The Claremont Municipal Airport Hangar "hassle of a lifetime"
or "Why you will regret it if you attempt to do any development in Claremont, NH"
After having been on the waiting list for a hangar at the City of Claremont, NH Municipal Airport (CNH) since 2002, I began to attempt to build my own hangar there in early 2005. I finally obtained a building permit in 2006, after being harassed by the Claremont bureaucrats, particularly Nancy Merrill, for about a year. I was then unable to obtain electrical or mechanical permits for the building because the overzealous Claremont Building Inspector was making up rules for me to follow, including insisting that I use products which do not exist. I cancelled my land lease and dropped the project, due to the ongoing harassment from the Claremont bureaucrats.
At the same time I cancelled my lease, I made it clear to the Claremont bureaucrats, as I had been doing continually for the previous year and a half, that I still wanted to retain my position on the waiting list for the municipal hangars the City was building with State and Federal funds. After the municipal hangars were completed, the Dirty Duo of Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill kept the lease terms secret, ignored the waiting list, and awarded the hangar leases to their preferred insiders, perfidious cheaters Larry Dingee and Claremont Airport Advisory Board member and inside dirty-dealer Joe Osgood.
I subsequently filed a complaint with the FAA regarding discrimination in the allocation of hangar leases and violation of FAA rules for the use of Federal airport funds. I filed a followup complaint after finding proof of insider collusion regarding the awarding of the municipal hangar leases. After investigation, the FAA determined that Claremont had indeed discriminated in their leases, and ordered Claremont to remove the discriminatory terms from the leases.
I ended up building my hangar at Hartness State Airport, VSF, Springfield, VT. While it's further from my house than CNH, it is a much better airport, with more runways, longer runways, and automated weather. Also, the positive, helpful, cooperative attitudes at Springfield and other local airports are 180 degrees different from the consistent pattern of obstructionism and harassment I received at Claremont. Many others have had similar experiences with the City of Claremont, as detailed below. I recommend, in the strongest terms, that anyone considering any sort of development in this area choose Springfield or some other local town, rather than Claremont. Claremont is a viper's nest of incompetence, intrigue, harassment, and dishonesty.
MONTHLY SUMMARY OF EVENTS:
click on a month name to go to details for that month
or click HERE to see the daily details page
December, 2004 - met with Peter Chase, Airport Manager, to discuss building a hangar at CNH, Claremont Municipal Airport. Peter tells me Claremont plans to build municipal hangars, so I decided not to proceed with my own hangar. Although I have been on the current hangar waiting list about 3 years, Peter says he will not be using that list, and will be making up his own new waiting list. He has no rational explanation for this. Peter is most evasive in response to my requests to be added to his waiting list for the new hangars.
May, 2005 - municipal hangar building is on hold, due to funding issues. Reiterate requests to be on municipal hangar waiting list. Proceed with plans to build my own hangar. The key person in all this, Nancy Merrill, Development Coordinator, is very uncooperative, unhelpful, evasive, and will not return most of my calls.
June, 2005 - finalize hangar building plans. Arrange meetings with Planning Dept, schedule Planning Board Site Plan Review. Jerry Coogan, Planning Manager, and the Claremont bureaucrats are hostile and quite unhelpful, uncooperative, and unresponsive. Claremont Planning Dept declares moratorium on building hangars, while they develop "comprehensive hangar building guidelines". Nancy Merrill fails to return most of my calls to her.
July, 2005 - continue planning details for my hangar, wait for bureaucrats to lift moratorium, reiterate request to be on municipal hangar waiting list. Bureaucratic finger-pointing begins between Peter Chase and Nancy Merrill regarding municipal hangar leases.. Nancy Merrill will not return most of my calls.
August, 2005 - more excuses & non-responsiveness regarding zero progress on "comprehensive hangar building guidelines". City confirms it will proceed with building municipal hangars. More lame excuses, non-responsiveness, evasiveness & finger-pointing on questions about municipal hangar waiting list. Nancy Merrill will not return most of my calls.
September, 2005 - still no progress at all on "comprehensive hangar building guidelines". Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase still evading and finger-pointing regarding my many requests about the municipal hangars waiting list. Nancy Merrill still failing to return my calls. Still no end in sight on building moratorium
October, 2005 - same as September, all over again. More lame excuses, false promises, non-responsiveness & non-cooperation on my hangar. More evasiveness on waiting list for municipal hangars waiting list. Site Plan Review for municipal hangars. New requirement: Ken Walsh, Building Inspector, says I have to hire a soils engineer to certify my foundation plan. City to start building municipal hangars within 2 weeks.
November, 2005 - more jerking around, more lame excuses. Still no sign of "comprehensive hangar building guidelines" Claremont bureaucrats have wasted 6 months "developing". City has done nothing toward starting the municipal hangars, as claimed in October Planning Board meeting, and now claim they will start April 1. Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase still very evasive about municipal hangar waiting list, with a plethora of the most specious excuses. On the 30th, Nancy & Peter notify me they are ready to provide me a land lease, claiming it will take as much as two weeks to print it up.
December, 2005 - spent entire month trying to get Nancy Merrill to send me a land lease to sign. Signed lease Dec 22.
January, 2006 - gathering details on my building plans, getting site plan made. Still no callbacks when calling Nancy Merrill. Nancy also spent the entire month lying to me and evading my queries regarding why my land lease had not been signed by the City and returned to me. Scheduled Site Plan Review and Technical Review Conference for my hangar plans. City finally decides to have one Site Plan Review for ALL hangars, not a separate one for each hangar. I have been suggesting this since last May, and they have ignored all requests. On the 31st, finally got signed lease back.
February, 2006 - getting site plan made. Staked out my lot. Took FAA construction application to Peter Chase. Peter being a very childish, petulant, and uncooperative little man. Site Plan Review for all hangars. Getting building plans finalized. FAA construction application sent out to FAA. Asked Ken Walsh, new (and widely-hated) overzealous Building Inspector, to review my plans while waiting for FAA approval; Ken refused. Started process for building and electrical permit applications.
March, 2006 - trying to work with Ken Walsh to determine electrical requirements. Ken, apparently learning on the job, lists outlandish and unreasonable requirements. Working on electrical & site work planning. Waiting for FAA construction application response. Peter Chase's childish hostility tantrum continues. Filed application for building permit. Municipal hangar construction scheduled to start April 1.
April, 2006 - still waiting for FAA approval; can't get City building permit until FAA approval. Still hashing over building permit application and plans with Ken Walsh. Ken going way overboard on electrical requirements. City finally produces (and ignores once they produce it) the long-awaited and laughable "comprehensive hangar building guidelines", for which they halted my hangar building application nearly a year ago. Trying to resolve issues with building plans to satisfy Ken Walsh. Becoming concerned that, with Ken Walsh going so overboard on the electrical requirements, heating the building may be a problem. Ken Walsh taking a full week to return each call. Finally got FAA construction approval, tried for over a week to get Ken Walsh to approve my building permit application or return my calls. Ken Walsh drops bomb on heating requirements, now claiming I must use a heater specifically "listed" for use in a hangar. No progress on City starting municipal hangar construction, as scheduled. Peter Chase finally confirms in writing that I am number 3 on his municipal hangar waiting list. Got my building permit April 28, about a year after I began to apply for it.
May, 2006 - dealing with Ken Walsh's unreasonable demands that hangar heater must be a unit certified explicitly for hangar use (no such thing). Complained to Anthony Lyons, Planning Director. Anthony defends actions of Ken Walsh and Nancy Merrill. Anthony conceded there is no such thing as the heater Ken Walsh is demanding. Anthony also admits he's been reading my web site describing all the problems I've been getting from his people, and he did absolutely nothing about any of it. Still no sign of municipal hangar construction which had been delayed to April 1.
June, 2006 - cancelled my hangar lease, due to unreasonable demands from Ken Walsh in particular and hostile, uncooperative, and obstructionist attitudes of Claremont bureaucrats in general. Reiterated desire to be on waiting list for municipal hangars. Still no sign of municipal hangar construction. Wrote letter to Valley News about bad attitudes in Claremont.
July, 2006 - wrote article for Atlantic Flyer about experiences with bad attitudes and obstructionism of Claremont bureaucrats. Construction on municipal hangars finally begins. Municipal hangar wiring begins. Noted that municipal hangars do not have the electrical outlets layout demanded of me by Ken Walsh.
August, 2006 - requested info from Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase on leases for municipal hangars. Claremont bureaucrats conduct self-congratulatory ribbon-cutting and back-patting ceremony for long-delayed, still-incomplete municipal hangars.
September, 2006 - municipal hangars still being wired. Noted that municipal hangars have common florescent lighting, not the "explosion-proof" lights demanded of me by Ken Walsh.
October, 2006 - again requested info from Nancy Merrill and Peter Chase on leases for municipal hangars. Request ignored. Municipal hangars finally completed, one year later than initially projected. Peter Chase admits to scheme for bypassing waiting list for municipal hangars. "Race For The Leases" begins. Lease contains onerous and illegal terms designed to exclude me. Contacted EAA about leases situation. My article written in July for the Atlantic Flyer is published, and Claremont bureaucrats immediately pull all copies of Atlantic Flyer from the airport. Two New Hampshire newspapers carry stories about death threats and vandalism against Ken Walsh because of his overzealous enforcement activities. Complained to Guy Santagate, City Manager, about unresponsive, uncooperative Claremont bureaucrats and Nancy Merrill in particular. Asked Guy to suspend signing municipal hangar leases until questions of honesty and fairness are resolved. Guy promised to look into it, but failed to act. Filed formal complaint with FAA regarding Claremont's illegal implementation of FAA funds for the municipal hangars. Talked with people at other airports about hangars; dealing with them is night-and-day difference compared to Claremont.
November, 2006 - contacted Ron Shadroy (State of Vermont Airport Property Manager) about building at Hartness State Airport (VSF) in Springfield, VT. Ron's role is the same as Nancy Merrill's. Dealing with Ron is 180 degrees different from dealing with the unresponsive, obstructionist, do-nothing Nancy Merrill. In one meeting, Ron did more for me than Nancy did in a year. Laid out stakes for ground lease at Springfield. Discovered that dirty insider Philip Joe Osgood had advance knowledge of Claremont lease terms. Filed request for Claremont hangars lessees' names.
December, 2006 - obtained names of Peter Chase's hangar lease "preferred insiders". As suspected all along, known dirty-dealers Joe Osgood and Larry Dingee are at the top of the list. Filed additional complaint with FAA. Working on details of hangar plan for Springfield; already seeing less hassles than at Claremont. FAA sent letter to Claremont demanding their response to my allegations of misuse of Federal funds.
January, 2007 - met with Matt Clary, Claremont Eagle Times Editor. Received copy of Claremont's response to the FAA complaint inquiry, and sent FAA my response to that. Eagle Times printed my letter about another botched Nancy Merrill operation. Signed building contract with Morton Buildings. NH Insider blog published article about issues described here. Signed land lease for Springfield. Obtained forms & guidance for Site Plan Review, Building Permit, Act 250. Filled out forms.
February, 2007 - submitted my Town of Springfield and State of Vermont applications, and distributed all the necessary copies. FAA sent Claremont additional query. I've also been working with the management at Lebanon Municipal Airport on the wording of the lease terms for the hangars they plan to build this spring; it's night-and-day compared to dealing with Claremont. Posted hearing notices.
March, 2007 - notified of VT ANR appearance for Act 250. Notified of neighbor request for Act 250 hearing. Completed Springfield Site Plan Review. More and more expanding businesses fleeing Claremont. Applied for & received Springfield building permit. Received Claremont response to FAA queries. VT ANR issue resolved. Worked with Jay Fitzgerald at Lebanon Municipal Airport to get Lebanon's hangar leases reworded. Completed VT Act 250 hearing. Emailed FAA regarding Claremont response to FAA queries.
April, 2007 - arranged site work for hangar at VSF. Site work delayed some by three big late-season snowstorms and unusually cold weather. Site work still expected to be done last week in April, with building construction in early-mid May. No word from FAA on status of complaints.
May, 2007 - site work completed for hangar at VSF. Building delivered & erected. Another Claremont business complains in a letter to the Claremont Eagle about enduring "near bankruptcy before opening our doors, due to the city's redundant hoops and unfriendly small business requirements." Still no word from FAA on my complaints.
June, 2007 - Nancy Merrill's contest to award a free Claremont commercial lot finally dies as an abysmal failure. Guy Santagate says he doesn't consider the contest a failure. My hangar at VSF, built promptly and with no hassles at all compared to the Claremont nightmare, is completed. The FAA and NHDOT continue to fund more projects at CNH while my allegations of misuse of previous funds remain unresolved. Requested that FAA and NHDOT stop funding more projects at CNH until allegations of misuse are resolved.
July, 2007 - FAA concurs with my complaints of discrimination, and directs Claremont to rewrite discriminatory provisions of their hangar leases within 60 days. Claremont is sued by a developer for attempting to renege on a 1995 development agreement. Claremont loses yet another case in NH Supreme Court regarding more of their underhanded dealings. Insulated hangar ceiling.
August, 2007 - getting utilities into my hangar at Springfield. Claremont Eagle Times publishes article about hangar construction at VSF and I write them a response. My hangar is decreed to be NOT a public building.
September, 2007 - electric, phone, DSL utilities installed into hangar. Claremont loses yet another appeal in NH Supreme Court.
October, 2007 - finished wiring outlets, some lighting, and the main door motor. Tweaked door adjustments. Prepped floor for concrete. Construction begins on new hangar adjacent to mine.
November, 2007 - installed concrete floor. Claremont votes out most City Council incumbents.
December, 2007 - things are pretty slow on the hangar - kind of a "chicken & egg" thing. It isn't fully insulated yet, so I can't heat it without making lots of condensation on the bare metal walls. It's hard to work on what it needs (insulation, more wiring, more lighting, plumbing for propane heaters) because it's so cold in the hangar. I have been using a nice little Mr. Heater spot infrared heater from Northern Tool, which helps some. For permanent heaters, I will be using three of these. Still trying to decide exactly how I am going to insulate the walls. I may do it myself with solid styrofoam and/or urethane sheets. Been too busy working on the house I am rehabbing in Cornish to do much on plane or hangar.
January, 2008 - Remember the Snelling case in Claremont that I'd mentioned earlier? This was where Claremont unjustly fired a city appraiser for comments he'd made to the newspaper about inequities in Claremont's tax abatement program, then the city wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting and appealing the case all the way to the NH Supreme Court not once, but twice. Incredible, but true; the City of Claremont is now suing Claremont District Court Judge John Yazinski, the man who was City Attorney at the time of Snelling's firing, claiming it's all Yazinski's fault. These people are just unbelievable! I hope Yazinski kicks their butt in court, just like Snelling did. The whole lot of them should be fired, starting with the utterly useless Nancy Merrill and her head-in-the-sand boss, Guy Santagate.
I am continuing to slowly work on lighting, wiring, heating, insulation at the hangar. See my hangar lighting page for details on the best hangar/shop lighting bang for the buck. I will be insulating the hangar with 2' wide unfaced 6" fiberglass batts from LaValley's. The sprayed-in foam would have provided the best insulation and sealing, but cost was about $4500 for R-19, compared to $1500 (plus labor) for Morton's 8' wide batts and about $700, plus labor, for LaValley's 2' wide batts. The solid styrofoam sheets would have been about $3000 plus labor.
April, 2008 - Over the winter, I fully insulated the hangar and installed the vapor barrier, a window, sheetrock, lighting, three overhead propane heaters, and the propane plumbing. It was all done mostly by working on it every other Friday and a couple Saturdays. I'm nearly done painting the interior now. Then, it will be ready for a plane.
May, 2008 - bought a Challenger II and moved it to the hangar.
June, 2008 - My hangar is fully functional now. I flew over Claremont Municipal Airport recently. While Springfield's Hartness State Airport has yet another new hangar laid out to be built here later this summer, no ground has been broken at the Claremont airport in the 3 years since I first started dealing with the wretched people and hostile environment in Claremont.
The intrigue and harassment in Claremont continues. See the June 14 entry in The Sullivan Report for more details of the latest example of their abuses. I also received an email from yet another reader, who experienced much of the same mindless harassment and treachery that I did, when she tried to develop investment property in Claremont. If you want dishonesty, incompetence, and harassment, come to Claremont, NH.
July, 2008 - My childhood best pal, George Ward, is in NH for the summer. He and I loaded up the RV onto the snowmobile trailer and drove it over to the hangar. As George said, if this was the old days, we would have just hooked a rope to it and towed it over there! Anyway, that whole process went smooth as silk.
May, 2009 - after the end of its first winter in use, the hangar is working out very nicely. It's a great place to work on the planes. It's nice and tight. Electricity is about $25/mo, phone & DSL are about $55/mo, and I used about 300 gallons of propane to heat it for the winter, at a cost of about $800 . I'm only using 2 of the 3 installed overhead heaters, and I didn't have to use any of my portable heaters at all.
August, 2010 - FIVE 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.
February, 2011 - There's another article in the Claremont Eagle Times about how unhappy many Claremont business owners are with all the hassles from the City of Claremont, especially the Planning and Development Department, run by the obstructionist Nancy Merrill. The hassles are described in the article as "preposterous, unreasonable, and not conducive to business". One business owner commented on Claremont's "reputation of being unfriendly to business" and said "It's becoming increasingly difficult to do business in Claremont". Another business owner said the city "will not work with you" and "there's no consistency at the planning and development office". Yet another said the "idiotic hoops they have you jump through ... hurts everybody". A business owner said he'd run a similar business in Windsor, VT with "no hassles" and got nothing but hassles in Claremont; the same as my experience with Springfield, VT compared to Claremont. The article also mentioned the city bureaucrats' childish retributions against anyone who dares to speak out. Nancy Merrill was quoted with her usual litany of vacuous, specious excuses.
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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