Henniker New Hampshire’s Local Aristocracy Wants What They Want

by Steve MacDonald

Henniker NH Local battle with ZBA and town

Henniker NH – It’s Not All Pretty Picture Postcards

Back in November we reported that despite meeting all the legal requirements the town of Henniker had cited Stephen Forster of Forster’s Christmas Tree Farm with the illegal use of his property.

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.

Somebody still wants something.  And it appears to have escalated.  We’ve received reports that an intimidation campaign is underway against Dr. Bruce Trivellini who serves on the towns zoning board (ZBA).

Insiders tell us that there may be an effort to kick him off the ZBA because of his familiarity with Stephen Forster, and presumably his support for his (as far as we know) legal use of his property.  My sense is that Trivellini’s support in Forster’s case has incited an organized effort to discredit him, and perhaps intimidate him.  That would make this a classic small town pissing contest, with all the biggest pissers being the self-proclaimed aristocracy of the town.  They decide how things go, sometimes enlist a local sheriff to lean on the offender (or who looks the other way when other members of town take to shouting, intimidation, or vandalism).

Yes.  This does happen in small town New Hampshire.  More often than you want to believe.  People are still people.  They want what they want.

I don’t know the extent of this particular situation.  I am not implying that there has been any vandalism but we know from sources that “pressure” is being brought to bear. I am still digging up contact info for follow ups but we know it is centered on Stephen Forster trying to legally expand his business, the local aristocracy taking umbrage, and the small-town enforcers bringing some leverage to bear on those who might oppose them.

We’ll call it “developing” and get back to you when we know more.


Leave a Comment

  • Ed Naile

    I can see the Foster home in Henniker from my deck so he and I have been “neighbors” for about 34 years.
    Hey, its a college town where the elite locals and immoral college employees and hangers-on compete to strip people of anything they want from them.
    This Trivellini guy is the only full board member who follows the statutes.
    A lawyer is the chairman.
    That is whe way it is in a college town.
    Safer to live next to a nuke plant.

  • JP

    Steve Forster is not just fighting for himself he is fighting this for all farmers in the State who want to expand their businesses legally. The Town of Henniker has made this personal; Steve is following the State RSA for Agri-tourism which allows growth for farms he is not violating that RSA as to the use of his property and Tree Farm.

    The Town has decided not to comply with the RSA and is defining the use of his property the way they want to. It is pretty convoluted but there is enough on record now to get the information you need. This is clearly a case of trying to intimidate not only the Dr. but Steve as well. Many members who believe in Liberty and the Rights of individuals from towns across the State have attended several of the Town Meetings and the Board continues to fold under local pressure. Sad but true! I believe that this will end up in court and cost Steve a lot of money to defend his rights; he may need some help.

    • nhsteve

      Nuts love using court cases to intimidate everyone else. Better fall in line or you’ll end up paying a lawyer….yada yada…and in most cases that is just to prove you happen to be in the right.

      It’s cheaper to act like you are wrong.

  • At the Henniker ZBA meeting 1/3/13, Spencer/Stephen/Ross Bennett filed a “Motion Requesting Disqualification” of ZBA Member Dr. Trivellini. The 3 letters (Exhibit B/C/D) attached to this motion by Linda McGuire and Spencer Bennett (listed as Petitioners from the same address) and Lisa McGuire are inflammatory, offensive, and very suspect. These folks know that there were many people in attendance who could refute their accusations. It is difficult to believe how low people are willing to stoop in this community in order to plant seeds of character assignation, or enflame a situation, instead of sticking to the issue. This case is about Henniker’s zoning regulations.

    I was next to Mr. Forster, and watched him approach the table to politely shake hands with those he felt comfortable with. Mr. Forster never reached across a 4 ft. table to embrace tightly or hold anyone close for several minutes or longer; or put his mouth up to anyone’s ear to whisper while embraced; never laughed and rejoiced or warmly commiserated; definitely was not warm and fuzzy with anyone; nor was there any unethical behavior displayed. The risqué insinuations would be laughable if they were not so slanderous in their implication, and now after 8 months of nonsense, 3 ZBA members (Chair Doreen Connor/Leon Parker/Bob Stamps) have voted in favor of the Motion for Rehearing filed by the Petitioners against Mr. Forster.

    Most everyone left the building at the same time. Sorry Mr. Bennett, they didn’t leave together and weren’t “closely” engaged in conversation. When Dr. Trevillini walked by he was asked if he would like to join us but politely refused, although certainly not an illegal offer and he could have. Dr. Trevillini has made it clear, and on the record, that he knows and socializes personally with no ZBA members, nor the parties appealing this situation. It is my understanding that Mr. Bennett has a close friendship with ZBA Chair Connor, and they do socialize at each other’s homes. If that is true, should Chair Connor have recused herself from the very beginning of involvement in October? To me, business is business, pleasure is pleasure, and neither are sequestered jurist at a trial.

    What folks in this community should worry about are 1) two or more Selectboard/Planning Board/ZBA members that might gather and make decisions outside of the purview of the public, and attend meetings with predetermined actions in mind; 2) our Planning Consultant going to Mr. Bennett’s home in the evening, but has never gone anytime to see Mr. Forster at his home/business; 3) the true and proper reading of our zoning regulations and State Statutes in the spirit they were written and voted on by the public.

    • nhsteve

      Thanks Kathleen. That’s a lot of good info.

      Question: Are your public meetings recorded by chance? If not maybe someone should start bringing a video camera to each meeting to make a public record. (Even if they are recorded someone should do this anyway.)

      If they are recorded, has anyone sorted through the evidence available there?

      • Hi Steve,

        I wrote to you under separate cover. The meeting regarding this situation with Dr. Trivellini was taped, and I sent it to you for you to share. Unfortunately, the tape was stopped when the meeting adjourned. It takes awhile for us serious and honest folks to understand how to be ready for deceit. We look for truth not lies.

  • Stephen E. Forster

    Ed, Thanks for looking after me for 34 years off your deck. I’ll always have a light on for friends to see. Also, thanks for your support, I’ll need all I can get to deal with this town. Please get in touch anytime, would like to talk to you more about this fight..You know where I live, just walk up to the top of the hill…


  • KenEyring

    I was at the first two hearings (not the one last month that asked this case to be reheard). It was clear that most of the concerns that were brought by Mr. Forster’s opposition were based on exaggerated conjecture, and not facts. One person stated concerns regarding parking on the local roads, and that people can’t get by. Suggesting it was a hazard to the community. He said that an event for 100 people (and support staff) would draw six hundred cars. ??

    Not only do I consider that to be an inaccurate statement — it is also irrelevant — as Mr. Forster had already stated that in order to calm people’s concerns, he would ensure that no one for his events would park on the roads outside of his farm — by providing parking on his property for all vehicles for all events.??

    In addition, if this were an issue, the Town of Henniker could simply put up “No Parking” signs all along the road that leads to Mr. Forster’s farm. Instead, the witch hunt that seems to be going on is bent on reducing and or eliminating the property rights of Mr. Forster by prohibiting his rights to practice Agri-tourism — which was confirmed by the NH State Agency that oversees agricultural activities.??

    This case is eery, because it reflects the goals of the Granite State Future program, a federal program brought to us by HUD/EPA/DOT. What does the legally binding documentation of that program include?

    On page 17 of 27 of the Grant Application Narrative PDF (it will say page 15 on the bottom) http://southernnh912.com/sites/default/files/GrantApp_ExSumm_Nar_HL_0.pdf, there is a section titled “Strategy to Address Barriers and Incorporate Existing Plans”. In this section, it acknowledges; “Anticipated barriers include NH’s strong tradition of individual property rights and resultant resistance to planning and zoning.”

    The Narrative goes on to state “During the planning process the Regional Advisory Committee will identify any additional common barriers and strategies and bring these to the Sustainability Policy Committee. The Policy Committee (whose members include decision-makers from the DOT, DES, OEP, etc.) will work together to identify potential statewide strategies for reducing and/or eliminating the barriers. These strategies will then also be incorporated into the final Statewide Sustainable Development Policy Framework.”

    The attack on Mr. Forster’s property rights is an attack on all of our property rights. Many of our founding fathers said that Liberty and Property are inseparable.


  • This attack is unlawful against Steve Forster.
    In America, we write laws to STOP people from doing things.
    You may not murder or steal etc.
    We do NOT write laws to ALLOW things.
    There is no law saying you may grill burgers in your back yard, or have a a bird feeder, etc, etc, etc, etc.
    So if there is no law saying Steve may NOT have weddings on his property then IT IS LEGAL. PERIOD.
    As I understand it, the People’s Republic of Henniker has no such law.
    So the answer is to file suit to SHOW CAUSE why an unelected contract-bureaucrat can issue cease & desist orders, and by what LEGAL authority the Town of Henniker allowed that open harassment to exist.

  • Pingback: Stand With Stephen Forster & Forster’s Christmas Tree Farm (Again!) [Updated] — GraniteGrok()

  • Poppy Elwell

    This sounds like a typical small town pissing contest, as stated. It always amazes me that the self appointed popular crowd from high school feels that they can carry on the tradition through adulthood. I love your state, and I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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