Regional planning commissions dodge Cormier bullet in House

CONCORD — The New Hampshire House of Representatives last week scuttled a bill, sponsored by Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) to do away with the nine regional planning commissions by a margin to 238 to 91.

The Municipal and County Government Committee unanimously recommended the bill "inexpedient to legislate." Reporting for the committee Rep. Kris Roberts (D-Keene) noted that municipalities are not required to join or fund regional planning commissions and said that abolishing them would be "foolhardy."

A majority of the 18 representatives from Belknap County supported the bill as 10 of the 13 Republicans on the delegation voted against the motion to kill it. The 10 were Reps. Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Bob Greemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Bob Luther of Laconia. Vadney chaired the Meredith Planning Board and served on the board of the Lakes Region Planning Commission for nearly a decade before becoming a state representative and selectman.

Two Republicans — Reps. Frank Tilton of Laconia and Dennis Fields of Sanbornton — joined the five Democrats — Reps. Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia, Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — voted with the majority to reject the bill. Rep. Don Flanders (R-Laconia) was absent and did not vote.