SPOFFORD, N.H. -- The man caught up in a dispute with the town over a dry hydrant on his property still wants it removed as a result of a frustrating year-and-a-half ordeal with officials.
Jerry Lorenz, who lives at 853 Route 63, said he has been given the run-around by the town government and other local authorities after some of the concrete blocks of a retaining wall protecting the hydrant had gotten damaged by a town vehicle. Dry -- or non-pressurized -- hydrants are used mostly in rural areas in which municipal water systems are not available. They consist of one end of a pipe installed below water level and the other above ground.
Though the Spofford Fire Commissioners eventually decided to buy new blocks and the highway department agreed to place them, Lorenz now wants the hydrant gone because it is his legal right and he feels his treatment by the government will get worse if it remains. He said he found out about the offer only when Spofford Fire Chief Gordon Rudolph casually brought it up in a parking lot.
Rudolph has said the lake-front property's previous owner, Curt Nowill, allowed the town to install the dry hydrant through a verbal agreement several years ago. Lorenz, however, now has a legal right to remove it.
According to Lorenz, he had no problem with the hydrant when he purchased the property in 2006. However, he said he looked out one of his windows and saw a Chesterfield town vehicle plowing snow near
He said he went to a town officer, who told him it couldn't have been a town vehicle because the town of Chesterfield does not plow in that area. Lorenz said he was told to talk with Road Agent Bart Bevis, who eventually deferred him to the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen. The Selectmen sent him a letter explaining that stretch of Route 63 is state-owned and the town would never plow it.
According to Lorenz, a Selectman said interviews conducted to determine if any town employee had done damage to the blocks came up empty.
"Maybe somebody's not telling the truth," he told the Reformer on Wednesday.
A few months ago Lorenz went to the Spofford Lake Association, when he found out it is interested only in the quality of the lake's water and did not want to get involved in the issue. Lorenz said he did some research and discovered that the SLA raised money years ago for the dry hydrant and the Spofford Fire Department.
Lorenz said he just wants the hydrant removed and the situation to be over with. Removal of the hydrant would also eliminate the potential for legal ramifications if the town's fire department had to move someone's vehicle parked on his property in front of the hydrant.
Rudolph has said the dry hydrant covers Northshore and Pinnacle Springs roads and getting rid of it could be devastating for the town. When asked about this, Lorenz said dry hydrants can be installed on town property at Northshore Town Beach to take care of Northshore Road and at the boat ramp as a way of providing service to Pinnacle Springs Road.
Lorenz also said he has faced hostility from one commissioner in particular -- Michael Wiggin, who he said once approached him when he was pressure-washing his house and said the dry hydrant isn't going anywhere.
Wiggin told the Reformer he has not been unpleasant with Lorenz. But he said the hydrant is very critical to the entire town of Chesterfield and not just Spofford.
Lorenz also said he hasn't gotten any support from the community, which he said has benefited from the hydrant being on his property.
"Nobody wants to help me even though I've been helping them in a sense," he said.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.