By Chris Paul
HAMPSTEAD – During the Hampstead Selectman meeting held on Monday night, June 28, the board held a public hearing for a Discretionary Preservation Easement for a barn that had been renovated at 104 Stage Road.
Hampstead resident Malcolm Gurley, the owner of the property spoke to selectmen and gave a brief overview on why he felt the easement would be warranted.
He started by tell the board that the barn was originally a Sears and Roebuck barn and showed them a catalog of some of the barns that were delivered and built in 1913.
He also gave the board before and after photos of the barn.
Gurley said that he had taken pride in restoring the barn and it’s one of the first things people see when heading toward Main Street near the center of town.
Gurley is currently using the barn to house equipment for his construction business.
According to the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, a Discretionary Preservation Easement is a property tax incentive to help save historic New Hampshire agricultural buildings.
RSA 79-D creates a mechanism to encourage the preservation of historic New Hampshire barns and other agricultural buildings by authorizing municipalities to grant property tax relief to barn owners who can demonstrate the public benefit of preserving their barns or other historic farm buildings, and agree to maintain their structures throughout a minimum 10-year preservation easement.
The purpose of the state law is based on the widespread recognition that many of the state’s old barns and other farm outbuildings are important local scenic landmarks and help tell the story of New Hampshire’s agricultural heritage. Yet many of these historic structures are being demolished or not repaired because of the adverse impact of property taxes. The RSA encourages barn owners to maintain and repair their buildings by granting them specific tax relief and assuring them that assessments will not be increased as a result of new repair work.
Gurley told the board that he had invested between $150,000 and $175,000 over the years in renovating the barn.
He’s put in a new foundation, windows, siding and a roof among
Selectman chair Sean Murphy added that the current accessed value according to the town is $49,000 and that it meets one of the criteria’s of the state law.
He also explained that a 75 percent reduction in his taxes on the barn equates to an $800 reduction per year on his tax bill. A 50 percent reduction would equate to $531 and a 25 percent reduction would be $265.
Murphy added that he didn’t feel comfortable with a 75 percent reduction, but would support a 50 percent cut.
A motion was made for the full amount for discussion, but members of the board quickly reduced the amount to 50 percent.
They generally didn’t feel that there was that much public benefit.
The amended motion was then unanimously approved by the board.
Also during the meeting, Selectmen voted to accept a $900,000 grant from the American Rescue Plan Funds.
The Town will receive about $451,000 in the first year and the remainder in 2022.
Projects being funded by this grant will have to fall within the guidelines set by the Federal Government.