contrast to the cooperative people associated with Springfield’s airport and government. The Claremont bureaucrats harassed me for over a year and created roadblocks at every opportunity when I tried to build at Claremont Airport. Building at Springfield couldn’t have been easier; every step of the process was handled quickly and smoothly by helpful and friendly people like Linda Rousse at the Town of Springfield, Linda Matteson at the Act 250 office, and Ron Shadroy at the State of Vermont Agency of Transportation. Details of the contrast in building at the two airports can be found at http://www.meyette.us/hangar.htm
Aug 15, 2007 - Claremont Eagle finally prints my letter, after 2 weeks and 2 phone calls to the editor.
Aug 23, 2007 - I've been super busy with many things, including getting power to the hangar. The pole got put in a week early, two weeks ago, but I was just too busy last week to deal with getting the trench dug and installing the conduit and wire. I'm getting the trench dug now by Gurney Brothers in Springfield.
Aug 31, 2007 - The trench for my hangar power has been dug, the conduit and wire have been installed. The power panel is being installed this weekend. There was some question as to whether this hangar was to be considered a "public building", regarding electrical and other requirements, but I got that easily resolved with help from Ron Shadroy and cooperation from the VT State Fire Inspector. See HERE for the definition and requirements. Again, it's such a HUGE contrast between dealing with the helpful, friendly, and cooperative people in Vermont, compared to the miserable, hostile, uncooperative, wretched obstructionists in Claremont.
To get the power to the building, this new pole was installed. Then, Karla and I laid 400' of 4/0 tri-wire and 3" conduit over the 3 hottest days of the entire summer. It was all big, heavy, and cumbersome. I worked on it myself the first day, then Karla was a lot of help on the next 2 days. I'd planned to backfill this myself, using my tractor, but the job proved way more than my tractor and I could handle, so I paid Gurney Brothers to backfill it. They did a nice job of smoothing it all out. So you understand the scale, this trench is 3-4 feet wide, 3-4 feet deep, and 400 feet long. That's a LOT of dirt!
Sept 17, 2007 - sent Eagle Times another letter about yet another doomed case Claremont continues to pursue:
The most telling part of the “Request Denied” article in the Sept 16 Eagle Times was the last paragraph. Mr. Snelling says his whole lawsuit could have been prevented if the City bureaucrats had just sat down with him and discussed the matter rationally. The kind of arrogance and imperious attitude that caused Mr. Snelling’s case is exactly what I have consistently encountered with the Claremont bureaucracy. While Claremont’s government continues to beat the dead horse of the Snelling case, one they’ve already lost multiple times, the taxpayers are the ones who pay the price for the transgressions of those in the bureaucracy.
The second most telling part of the story is the quote from Guy Santagate, saying he wasn’t shocked that they lost, but that they “gave it a shot” anyway. This casual pursuit of doomed cases is another example of the irrational behavior and imperious attitudes that waste taxpayer money and drive developers and investors like me away from Claremont. This keeps the tax base low and keeps Claremont’s taxes among the highest in the state. Claremont will not get out from under its bad reputation until the taxpayers decide they have had enough of their taxes wasted on poor management and bad attitudes - such as the Snelling case, the hangar development cases, the GLAC case, the Sawtooth parking case, the "Perfect Place" fiasco, and a seemingly endless stream of similar examples of intrigue and malfeasance - and vote out the supporters of the status quo.
Sept 23, 2007 - spent the weekend working at the hangar on door, outlets, and lighting wiring.
Sept 25, 2007 - after resolving a couple minor issues, electrical power is finally delivered to my hangar. Continued working on wiring the interior and the door.
Sept 26, 2007 - phone service is connected to hangar. Wired up a phone circuit inside.
Sept 30, 2007 - spent another weekend, as well as several evenings during the week, working on hangar wiring. I've done very little work on the plane lately. I am most eager to get the door completely wired, so I can get it open. There's a lot of condensation in the hangar, and I need to get the door open to air it out.
Oct 4, 2007 - Finished wiring basic outlets in hangar.
Oct 7, 2007 - Worked 3 days on hangar. Finished wiring the main hangar door and got it open. Made a few door adjustments. Removed excess gravel from hangar and prepped ground for concrete floor.
The Claremont back-patting circle continues. The Claremont City Council just gave City Manager Guy Santagate a raise and a glowing performance appraisal, despite the endless series of failures and intrigue. Perhaps the Claremont voters will send the City Council a message in the upcoming elections, but somehow I doubt it.
Ron Shadroy stopped by the airport to lay out the lease area for yet another new hangar to go in beside me. So, over the last 2 years, that makes 4 new hangars at Springfield and zero at Claremont. What does that tell you? The new hangar is going to be another 80x60 one, so my little 48x38 hangar will have a giant 80x60 hangar on each side of it. I wish mine could be bigger, but that size was all I could barely afford. The 3 existing hangars in our row at VSF are all 56x60.
Oct 16, 2007 - Karla & I laid out a single 50' x 40' sheet of 6 mil poly over the entire hangar floor, as a vapor barrier. Then we laid out 60 sheets of 1" blueboard rigid insulation over all that. The building is ready for the concrete floor. We expect to get the concrete installed within a week, as soon as the contractor finishes another job for me.
Claremont gets what Claremont deserves. The sycophantic circle of the Claremont City Council and their bureaucrats is complete. Today's Eagle Times headline was a story about the candidates for City Council. At a Candidates Forum last night, they were all asked for three positive things and three negative things that have happened to Claremont in the last five years. The responses, especially on the negative side, were typical political side-stepping. The most negative thing anyone could come up with was to blame the previous Public Works Department heads for "poor bedside manners". They couldn't find any real negatives about the present. One candidate even praised "city attitude" as the most important positive change. You can't get much worse than the imperious and uncooperative attitudes of the Claremont bureaucrats. This "head in the sand" outlook will ensure that Claremont continues to remain behind the 8-ball. One candidate, Richard Dietz, did have the courage to say "The number one negative thing that happened was the termination of former City Assessor Steve Snelling." He also mentioned the administration's inexplicable continued pursuit of the Snelling case even after Claremont lost the case in the NH Supreme Court. He's right - see my Sept 17 entry about that.
Oct 29, 2007 - There was some delay in getting the concrete man out for my hangar, because I first needed him to do some concrete work at another of my properties. I expect he'll get the floor in this week, then I can resume work inside. I dropped by the hangar over weekend. Construction on the gigantic hangar next to mine began last week.
Mine is 48' wide, the others are 56' wide, and this new one going in now is 80' wide. Due to a misunderstanding in the lots layout, this hangar is also going to be half as far from its neighbors as the separation on the previous hangars. That 40' of roof is going to dump vast quantities of snow into the little space between this hangar and mine.
Oct 31, 2007 - early morning visit to hangar - concrete is going in now. Hangar beside mine has roof & walls fully sheathed.
Nov 4, 2007 - hangar floor is complete. Karla & I blended the apron into the surrounding ground. Hangar next to mine is nearly complete (structure), except the door.
Nov 7, 2007 - most Claremont City Council members are voted out. One new member had mentioned her concern with the overzealous code enforcement, and another had mentioned his displeasure with the irrational pursuit of doomed cases like the Snelling case. Another mentioned taking issue with the "ego and arrogance that people have gotten tired of". We'll see if it makes any difference. I have my doubts, but remain optimistic. Only about 25% of Claremont voters bothered to go to the polls. As I've said and others have said, "Claremont gets what Claremont deserves".
For updates past November, 2007, see the hangar summary page
visitors since Dec 15, 2006
EMAIL me about your own experiences dealing with Claremont, for inclusion here. If requested, your identity will be withheld to protect you from the childish, vindictive Claremont bureaucrats. Anyone who wishes to dispute the veracity of anything I've written on this page may email me a rebuttal and it will be published here. Anonymous rebuttals will be ignored.
Read the SULLIVAN REPORT and Claremont Comments for more details about how Claremont officials operate.
Read HERE about how the incompetent Claremont bureaucrats and their malfeasance and bad faith dealings with the Great Lakes Aircraft Company drove that company out of business. The problem started because the City bureaucrats were too cheap and short-sighted to pay their bill to Dufresne-Henry (City Engineers), and they screwed GLAC in the process. The huge rusted steel frame for the GLAC building still sits at the edge of the airport. It will probably sit there forever as a monument to the fiasco. If the City of Claremont had put a small percentage of the effort and money into what it should have done in the first place, as it put into the trial and its specious appeal, there would not have been a problem.
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