Stand With Stephen Forster & Forster’s Christmas Tree Farm

by Steve MacDonald

Forsters christmas tree farm Henniker NHThe Town of Henniker has cited Stephen Forster (Forster’s Christmas Tree Farm) with illegal use of his property.

But State law provides that Mr. Forster may use his property for Agri-tourism,  also known as “agriculture,” a legitimate use of the land.

Henniker has apparently acknowledged this but will not rescind its citation unless they are allowed to place some new restrictions on Steve’s property.

At this point I don’t know why Henniker is doing this.  Typically, when such nonsense erupts it is to either punish a landowner for some perceived slight, or to help an abutter (or the town) get something they want.  Regardless of the reasons here, if the facts are as I’ve stated, this is nothing more than the town trying to control a private citizens property and if they succeed it will only encourage them (and other towns) to do the same thing.

Here’s how you can help.

Please  attend the meeting this Thursday, November 15th, at 7:00  PM, at the Henniker Community center at 57 Main Street in downtown Henniker, New Hampshire.  All you have to do is show up and stand with Steve in defense of property rights.


Leave a Comment

  • JP

    Thanks for putting this out there Steve it is very important. This will effect all of us if we allow the town of Henniker to control a citizen’s property.

  • Sam Adams

    I hope many people show up at the meeting, this is a national movement. Eco, agenda 21 groups infiltrate local town planners, and form county and region groups and meetings. They turn all planning as sustainable and any future development has to meet their defination of sustainable. Sustainable developments are no land ownership[condo,s] over 55 housing[no children, their not sustainable future]. Restrictive water rights, septic run off, erosion, farming and chemicals and erosion. Granite State Fund I think its called. UN. Agenda 21

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  • Martha Spalding

    NH RSA 21:34-a states that agri-tourism means attracting visitors to a working farm for the purpose of eating a meal, making overnight stays, enjoyment of the farm environment, education on farm operations, or active involvement in the activity of the farm which is ancillary to the farm operation.
    There are many Christmas Tree farms in NH that also have weddings on the premises. People enjoy having weddings outdoors surrounded by nature and beautiful Christmas trees. Most weddings include having a meal. The natural setting of the Christmas tree farm attracts visitors to the working farm for the above stated purposes.
    So why are they giving a business person who pays taxes and employs people in the community a hard time?
    Mr. Forster is in compliance with the statute. I would like to think officials have better things to do with their time than give a productive business the run around.

  • I’m from Henniker, and Steve Forester’s friend. The situation is worse than anyone can imagine. Much of it begins and ends with a $75 an hourly paid planning consultant (Mark Fougere), a disgruntled unhappy resident with a made up personal vendetta and false indignation (Spencer Bennett), and a whole lot of elected and appointed folks in between staying in hiding or overstepping their authority. In June I tried to talk with a selectboard member to make him aware of the situation, and he would not call me back to discuss. Another resident went to a selectboard meeting, and at public speak was told they would not talk about this. For sure, there was no courtesy shown to Steve as a long time resident and local business man (over 30 years), or proper process followed that would warrant allowing a unreasonable anbd undocumented or researched complaint May 21, and by May 24 a “cease and desist” letter sent out with penalties to follow if events continued. Scary huh!i

    To give you an idea of the distance Mr. Fougere will go with no one in authority over him curtailing his activities:
    1) He never updated our zoning article pertaining to agriculture dated 2005 to reflect the 2007 revised statue that contained the new term “agritourism.” So, both the Planning Board and Zoning Board were reviewing old statutes. This was brought to his attention in many letters to him from Steve and by Zoning Board Member Dr. Bruce Trivellini, but the ZBA Chair Doreen Connor seemed to try to ignore this not so minor detail and keep the meeting moving along.
    2) At the Henniker Planning Board meeting June 6, 2012, under “Other Business” Mr. Fougere discussed a letter of complaint, and because of that complaint Mr. Forster needed to do a site review plan. The letter discussed wasn’t written by Spencer Bennett until 6/11, and received and stamped into town files until 6/13!
    3) Our zoning articles are clear that “cease and desist” fall to the selectboard only, and it’s not the simple process Mr. Fourgere has gotten away with. When I asked our town administrator (Charles Connell) how was Mr. Fougere allowed this authority I was told it was in his contract. When I obtained a copy of the contract, I asked Mr. Connell where was the clause that delegated “cease and desist” to him. He then told me that it was “verbal” between the selectboard and Fougere, and could not tell me which board members gave this authority over. I’m sure your readers know that articles can only be changed with a warrant at town meeting, and voted on by the public.
    4) In an 8/5/12 letter to Mr. Fougere, Spencer Bennettt stated “Your office asked that we inform you when an event occurs at his site.” He included 4 detailed photos and descriptions of the event and people present. Mr. Bennett ended his letter saying “Please let us know what else we may do to see that justice is served.” Mr. Bennett captured and detailed 3 events total in his letters to Mr. Fougere.
    5) On 11/7/12, Mr. Fougere emailed material and Public Hearing Notice to Mr. Bennett, then at 5:33 p.m. informed Mr. Bennett he will be also hand delivering the Public Hearing Notice! He’s going to his house!

    We have an ex-selectboard member writing and spinning misinformation in an email and sending it out everywhere, and a current town employee in the tax assessor department writing to our zoning board chair with such inaccuracies I’m wondering if we should all review our tax cards. For sure, Steve better! The local owners of the Bed and Breakfast accommodations, restaurants that cater these events, garden centers that help decorate, septic system that supplies the porta potties, photographers, musicians, and all local folks that help with an event to make it successful so they will return need to speak out more to help remove those people that are unnecessary clogs in the wheels of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our zoning laws are clear, but our boards are going out of their way to cause confusion and chaos. We are entering December – 7 months of costly foolishness!

    Lastly, if your town has a Planning Consultant with an AICP designation after his/her name….fire them. Passing twenty multiple-guess test questions hardly proves their worth for $75.00 an hour. Our history’s most significant planning pioneers were folks like engineer Major Pierre L’Enfant for designing Washington, D.C., landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted for designing NY Central Park, architect Frank Lloyd Wright to name a few, and they never took an AICP test! The community knows best how to plan for the future of their own town. Get rid of the riff raft!

    Hope this helps in better understanding what is happening here in Henniker. The issue, to me, is much more complicated and portentous than the hours of debate about an “Agritourism” RSA.

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