To the Editor:
As residents of Danville we will have the opportunity on March 11th to endorse an important historic milestone for our town.
Warrant Article 2008-22 on the ballot allows the town to accept the generous donation of the Webster Stagecoach Stop and Store at the foot of Sandown Road on Route 111A from the Sanborn family trust. Further, it allows the town to advance the funds necessary to move the building across the road onto town-owned land and position it away from the ravages of its proximity to the highway, and out of harms way.
Over the past two years, through the efforts of the Danville Heritage Commission, the state of NH has named the structure to the NH Register of Historic Places, the NH Department of Transportation has agreed to reimburse the town for two-thirds of the total cost of relocating the building, The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) has granted Danville a total of $15,000 to help pay for the town’s one-third of the cost of relocation, and to perform archeological and architectural studies of the landmark. In addition, other services necessary and incidental to the relocation have been agreed to be graciously donated by local companies. The Heritage Commission has arranged for the total cost of this relocation, and then some, with no additional cost, and no tax impact, to the citizens of Danville.
The Webster Stagecoach Stop and Store was built around 1820. It served as a rest stop on the stagecoach route from Concord, and was Danville’s (then known as Hawke) first post office. It was owned and operated by Nathaniel Webster, a cousin of Daniel Webster, who was appointed our first Post Master, and lived across the street. It remains the only such structure in its original condition remaining today in the state of NH. The goal of the Heritage Commission is to get it away from the ravages of the highway, seek other grant money to restore it, and use it as a small museum and as a landmark and tribute to Danville’s heritage.
Our yes vote for Warrant Article 2008-22 on March 11th allows each voting citizen of Danville the opportunity to be a part of this historic moment. There is no conceivable reason to not vote for such an article. A unanimous or large majority vote will be an affirmation of our appreciation of the heritage we cherish and want to preserve. It is a big “win” for all concerned, for Danville, and especially for all future generations who will be able enjoy this historic landmark.
William W. Gard
To the Editor:
Vote Yes on Minton Purchase
On March 11th, Sandown has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase 143 acres of beautiful farmland, woods, and riverfront adjacent to the Town Forest. This land with access to two of the central roads in Sandown - Fremont and Odell - exemplify what many of us picture when we think of New Hampshire, beautiful rolling fields and pristine forests that are sadly being taken over for development.
The Sandown Master Plan was created in part to help keep the rural nature of the town, which has attracted so many people to it in the first place. In 1994, the town voted so that 100% of the monies collected from the current-use tax be earmarked for the Conservation Committee to purchase land and preserve open space. It is because of these funds that the Committee currently has $670,000 to put towards the purchase of the land.
The land will be available now and for future generations to enjoy as a reminder of what New England was once like before every spit of land was used for development. I urge residents of Sandown to look at the land as it is, and then picture the fields and woods torn up for more houses.
The financial implications of developing this land along with the 566 houses currently approved and pending with the planning board are monumental. For each of the homes the $6,000 in property taxes will have to offset the $10,000 per child it costs to educate them In short order, there will be more warrant articles to expand the schools and town services which will cost way in excess of the .23/1,000 tax to purchase the land. I don’t think the $200 car and $6.50 dog registrations will be go very far towards offsetting the cost of the additional services needed. What Sandown needs is a balance of housing, small business and open space. With the town purchase of the Minton property, only 4.5% of the town will consist of Conservation Land.
I urge the voters to look at what over development has done to Salem, Derry and Plaistow’s tax rates and environment. There will be more than enough building in town without developing this land. We can never reclaim the beautiful rural nature of our town once it’s gone.
To the Editor:
Support Balanced Growth for Sandown
The voters of Sandown have an opportunity to shape the future of the town with this year’s vote. There are two warrant articles that represent an opportunity for balanced growth in our town. Warrant Article #2 is to float a 20-year bond for one million dollars for the purchase and conservation of a 138 acre parcel (Map 15, Lot 15) along Fremont Rd. and Odell Rd. Warrant Article #3 is to float a 10-year bond for $791,114 for the construction of a new Police Station. It is important that both of these articles pass.
Sandown has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the number of homes and people over the last seven years. This growth has led to our need for a new police station and our need to ensure the town protects the reason many of us moved to Sandown – its rural character. Both of these warrant articles are multi-year bonds designed to minimize the annual impact to Sandown’s existing taxpayers and to ensure that new taxpayers share in these investments as they move into Sandown.
The first year investment for both of these projects is $.50/$1,000 or $125.00 for a home with a tax value of $250,000. After the first year, the interest rates drops to $.34/$1,000 or $85.00 for that same tax value of $250,000 in year 10 and $27.50 by year 20. It is important that we make these investments in our infrastructure to protect our officers and in our open space to balance the growth that has occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur.
We can save money by issuing the two bonds at the same time, we can cap construction costs to 2008 prices, and we can capture a unique piece of land before it is sold for development. Pushing one of these projects off for a year or two will only contribute to more costs to the taxpayer. These are not single year warrant articles that can be paid for in one year.
Please invest in your town on March 11th and Vote Yes on Articles #2 and #3.
Police Chief Joseph Gordon
Paul Carey, Chairman
Sandown Conservation Commission.
To the Editor:
Only the Truth
There are a couple of items of misinformation in circulation; both require the truth be known.
Let me address the rumors of misconduct in the appraisal for the parcel of land along Route 107, known as Robinson Hill. The Conservation Commission proposes that the town buy this property for the appraised value of $225,000 and place a permanent conservation easement on it (Warrant Article #27). The facts are these. Prior to making its recommendations, the Conservation Commission solicited bids from twenty firms for an appraisal of Robinson Hill. Four firms responded; two of those were “no bid” responses.
Of the remaining two, Crafts Appraisal was the low bidder and was awarded the work. At no time prior to the request for bids, during the selection process, or during the appraisal of this parcel did I, Jonathan Wood, work for Crafts Appraisal. Only well after the work was completed did I enter into a contract employment relationship with this firm. To do so beforehand would have been a clear violation of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and the Raymond Code of Ethics.
The appraisal on the Robinson Hill parcel was done by an impartial, licensed appraiser, and, as such, represents the fair market value of that parcel at the time of the appraisal, back in July 2007.
How did the conservation Commission come to choose the Robison Hill Parcel for purchase? They followed the plan for prioritizing parcels for acquisition and protection, detailed in Open Space chapter of the current Town of Raymond Master Plan, which are:
o Linkage - The Robinson Hill property is adjacent to about the largest area of undivided open space in Raymond, which just so happens to abut Pawtuckaway State Park.
o Environmental Quality: The parcel in question is part of a greater wildlife habitat with documented sightings of bear, moose, otter, bobcat and fisher cat, as well as game animals like deer, pheasant and turkey.
o Benefit to the Town: The parcel would benefit the town as a whole and not just a special interest group.
o Cost and availability: The cost of the parcel, 56 acres, was appraised for $225,000 or a little over $4,000 an acre. Developers had contacted the owners and proposed a subdivision of over 25 homes. The owners chose to contact the Conservation Commission about the Town acquiring the property.
o Financial cost benefit to the town. Currently the two parcels with their homes, Map 44 Lots 26 and 29, generate about $10,000 in taxes. After the purchase of the 56 acres by the town, there will be little if any reduction in their taxes as the greater part of their assessment is based on the homes on these parcels.
It is a good parcel of upland, with high value from wildlife habitat and scenic views perspectives. Also, this property would give townspeople legal access and a place to park while exploring this pristine and largely wild area within the boundaries of Raymond.
To the Editor:
No to SB-2 in Fremont
As a resident of Fremont for almost 19 years, I will be voting against SB-2 in favor of retaining our traditional town meeting. I consider it a privilege to be able to attend town meeting where I can hear the pros and cons of each warrant article that comes before the town. I appreciate being educated on each topic. I also know that everyone at the meeting voting on important town issues can also hear the justification for or against these important issues.
I’ve often gone into a town meeting with an expectation of voting one way on a topic and, because of the debate, heard other perspectives I wasn’t aware of. Consequently, because of the exchange of helpful ideas and opinions, I found myself voting differently. That‚s what makes the town meeting process so invaluable. An added bonus to town meeting is that I get to meet my neighbors and other fellow citizens who take the time to make this town a great place to live.
I have two major concerns with the SB-2 system.
First, statistics show that the deliberative sessions that replace town meetings in an SB-2 system are very poorly attended. It is in the best interest of any community when residents take the time to participate, at least once a year, in the town meeting process to help guide the future of the community and to have greater control over how our tax dollars are spent.
For the many who do skip the deliberative session because there is less incentive to attend the meeting when there is no vote on the warrant articles, the educational process is limited at best. To depend on friends, neighbors, and local newspapers for information on so many different warrant articles is not an adequate way to obtain thorough information about the various warrant articles. Perhaps this is why so many SB-2 towns have tried to revert back to their traditional town meeting format.
A second issue of concern to me is the potential of having special interest groups at poorly attended deliberative sessions making amendments to articles that were proposed by our town officials. This is an unfortunate drawback to the SB-2 process because voters do not get to vote on the original intent of these warrant articles after they have been amended.
Many of the touted benefits of SB-2, such as lower taxes, do not hold up under scrutiny. The option of absentee voting would be good, but I think that advantage becomes diminished when weighed against what is actually lost from not having town meeting.
We all have busy lives and want the most efficient system for voting, but I don’t believe SB-2 has proven to be a better alternative to the traditional town meeting process.
Because of these deficiencies with SB-2, I will be voting to keep Fremont town meeting, and I hope you will join me. Thank you for your consideration.
Laurel Lloyd Earnshaw
To the Editor:
Vote "No" on Articles #33 and #34
Articles # 33 and # 34 are Not the true petitioned water protection warrant articles which were submitted by your fellow residents for you to vote on at next Tuesday's ballot vote.
Those two articles were crippled at Deliberative Session to deny you, the voters, your right and opportunity to vote on them as submitted. What now appears on the ballot in no way resembles what your fellow citizens submitted for you to vote on.
Petitioned warrant articles, # 33 and # 34, as submitted, supported and strengthened the legal protections of the Atkinson Water Withdrawal Control Ordinance from any possible future court challenge. They would have passed easily and overwhelmingly, as did the original ordinance at Special Town Meeting, which was why the opposing selectmen killed the two articles to prevent them from going to ballot. They replaced Articles 33 and 34 with two misleading questions which, if passed, would allow them to overturn Special Town Meeting's passage of the Water Ordinance.
The selectmen have opposed the Groundwater Withdrawal Control Ordinance from the start. After it was overwhelmingly passed at Special Town Meeting, they actually sent letters to the NH DES, NHPUC, and to the NH Attorney General's Office questioning whether or not they had to enforce it as legal. The NH Attorney General's Office responded for all of the state agencies telling the selectmen, in effect, that the ordinance was in effect until, and unless a court ruled otherwise. The NH AG's office refused to be used against the townspeople and to give the selectmen the out that they wanted.
So the selectmen's new tactic was to deceptively manipulate next Tuesday's Town Meeting warrant by totally changing the wording of Articles 33 and 34 and use the re-worded articles, if passed, to overturn Special Town Meeting's 2/3's passage of the Water Ordinance.
First, the selectmen broke with the standard practice of placing town ordinances first on the ballot. They manipulated the warrant by placing the two water ordinance articles at the end of Deliberative Session.
So, Deliberative Session had already gone on for over 8 long and tiring hours when the two water articles finally came up for deliberation. By then, everyone had gone home except for 44 people, with at least 30 of them being town officials, their spouses and their friends who, like the selectmen, were opposed to the groundwater protection ordinance
Encouraged by statements from Moderator Polito, Selectman Sapia then made motions to kill Articles # 33 and #34, by amending them to the point of being meaningless and in no way resembling the content or intent of the two actual petitioned warrant articles.
The petitioned articles were replaced with two innocuous and very misleading questions which ask if the town (the selectmen) should comply with state law as far as water withdrawals were concerned. It's a set-up. They worded the two questions so you would think you should vote for it.
But the truth is, that if you vote "yes", you're actually giving the selectmen the right to refuse to enforce the Water Withdrawal Control Ordinance if they, the selectmen, state that they personally THINK the ordinance is contrary to state law, which they will do even though the court has made no such ruling.
The selectmen can and will claim that by passing Articles 33 and 34, the voters, in effect, authorized them to not comply with or enforce the groundwater protection ordinance passed at Special Town Meeting.
The selectmen have no legal qualifications or authority to replace the court in deciding the legality of any ordinance or law, but they could claim that passage of the changed Articles 33 and 34 was, in effect, the townspeople giving them that illegal authority.
(Interestingly, there is currently a bill before the NH legislature which formally states that such water ordinances are enabled by NH law and thus make it illegal for the selectmen to refuse to comply with or refuse to enforce such water ordinances.)
So please, vote "No" on Articles 33 and 34.
To the Editor: