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Pinnacle trail abutters, hikers at odds over use of property

After years of debate, Hooksett officials are still struggling to balance the need for residents to have access to public land at the Pinnacle trail and the need for residents along the trail to have privacy.

At issue are a number of no-trespassing signs put up along the old carriage road by the Department of Public Works at the behest of the Conservation Commission. These signs are designed to encourage trail hikers to use a newly constructed trail instead, one that doesn’t run so close to residents’ houses on Ardon Drive.

“I understand both sides of the argument,” said Town Administrator Dean Shankle. “I just wish there was some way to continue using the carriage trail and create a visual barrier for the neighbors. We have discussed fencing or putting up bushes to obstruct the view, but we haven’t really been able to agree on that at this point.”

In a letter to the town, resident Michael Gott said he has been walking the trail for years and that complaints of the neighbors should not be considered as important as the rights of residents to have access to public land.

“As a resident with property that butts up on the conservation land, I understand and accept that kids will occasionally wander off the trail, and have found some lost in my yard. This, however, is a very small price to pay to live next to such a beautiful area,” Gott wrote.

Alternate Conservation Commission member John Turbyne was named the liaison between the Department of Public Works, the Conservation Commission and the people affected by the trail situation, but he said he has had little luck brokering a compromise.

“I did the best I could to create a situation where everyone could walk away somewhat happy. Hooksett politics has really been contentious for the last few years. I didn’t sign up for that, but I am doing the best I can,” Turbyne said.

Both Turbyne and Shankle said that they understand why neighbors along the old carriage road would want some privacy, but no one has been able to come up with a solution to make everyone happy.

“At the next Conservation Commission meeting, some neighbors and people who have complained will be invited to discuss where we go from here, so we can try to reach a compromise,” Shankle said.

Calling the trail a historic part of Hooksett, Shankle said there are no consequences for people who disregard the no-trespassing signs.

“Maybe they’ll feel bad,” Shankle laughed.

Still, after the issue has been ongoing for so long, Shankle said he doesn’t know what the solution will be.

“I don’t know what the resolution of this will be, but the trail has been continuously used for more than 20 years, so people have a right to use it,” said Shankle. “But I can understand why people living there don’t want people looking in their back windows. We’re still working on it.”

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