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Peterborough Selectwoman: Select Board ‘not trying to hide anything’

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/13/2019 9:48:59 PM

While town administrator Rodney Bartlett issued a letter of apology to the Select Board on Facebook last week, he contends he did nothing illegal or even out of the ordinary when he waited till the end of last week’s Selectmen meeting to present the board with two protest petitions that up the ante for the contentious zoning petition Amendment 15.

“I have apologized to the Select Board for not informing them in a more timely fashion about our receipt of the Protest Petition (RSA 675:5) relative to Zoning Amendment 15 on next Tuesday’s ballot voting. More timely notice would have better prepared the Select Board for this past Tuesday’s meeting,” Bartlett said in the apology.

After a public hearing held during the May 7 Selectmen meeting, Selectwoman Barbara Miller thanked the 16 people in the audience and said goodnight to the crowd. A few minutes after the room had cleared, Bartlett and deputy town administrator Nicole MacStay presented the board with the protest petitions against the zoning article Amendment 15. The board was told they are required to sign the protest petition and that they are required by law to post the two-thirds majority requirement at the polls Tuesday and to have the town moderator announce the two-thirds majority requirement at the opening of the polls. Miller asked if the protest petition needed to be announced in the newspaper to which MacStay said, “It doesn’t have to.”

The end of the meeting exchange in an empty meeting room was captured on the meeting video and has angered some residents. As one resident said on Facebook, “This may have been done without sinister intentions, but it sure seems shady.”

Friday Planning Board Chairwoman Ivy Vann, who submitted the protest petitions, said she was disappointed with how it was handled at the meeting. Even though she likes and supports town staff, she said, the way it was handled made it look like the town was trying to hide the protest petitions. “I’m just really disappointed that once again I’m going to get beat up for this.”

Miller said in an interview Monday afternoon, that it makes her angry she is being accused of not being transparent, something she has never been accused of before. She said if she had known about the protest petitions she would have added them to the reading of the agenda she gives at the beginning of Select Board meetings. “Had Rodney told me I certainly would have mentioned it when I went over the agenda. … I was not trying to hide anything for sure,” Miller said. “Obviously we always want to be sure that the public is informed of anything that we are doing, but this was a real time crunch. … We go out of our way to make sure people have information.”

In an email to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, Monday Bartlett said the protest petitions had been dropped off at the Town House at around 3 p.m. on Monday. “As with any new information not already addressed as an agenda item, it is taken up under other business. Other business is at the end of all other agenda items,” Bartlett wrote.

Bartlett said the Select Board chair will be included in future discussions when situations such as this arise. “The process for other business has not changed. What has been discussed is the process for determining the sensitivity of topics that come to the Board for discussion. This will involve the Select Board Chair on a more regular basis.”

“There was really no reason for Nicole to contact the board at all until all of the information came in and was verified,” Miller said. “Yes, had I known I would have mentioned it when I went through the agenda.”

“I think people need to have a little confidence in us. … Yes, it should have been handled differently. Yes, it will never happen again, but we didn’t try to hide anything.”


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