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Rindge

Petition articles dominate debate

Role of federal money, future of town remain focus at deliberative session

  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.
  • Petition warrant articles were the subject of amendments on the floor of the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday morning at the Rindge Memorial School.

RINDGE — Petition warrant articles seeking to give voters more control over the town’s applications for and acceptance of grants were the target of the most debate and amendments during the Rindge Deliberative Session on Saturday.

Meanwhile, all of the monetary articles put forward by the town passed through untouched, including the proposed budget, which is set this year at $3,706,500. The default budget this year is $3,752,991. Ellen Smith, the town’s accountant, told the town’s residents that in the future, the town will be putting a larger focus on spacing out large purchases and making more contributions to capital reserve funds to even the town’s tax burden.

Much of the debate about the petition warrant articles focused on growth issues. And a successful amendment to one petition warrant article in particular will have little impact if passed, according to Select Board Chair Sam Seppala. The original article would have required that all town officials seek voter approval to apply for any federal grant. Phyllis McKoon of Rindge, the sponsor of the article, amended the article to limit it to any federal grant that would result in zoning changes. Select Board member Roberta Oeser told the crowd that there are no grants that would automatically result in zoning changes — thought they may result in zoning recommendations that would have to go before the voters. Eventually, the amended article passed.

A more focused warrant seeking to require voter approval to apply for or accept grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also underwent multiple amendment attempts. Initially, resident Al Lefebvre proposed to amend the article to require Select Board approval to accept any HUD grants, and to require that the town hold a public hearing which included the opinion of town counsel before accepting them. That amendment failed in a narrow standing vote of 43-39. Larry Cleveland, one of the original sponsors of the article, then moved to amend the article to require voter approval to accept HUD grants, instead of both accepting and applying for them, and that amendment passed.

Oeser said this was not a good move for the town, pointing out that if the town needed to accept grant money, it would have to call a Special Town Meeting every time, which can cost approximately $5,000. Cleveland and other residents, however, argued that they had voiced concerns during recent Planning Board meetings about the requirements attached to HUD money targeting economic development at the intersection of routes 119 and 202.

Cleveland was also one of the sponsors of two other articles this year — one to end the town’s involvement with the Southwest Regional Planning Commission and the other to remove the Plan NH Charrette, which details the development plan for 119 and 202, from the Rindge Master Plan.

Removing the Charrette was recommended 2-1 by the Select Board. Budget Advisory Committee Chair Thomas Coneys said he was also in favor of deleting the Charrette. He said he’d like to see the town center kept in West Rindge, where the Meeting House is located. He would like to see Rindge stay a suburban area, not an urban one, he said.

Resident Jed Brummer however, took a different view. Rindge is a college town, he pointed out, and the demographics of it mean some growth is inevitable. “Rindge is going to grow,” he said. “The idea of the Charrette was so growth wouldn’t be willy-nilly. Rindge is going to change. It’s through planning that the change can express our wishes.”

Town-sponsored warrant articles passed through Deliberative Session without any amendments. Several articles reference town vehicles. The Fire Department is seeking $74,011 to make the third of five lease payments on the fire truck lease. Once the lease is paid, the town will own the truck, which will have an expected life of 20 to 25 years. Another $5,000 warrant article would allow repairs to the department’s hose truck. The largest monetary item on the warrant, aside from the budget, is a $161,000 article for a new six-wheel dump truck equipped with radio, emergency lights and plow attachments. The current truck is 18 years old and has severe rust issues and will need significant repairs to pass state inspections, said Department of Public Works Director Mike Cloutier. The truck is valued at $4,500, and the town has spent $22,800 on repairs in the last five years, said Cloutier, and he does not think it is worth continuing to make repairs.

“I just think it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” he said.

The Recreation Department is also looking to replace its 13-year-old recreation department van with a used 15-passenger minibus.

Bridges are the focus of two warrant articles this year. One asks for $18,000 to be added to the capital reserve for the eventual replacement of the Wellington Road Bridge. Another would discontinue a bridge on Converseville Road, and build a new access road to Route 119 for $28,000. This will avoid a $700,000 replacement of the bridge.

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