By Isaac Thompson
One of the documents we have reviewed in class was the House Bill 1610. This is a bill that is being proposed and written up in New Hampshire this year. The general idea of this bill is that the seller of a house must disclose information to the buyer about all sorts of environmental hazards within one mile of the property. Currently it is stated that the buyer must research all of the information on their own if they wish to know about these issues. In my opinion this bill is an excellent idea and I am definitely for it, but only after it sees some minor revisions. I believe that the extent of one mile is far too long of an area to search, especially in densely populated areas. My suggestion would be to reduce this distance to perhaps a quarter mile. One other issue that a mile radius shows is that this requires the seller to examine the properties of many individuals nearby. Some people might not want to share all of this information to just anyone. While I am in support of the seller disclosing information I think that some people might be dishonest in presenting information. If there are lots of environmental issues around a property, it would be less appealing to the buyer. So in order to make their property easier to sell and more expensive, it would not be difficult to hide some information. Additionally, not only does distance play a role in how contaminants damage soil, but areas more downhill would be affected more than those uphill, which might not be affected at all. This in something that the bill does not take into consideration. One issue that was brought up during the presentation of this potential law was the mention of a specific website on the bill. This website is OneStop Data Mapper. It was highly discouraged by the House to mention a specific website. Some issues with that could include privacy concerns due to this is a specific website. Another issue could be what happens if this website goes down or loses funding. It is crucial that everyone has access to this site and if it goes down there would be a huge issue with this bill. It has been expressed that this website is not the easiest to use, and having briefly poked around it myself, I would have to agree. My last issue with the bill would be that some of the hazards listed be slightly more specific. For example what would be defined as an auto salvage yard or are there any specifications about the underground storage tanks that must be identified? These things would have to be defined alongside the bill or at least be able to be looked up by the public to find out specifics. If this information is all collected together by one place then i would say this bill should be passed. All in all, I think that this bill is a great idea as long as minor revisions are made. If it is allowed that OneStop can be specifically mentioned and is made more user friendly then I would support that. Some of the environmental hazards need to be made more specific and the radius of one mile should be reduced to a smaller distance. If all three of these are met I would not see any issues with House Bill 1610 and be in full support of it.
NH Science for Citizens
Department of Environmental Studies
Keene State College
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and faculty at Keene State College in collaboration with local NH state representatives.